Top 5 Nintendo franchises that need a kick in the butt

Recently, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime asked Kotaku readers what Nintendo franchises they want to see re-worked and by what dev teams – in the same sort of vein as Project M (Team Ninja + Nintendo), aka Metroid: Other M. This got me thinking; I mean, Nintendo, far beyond any other major software maker, has defined just what video gaming is with their collection of mostly family-friendly franchises. For years Nintendo characters have headlined and starred in some of the most memorable, critically acclaimed, and nostalgic games.

We know Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong, but in recent years, Nintendo has managed to invent new franchises that have done so well, that they are quickly becoming household names in their own right (Pikmin, Wii Sports/Resort, and Cooking Mama come to mind here). So, to oblige Mr. Fils-Aime, I’m putting together my list of 5 Nintendo franchises that could use a swift kick in the rear end, whether by Nintendo proper, or by an outside team. Metroid is getting a face-lift; I think these IPs could benefit from the same:

5. F-Zero

High speed combat racing is still fun. Wipeout got the HD treatment on PS3 got good reviews. Now, I’m not saying the Wipeout guys should do a F-Zero title, but Capt. Falcon has been sidelined for almost six years now, only seeing any action in the Smash Brothers titles since the last F-Zero outing (F-Zero GX on Gamecube).

4. Kid Icarus

I never played the original, so my first formal introduction to Pit was Brawl. However, I was aware of Pit’s historic significance. There may be a new Kid Icarus in the works, but we have heard very little about it. It’s almost as if the rumor mill forgot there were even rumors here to be milled. With my limited knowledge of the original, I envision the possibilities of what would happen if Capcom’s Megaman teams got hold of this. Say what you will about that, but we need more true, classic hardcore old-school game experiences. KI is a side-scrolling platformer; let’s play with that shall we…

3. Pokemon

Ok, this franchise doesn’t need anywhere near as hard a kick in the ass as the others on this list, but one is still in dire need nonetheless. While the formula of the main franchise games has remained literally unchanged and has also remained remarkably fun, I can’t help but feel that the current generation (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) missed a perfect opportunity to seize the advantages of the DS. I”m not referring to the stylus controls at all – that was done petty much spot on. I mean the actual formula itself. I don’t propose to change it actually, just refine it, make it more concise without sacrificing the depth that has blossomed over the years. Do away with useless contests and hidden EV/IV points (who does contests? and little kids hardly understand EV training anyway – I hardly get it, and I’m a veteran pokeman trainer). Add a better pokedex (one that can be used in battle) and enhanced battle mechanics (just beyond the current rock-paper-scissors thing). Also, it would be cool if it were actually possible to catch ’em all again, and to be able to travel to ALL of the regions of the Pokemon universe on one cart/disc with stuff to do in each region would rock crazy hard.

2. Donkey Kong

There hasen’t been a proper Donkey Kong game since Donkey Kong 64. I’m tired of wack bongo beating. Kong is not a music rhythm game star, his a star of awesome platformers. It’s high time Kong gets treated right and cast in a REAL Donkey Kong adventure. Alternately, I wouldn’t mind if he takes a turn toward the dark side and returns to his original role as a villain in a classic-style Donkey Kong arcade shindig verses his old rival Mario (or even more funny, Luigi). I mean, think about it. Kong has been living in Mario’s shadow for a long while now. And while he’s been a participant in every Smash game to date, he has NEVER received top billing on any of the box art (in fact, he only appears on the Melee cover, in a tiny avatar-esque box just above the “S” in “Bros.”). I wouldn’t blame Donkey if he decided to kidnap Peach again for a little attention from gamers and revenge against Mario. Oh, a Bowser-Kong team-up would be really interesting…

1. Legend of Zelda

Zelda WII (I know, that’s clever) is in the works right now, but as awesome as Twilight Princess is, it leaves something to be desired. It was little too easy and too much like Ocarina of Time. Luckily, Wii MotionPlus will be out at least a year before this next title hits shelves, and the swordplay could use the added sensitivity the add-on provides. Furthermore, Link and Zelda just don’t get enough action compared to Mario and Peach, and the Zelda franchise is probably Nintendo’s second most respected IPs in their arsenal, second only to Mario. When the question of best game ever is raised, OoT and ALttP are consistently submitted as candidates. There is no such thing as a bad Zelda game (ZII was just different, and the Phillips games, what Phillips games? that didn’t happen), so the need to keep the franchise alive and popping is something Nintendo must address. Fans have been clamoring for a darker, more mature take on the franchise since the original Wind Waker pre-production work and teaser were released. We got TP eventually, but I think that the series can get darker, edgier, without sacrificing everything that makes Zelda Zelda. For sure, the Legend is legendary, but it has yet to become truly epic. We may have to wait for Spirit Tracks and Zelda WII to see were the series should go from where it is now, but there is always hope for the hardcore, right?

So, what do you think? Be sure to leave your two cents in the comments.


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