There are plenty of great games scheduled to hit the Nintendo 3DS in the coming months, and the latest episode of Nintendo Direct revealed a few more titles that are en route for the handheld system. Whether gamers are awaiting the launch of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team or Mario Golf: World Tour for the portable, though, it’s safe to say that no one has forgotten about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D — and if you have then this article should act as a nice reminder.

The game, originally developed by Retro Studios, launched for the Nintendo Wii back in 2010, and it was met with critical acclaim and solid sales. When it was revealed that Donkey Kong Country Returns would be making the jump to the 3DS, however, many assumed that the development process would be handled by Retro once again. According to the Australian Classification Board, development duties have been assigned to Monster Games — the studio responsible for Pilotwings Resort on the 3DS.

While it’s certainly not surprising to hear that Nintendo has pushed the task of porting DKCR to another developer, it brings up one very significant question: What is Retro Studios working on?

Previous rumors surrounding the studio’s project hinted at a possible Metroid/Star Fox crossover, but those have since been debunked. Then there were even claims at one point that Retro may have been working on a new installment in the The Legend of Zelda series before that was eventually dismissed by franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto.

What we do know is that Retro Studios is hard at work on a Wii U game. Whether or not it’s an IP that it’s worked with in the past, such as Metroid or a new Donkey Kong Country, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s a little too much to be hopeful for a new franchise birthed from the creative minds behind some of Nintendo’s best games in the past decade, but it’s an encouraging sign that this mystery game will end up being well worth the wait given how long it’s been in development.

If I were to fathom I guess, and this is based purely on personal opinion, I’d say it’s likely that Nintendo gave the reigns of the Metroid series back to Retro after Team Ninja dropped the ball with Metroid: Other M. Regardless of what the title is, it’s safe to say that fans will finally get a glimpse of the game during this year’s E3. That means that diehard Nintendo fans can expect a rather extravagant showing, and may very well see the product showcased alongside the likes already confirmed games such as a new 3D Mario game, a new Mario Kart, and the first glimpse at the new Super Smash Bros.

What do you think Retro Studios is working on, Ranters? Would you prefer an established IP or a brand new franchise?

You can follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.

Source: Australian Classification Board (via Joystiq)