After the recent Nintendo Direct Mini and Treehouse, we look at the studios that might be able to take the reins on a Nintendo franchise.
A few weeks ago, Nintendo made the surprise announcement that they were debuting some new Paper Mario: The Origami King gameplay and a new title from WayForward from a franchise that they hadn’t worked on in the past. Given that we haven’t had a formal Nintendo Direct for a while, this immediately made fans excited to see what Nintendo had in store. However, all it took was that one Tweet to send fan speculation out of control. Immediately, fans had speculated this new title from WayForward would be a first-party title, before Nintendo stepped in and clarified that it would be from a third-party franchise.
Please note that WayForward’s new title featured in #NintendoTreehouseLive is based on a third-party property.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) July 9, 2020
While secretive and stingy with their game licenses in the past, Nintendo has recently opened up the pearly gates and let some developers use their IP. In the past few years alone we’ve seen games like Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Brace Yourself Games with Cadence of Hyrule. Many Nintendo fans expected WayForward to join those ranks, before their project was revealed as a new Bakugan game.
In the time between that Tweet and a follow-up that made it clear that fans were getting their hopes far too high, the conversation about what studios would be perfect fits for specific Nintendo franchises reared its speculative head. No one was safe from that conversation, including us here at DualShockers. With that in mind, here are some of our personal pairings for which studios we’d like to see work on a Nintendo franchise.
Shin’en Multimedia – F-Zero
This one feels like a no-brainer. Nintendo fans all over have been asking for Shin’en to handle Nintendo’s fastest racing franchise since the release of Fast Racing NEO. F-Zero has been dormant for over 15 years now, and Shin’en’s Fast Racing NEO and Fast RMX feel so close to exactly what the F-Zero franchise was going for. From the high speeds and punishing courses to the beautiful courses and environments that usually end up a blur, Shin’en feels like such a perfect fit to craft Captain Falcon’s long-awaited return.
The studio’s experience with genres outside of racing makes this deal even sweeter. Adding non-racing gameplay to F-Zero, or making it function like a lower fidelity, futuristic Grand Theft Auto would be certain to be a success: maybe even enough of one to make the big N care about F-Zero again.
WayForward – Metroid
This is the one. This is what droves of Nintendo fans were hoping for from WayForward during the Treehouse live stream. WayForward is among rarified air when it comes to making 2D platformers, especially Metroidvania-style games like the massively popular Shantae franchise. Among the various Nintendo rumors we’ve seen this year, one of the most compelling ones involves Paper Mario and Metroid; not Metroid Prime 4, but a 2D follow-up to Metroid Fusion.
It all fit together and it made us all realize just how good a WayForward-developed Metroid game could be — from the potential of a hand-drawn style, to the music, to the studio’s platforming, it would be sure to bring a new style and energy to the series and with it a fresh sense of excitement.
Keita Takahashi – Chibi-Robo!
I’m aware that having a person rather than a developer or a studio up there is cheating in some ways, but if Kojima gets this treatment, so can Takahashi. If anyone can make a game about running around a house and doing chores as a little robot entertaining and fun, it’s Keita Takahashi. As the man behind charming and whimsical games like Katamari Damacy and Wattam, his ability to make the mundane amusing and often downright comical is the key here.
That’s not to say that these elements weren’t present in the original Chibi-Robo! games, but doubling down on the franchise’s personality is one of the few ways it can recover from a miss as hard as Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash.
Monstars – Dr. Mario
This is a bit of a stretch. Dr. Mario wasn’t quite the smash hit that Tetris was, but picture this: Nintendo begins to publish a line of smaller experiences for the ToyCon VR kit with a VR Dr. Mario leading the charge. The series hasn’t been dormant by any means, but it’d at least serve as a distraction from the cursed doctors that DeNA and Nintendo are dreaming up for Dr. Mario World.
After Rez Infinite and Tetris Effect, Monstars feels like the type of studio that could truly reimagine how a Dr. Mario game looks and plays. The studio’s adaptable visual style and penchant for music fits the bill of the gameplay, and combined with Dr. Mario‘s infinitely fun loop, this could make for a cure to all that ails me.
Toby Fox – Mother/EarthBound
At this point, Mother 3 is basically a joke here in the West. Not only did we never receive a localization of the game when it first came out, but we also never got anything in the way of a localization, let alone acknowledgment of it outside of a throwaway joke about it in a past Nintendo E3 presentation. That’s where Toby Fox comes in.
He got his start in modding Earthbound and broke into the limelight with his massive indie success Undertale, which adapts so much of the heart and dark humor that makes the Mother games great. On top of that he even composes his own music, and he’s branched out to working with Nintendo on games such as Little Town Hero and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
FromSoftware – Punch-Out!!
Just hear me out, okay?
Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team over at FromSoft stole the spotlight over the past decade with their gothic megahit Dark Souls. It’s become so omnipresent in gaming culture by spawning memes, normalizing game design choices, and even being given its own genre, the Soulslike.
What is a Soulslike if not a punishing game all about learning different enemies’ patterns and tells? That’s exactly what Punch-Out!! games are at their core. If Miyazaki’s team were able to modernize Punch-Out!! and maybe even bring it into the third dimension, it would be sure to be a knockout, especially if it focused on the cartoonish over-the-top animations and leaned into the intense feeling of a last-hit match.
As chance would have it, most of these Nintendo franchises are largely (or totally) dormant. I have the utmost confidence that every one of these ideas would breathe new life into franchises that sorely need more than a representative in Super Smash Bros. every five to six years and a Switch profile icon to remind people that they exist.
Which studios would you like to see work on a Nintendo franchise? Let us know in the comments below.