2021 is going to be absolutely stacked with video game anniversaries! As a follow-up to my Video Game Anniversaries of 2016 blog, I want to go over the projects we know about and what we could possibly expect moving forward. I'm going to split the anniversaries into two categories because there are so many anniversaries to go through.
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sega has big plans for Sonic's 30th anniversary including a Classic Sonic comic book mini-series from IDW Publishing and the Sonic Encyclo-speed-ia from Dark Horse Comics. It would be nice to see new animated shorts or even an official announcement of a new animated series. The encyclopedia is especially exciting since it's going to dig into the lore, stories and nearly all the games of the series. As for the games themselves, a Sega advertisement implied that we can expect more than one.
One of those games could be a Sonic Mania sequel. I'm sure many 2D Sonic fans would rejoice over a follow-up with all-new original levels this time. As for 3D Sonic fans, a new mainline entry that refocuses the series after a few lackluster 3D entries would be more than appreciated. A compelling story, more accurate characterization and satisfying gameplay are my biggest hopes.
Another possibility is a collection of remakes for the first 3D Sonic games: Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes. Following the release of other platformer remakes, many Sonic fans have desired a similar package for this series or at least a remake of Sonic Adventure. An HD port of the boost games (Unleashed, Colors, Generations) to modern consoles would be great as well.
The Legend of Zelda
The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would be the best way to celebrate Zelda's 35th anniversary (assuming it's ready by 2021). Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has only increased the excitement for more BOTW content. There are also other ways to celebrate the series besides BOTW like a new Super Smash Bros Ultimate rep such as Impa or a new 2D remake like Oracle of Seasons & Ages for example.
There are rumors of an HD version of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword coming to the Nintendo Switch at some point. The watercolor art style in high definition, additional control options and quality of life improvements would be fantastic to see. Other changes such as voice acting (excluding Link), HD rumble while flying on a Loftwing and amiibo support could freshen up the experience for returning players. Perhaps the game could be packaged with gold Joy-Cons akin to the Wii version's special bundle.
Additionally, there is a high expectation from fans that a collection of 3D Zelda games will be released similar to Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Hopefully Nintendo has approved of such a proposal unlike the 25th anniversary. Requested games vary from the HD versions of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess to upscaled versions of Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D. I'm sure next year will be exciting for Zelda fans in some way.
While Nintendo hasn't done the best job at celebrating Metroid's anniversaries in the past, there might be more of a reason to expect some sort of acknowledgement of the series' 35th anniversary in 2021. Retro Studios has been hiring more developers to work on the highly anticipated Metroid Prime 4 and may be ready to finally show it off in 2021. Nevertheless, I don't expect the game to release until 2022 at the earliest.
However, the Metroid Prime Trilogy could be released in 2021 to build up anticipation for the next installment, depending on how far along Metroid Prime 4 is in development. A collection of 2D Metroid games like Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Fusion would be great too. For anyone looking for a new game sooner rather than later, something might be in the works.
A 2D Metroid game was rumored to be in development alongside a new Paper Mario game (which was revealed as Paper Mario: The Origami King) in early 2020. Metroid: Samus Returns developer MercurySteam is supposedly working on a Metroid Fusion related game. If it's a follow-up, the series' chronological timeline will move forward for the first time since 2002! Hopefully Samus will be known as more than a Super Smash Bros character by casual players in the coming years.
Resident Evil has made a serious comeback in the last few years, returning to its survival horror roots starting with the release of 2017's Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game received fan and critical acclaim for its return to a darker tone and the introduction of first-person gameplay. Capcom's success continued with the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, bringing the classic stories to new players in third-person gameplay and modern graphics.
The first-person gameplay of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard will return in the next mainline entry Resident Evil: Village. Ethan Winters and Chris Redfield are back for this installment, set in a mysterious, snowy village filled with all kinds of monstrosities. 2021 will be the first time a mainline Resident Evil game releases during an anniversary (assuming the game stays on schedule).
In addition, Capcom has many more projects in the works to celebrate the series' 25th anniversary. These projects include Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, an animated Netflix series featuring Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Other projects include an unrelated live-action Netflix series centered around Albert Wesker's daughters and a new live-action film. I imagine merchandise like an anniversary book detailing the series' history or another remake could be announced as well.
Persona fans anticipated the release of Persona 5 for years following multiple delays. The final game and the enhanced version Persona 5: Royal delighted fans and critics alike. The game's success has led to numerous spin-offs and elements in other games such as Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, Phantasy Star Online 2, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
One of those spin-offs is Persona 5 Strikers, a follow-up to the original game in the style of the Dynasty Warriors series. Developed by Koei Tecmo, the game blends the stylish Persona 5 gameplay with the Warriors combat instead of simply being a Persona themed Warriors game. The English localization is set to release on February 21, 2021 on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam.
Persona Team producer and director Kazuhisa Wada stated that Atlus has 'many exciting plans' for Persona's 25th anniversary. Sega stated that they hope to continue releasing 'Atlus catalog titles across various platforms' following the success of Persona 4 Golden on Steam so new ports could be part of those exciting plans. There are a number of different spin-offs that could also be in the works so this should be interesting.
Halo Infinite was slated as the flagship title in the launch of Microsoft's Xbox Series X until it was delayed. Fortunately, now Halo Infinite will be part of Halo's 20th anniversary. The head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross even hinted at the anniversary date on Twitter. Halo Infinite is intended to be a soft reboot that welcomes new players and beckons older players back by focusing on Master Chief in a story that doesn't require prior knowledge of the series.
Following the backlash towards Infinite's visual discrepancies, 343 have addressed the changes they're making to the game. Visual fidelity has been a major aspect of the improvements including character models, textures and environments. Player options, ongoing updates and the free-to-play multiplayer are also substantial features. With the extended development time provided by the new Fall 2021 release window, the game is promising to be in better shape.
In other media, the Halo television series is in the works. Details about the series are limited, however the show is set to air in 2021. With more popular video game adaptations in the last few years, hopefully this series joins the list. A new novel, Halo: Point of Light, will be published in March, following previous novels Halo: Smoke & Shadow and Halo: Renegades. 2021 has the potential to be a great year for Halo, so I hope Halo Infinite is a success.
The last time Pokémon celebrated an anniversary, the whole world was in Pokémon GO mania! Thanks to the success of the mobile game, a slew of new and lapsed fans bought the new seventh generation games Pokémon Sun & Moon. I'm curious to see what the 25th anniversary will bring to players.
Many fans have expected the announcement of a Diamond and Pearl remake for a while now so perhaps 2021 will be the right time. A new Let's Go game could also be in the works remaking Pokémon Crystal in the same way Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee were remakes of Pokémon Yellow. I'm not entirely sure which remake could be in development, if any. Similar to other series, a collection of older games would certainly be appreciated by fans in addition to a remake. I wouldn't be surprised to see a special Pokémon branded Switch, similar to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Additionally, New Pokémon Snap has been announced to the delight of the original game's players and new players alike. Hundreds of new Pokémon have been introduced since the original game, so the potential for unique photos will increase tenfold if even half the Pokédex is included. I expect to see the new Detective Pikachu, Pokémon Unite, Pokémon GO events and unannounced spin-offs as well.
Rapid Fire Anniversaries
A few anniversary series have a game currently set to release in 2021 besides Resident Evil, Persona, Halo and Pokémon. For the Alex Kidd series, fan can expect a remake of the original game Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. Meanwhile, the upcoming Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, a remake of Monster World IV, has left fans dissatisfied with the art style. Perhaps the 3D visuals will be revamped before release, similar to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
Ahead of Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, an endless runner mobile game titled Crash Bandicoot: On The Run was announced for a 2021 release. Speaking of Crash Bandicoot, a mystery project seems to be in the works as well. Finally, the response to the new mobile game Tomb Raider: Reloaded has been less than enthusiastic due to, once again, an off putting art style.
I imagine we'll see special updates within Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the series' 15th anniversary if we see anything. Following Minecraft Dungeons' release, I'm not expecting another spin-off game. There is a Caves and Cliffs update for Minecraft coming in summer 2021. I do believe it's possible that a second update celebrating the series' 10th anniversary could happen or other in-game celebration plans.
It might be too early for a proper announcement of Dragon Quest XII following Dragon Quest XI's updated release. However, series creator Yuji Horii has confirmed major plans for the 35th anniversary nonetheless. Meanwhile, Pikmin 4's current state continues to be a mystery depsite the release of Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The game's release or even new details about the game would be a huge way to celebrate the series' 15th anniversary.
Other recently released titles for anniversary series include Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Gears Tactics, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, Trials of Mana, and Streets of Rage 4. We probably won't see new installments for most of these series in 2021 following these games. Smaller spin-off titles, DLC or updates would be more likely.
I have no idea if some anniversaries will be celebrated. Some series could receive new collections or re-releases of older games such as Ace Attorney. Other series could receive new spin-off games or content outside of video games such as Netflix's Castlevania. Before I wrap up, I would like to address a handful of series briefly.
For Donkey Kong's 40th anniversary, I can imagine a new Donkey Kong Country game releasing. Whether it was in development by Retro Studios before they started working on Metroid Prime 4 or another developer is handling the reins, I would like to see the return of King K. Rool and the mystery of Donkey Kong Jr's whereabouts addressed.
For Kid Icarus' 35th anniversary, I don't expect a new game even though I'd love to see one. However, to coincide with the release of Pikmin 3 Deluxe, the animated shorts were released on Nintendo's YouTube page. It would be fantastic if all the Kid Icarus Uprising shorts could be released on YouTube as well, at the very least.
2021 is going to be a big year for many video game series and I'm excited to see what the year will bring. Sonic The Hedgehog, Metroid and The Legend of Zelda's anniversaries have my interest the most so I hope some cool announcements are on the way. Fingers crossed! I know I covered a lot of anniversaries, but let me know what I missed in the comments.