Each of Nintendo's franchises is weighed down with sequels that deliver a teaspoon of new content amidst gallons of familiar fan service. This pandering ensures the devoted legions happily slam down money for the latest re-imagining of Link, Pikachu, Fox or Samus despite the overall similarity to the previous game. You love it, we love it, but after seeing crowning achievements like Twilight Princess and Prime 3, we can't help but wonder "what do you do next?"
Detailed over the next few pages are our hopes for four key Nintendo franchises. Each has special issues that need to be addressed if the next entry is to be as exciting as the last, so careful consideration went into each selection. The idea is even though Nintendo could simply rearrange Zelda's dungeons and items and pop out a new game in a couple of years, they should take the time to really wow us with a major shake-up. So, what batshit crazy ideas did we come up with? First up - the next Zelda game should take place in the future.
Yes, it's hard to swallow at first glance, but hear us out. Twilight Princess was the Zelda game, one that we'd been waiting to play since 2000, when a demo reel showcasing an adult Link and Ganondorf locked in battle ran in front of massive crowds. We got Wind Waker instead, an entry that couldn't have been further from that original footage. Three years later, Twilight Princess appeared, sold like crazy and saw more than a few 10/10 review scores. Now that we've finally seen, played and beaten our long-awaited "serious, realistic" Zelda, would another medieval setting be as exciting? We need a completely fresh look at the series, something even more drastic than Wind Waker's candy-coated islands.
Our suggestion? Take it to the future. For one installment, ditch the rustic towns and Ren Faire populace for a bustling cityscape that spans an entire solar system. Let's see Link with a lightsaber. Impa as the leader of Hyrule's cybernetic soldiers. Ganon as an armored villain on a quest to annihilate the sun and harness its explosive power to break back into the Golden Realm. This is a legend after all - no reason this timeless tale couldn't still be going on 500 years from now.
Now before your conservative fanboy alarms start going off, realize that we're fans too. We just want to see something totally unexpected and not another shuffled set of dungeons. We want to see re-envisioned versions of Link, Zelda, Kakariko Village, even Epona, seen above as a speedy vehicle that jets Link across the many planets he'll have to visit. Traveling to different worlds also opens up the design to any terrain imaginable, plus locales that Nintendo's best could dream up without the confines of Earth-like environments. The only things we'd want to see untouched are the Master Sword and the Triforce - they're ancient artifacts and should stay that way, regardless of how much time has passed.
But don't worry - we still don't want voice acting. Link should remain silent. Ganon might benefit from a booming, competent voice actor, but overall we'd prefer to keep the dialogue as straight text. However, let's see some cutscenes. Smash Bros. Brawl's cinemas were fantastic, so imagine what could be done with Zelda. We're not the only ones.
Metroid is Nintendo's only franchise that's somewhat grounded with reality. It's filled with humans and humanoid aliens, not talking animals or oddly proportioned plumbers. Fire Emblem is "normal," but it's too faux-Lord of the Rings to step out of that shadow. So the burden falls to Samus to lead the company's one and only "serious" franchise, devoid of jokey sidekicks and silly character designs. It's time the gameplay reflected the seriousness of the concept.
Let's actually think about the setup: bounty hunter travels the galaxy completely alone in search of life-sucking parasites that turn people into dust. Every faction in space is willing to kill the other to harness this monster's power. Bounty hunter explores countless alien worlds without help and hardly any communication with the outside world. Villains include saw-armed pirates, living computers and an armor-plated pteranodon. Planets are filled with unexplained phenomena and hostile, hungry life forms. Knowing this, shouldn't Metroid be a hell of a lot more frightening than it is? We say yes, and the next entry should play up the fright factor.
You're already backtracking, conserving items and looking for safe ways to advance, so why not scare-it-up with some truly nasty monsters that belch armor-melting acid, or some coughed-up blood on the visor? Samus encounters some damn horrific creatures in each game, so imagine how much more intimidating they would be if they actually posed a threat to Samus, who depends almost entirely on her armor to survive.
We see a game where you're terrified to fight Metroids, where your armor can be destroyed. A game that forces Samus to stumble through dark alien worlds with limited resources. How about entire stretches of gameplay with no Chozo armor, just a space suit and a zero-g escape scenario? Let's just hope Dead Space doesn't beat Samus to the punch.
They tried turning this series into an online shooter. It didn't really work. So we say try the exact opposite and make a survival-horror solo title that emphasizes the "no one can hear you scream" idea of space travel. We'd also like the storyline to be a bit more understandable than "alien goo comes to life as an evil clone of Samus."
With all this in mind, "Metroid Dread" sounds like it'd make a good title after all.
Star Fox has such great potential, yet at times it looks like Nintendo doesn't know what to do with it. After two excellent shooters, it turned into a third-person adventure, then a mostly-on-foot action game that barely acknowledged the Arwings that made the first two memorable. Years later it morphed again, now into a stylus-driven, semi-tactical outing on DS. Based on sales and review scores, it's clear this series' greatest strength lies in vehicular combat, not character-driven missions. Makes sense then to ditch the single player and go for an all-out 64-player battlefield that catapults Wii to the top of the online multiplayer heap.
This one's fairly easy to sell: take Star Fox 64's excellent four-player mode, complete with Arwings, Landmaster tanks and rocket-launching soldiers, and supercharge the hell out of it. People in the sky coordinating attacks on rows of player-controlled hover tanks while foot soldiers plant mines and lay out midair nets to yank buzzing Arwings out of the sky... oh yes, we would play that forever. Add in character classes (Fox-type commando, Falco-type speedy assassin, Slippy-type engineer) and a host of new animals-in-armor and this simply screams "make me."
And that's really it. Ignore the on-rails single-player stuff for a while. Nintendo should show us it understands just how epic the Star Fox universe can be. Sure it's tough to take talking frogs seriously, but the characters will be secondary - this one's all about flying, driving and shooting. Hell they could even call it Lylat Wars and it'd make sense for once.
t's hard to suggest Pokemon is in a rut. Every single game that's vomited onto store shelves sells a gajillion copies, so why bother making drastic changes? Well, because just like Star Fox, there's a very clear direction this series needs to take and Nintendo doesn't seem interested in pursuing it. The RPGs have always been the cream of the Poke-crop, not spin-offs. They're excellent games that work both for kids and adults, so that's the obvious skeleton to work with, but how can you improve it? Take that puppy online, big time.
We're talking a World of Warcraft-level MMO that brings millions of Pokemon Trainers into the same ongoing world. Choose a starter, level it up and set out on a quest to battle other trainers, forge alliances with friends, train up multiple Poke-teams, the options are as bountiful as any MMO out there. Include all 493 Pokemon in one game, even the legendaries - they'd be so powerful, however, you'd need to stitch together a ragtag group of trainers just to take 'em down. We always thought it was a little absurd that something like Groudon or Lugia could be downed by one trainer, so this Poke-MMO would force players to team up to tackle the baddest Pokemon of them all. Even larger, regular Pokemon like Steelix would need more than one person to down - unless you're toting a high-level Charizard, that is.
We can't decide if it'd be better to let you transfer Diamond/Pearl Pokemon over to the MMO, or make everyone start from scratch. The latter sounds better, as this is a wholly new adventure that would benefit from a fresh start. The Poke MMO would be its own sustained world, so you wouldn't be catching Pokes here and then transferring them to your DS or Wii RPG game. Like FFXI, this should exist in a void.
Think we're crazy? Think we're on the money? Have your own ideas for Nintendo's best franchises?