When Nintendo released their first official mobile game in early 2016 in the form of Miitomo, it wasn’t clear exactly how committed they were to the platform. To be fair, it was the first time in years the console juggernaut had ever developed a title for a system it had not personally created. But the social networking Mii designer felt a bit too simple and safe, Nintendo dipping a toe in the mobile pool. It wasn’t until Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes launched at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, respectively, that we knew Nintendo had finally dived in. With today’s announcement via the Wall Street Journal that the company is planning on releasing a Legend of Zelda game on mobile before the end of 2018, they’re essentially splashing us and shouting “The water’s fine.”
The Legend of Zelda for mobile is apparently currently in development, with plans for it to release after the also-in-development Animal Crossing title that is slated to be out by early 2018 at the latest. While Nintendo has not yet shared any details on what kind of game we can expect, we’d be surprised if it turned out to be a full-scope Zelda game comparable to the series’ console entries. The company has shown an appreciation of mobile’s focus on shorter-burst, quick-bite gameplay in their first few releases, and Zelda’s lengthy dungeons don’t seem like the type of content they plan to replicate outside of Nintendo devices. However, the existence of the massive open-world experience in Breath of the Wild on the portable Switch console also shows Nintendo doesn’t think epic adventures should be confined to the living room, and the staggering number of sales of the game—more than the Switch console itself—indicates players agree, too.
But at the moment, the direction of The Legend of Zelda on mobile is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is we will be getting some type of Zelda game, and sooner than we expected. Games like Oceanhorn and Ittle Dew have proven Zelda’s in-depth puzzle-adventure format can work extremely well on mobile and are two of the rare experiences that successfully recreate the same sense of wondrous exploration we usually find in Link’s world. We’re excited to see what an official release of their inspiration series looks like on mobile, and will be keeping a close eye on Nintendo and The Legend of Zelda news in the coming months.