Nintendo have made some ingenious decisions and some perplexingly bad ones. From flipping their financial fortunes with the Wii, to letting it slip away with seemingly obvious hardware and branding mistakes a generation later. Nintendo do a lot right, and a lot to satisfy fans. They’ve addressed old school fans’ demands by resurrecting of Punch-out!! and Kid Icarus, to name just a few. But at the same time, there are a few games that they haven’t made that just seem to be begging for release. This list approaches the topic from a few angles, with options that seem easy for the company to produce, that would satisfy fan demands or just result in great games. The primary focus though, is talking about games that make financial sense for Nintendo, not just wishful thinking.
Mario Party Greatest Hits
Mario Party has never really had a flawless, classic instalment. The videogame equivalent of Monopoly, with a board game format that had similar randomness and ability to wreck friendships, but with a mixed bag of mini-games ranging from brilliant to poor. In recent years, since Hal Laboratory stopped steering the games, Nintendo have tried to fix the format. The problem is, while it did need fixing, they have strayed too far from aspects that people associate with Mario Party and what older gamers are nostalgic for.
Even if Nintendo can’t hit upon the perfectly balanced virtual board game, it is a wonder why they haven’t made a greatest hits for the series. Nintendo could run some surveys of fans and do some research into the favorite mini games from the series, and slap them all into one game. Mario Kart resurrects classic tracks in every installment now, but Mario Party hasn’t regurgitated the exact same mini-games from the original run even though a lot of people have massive fondness for them. Instead of contriving new minigames developers could focus on polish and crafting a compelling board-game aspect.
Most Nintendo hits get at least a couple of games re-using the same formula before developing, but gimmicks and shake-ups seem to be forced upon every Star Fox game since. The 3DS port and the Wii U game suggests that Nintendo still think the series has an audience, and beside the Wii U controls, both games are fairly traditional compared to what Starfox fans got handed on the Gamecube and DS.
Nintendo remade Star Fox 64 on the 3DS, creating a whole new engine and assets in order to port the game over. It was a wasted opportunity not to simply take what they had made for the remake and just make some new levels. It wouldn’t have been the most inspired game to make, but neither was just remaking it in the first place. Starfox 64 is a short game, they have the assets for it… Nintendo could really make a simple sequel and make a lot of people happy.
Open world F Zero
There is huge fan demand for a new F Zero, but unlike with Star Fox, Nintendo aren’t pushing out remakes and there hasn’t been a new game on a home console since the Gamecube. It seems Nintendo aren’t confident there is an audience for F Zero, and so the approach of just “lets make another one” doesn’t apply. Miyamoto said “I certainly understand that people want a new F-Zero game… I think where I struggle is that I don’t really have a good idea for what’s new that we could bring to F-Zero that would really turn it into a great game again… I don’t know, at this point, what direction we could go in with a new F-Zero.” But this isn’t really fair: Mario Kart is a series that keeps getting new instalments, and they do add new features, but they are just gimmicks to keep things fresh. The difference for Nintendo, honestly, is just that Mario Kart sells and F Zero wouldn’t.
F Zero might be the one franchise where it is right to make the game into something very different from what it originally was. Captain Falcon is hugely popular character in the Smash Bros games, so why not find a way to use those classic characters and vehicles in a way that isn’t just another racer that overlaps with Mario Kart’s territory. Stick with racing, cause people shouldn’t be alienated, but cover all the bases that Mario Kart doesn’t. The game could be open world, more gritty, and story driven. Such a game would need a scope that lower budget futuristic racers couldn’t achieve so it could really distinguish itself. But if it Nintendo simply made a great game that addressed genres that their in-house games haven’t approached yet, it could be something that drives people to the Switch regardless of knowledge of the series.
From Software styled Zelda
I own a PS4 just to play Bloodbourne. It would be a big upfront investment for Nintendo, but Souls fans are rabid enough to be lured over. If From had had a game on Wii U, and it only minimally boosted that consoles sales, they could have now ported it to the Switch, which is picking up a lot of hype around Zelda. It would be a pretty great asset for Nintendo if they had a Bloodborne-esque exclusive to further woo over new customers who didn’t pick up the Wii U. Demon’s Souls still hasn’t been available anywhere beside the PS3 and Bloodborne probably will be a Sony exclusive until the apocalypse. If Nintendo can afford it, it could be a sound decision for the future.
From may actually want to do it given their reverence for the series. Miyazaki said “when I was a student, The Legend of Zelda was truly monumental. So to be perfectly honest, I feel deeply unworthy of the comparison.” Then again they have successfully launched their own beloved series at a time when new IPs aren’t just falling off of trees. Looking at the reverse, Souls is something that could have very well been seducing gamers away from Nintendo. If From didn’t want to do it, a Retro studios Zelda game has long been discussed, and a souls-like game could be worth thinking about for them. Retro’s Metroid Prime wasn’t really a conventional shooter and stayed true to the series roots in level design, but still acted as a sort of competitor to Halo. Retro might be able to do the same with Souls, where they could take some mechanics and have it look superficially similar, while still bringing their unique ideas to the game.
Consider Axiom verge, cave Story, Momodora, Hollow Knight: in the absence of 2D Metroid games, fans are making them on their own. You could ask, why not just enjoy what these talented indie devs are making? They have the raw passion and are developing new ideas, rather than just dragging out a tired property. And that’s true, but this entry is more just about how mind-boggling it is that Nintendo hasn’t just done it themselves.
The results would probably not live up to Super Metroid. However, the recent success in the genre shows that it probably wouldn’t be a bad game, and small-scale sprite based games aren’t going to bite into Nintendo’s finances. A 2D Metroid game, that people have been hyped about for a decade now, would make a considerable return on the investment. Nintendo wouldn’t even have to develop the game themselves. Axiom Verge didn’t blow people away or quite take up the gauntlet of Super Metroid, but you could still drop Samus into it as the protagonist and it would have pleased a lot of people. If Tom Happ (the creator of Axiom Verge) had a team behind him and Nintendo money, he could do even better.