Now That Zelda: BOTW 2 Is Off The Table, Should Holiday 2022 Belong To Mario?

Image: Nintendo Life

Nintendo’s Holiday 2022 season is looking real quiet. Too quiet, if you ask us.

Even though we’re about nine months out, it seems a little odd that we don’t know what Nintendo’s big holiday release might be — Splatoon 3 is scheduled for the Summer, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is due in September, and of course, the previous Big Release candidate, Breath of the Wild 2, has just been pushed back to 2023.

Sooooo… Now what? I don’t want to be all Entitled Gamer about it, but it would be a little odd to go without a big Nintendo game towards the end of 2022. Besides, there are plenty of games that could fill that gap. Last year, Holiday 2021 brought us the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise update, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes, Shin Megami Tensei V, and depending on your definition of “Holiday”, Mario Party Superstars and Metroid Dread. A relatively quiet year, but understandable following COVID-related delays.

But Holiday 2022 is currently pretty bare, which is perhaps not too surprising given that we’re only in March. This wasn’t a particularly big deal until Breath of the Wild 2 got pushed back — and now there’s a gaping hole in Nintendo’s release schedule, with particularly big shoes to fill. Can a hole have shoes? Shut up, this is my mixed metaphor.

I made this, in case you can't tell
I made this, in case you can’t tell (Image: Kate Gray)

There are a couple of games that seem like likely candidates, just because we already know about them: Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope could be a late arrival, and Pokémon Scarlet/Violet is officially scheduled for that ‘Late 2022’ window. It’s not totally impossible that Metroid Prime 4 could magically appear this year, either. Just highly improbable.

But — and I hope I don’t sound like a party pooper here — I don’t know if any of those games could fill the void that Zelda left behind. Also, Metroid got all the attention last year, and Pokémon dominated early 2022, so it would be nice to mix it up.

Personally, and I know it’s a very long shot, I would love to see a smaller Zelda, like we used to when Nintendo’s consoles were split into handheld and home. In the 6-year gap between Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, we got A Link Between Worlds, a 3DS title that managed to hold its own between two titans. But now we don’t have a handheld console any more, because the Switch pulls double duty… so perhaps we could get a remake instead?

It’s not like a Wind Waker and/or Twilight Princess remake hasn’t been on everyone’s Switch Release Bingo Cards for years now. Both games already have HD remakes, but they were both on Wii U, so… well, you know. I played Wind Waker HD on Wii U and had a great time, but I think everyone agrees that it would be a missed opportunity not to have them on Switch too, where people can actually play them. And just imagine a Super Mario 3D All-Stars with Zelda titles, on Nintendo Switch. Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and… Ocarina of Time? What an unbelievable release that would be. I might end up disappointing myself even more than the BOTW 2 delay did at this rate.

something that would slot nicely into the Holiday release window is a Mario game — not just because it’s been five years since Super Mario Odyssey, but also because the Super Mario Bros. movie releases in late December

But something that would slot nicely into the Holiday release window is a Mario game — not just because it’s been five years since Super Mario Odyssey, but also because the Super Mario Bros. movie (the one with Chris Pratt as Mario) releases in late December. It would be… weird not to release a Mario game around then, right? We’re not suggesting a direct tie-in game version of the film (although imagine that!), and it’s not hard to imagine Mario + Rabbids taking up that slot, but as a Ubisoft-helmed spin-off, it doesn’t quite match up to the blockbuster movie hype, even if we do consider it a triumphant and unexpected use of the Mario canon.

It’s not entirely unlikely that we’ll see a Mario in late 2022 — the studio that made Odyssey, Nintendo EPD Tokyo, is presumably working on something. They also worked on Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, so there’s plenty of Mario in their blood by now… but they also made Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for the GameCube.

Could they be returning to their DK roots instead? That’s what the rumours are saying. Apparently, the Odyssey team have been working on a new 3D Donkey Kong game since around 2017 or 2018, according to some insiders. Perhaps DK and the gang will be receiving the Kirby treatment, with a new 3D platformer, which would be welcome news for Donkey Kong fans who’ve been waiting since 2014’s Wii U game, Tropical Freeze — significantly longer than the wait since Super Mario Odyssey. Perhaps it’s Donkey Kong’s time to shine after an almost decade-long hiatus!

So… do we think there’s going to be a surprise release? Or will it be something we already know about? Vote in these polls! It’s poll time!

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