The Legend Of Zelda series will be released for Wii U in 2014, a Nintendo Japan source claims, adding that Link's Wii U debut is being developed by the biggest team ever to work on a Nintendo game.
Speaking to Wii U Daily, the source - who spoke on condition of anonymity but seems reliable, having previously revealed in advance Wii U's achievement system and that Nintendo was working on a social network of sorts, which turned out to beMiiverse - claims that the game's visual style will closely resemble that of Wii swansong Skyward Sword.
"Nintendo is sticking to the core values of Zelda, while trying to appeal to a wide range of gamers, casual and hardcore [alike]," the source said. "They feel they've found the sweet spot with Skyward Sword, and they're continuing this approach with the Wii U Zeldagame."
"Hundreds" of people are working on the game, which will have been in development for four years by the time it appears on shelves. Development is being led by Skyward Sword director Eiji Aonuma.
"It'll end up being the most expensive game they've made to date," the source claims. "It's a huge investment for [Nintendo] in money and manpower - this is Rockstar/GTA territory."
The source puts that claim in context by adding that the first test dungeon Nintendo produced, which was set in a forest and ran on early, buggy Wii U hardware, was "bigger than Hyrule Field inOcarina [Of Time]… Its scope and details are unlike anything you've seen in a Zelda game."
While Miiverse will be used to let players leave hints for one another, online multiplayer was never part of Nintendo's plan; despite Wii U's greater emphasis on online functionality, it is sticking resolutely to Zelda's long-established gameplay template. The principal advances, it appears, will be visual.
"They're using a new, state of the art engine that's being built from the ground up in parallel with the game," the source claims. "It's got the most advanced visual features Nintendo has ever made, and includes a lot of thirdparty tech like Havok for physics and rendering middleware from Umbra."
It's little surprise that Nintendo is also ensuring that Zelda makes convincing and unique use of the Wii U's GamePad controller and its built-in screen. "It'll have some [revolutionary] gameplay. It has stuff that would never be possible on any console, and it's not just one cool feature, it's one cool feature after another.
"Each dungeon will offer a different gameplay experience with the tablet controller. It'll be the most innovative game ever - they've got stuff that will be copied by others for years."
Not much of this is surprising; a Zelda game on Wii U was always a given, and designing it as a showcase of the GamePad's capabilities is a continuation of a strategy Nintendo has had in place since the launch of DS in 2004.
But it's the scale that appeals the most, with a huge development team supported by some of the most respected middleware companies in the business. The prospect of dungeons of such scope and size is intriguing, and the source's claims - if genuine, of course - will do much to reignite interest in Wii U after Nintendo's disappointing E3 conference.