Nintendo has spent years cultivating a reputation for making innovative and impactful games that shape the market. From platform fighters to turn-based strategy titles, Nintendo has dabbled in nearly every style and genre of video game since they first entered the industry. With such a variety of games under Nintendo’s belt, however, it’s inevitable that some would end up underrepresented in the company’s modern lineup.
Given that Nintendo has left certain properties to gather dust on the proverbial shelf, we feel it’s past time to revisit and revitalize said abandoned series. Here are some of the most prominent Nintendo properties that deserve a second chance at finding success.
As long as some sort of vehicle exists in any capacity, racing games will never go out of style. Since the inception of competitive arcade games, the racing genre has maintained a reliable spot in the market, managing to endure even as arcades themselves fell out of favor. This consistent desire for racing games, across decades of market changes, has not been lost on Nintendo.
That said, Nintendo’s approach to creating and selling racing titles differs significantly from its competition. While other companies prefer to focus on realistic driving experiences in the vein of Forza and Dirt, Nintendo has remained rooted to the more fantastical side of the racing genre. In particular, their Mario Kart games have dominated the sales charts across consoles and generations. Naturally, Nintendo being so devoted to this style of racing game has the downside of shutting out other avenues of development.
This includes the likes of F-Zero, a series whose impact has been overshadowed by other works and whose future remains uncertain. In Nintendo’s continued effort to push all things Mario, the F-Zero franchise has been left in stasis since 2004. At this point, series mascot Captain Falcon is better known for his fiery fighting style in Super Smash Bros than for his main occupation as a professional racer. What makes the sidelining of F-Zero more distressing is that, before they ceased to be relevant, the games did manage to carve out a unique place among Nintendo’s catalogue.
F-Zero differed from Mario Kart’s casual party play with its fast-paced and intense racing experience. Whereas players in a Mario Kart game would have to rely on luck and items to best their foes, F-Zero instead demanded precision, fast inputs, and machine health and boost management in order to eke out wins. It was Nintendo’s central hardcore racing series at a time when much of their development focus was placed elsewhere, though it could live again thanks to the rise of battle royales.
Such a pivot in design isn’t out of line for F-Zero, as the series has toyed with the fundamentals of the battle royale genre in the past. F-Zero X featured Death Races, a prominent mode in which the player was tasked with eliminating other racers so as to come out on top. Thus, revisiting this concept could ensure that F-Zero gets another chance on the track.
2. Advance Wars
Those who mention the developer Intelligent Systems to various Nintendo fans have a solid chance of eliciting a reaction to the effect of “Oh, the guys make Fire Emblem and fumble constantly with Paper Mario? I know them.” However, many of those same fans – and most people in general – are likely not to know that the studio is also responsible for other games, beyond their backlog of medieval warfare dating simulators or inconsistent 2.5D role-playing games.
This happens to include Advance Wars, a now-dormant gem of a series that paved the way for charming turn-based strategy games during the Game Boy Advance era. Set in the larger Wars series of turn-based tactics games, Advance Wars made a name for itself with its debut in 2001. It caught the attention and hearts of players with its bright assortment of sprites, retaining a loyal fan base up until 2008’s Days of Ruin. The appeal of Advance Wars went beyond its surface-level qualities, though.
Beneath Advance Wars’ cute cartoon exterior was a deep, rewarding, and addictive strategy experience that was paired with compelling drama. While the more successful Fire Emblem games deals in swords and sorcery, Advance Wars explored warfare that involved fuel, ammunition, and a lot of machinery. The four Advance Wars games measured and challenged the player’s tactical capabilities at every turn, all while presenting them with endearing characters and satisfying storylines. All of these component parts are vital to the identity and quality of an Advance Wars game, with any absent element putting the series in jeopardy.
The dangers of incompatible alterations to formula were proven with Days of Ruin, which isn’t remembered as fondly as its predecessors. This instalment opted to ditch the whimsical nature of the first three games in favor of a darker post-apocalyptic tale, a result of chasing the trend toward try-hard edginess that persisted throughout the 2000s. Of course, Days of Ruin’s awkward pivot to a grim tone was only the tip of the iceberg where the series’ issues were concerned.
Aside from tonal shifts, the series was criticized for lack of innovation and balancing issues over the course of its run. Though the jump from Game Boy Advance to Nintendo DS added greater depth, Advance Wars suffered by not venturing into new territory with each iteration. That refusal to evolve with the times seems to have played a key role in the decision to end production on Advance Wars games.
Still, the hope for a follow-up endures among fans. Though Fire Emblem may occupy almost all of Intelligent Systems’ attention for now, there is a vocal group of gamers that wants to continue helping the Allied Nations face off against the Black Hole Army. Maybe one day we will have an opportunity to see how Andy and the other COs are doing.
1. Kid Icarus
As with Captain Falcon and F-Zero, the angel hero Pit all but saved Kid Icarus from obscurity. Pit’s appearance as a fighter and major character in Super Smash Bros Brawl proved popular enough that Nintendo greenlit a sequel to Kid Icarus, giving the reins to Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai. The clout bought by Pit’s unexpected acclaim ensured that Kid Icarus would get at least one more chance to make its mark.
That chance took the form of Kid Icarus: Uprising, which was built as a bold yet loving reinvention of the series. Uprising threw out the side-scrolling aspect of the earlier games, in favor of an eccentric mixture of rail shooter and third-person action. On top of that, the game opted to maintain certain established lore and characters while making time for new additions, a lighthearted narrative, and entertaining dialogue. Between the game’s interesting gameplay changes and energetic worldbuilding, Kid Icarus: Uprising had all the right ingredients to ensure that its series became another of Nintendo’s heavy-hitters.
Alas, the series remains dormant on account of lacking the continuing direction and oversight to do anything with those compelling elements. Sakurai has confirmed that there are no plans for a sequel to Uprising. Furthermore, Sakurai and his team at Sora Ltd. are busy working to support Super Smash Bros Ultimate, not having the time to handle a sequel to Uprising. Despite this absence of available leadership to carry Kid Icarus forward, we still feel it would be worthwhile to keep the series going.
A new sequel on the Switch or the potential Switch Pro could take the game beyond what was achieved with Uprising. This hypothetical Kid Icarus game could take advantage of updated visuals and reworked controls, addressing critics’ issues with Uprising while delivering a slick new experience. There’s a real possibility that, with great care, the next instalment in the Kid Icarus series can give this property the renaissance it deserves.