Last year's E3 was a particularly revealing one. Apart from the reveal of the Nintendo 3DS, numerous fan-favourites were making comebacks on Wii, including Samus, James Bond, Kirby, and Link. I speak, of course, of Metroid: Other M, GoldenEye 007, Kirby's Epic Yarn, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. At this point, all of the above have been released... except one. Aside from a brief mention by Satoru Iwata at the Game Developers' Conference, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword may as well be invisible. No one's talking about it -- well, no one official, anyway. There are as many blogs as there are people in the world, with each having a different take on Skyward Sword. Is it too early for a new Zelda game? Is it too late? What can Link do that he hasn't done already? How is the Wii MotionPlus-exclusive controller thing going to work out? Who's Link's voice in this one? What'll the music be like? Name it, it's been discussed into the ground. However, Nintendo have said nothing on the matter.
...Which is not entirely surprising. When Activision's take on GoldenEye was announced, there were only, perhaps, six people in the entire world (apart from the development team) who knew about it.
Let's go back in time a bit further -- when the GameCube was released, everyone thought Nintendo were hard at work on an insanely realistic new Zelda game (the one that was supposedly featured in the video demonstrating GCN's graphics capabilities). No one knew what the next Zelda game would actually look like until it was revealed at the E3 right before the game's release. It was, of course, the cel-shaded Wind Waker (or, Wind Takuto, as it was initially called).
No one knew about Super Mario 64 until it was announced, either. And that was at Nintendo's Space World trade show in November of 1995 -- a mere seven months before the game's Japanese release. Sure, information about it leaked into the public before then, but it was only in advance of the show by about three days... certainly not enough time for information to proliferate in pre-Internet society.
Anyway, in spite of Nintendo's predictable silence on the matter of Wii's second Zelda game, the prediction I made in an Of Carbon and Silicon entry shortly thereafter appears to be coming true.
Without re-writing that entry, in a typical generation, only two Zelda games are ever released for the TV-based gaming console. This has been true of the Third, Fifth, and Sixth Generations (that's 3 of Nintendo's last 5 consoles), and will prove true of the Seventh Generation as well.
Alongside a recent earnings report, Nintendo stated that they would reveal a successor to the Wii console at this year's E3, anticipating a release date of 2012. This would mean that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will release sometime after E3, but before the "Nintendo 512", the most logical time, at this stage, appearing to be Q4 2011 (known to Joe Schmo as "the holiday season").
Obviously, "Nintendo 512" is not an official codename. But, since I don't know what they'll actually call the thing -- if game system performance was still measured in bits, the Eighth Generation would be equatable to the 512-bit era. Nintendo 6 might be a good name, too. Short, easy to remember.
With any luck at all, microprocessor technology has improved to the point where "Nintendo 512" would be able to play both GCN and Wii games, along with its own. Obviously, motion-activated control will make another re-appearance... perhaps with influence from Microsoft's controllerless Kinect. Perhaps not.
So, now we know. Wii is on its way out and will leave the building by at least Q4 2012.