Biggest Video Game Anniversaries of 2021 and What to Expect

2021 sees some of video game's biggest franchises celebrate some huge anniversaries, we take a look at some of the biggest and speculate on what the milestones could mean.

January 7, 2021

With 2020 now firmly in the rearview mirror, a new year means a host of new milestones with this year being no different. As we kickstart 2021, the year ahead will see significant video game anniversaries for some of the medium’s biggest franchises. Some of which include; The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, and Skyrim. Today I’m looking ahead to have a look at some of the biggest video game anniversaries of the year and what we could expect to see from their franchises.

The Legend of Zelda (35 Years)

Arguably this year’s biggest and most anticipated anniversary is The Legend of Zelda. The action-adventure title released on the NES in 1986 and the series has since grown into one of the most beloved and esteemed in the history of video games.


What could we see?

There have been plenty of rumors in the lead-up to this anniversary, however, nothing has been officially announced yet. Last year, to celebrate Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D All-Stars, so there is some expectation that it may release a similar collection for Zelda turning the big 35. The prevailing theory is a compilation of Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword will be making its way onto the Switch.

There is also hope and anticipation that Nintendo will bless us with more information on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. This sequel was announced at E3 in 2019 but, as expected, apart from a few rumors has gone quiet since. One of the strongest rumors claimed the title was due for a 2020 release, however, if this was true, the pandemic could have easily caused it to slip into a convenient 2021 launch window.

Nintendo also released a handful of smaller titles for Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary and it will be interesting to see if they follow suit here. A Legend of Zelda battle royale (in the vein of Super Mario Bros. 35) is a possibility and they also have a plethora of handheld games they could give the Link’s Awakening treatment to.

Metroid (35 Years)

Alongside Link, Samus made her bow into gaming in 1986 in the NES hit Metroid. The game was revered for its atmosphere as players explored an alien planet, finding power-ups and fighting extra-terrestrials. While Metroid as a franchise hasn’t quite hit the lofty heights of The Legend of Zelda, its cultural relevance can’t be ignored as the series played a huge part in the creation of the Metroidvania genre.

What could we see?

Rumors of an upgraded Metroid Prime Trilogy have been flying around for some time now, and there seems to be no better time to release it than 2021. There was also a rumor of Metroid Samus Returns getting a Switch port that surfaced towards the end of last year that may, or may not, come into fruition.

Like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid fans are eagerly awaiting information on the next mainline entry in the series. Metroid Prime 4 was revealed back at E3 2017 but has seemingly had some development troubles since then and still seems a way off. While some information and updates may be a possibility this year, I wouldn’t expect a Metroid Prime 4 release any time soon.

Sonic the Hedgehog (30 Years)

Sega’s answer to Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, turns 30 this year after releasing on the Sega Genesis in 1991. The Gotta Go Fast hedgehog has never been far from the limelight, featuring in regular video games, cartoons, and most recently two live-action movies.

What could we see?

Sonic has already received a cool new logo ahead of the series’ 30th anniversary and it’s already been confirmed that there will be new Sonic “games, digital content, events, major announcements, and a tailored licensing programme.”

Spinoffs aside, we’ve not had a brand new mainline Sonic game since both Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces released back in 2017. It will be interesting to see if Sega leans into either of these games or takes a brand new route. The rest of the Sonic catalog is generally widely available so it remains to be seen if Sega will pull together any kind of extra compilations.

F-Zero (30 Years)

One of the more dormant franchises on this list, F-Zero, celebrates its 30th anniversary in the west in 2021. The high-octane, futuristic racing series is one that is beloved by fans but one that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves from Nintendo. It begs the question as to why? With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still selling a staggering amount of units, Nintendo could easily capitalize on the desire for a second top-tier racer on the Switch.

What could we see?

Probably not a lot. Nintendo seems to have shoved the beloved racing series aside and forgotten about it over the last few years. With two other massive Nintendo franchises celebrating big milestones this year, plus the game’s 30th anniversary already passing in Japan, it’s highly unlikely F-Zero will be returning.

Back in 2015, Shigeru Miyamoto did say he would like to bring the franchise back provided Nintendo could come up with a controller interface that makes sense for it and F-Zero GX Director, Toshihiro Nagoshi, also recently stated that he’d be open to working on a new game in the series. However, these were both likely just passing remarks as Miyamoto hasn’t mentioned the franchise since and Nagoshi has been hard at work on the Yakuza franchise for a number of years now.

Pokemon (25 Years), Diamond & Pearl (15 Years), Pokemon GO (5 Years)

Maybe the only anniversary that could topple The Legend of Zelda’s is Pokemon as the mega-franchise turns 25 this year. Pokemon is the highest-grossing franchise in media history, making an estimated $100 billion since its 1996 inception, and you can bet they’re going to go all out to celebrate this year.

What could we see?

Astonishingly, a New Pokemon Snap is already confirmed for release in 2021 and that’s likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Pokemon Let’s Go Johto has been heavily rumored since last summer, a game that would certainly go down well. Diamond & Pearl also turn 15 this year and they are the oldest mainline games yet to receive a re-release so it’s reasonable to expect something on this front.

We may also get details on the next new generation of Pokemon as we generally receive a new one every three years. By the end of 2021, it will also have been two years since Sword and Shield launched and the DLC is also now wrapped up, so it will be interesting to see if The Pokemon Company shows their hand here.

Aside from that, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company have an absolutely cracking back catalog of spinoff titles they could pull from. Pokemon Stadium, Colosseum, Pinball, and Puzzle League are all titles that would be worthy of returning.

Pokemon GO also turns five this year, meaning that the summer of Pokemon GO was half a decade ago! Niantic now seems to finally be finding its stride with engaging, real-world events. GO Fest was playable worldwide this year and there’s a new Kanto event on the horizon, so there will certainly be a blowout event this summer as Niantic looks to better the $1 billion they made in 2020.

N64 and Super Mario 64(25 Years)

Now we’re talking. Nintendo’s first foray into 3D turns 25 this year, although, for some, it’s not the company’s most fondly remembered console of all time. It’s hard to deny the quality of the games that released on the platform. There was Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Banjo Kazooie, Mario Kart, Goldeneye and so, so many more.

What could we see?

Nintendo has gone quiet on the classic mini console front, with the SNES Mini releasing in 2017. What better time to bring back this (slightly gimmicky) fad and give us an N64 classic, loaded with some of the console’s best games?

Failing that, updating the Nintendo Switch Online service to include a handful of N64 games would be a welcome addition. At this point, I’d even settle for them releasing some of the console’s better games for sale on the Nintendo eShop.

Resident Evil (25 Years)

It’s been 25 years since players first visited Racoon City on the PlayStation, and the series has since almost certainly become the premiere video game horror franchise. Although the franchise lost a little bit of its edge between Resident Evil 5 and 6, it found its footing again with Resident Evil 7 and the future is looking bright.

What could we see?

Resident Evil’s eighth mainline entry, Village, is already confirmed for a PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X | S release this year. There’s also the rumor that Capcom could decide to follow its pattern of releasing remakes, and that the revered Resident Evil 4 could be getting the makeover treatment this year.

Resi is also getting A LOT of different adaptations over the coming year. The rebooted Resident Evil movie recently wrapped shooting ahead of its release in September and there are also two different Resident Evil TV shows in the works. One live-action, one animated.

Crash Bandicoot (25 Years)

DualShockers’ favorite marsupial joins our video game anniversaries list as the franchise turns 25 this year. Crash was supposed to be Sony’s answer to Mario and although he never quite hit those lofty heights, he is undoubtedly one of the most iconic characters in PlayStation history.

What could we see?

We’ve been inundated with Crash Bandicoot titles over the last few years. The N.Sane Trilogy released in 2017, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled followed two years later, and last year we got the first new major entry in years, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Because of this, I wouldn’t expect a great deal from Crash Bandicoot this year, however, we do have the mobile runner to get excited about

Persona (25 Years)

The Persona series has been thrust into the mainstream over recent years. Persona 5 became an instant classic and the recent re-release of Persona 4 Golden onto Steam has made the series more accessible than ever.

What could we see?

We already have Persona 5 Strikers coming to the West next month and Atlus kindly dropped a bunch of Persona soundtracks onto Spotify over the last few days. A Switch port of Persona 5/Royal would, of course, be a welcome addition to those.

In an interview with Gematsu, Atlus was well aware of the series’ 25th anniversary, saying “In 2021 we’re also planning a ‘Persona 25th Anniversary’ commemoration project. Please look forward to it!”

GameCube, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, and Animal Crossing (All 20 Years)

Like the N64, the Nintendo GameCube celebrates a big milestone this year, turning 20 and along with it, some major games. Super Smash Bros. Melee, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, and Luigi’s Mansion are some of the standouts turning 20 with Nintendo’s cube-shaped console.

What could we see?

Probably not a lot. Nintendo is unlikely to do too much to celebrate the console’s anniversary alone aside from maybe some social media content. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is already the biggest celebration that the series could ever wish for, with three new DLC characters still due.

The most we could hope for is new entries into either the Luigi’s Mansion or Pikmin franchises, both of which had successful titles release recently. There’s also the opportunity for Nintendo to throw some kind of event into the ever-popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Xbox and Halo (20 Years)

2021 marks 20 years since Microsoft took the plunge and entered the home console market with the Xbox. The console was never the most popular on the market, selling around 24 million units during its lifecycle but what it did do was spawn a whole host of great franchises, including Halo, which also turns 20 this year.

What could we see?

With Microsoft’s backward compatibility offering already so strong, it’s hard to imagine what it could do to celebrate its original console’s release. At least in terms of new products, especially as the company has already re-released the Duke.

Much like the original Xbox’s library, Halo’s back catalog has already been given the compilation treatment with the ever-improving Halo: The Master Chief Collection. 2021 will still be a big year for the franchise, however, with Infinite due for release at some point following its delay and the Halo TV Series also due out this year.

Wii and Wii Sports (15 Years)

Nintendo’s best selling home console also celebrates a big milestone this year, turning 15. The innovative console was a phenomenon when it released and found mass-market appeal amongst gamers both new and old with titles like Wii Sports (which also turns 15) and Wii Fit both broadening the console’s appeal.

What could we see?

The Wii has always been a tricky one in regards to ports due to the nature of its motion controls. However, with the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con packing similar functionality, now would be a great time to release some Wii classics onto the Switch eShop. Sadly, Nintendo remains strangely stubborn about releasing games from its monstrous back catalog, so Wii titles on the Switch feels like more of a hope than an expectation.

PlayStation 3 and Resistance: Fall of Man (15 Years)

Alongside the Wii, Sony’s PS3 turns 15 this year. After a disastrous start which saw fans told to “get a second job” in order to afford the system, the PS3’s fortune turned around. Different iterations, a handful of price drops, and a range of fantastic first-party titles saw the console overtake the Xbox 360 and sell over 87 million units.

What could we see?

As is often the case with this generation onwards, most of the PS3’s top games are easy to access now. Maybe this anniversary will present both Sony and Insomniac to announce a much wanted but highly unlikely Resistance reboot.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (15 Years), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (10 Years)

The Elder Scrolls franchise sees two pretty significant video game anniversaries this year with Oblivion turning 15 and Skyrim turning 10. The fantasy RPG series is one of the most popular in the world and it’s to little surprise these two games are still talked about 10-15 years later.

What could we see?

With Microsoft recently acquiring Bethesda, the future of both the upcoming and previous Elder Scrolls games is interesting. A full remaster of Oblivion, while incredibly unlikely, would be nice. As for Skyrim, it’s already out on every platform ever and with backward compatibility the way it is, Bethesda may struggle to resell it again for the latest generation of consoles. It’s unlikely we’ll hear much, if anything, about The Elder Scrolls VI either, with Starfield due out before then.

Overwatch (5 Years)

Overwatch has evolved into one of the most beloved shooters of all time. Its accessible yet competitive nature has resonated with fans and it has only gone from strength to strength in the five years since it was released.

What can we expect?

News on Overwatch 2 has been fairly quiet since it was announced back in 2019 and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon with Jeff Kaplan stating the game still has “a long ways to go.” In terms of the original Overwatch, you can be sure Blizzard will throw a big event to celebrate the upcoming milestone.

Other Notable 2021 Anniversaries

40 Years:
Donkey Kong, Galaga, Frogger, Nihon Falcom.

35 Years:
Dragon Quest, Kid Icarus, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania.

30 Years:
Battletoads, Duke Nukem, Civilization, Super Robot Wars.

25 Years:
Super Mario RPG, Tomb Raider, Quake, Nights into Dreams, Dead or Alive, Metal Slug.

20 Years:
Red Faction, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Tropico, Max Payne, Devil May Cry, Advance Wars, Ico, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Golden Sun, Runescape, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.

15 Years:
Kingdom Hearts II, Bully, Okami, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Dead Rising, Saints Row, Just Cause, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Elite Beat Agents, Gears of War, Guitar Hero II.

10 Years:
LittleBigPlanet 2, Dead Space 2, Catherine, Bulletstorm, Portal 2, L.A. Noire, Infamous 2, Bastion, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dead Island, Dark Souls, The Binding of Isaac, Rage, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3, Nintendo 3DS.

5 Years:
The Witness, Firewatch, Stardew Valley, Superhot, Street Fighter V, Hitman, Hyper Light Drifter, Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted 4, Doom, Inside, Overcooked, Forza Horizon 3, Titanfall 2, Owlboy, Dishonored 2, The Last Guardian.

And there you have it, loads of video game anniversaries to make you feel old and plenty of upcoming announcements to look forward to. Which of the anniversaries are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.

Sam Woods

Sam (He/Him) is the Managing Editor at DualShockers. He's been playing video games for as long as he can remember and you can regularly find him on his Nintendo Switch. When he's not playing games, he'll no doubt be suffering watching his beloved Ipswich Town.

Read more of Sam's articles

Got a tip?

Let us know