At the time of writing, Nintendo Switch – despite stock issues – is on a roll. Having already shifted over five million units in just over six months, eclipsing its flop of a predecessor seems a formality at this point as Nintendo expect Switch to hit 10 million by the end of its first year on sale. By comparison, the Wii U only sold 13 million units in its entire lifecycle, and it’s clear that a change of fortunes is in the air for the Big N.
Even with its impressive hardware sales, Switch hasn’t exactly bombarded owners with an avalanche of software. Outside of downloadable indie titles, we’ve really only had Breath of the Wild, a remaster of Mario Kart 8, A Splatoon sequel featuring all the same baffling faults and omissions, new title Arms, a horrible party game, and overpriced versions of Street Fighter and Bomberman to sink our collective teeth into.
Breath of the Wild may be an overwhelming favorite for game of the year awards the world over, but the real kicker for Switch lies in its future potential. Mario Odyssey, Metroid Prime 4 and the next core Pokémon have all been announced for the console to universal fan appreciation and, being the greedy Nintendo fans we are, we’re looking beyond those games towards five more franchises we really want to see return on Nintendo’s new phenomenon.
We might as well put the elephant in the room out of its misery first. After Metroid Prime (which, mercifully, we can stop complaining about now), F-Zero is easily the most wanted of all the Wii U absentees, and it absolutely needs to happen on Switch.
Fast Racing Neo and Fast Racing RMX have done a respectable job of providing Nintendo fans with suitable amounts of g-force on both Wii U and Switch, but while those games offered the blistering speed, they simply can’t compare to F-Zero in terms of personality or reverence from the Nintendo faithful.
It’s not like Nintendo are even trying to make us forget about the franchise’s existence. Captain Falcon is a mainstay in Smash Bros., Nintendo Land featured an F-Zero mini-game, and the Blue Falcon racer was available as DLC in Mario Kart 8 alongside an F-Zero track. How much longer can Nintendo dangle the carrot of a possible revival for the 11-year dormant series without giving us what we really want?
Perhaps the biggest issue stopping a new F-Zero from happening is Nintendo’s apprehension over how to revive the series. Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted by Nintendo Life back in 2012 as lamenting that, since the SNES original, he feels the series has ‘evolved very little’ and that he ‘thought people had grown weary of it.’
Miyamoto’s assumption is almost certainly a reaction to the poor sales figures of the SEGA-developed, and critically acclaimed, F-Zero GX on GameCube. Although, that apparently didn’t stop Nintendo from asking Burnout developer Criterion to make a playable pitch for an F-Zero title on Wii U to be shown off at E3 2011. Criterion founder Alex Ward confirmed this, but explained that resources were already spread too thin on Need For Speed: Most Wanted to make it a reality.
There are signs, then, that not everyone at Nintendo has given up on F-Zero. Despite Miyamoto’s opinion that the series hasn’t evolved, fans will argue that it doesn’t need to and that each installment has improved on its predecessor’s blueprints to consistently produce relentlessly exhilarating racing.
Two home consoles have come and gone without a new F-Zero title, and if the power and portability of Switch can’t provide the perfect platform for a series revival, then maybe we’ll all have to join Miyamoto in giving up. Unless someone wants to give Alex Ward a call?
There may be a running theme in this list where developers are unsure of what to do with a beloved franchise and are wary of getting the ball rolling without first having some sort of eureka moment. For turn-based strategy title Advance Wars, that would be series producer Hitoshi Yamagami bemoaning a perceived difficulty in adapting the character relationship system of sister series Fire Emblem onto the modern battlefields of Advance Wars.
Leaving aside the issue of successfully implementing tank-on-tank romance, Advance Wars is the perfect Switch title. There may be trepidation at present, but eventually Nintendo will have to admit that they shouldn’t be releasing games on 3DS anymore, and they need to be bringing traditionally handheld-only series like Advance Wars to the new system – even if they don’t stylistically change that much.
Advance Wars is one of those quintessential handheld games – boasting a low barrier of entry through inviting mechanics and short levels for on-the-go fun. It’s also your typical ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ game; its cartoonish charm and turn-based gameplay masking over the impending difficulty curve that will really test the skill and planning of players in the later game.
With roots going all the way back to the 1988’s original Famicom Wars, it’s disappointing that we last saw a new title in the series with Advance Wars: Days of Ruin on the DS way back in 2008.
A telling fact when talking about all the games in this list is that sales figures are rarely spectacular if we’re not talking about a game involving Mario or Link. Even if Yamagami reiterated that he does want to make another Advance Wars game, the series has never sold amazingly well, and this must be a factor in the series’ near 10-year hiatus. However, this was also the case with Fire Emblem before its recent 3DS outings, and that series has now been completely rejuvenated both on Nintendo hardware and in the popular mobile app. With Advance Wars’ more western-friendly leanings, this seems more than replicable were it to finally make a return.
Cast your mind back to Wave Race games past. What is the first thing you think of? If you said the water effects, you’re right! Even as an N64 launch title, Wave Race 64 was a stunningly beautiful game, as was the 2001 GameCube sequel Wave Race: Blue Storm. The potential for incredible visuals on Switch hardware is a truly mouth – or should that be jet ski – watering prospect.
The Wave Race titles are renowned for silky-smooth aquatic racing action, great soundtracks, and breathtaking weather effects. Considering many N64 early adopters probably got a copy of Wave Race 64 with their shiny new console, there are going to be a lot of hardcore Nintendo fans with some great memories of slaloming through buoys, slamming against the current, and flying off stunt ramps to dive under the surface during multiplayer races.
The only real problem that Wave Race has is that the game as a package was always a little, erm, shallow. Indeed, Blue Storm featured only time and stunt attack modes to supplement the obligatory championship and multiplayer offerings. In today’s market, this wouldn’t be enough to justify a full-price release. Fortunately, we are currently enjoying an industry where indie games are thriving, and Switch already has an impressive indie reputation.
It’s games like Wave Race that Nintendo should be looking at as potential smaller budget opportunities to fill gaps in their release schedule. A download-only version with some sexy graphics and robust online multiplayer is all that’s needed to revive the series.
Nintendo has a decent amount of smaller titles and a not-so-decent amount of release schedule lulls. Once 3DS software development dies down, Nintendo’s resources will be less spread out, and games like this could potentially become a reality. Besides, nothing beats a summer drought like a ride on a Jet Ski, right?
After a 19-year hiatus, Nintendo finally revived Kid Icarus in 2012 with the 3DS title Kid Icarus: Uprising. The game was incredibly well received – even scoring the mythical 40/40 from Japanese magazine Famitsu. While Uprising was a delightfully refreshing reboot of the original, in the cold light of non-Famitsu day it certainly wasn’t perfect.
The main issue with Uprising was the controls. To say they were so fiddly that Nintendo bundled the game with a 3DS stand just so players had enough free digits to even play it would be… well, it would be exactly what happened. The over-the-shoulder perspective required the type of aiming and camera movement that a plastic pen on a touchscreen simply can’t accommodate. On Switch, this problem happily goes away and grants potential for Kid Icarus to truly deserve a perfect review score.
Control issues aside, the game was a gorgeous and exhilarating shooter that transitioned seamlessly between on rails Star Fox-style levels to more open areas that required lengthy exploration. There were boss battles, weapon upgrades, online multiplayer and even a system where players could bet hearts (the game’s currency) to increase a level’s difficulty before they dove in. Beautiful-yet-deadly, Uprising was a game designed specifically for the Nintendo hardcore.
There’s every chance that Kid Icarus will make a return on Nintendo Switch. Uprising not only received universal critical acclaim, but it sold gangbusters too – soaring to the top of Japanese sales charts upon its release. Indeed, Kid Icarus’ recent success makes it the most likely game in this list to make a return, even if we have been waiting over five years for the next iteration at this point.
Donkey Konga is the most necessary revival in this whole list, chiefly because the latency on modern HD TVs means that the three titles released on GameCube are now impossible to play unless you’ve still got a crusty old CRT set lying around and… well, you probably don’t.
The Donkey Konga games thrive off of a very basic principle: hitting stuff is awesome. Donkey Konga capitalized on the craze for rhythm games back in the mid-2000s and the three games in the series would still provide excellent entertainment today if it were possible to play them. An eclectic mix of popular, classical and video game music – there was something in Donkey Konga for everyone to slap and clap along to.
In Japan especially, it’s surprising that Donkey Konga hasn’t at least seen its way into arcades. Taiko no Tatsujin – Namco’s taiko drum rhythm game – is a mainstay in Japanese arcades and has seen recent retail releases on PS4 and Switch, with the latest version even including RPG elements. It can’t just be the Japanese that love to listen to music and smash things with sticks can it?
Of all the games in this list, this last entry is definitely the least likely to happen. Rhythm games are only now undergoing a small revival, but that’s happening more with indie games like Thumper and Crypt of the Necrodancer, and there certainly isn’t a revival of peripheral games going on.
If Nintendo could even harness the ability of the Smash Bros. adapter for GameCube controllers to work via USB and port the original games to Switch, that would be a small victory for the thousands of dusty bongo sets out there. Licensing issues would almost certainly creep in for those songs that weren’t covers, but at least the legacy of such a delightful and delirious party game wouldn’t die alongside the TV sets needed to play them on.