Zelda Wii U And NX: It’s Very Unlikely Zelda Will Be A Wii U Exclusive

zelda wii u release date 2015
The Zelda Wii U release date is "2015," which actually just means 2016. (Image: Nintendo of America)

Zelda Wii U flashed onto the scene almost three years ago, when it was first announced on Jan. 23, 2013. Since then, after the game was unveiled properly at E3 2014, the long-yearned-for title has disappeared into complete radio silence, and was delayed from 2015 until 2016. This isn’t surprising; Nintendo does this sort of thing a lot. But there’s always a reason for it. In this case, that reason is pretty obvious: Nintendo is going to bring Zelda Wii U to the Nintendo NX as well. It’s not a new theory, but considering everything we know about Nintendo’s strategy for the year, Zelda NX is as likely as an unannounced game can possibly be.

Zelda Wii U and Zelda NX: Destined Brothers

Ever since Zelda Wii U was delayed in March 2015, Nintendo has kept the game closely under wraps, and with good reason: If it delayed the game, Nintendo had big changes (or big additions) to make. Making the game ready for the Nintendo NX, whatever form the console ends up taking, is most assuredly one of those changes.

Think about Nintendo’s publicly announced strategy for the Nintendo NX. The company’s number one, overarching goal for the upcoming system is to debut it with a strong launch lineup—which was the Wii U’s greatest weak point early on. It took a long time for it to have a critical mass of compelling software, and even longer for that software to really fit with the GamePad and the Wii U concept. That absence, as Nintendo has admitted, heavily handicapped the Wii U launch.

For the Nintendo NX, Nintendo is ensuring it does have a strong launch line-up. The company is developing at least three flagship games that we know about and haven’t  heard a peep from (despite expecting to see all three at E3 2015 as Wii U games): Zelda Wii U, a new 3D Mario game, and something from Retro Studios (Metroid?). In addition, it has restarted its relationships with some third parties, so we may have a better lineup on that front too.

A new 3D Mario game is quite a launch title, but Zelda is an even stronger one… the strongest that Nintendo could have. Launching a Zelda game relatively early in a console’s lifecycle can really build momentum—it worked for Twilight Princess, which was one of the two must-have games on the system in its very early days, and helped sell buckets of Wii’s. Doing the same for the Nintendo NX is a brilliant move. Even if Zelda Wii U helps sell lots of Wii U’s, which it probably would, that’s not as important to Nintendo anymore on the eve of a new console cycle. To be clear, Zelda Wii U is definitely coming out on Wii U. It’s just highly, highly likely to come out on the Nintendo NX as well.

Gaming rumors are often true. Look at Fallout 4, which we never officially knew about until just a few months before it came out… despite actually unofficially knowing a ton about it. Secrets tend to leak, especially in a heavily hype-based industry. Besides, the logic just makes sense: Nintendo has huge incentives to move the game to the Nintendo NX launch lineup. Because that will sell a lot of Nintendo NX consoles. And it’ll certainly sell one to me!

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