Even by their high standards, 2017 has been a hectic year for Nintendo. They’ve released new entries in staple franchises such as Zelda and Splatoon (with a 3D Mario to come later this year). They’ve announced further major titles, including a new Pokémon and a new Metroid Prime. They’ve revamped their dedicated handheld family with the upcoming launch of the New 2DS XL. Last year’s hugely successful Nintendo Classic Mini NES has been discontinued and will be replaced with a SNES version in September. And of course, they’ve made a major splash with the Switch, their latest piece of major hardware.
With such a jam-packed year already, Nintendo could be forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal for the next few months. However, on July 18th, the Japanese gaming giant made another move which will see them kept busy well into 2018.
With the NES Mini out late last year and the SNES Mini due in the next two months, speculation was rife about what Nintendo’s next move would be.
Would they simply leave it at that, in the knowledge that the NES and SNES are their two most iconic “classic” consoles?
Would they look to create some kind of Game Boy Classic, again with built-in games?
Some even suggested (with tongue firmly in cheek) that, if Nintendo were to strictly follow their home console chronology that the next “Mini” device they release ought to be the originally disastrous Virtual Boy.
The first scenario, of simply leaving the Classic range be after the SNES, seemed unlikely given the enormous success of the first console and the incredible demand for the second. A Game Boy Classic could still be a possibility, although with the 3DS and 2DS both offering many original Game Boy games via the Virtual Console, it would have more limited appeal.
However, a trademark application filing on the 18th seems to confirm what many hoped would be the case; next year could well see the launch of a N64 Mini. As commenters in this NeoGAF thread point out, this was the same route taken by Nintendo last year in preparing for the SNES Mini.
Even with many of the iconic system’s games available on the Virtual Console, with the Switch still yet to receive support for the service, the demand for an N64 Mini would be enormous. Should the N64 Mini rumours be proved correct, don’t expect confirmation until mid-2018.