Developers We Think Should Work On Nintendo's Franchises

by Kyle Hilliard on Dec 18, 2013 at 09:40 AM

Nintendo handing the keys to Zelda over to Tecmo Koei for Hyrule Warriors (name not final) is highly irregular. Nintendo has handed over the reins to many of its franchises to other developers to great success on a few occasions, but Zelda in particular has always been one Nintendo has held close to its chest.

Capcom successfully took over a few of the handheld Zelda games, but through what could only be explained as a clerical oversight, Phillips developed a few Zelda games for its CD-i console and they were absolutely terrible. Seeing Nintendo offer Zelda to Tecmo Koei and injecting the universe into a new genre got us thinking about where some of Nintendo’s other franchises could go.

Firaxis on Pikmin

Firaxis has made a name for itself with its high-quality strategy games. It brought back the XCOM franchise in a huge way last year, and with the release of XCOM: Enemy Within and Civilization V: Brave New World this year, it is continuing to maintain its high standard of strategy quality.

Nintendo has a few highly regarded strategy titles under its umbrella with Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, but the one I would be most curious to see Firaxis try its own take on would be Pikmin. There have only been three Pikmin games since the franchise was introduced 12 years ago, and beyond a personal interest in seeing how another developer would tackle Pikmin, it would just be nice to have more entries in the series.

WayForward on Metroid

WayForward’s most recent title is its re-imagining of DuckTales. It has proven itself to be an expert at the art of well-animated 2D platforming, specifically when it comes to bringing former NES games into the modern age. It has done it with both DuckTales: Remastered and A Boy and his Blob on Wii in 2009. The studio has also had success with its original games like Shantae and Mighty Switch Force.

WayForward has had a number of small successes, and the studio seems due to try its hands at something larger. Many cry out for Retro, the studio behind the Metroid Prime series, to do a 2D handheld Metroid entry, and while I would happily play and be excited for that game, I love the idea of giving WayForward a chance to really prove itself.

Harmonix on Wii Music

To be honest, no one is clamoring for a sequel to Wii Music. It was a motion-controlled experiment that fell flat. It’s not so much that I would be interested in seeing Harmonix make a new Wii Music, as much as I would like to see the developer craft a music game filled with Nintendo’s infinitely hummable tunes. It could be sort of like Nintendo’s collaboration with Konami for Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix, but with more of a focus on the music, instead of the dancing.

From Software on The Legend of Zelda

From Software is the studio behind the Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls series. Fans love the tone of dread established by Dark Souls' difficulty and unforgiving world and it’s a tone I would be curious to see applied to the world of Hyrule. Link’s adventures aren’t always dark, but there is room in the storyline (Ganon doesn’t have to lose every time, does he?) for a world focused on survival and expert combat. It’s a highly unlikely collaboration, but it’s one I think players could embrace.

Ubisoft Montpellier on Super Mario Bros.

Rayman Origins and its follow-up are both fantastic 2D platformers that easily stand next to Mario’s platformers in terms of quality and fun. Rayman Legends offers Mario and Luigi skins for Rayman and his friend Globox to wear, but I like the idea of the studio adopting more of Mario’s universe into a full game. Rayman’s platforming is much quicker and rhythmic in its pace, and seeing it applied to Mario’s universe would provide an interesting alternative to Nintendo’s own offerings.

Double Fine on Earthbound

Double Fine’s greatest asset as a developer is its sense of humor and quality writing. When people reminisce about Earthbound, those are the two things players often recall mostly fondly. Tim Schafer is also a huge fan of the game, as he made clear on Twitter when he replayed the game recently.

Halfbrick on Balloon Fight

Halfbrick’s biggest hit is Fruit Ninja, but its other successful game, Jetpack Joyride, is what makes us think it could offer a fantastic take on Balloon Fight. The developer excels on mobile devices, but that platform is out of the question when it comes to Nintendo. Instead, Halfbrick could try its hugely replayable formula on the 3DS.

Criterion on F-Zero

Criterion is working hard on the Need for Speed series these days, but for many the Burnout series is what made them take notice of the developer. F-Zero is a series known primarily for its speed, and Burnout is a series known primarily for its crashing, and I would love to see an overlap of the two. Impossible speeds could lead to some pretty spectacular crashes, and I would love to see Criterion’s level of detail applied to a science-fiction racing world.

Former Vigil Games, now Crytek USA on The Legend of Zelda

Vigil Games made Darksiders and its sequel, which were borderline Zelda games just without the Zelda license. The studio fell apart after the dissolution of THQ, but much of its staff landed and Crytek USA. It may seem like a joke to include them on this list, but I love the idea of seeing a developer who has proven itself adept at making Zelda-like games make a game based on the franchise that clearly inspires its work. The games’ creative director and comic book artist Joe Madureira, who is not with Crytek like some of his former team, recently offered his own rendition of Link, which you can see above.

Maybe the new Vigil could pursue a Zelda game that doesn’t star Link. Maybe Vigil could make a game that finally follows the exploits of the series’ namesake.

Konami on Metroid

Similar to Vigil and Zelda, Konami’s pre-Lords of Shadow 2D Castlevania games took a lot of clear inspiration from Metroid. The term Metroid-vania was born from games like Symphony of the Night, and to see Konami try its hand at the series that inspired many of its Castlevania games would be very exciting.

This is far from a complete list in regards to Nintendo franchises and the developers who could tackle them. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for non-Nintendo developers to make Nintendo games?