With the Nintendo Switch capable of producing huge 3D worlds, it looked like the days of the publisher’s 2D Zelda titles might be numbered. However, in a new interview with Game Informer, series producer Eiji Aonuma has said that a 2D Zelda for Switch is "definitely a possibility."
The handheld development team will not be phased out because of Nintendo Switch," Aonuma said. "Switch will allow the users to bring their home console on the go, but this doesn’t mean handheld game development like Nintendo 3DS will be discontinued.
The dev pace is not really dependent on how many people are on a team, so combining them would not necessarily expedite the development pace. The 3DS team and the Wii U team have different approaches to game development, so I don’t necessarily want to combine them and have them think together, but rather have each think about what they can bring to Nintendo Switch from their own perspective.”
He added: There are definitely good things about the 2D world and the play-styles of the 2D world. There are a lot of fans who enjoy that style. This Nintendo Switch style, which is the evolved style of gameplay is not necessarily… I want you to think of it more as an evolved style of 2D style. For the 3DS team, I am trying to make them think in a more evolved 2D-style approach.
The last 2D Zelda title Nintendo released was The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the 3DS in 2015 (pictured). While it was a direct sequel to its 3DS predecessor, A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes encouraged players to tackle stages co-operatively rather than play the game as a traditional single-player adventure. It had a mixed reception on launch, but as of March 2016, the game had sold 1.14m units.
With Breath of the Wild releasing in just under three weeks time, it’s unlikely Nintendo will release another Zelda title this year, even if it is 2D, but with E3 on the horizon, it’s possible we might see an announcement for one coming in 2018.