If you've been paying attention to the video game industry at all this year, it's not hard to see that Nintendo is behind its competitors, at least in the popular vote. I'm not saying that Nintendo is losing. You can never count out a company that is over 100 years old that started out making toys. Nintendo is great. The games that do come out are typically enjoyable, but they are typically few and far between. Recently, the game company has announced plans to lease out its franchises to other developers to bring some new life blood to them, starting with The Legend of Zelda, which is going to have an iteration created by Tecmo Koei. This got me thinking about my dream third party developers lending their talents to the franchises. Here's what I came up with:
When Super Mario RPG released on SNES, it was amazing. No one expected such a robust game full of great story and a solid battle system to come from the Mario franchise, especially at the time when the tiny plumber ruled the 2D platforming genre. Since the original's release there has been the Mario and Luigi series, but it feels like something entirely different (which it is).
To get the franchise back, some would say pull from Square Enix, since it was Squaresoft who created the original game. But rather than backtrack, why not place the franchise in the capable hands of Atlus. The Shin Megami franchise is home to some of the best JRPG's this generation. From the Persona series, which recently released the excellent Persona 4: The Golden (and has a new entry coming soon) and the Shin Megami Tensei series, which just had a new iteration recently release on 3DS, the studio is still popping out great games. Though the studio has a long working relationship with Sony, they are independent and are constantly releasing games on Nintendo platforms, so the thought isn't too outlandish. With great storytelling and a knack for creating unique battle systems, I can't think of another developer more perfect for the task of bringing a real, old-school Super Mario RPG back for a new iteration.
Unlike a large population of gamers, I have never played the old 2D Metroid games. Now before you go and start yelling blasphemy, I want you to just hear me out. Over the generations since the series debut, Metroid like games have popped out on all manner of gaming devices. Hell, between the series and the older 2D Castlevania games, an entire genre was born. The last time a Metroid appeared in the wild, it was a 2.5D Metroid: Other M. Before that it was the Prime series, which was great, but not necessarily what fans want. So I say bring the franchise to the 3D realm, for real.
And there is no other developer more up to the task than Rocksteady. Hell the Batman games are essentially just that. The studio is well known for the polish they put into the games it makes, specifically when it comes to the attention to the lore of the series it is working on. Imagine a true 3D Metroid in which Samus must journey around an open world, slowly piecing together her suite as she finds grappling hooks and different ammo types for her gun to take out enemies and slowly make her way to escaping the planet she has crashed down on. Rocksteady is also really great about creating gameplay systems, and creating them around the universe they are crafting. There is no other studio to pick, even if they are probably working on the next Batman game.
Kirby is an odd franchise. Born out of the popularity of all the 2D platformers in the late 80's/early 90's, the pink ball seems to have lost his appeal as time has gone on. Now all Kirby games have been 2D up until this point, so I say, much like the Metroid franchise, bring Kirby to the 3D realm, with the help of Insomniac Games.
Insomniac has a pedigree of 3D platformers with unique characters. Spyro was just the start, and to this day they are still cranking out fantastic Ratchet and Clank games, so why not take on Kirby. Kirby's ability to suck in enemies and take on their abilities is quite unique, and can be incredible in the right developers hands. Just imagine taking Ratchets guns, replace them with Kirby's ability to siphon enemy abilities, and create unique 3D environments that are vertical in scale and based off of Kirby's Dream World. And Insomniac has recently come out about being a 3rd party developer, releasing it's first game outside of Sony platforms on Xbox One, so Nintendo could go after them as a developer.
The Legend of Zelda
This one is a bit tough. Like many of you I grew up with Zelda. Though I missed the NES and SNES originals, I fell in love on the Nintendo 64. To this day, Majora's Mask is still the high point of the series for me. Since the introduction to 3D though , it feels like every iteration is trying to recreate the magic of Ocarina of Time. It's time for a serious look at the franchise. So why not a more serious look for the franchise, say from From Software?
Demon Souls and Dark Souls started the trend of bringing the hard back to hardcore. But that's not why I want From Software to create the next Zelda. The franchise has been living off of the memory of it's previous games for far too long. It's time to bring in a whole new touch to combat and the story of the world. Dark Souls combat is completely skill based, requiring precision and skill to get through every altercation. Zelda, on the other hand, is pressing one button to swing the sword, with the exception of the harder bosses and some of the later enemies. There has to be a nice middle ground between the two in which battling in Zelda can require skill again. Plus, there's no denying that Dark Souls and Demon Souls builds a world off of itself. The lore slowly builds as you travel across the land, defeating enemies and meeting new characters and lands. The Zelda franchise is missing that, building story off of nostalgia and a lore that has been rewritten time and time again. So why not try From Software. At the least, it'll bring some fresh blood to the series.
So those are just a few of my top picks. What are some of your dream third party developers for Nintendo franchises? Leave your comments below and as always, keep the conversation going.