Star Fox Zero delayed into 2016, leaving the Wii U's holiday lineup even emptier

Nintendo already had a slim array of titles planned, but now the crown jewel is missing

Three years after the Wii U was released, it already looks like things are winding down. Last week's Super Mario Maker was fabulous and absolutely recommended - but there's little else on the immediate horizon.

That's especially true with the overnight delay of Star Fox Zero, easily the biggest game still on the Wii U release schedule for the year. Instead of releasing the franchise favourite space shooter in November, as planned, the game will now ship sometime in the first quarter of 2016 - although that's not even 100% confirmed.

Shigeru Miyamoto, famed Mario creator and newly appointed Creative Fellow at Nintendo, posted an update to Nintendo's Facebook page overnight about the delay. He apologised for the unexpected slip, saying that while the game is mostly complete and could be released soon, he wants to take more time to polish the experience.

"We now believe that we will need a little more time to work on areas such as the unprecedented discovery that we want players to experience in the game by using two screens, and further polishing the level designs and perfecting the tone of the cut scenes," he writes. "And the game will not be delayed for a very long time - we’re aiming to launch the game in Q1 2016," he added.

So what's left this year? Well, niche titles like Xenoblade Chronicles X and Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water look interesting, otherwise there's Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and third-party releases like Lego Dimensions and Guitar Hero Live. But that's pretty much the lot of it, with The Legend of Zelda not due until sometime next year.

And it's already been a quiet 2015 for the console: aside from Super Mario Maker, Nintendo's own big releases have been Splatoon and Yoshi's Woolly World, along with a smattering of Amiibo. Indies are still delivering gems, but bigger third-party makers have mostly abandoned the console; and given the slim lineup, it seems like Nintendo itself is already looking ahead to the planned "NX" console.

We're fully in favour of releasing a better game later, rather than rushing out a messy experience to hit a date; but the rest of the upcoming Wii U lineup is so thin that this delay will be strongly felt by fans. It might be a quiet few months here, but hopefully 2016 brings more than just Zelda and Star Fox at this point.