It's time for the traditional review of the year. This won't take long, because there's nothing really to review. 2012 is there together with 2008 as one of the most silent Zelda years. (Well, that is after the release of Ocarina of Time, it's hard to judge the years before that, you were much younger and the internet drastically changed our media consumption rate.)
However, this is not a complaint and the reason for this silent year is very simple and natural. 2011 was the year of the 25th Zelda Anniversary and Nintendo shot all their Zelda bolts at the time. Ocarina of Time 3D, Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Skyward Sword, Hyrule Historia and so much more. It's more than enough to keep Zelda fans entertained until today (in theory). So, it's only natural that Zelda went into a pause. However, there were still new things to enjoy, at first we got some additional aftermath of the Anniversary, especially people in North America got to enjoy the Symphony of the Goddesses tour and Hyrule Historia was announced to get a western release, though it won't be released until early next year. And I still hope that the Symphony of the Goddesses tour to comes to Europe at some point...
But hey, I nearly forgot... we got Battle Quest! :D 2012 was definitely a big year for Nintendo with the release of the Wii U. I'm not sold yet, but that is probably only a matter of good games. If you already have a Wii U, there are some small Zelda cameos to enjoy. There are Zelda costumes in Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition and you can use Zelda characters in Scribblenauts Unlimited. But probably the biggest thing was the Battle Quest minigame in Nintendo Land. I really hope that Battle Quest is not a foreshadowing of what to expect from the Wii U Zelda game. Zelda became more and more linear and now Nintendo finally made a Zelda rail shooter experience. It's not even funny. And naturally Nintendo uses their new horse power to create Zelda's Epic Yarn... Zelda Wii U better turns out to be the entire opposite of Battle Quest or it will most likely become another Wind Waker (that means charming, but unsuccessful).
So, I guess, you could say that 2012 wasn't so bad considering how much stuff we got in 2011, we still got a minigame, some cameos and even a whole concert tour. There was one thing completely missing though, anything about future Zelda games. As in 2008 we are at a point where we're completely in the dark. We don't know anything about the upcoming Zelda games for 3DS and Wii U except for some small Aonuma quotes and rumors.
And this is what I expect from 2013. The next generation of Zelda games will be revealed next year! The Nintendo 3DS Zelda game will most likely get released first, probably one year before the Wii U game. I'd expect first impressions as early as GDC 2013. Definitely at E3. And it's entirely likely that the 3DS Zelda game is scheduled to be released at the end of 2013, it's in the current two years cycle for Zelda handheld games (Phantom Hourglass in 2007, Spirit Tracks in 2009, Ocarina of Time 3D in 2011). We were at the very same position in 2008, no one expected much from 2009, but then Spirit Tracks got announced and released in the same year. I expect the same for 2013 and the 3DS Zelda game. The game will most likely be codeveloped by Grezzo to get it done as fast as possible, while the main Zelda team works on the Wii U game. So, they've been working already one and a half year on the game!
What will it look like, how will it play? I'm expecting that they went with the Toon Zelda style, they probably enhanced the Phantom Hourglass engine it made it more beautiful. But they dropped the Stylus and touchscreen controls in favor of 3D perspective puzzles as in Super Mario 3D Land. So, it would be a more traditional button control topdown view experience, but have some innovation in it as well. This is what I expect from the current Zelda team, but I'd be happy to be surprised with something else.
The Wii U Zelda game is a different beast, I'm expecting a late 2014 release here. We might see something at E3, maybe we'll only get some tidbits like at E3 2009, maybe we'll get a full fledged demo like at E3 2010, but most likely something inbetween like a trailer. We'll see, it's hard to tell. It's also hard to tell, how the game will look and play like. Will they go with the more realistic style of the Wii U Twilight Princess demo, after it got praised so many times? Or will they keep the Skyward Sword visual style? Maybe something else entirely? Will they drop the Skyward Sword controls in favor of the new gamepad? For me it's easy to picture the 3DS Zelda game, but with the Wii U game anything is possible.
Happy new year, everybody!