When talking about the future of Nintendo, it’s hard not to think of the past. There have been quite a number of franchises within the house that built Mario that haven’t seen the light of day for quite some time. We decided to round everyone up and discuss some of our favorite dormant Nintendo franchises. Let us know in the comments if you agree with us, or if we missed any.
Mach Rider, originally released on the Famicom in 1985, isn’t so much a dormant franchise as it’s an almost forgotten one off title. Still, at it’s core, the franchise has a ton of potential, and the fact that it doesn’t have dozens of games creating an expectation of what fans think it should be is perhaps a good thing. Look at how different Kid Icarus: Uprising was able be from it’s predecessors for a similar example of how reviving an old franchise in a new way can lead to something both creative and wonderful. What makes Mach Rider worth returning to is the fun concept and aesthetic of the game. You play as the Mach Rider, a lone hero who must defend the earth from evil aliens known as quadrunners in a post apocalyptic wasteland. The entirety of the game consists of Mach Rider riding his machine gun equipped bike through the ruins of civilization looking for survivors. As long as this concept is kept, this game can be almost anything, from a sandbox adventure through a Mad Max style world to a full on vehicular combat title in the vein of Twisted Metal.
I really love the aesthetics of Advanced Wars. Honestly speaking, I’m probably part of the reason it became dormant. I enjoyed the first one, but I never supported its’ sequels. It’s a real tragedy that the series isn’t around, and I wish that it’d come back. It has a unique niche in Nintendo franchises that it filled so perfectly. The use of colors, the character art…it was all amazing. I don’t usually like turn-based strategy games, but I really enjoyed Advanced Wars. Hopefully it’ll come back soon.
Alright, I’m not certain that a single game that sold under a million copies really counts as a “franchise,” but I absolutely adored Silicon Knights’ GameCube horror title. Its innovative and fun sanity effects, crazy time and hero-shifting story, and lived in environments were a dramatic change from game developer interests then and now. Of course, despite Nintendo’s insistence on keeping the copyright the future for this doesn’t look good, especially after SK was effectively destroyed due to its own fraudulent antics (creator Dennis Dyack has tried repeatedly to get a sequel off the ground, but would-be fans are less than enthused, considering his history). But I’d love to see Nintendo take another crack at it. Imagine the kinds of fun you could get into with a modern sequel, with the GamePad and screen showing radically different content or save files that read minute elements of how you play!
I only discovered Geist recently but it was actually a very fun and interesting game. I know the GameCube original did not do as well as Nintendo may have hoped but having played it this year I would love for Nintendo to revisit this series. Geist is an FPS game where instead of picking up weapons you play as a ghost and possess other people. You’re not just limited to people though, you can possess animals and even objects. Living beings can only be possess when their own spirit is weak, which you can accomplish by scaring them and this is where the game really shines. Playing as a ghost and trying to figure out the puzzle of how to terrify each particular character can be really creative and fun. Unfortunately the game was fairly mediocre in the shooting sections which take up all of the combat but if this had a bit more polish it could become one of the more memorable FPS games out there. Nintendo only just scratched the surface with what they could do in a game about possessing people and I believe the FPS genre, with how popular it is nowadays, would make the game very popular indeed.
While I feel like the original concept of the ascending platform style doesn’t really have any place in the modern AAA game market, I believe that the Ice Climbers are characters that could easily cross over into other platforming type games. The marketplace as a whole is starved of 3D collectathon platformers, and Nintendo in particular really only has a Mario game every generation. If that! There is definitely demand for such games, as evident by Yooka-Laylee’s already admirable success, and it would be great to see a Nintendo IP that is solely dedicated to this genre. Regardless, I could see these characters thrive in a 2D platforming environment akin to Joe & Mac. The Ice Climbers could easily fit into an array of environments, beyond just ice and snow, though even ice and snow alone could make for some versatile level possibilities if you’re creative (mountains, caves, forests, lakes, villages etc).
Sounds odd, listing a single game as a franchise, but it’s entirely possible to expand upon the simple concept of shooting ducks. Injecting fresh blood into an old classic is a proven concept as well with games like Pac-Man Championship Edition, which stuck true to the arcade original’s roots while inserting new ideas that mesh with the gameplay. And Nintendo has the gimmicks to pull it off, too. As a full priced title? No. But as a Wiiware-esque title on the eShop? Absolutely.
There are very few franchises, especially in the racing genre, that have as much character and personality as F-Zero. Thanks to regular appearances in Smash Bros and his fast talking (and punching) attitude, Captain Falcon has firmly become a highly memorable and beloved Nintendo all-star, but unfortunately the rest of F-Zero’s bizarre cast have yet to receive similar spots in the limelight; the weird, wonderful and at times quite dark designs and backstories that surround the likes of Zoda, Beastman and The Skull make up a wholly ‘un-Nintendo’ setting, further emphasised by themes of destruction and violence such as those seen in F-Zero X’s unforgettable ‘Death Race’ mode – this is something that even extends to music track names; titles such as ‘Long Distance to Murder’, ‘All Need is 30 Deaths’ and ‘Fall Down to the Scream’, names which may not sound as ‘rad’ by today’s standards, but certainly stand out amongst a whole host of decidedly friendlier Nintendo IP. Seeing this whole host of brilliant concepts, thematically, in design and in presentation – as well as in gameplay that remains both compelling and challenging even today – go to waste is something that I don’t think I could live with. There’s still a potential for F-Zero to rise from the ashes in 2016, it’s just up to Nintendo to fasten their seatbelts, slam down on acceleration and ‘Climb Up and Get the Last Chance’! — Oliver Jameson (Minus World)
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)