Nintendo We: Introductory Article
This is an introductory piece to a new series of articles to feature on DarkZero entitled Nintendo We. In this eight-part series, I will be outlining a collection of ideas of which I believe would make for excellent video games based on the collaboration of Nintendo and other developers. In light of the recent efforts that Nintendo have published as a result of developer partnerships, such as Hyrule Warriors and the upcoming Pokkén Tournament, I believe there are other potentially compelling directions that Nintendo could take their franchises in, in terms of gameplay as well as from a story perspective.
People who don’t play games very often might have a different viewpoint about this. They may think that the idea of Nintendo enlisting the help of other developers and handing their longest running series’ to them is a relatively new thing, and that it shows weakness on the part of the Japanese gaming giants. But the main purpose of this introductory article is to outline exactly why this is far from the truth. There is a plethora of different examples of Nintendo doing this, happening throughout the entirety of their foray into the video game market. Though the most recent examples can be found on the Wii U, Nintendo tried a lot of new things with some of their most recognisable and iconic franchises during the sixth generation, whilst developing games for the Nintendo GameCube. Perhaps the two most prominent examples of which are Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
The Metroid series consisted mainly of games in the 2D side scrolling genre, but Metroid Prime was developed more akin to a first-person shooter, which was a genre becoming increasingly popular at the time. Games like Half-Life, Duke Nukem 3D, Golden Eye 007 and Perfect Dark (the last two examples I will expanding further on) had taken the genre to new heights within the industry beyond just Doom and Wolfenstein, and Metroid Prime was very heavily influenced by this. They realized most games in the genre to find success were made by western developers, such as Rare, id Software and 3D Realms, and so they assigned Metroid Prime to Retro Studios, who took the series and made it their own in a ot of ways. They developed a game very reminiscent of a first-person shooter, but did so in a way that it makes it feel more like a Metroid game, with elements such as open-world exploration and side quests.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was not so much inspired by other gameplay elements, as indeed, the game plays out very much in lieu of Zelda tradition; but rather inspiration was drawn to give the game its unique visual style, which received a largely mixed reception at the time of the game’s release, but the game would become a favourite for fans of the series. The technique of using cel-shading in video games was first popularised by the game Jet Set Radio; released on the Dreamcast back in 2000. Three years later, Nintendo decided to use the same technique in the development of The Wind Waker, and have since used it in a lot more of their games, such as Pokémon X and Y, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and several entries in the Fire Emblem series; in fact, Twilight Princes is the only main entrace in the Zelda series since The Wind Waker to not make use of cel-shaded graphics.
In the fifth generation of gaming, Super Mario 64 was released, and the popularity of Nintendo’s ubiquitous plumber skyrocketed. The aspect of the game taking place in a open 3D environment, as opposed to a linear 2D one as players were accustomed to at the time, was inspired by several different games to have come before it; most notably Alpha Waves, which was released back in 1990, and was the first ever game to feature full-screen 3D visuals, true 3D movement and an adjustable camera. At the time, the game was overlooked by the industry due to poor marketing as most believe, but its influence on Nintendo is undeniable. As I also alluded to earlier, both Golden Eye 007 and Perfect Dark were games instrumental in taking the first-person shooting genre to new heights. But before that, there was of course, the universally acclaimed efforts of id Software, who had long since pioneered the genre with the likes of Wolfenstein 3D and the timeless classic Doom, which for many years was considered the be-all and end-all of shooting games, and is still considered so by many to this day.
The fourth generation of gaming brought about one of Nintendo’s most successful and memorable periods in the gaming industry, and there are two major examples of the company handing over long-running franchises to different developers. The first of which is the Super Mario franchise being handled by Final Fantasy developers Squaresoft. The end result was the game Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars; a game combining the Super Mario mythos with the turn-based RPG style of gameplay synonymous with Final Fantasy. Though it was one of the last major releases for the Super Nintendo and started off slowly, the game went on to develop a huge cult following overtime, and is regarded by many as being one of the best games on the console. This game has also spawned an entire series of Mario RPG games ever since; the latest instalment being Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros for the 3DS.
The second, and more prominent example is Donkey Kong Country released back in 1994. The franchise was put in the hands of UK-based developers Rare, and the original game became one of the highest selling for the Super Nintendo, and later branched out into a trilogy of games on the system. Rare would also go on to become a second-party developer for Nintendo, and make many of their most successful games throughout the fifth generation, such as Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Donkey Kong 64 and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
However, in spite of all these examples I’ve given, its actually possible to go even further back. Nintendo also released a line of consoles called the Colour TV Game between the years 1977 and 1980. The first of these consoles was designed for playing 6 variations of Pong, which was one of the first commercially successful video games developed by Atari; an American company. Indeed, the Colour TV Game Block Breaker was designed to play the Nintendo arcade game of the same name, which was heavily based on Atari’s Breakout. The man who oversaw the console’s external design would also be the man to bring to the world Super Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong; Shigeru Miyamoto. So even the creator of some of the most iconic video game series of all time took inspiration from other sources early on in his career, and Nintendo’s first line of consoles would pave the way for their many more successes in the future.
There are other ideas that could potentially be explored by Nintendo in collaborating with different developers in my opinion, and many more exciting directions they could theoretically take their franchises in. In writing this series of articles, I hope to not only present readers with what I believe would make for some very interesting titles, but to also challenge readers to think for themselves about what ideas they would like to see from them and how these ideas could make for some truly wonderful gaming experiences.