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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nintendo Franchises That Need to Return Part 1

Like SEGA, Nintendo has a plethora of gaming franchises in it's catalog. Sadly, just like SEGA, only a handful of Nintendo's properties are seeing any action these days. Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon are all fine and dandy but it would do wonders for the company if they reminded us that there's so much more to them than the familiar name brands. These are a few of the games in Nintendo's library that could use a lot more love than what Nintendo currently gives them.

Ice Climber

Lately, Popo and Nana have been slugging it out with other Nintendo stars in the Super Smash Bros. series and while it's great to connect their mallets to Jiggly Puff's skull, I'd love to see this duo return to climbing frosty mountain peaks.

The original Ice Climber was released as an NES launch title in 1985, meaning it's been nearly 30 years since the Ice Climbers had a game to call their own, not including the GBA port that releases in 2004. Ice Climber placed you and and second player in the parkas of Popo and Nana with vertical scrolling levels. The goal was to reach the top of the mountain and get to the bonus stage where a jerkish condor hoards your eggplant. Ice Climber had some pretty frustrating jump mechanics even for an early NES game, which made an already tough game even harder to play. Even so, this is was always one of my favorite NES games as a kid, and I still have fun coming back to it from time to time.

While Ice Climber may not have been the most fondly remembered NES game, I still believe the franchise is worth revisiting. Think of all the cold inspired levels that could be designed on the Wii U or even the 3DS. Even those troublesome jumps could be fixed in favor of a more preferable method of leaping on platforms. Nintendo could put one of their development teams in charge of a new Ice Climber like Next Level games or Intelligent Systems. I'd kill for a chance to go up against those shade-wearing polar bears on new hardware either in 2D or 3D. Heck, I'd even settle for a new digital version of Ice Climber.

Custom Robo

Custom Robo (N64)
Custom Robo (GCN)
Custom Robo Area (DS)

Show me a man that doesn't like tearing stuff up in sweet-looking robots and I'll show you a liar. I mean, what could be more fun than using piloting a huge robot to wreck other huge robots? Customizing your huge robot to wreck another customized robot. That is what the Custom Robo games are all about.

There are tons of RPG elements in the Custom Robo series and sometimes they border on generic.
But if you don't mind such a thing or can pace through it, you're rewarded with some incredible customization options. There's nothing like spending hours customizing your Robo, taking it to the field and then laying waste to your friend's custom Robo. Assuming you have buddies to play with, that is. You may easily overpower CPU opponents but playing with humans is a totally different ball game. With the Wi-Fi options and Street/Spot Pass functionality of the 3DS, I'd say this franchise is due for a revival.

Though there have been five games in the Custom Robo series, only two were released outside of Japan. Custom Robo on the GCN was the first game to see a localized release and the DS Custom Robo Arena, released in 2006 was the last time Custom Robo title to see the light of day outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. Nintendo didn't even give Western or PAL gamers the Virtual Console release of Custom Robo V2.

Drill Dozer

You're familiar with Game Freak, right? Of course you are. They dish out those wonderful Pokemon games and make you hang up your social life in a closet so can you catch and raise X amount of new critters. With X and Y on the horizon, you're gonna do the whole shabang all over again! But Game Freak has tapped into other gaming series that don't involve yellow electric rats. In 2006, a wonderful gem of a GBA game called Drill Dozer was released. Like so many good things, it was overlooked.

No mater how costly or fancy the drills of today are, they will never come close to Jill's Drill Dozer. For one, she can actually pilot the thing like some mini mech and she regularly trounces robots more than half her size, as seen in the screen shot above. When has your puny drill ever done that?

Drill Dozer has a bit of a Metroid fell to it. Each of the games seven areas are massive, containing hidden chips and gears that can be found to upgrade the Drill Dozer, giving it even more functions. Naturally, some backtracking is involved when you acquire a new piece. There's also some puzzle solving elements to go along with all the action platforming. Drill Dozer is also one of the most visually stunning games ever to be produced on the GBA, showing off amazing sprites and background visuals.

Since it wasn't a Pokemon game, Drill Dozer met with mediocre sales and Jill's last appearance was in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a sticker and an Assist Trophy. Nintendo, get Game Freak away from those disgustingly cute rats for a while and set them to work on a new Drill Dozer, OK? I could certainly go for some drill action on my 3DS.

Wave Race

Wave Race 64 (N64)

Three. That's the number of games that make up the Wave Race series. "But wait, weren't there only two Wave Race games?" is what I'm sure most of you are thinking. In truth, Wave Race began life as a top down racer on the Game Boy. Wave Race 64 was the second Wave Race title, with Wave Race: Blue Storm being the third.

The most popular entry in the series, Wave Race 64 did a tremendous job of emulating the physics of water and it got me to think of racing games outside of anti-gravity and the wheeled variety. It's still regarded as one of the N64's top notch titles. Wave Race: Blue Storm was developed by Nintendo Software Technology and featured some super twitchy controls. A special touch was downright necessary to get any long term enjoyment out of the game. Blue Storm was a launch title for the GCN in 2001 so it has been over ten years since we've had a Wave Race.

Just imagine a new Wave Race on the Wii U with HD visuals and online multiplayer. Heck, even local multiplayer could be a hoot. Nintendo doesn't even need a fancy jet ski license. They didn't have one for Blue Storm and that certainly didn't stop them from re-releasing Wave Race 64 on the Wii's Virtual Console in 2007 when the contract with Kawasaki Jet Ski had long since expired. I long to race on Sunset Bay and Dolphin Park with Ricky Winterborn or even some fresh faces.

Excite Series

Excitebike 64 (N64)

Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii)

For a while, it seemed like the Excite series was back in all it's glory. Excite Truck was a Wii launch title in 2006. Excitebots: Trick Racing came out in early 2009 and later that year, Excitebike: World Rally was released for Wii Ware. Nintendo has certainly shown the Excite series more love than another one of it's racing franchises, but after the abysmal sales of Excitebots (which was Nintendo's own fault due to a lack of advertising), one has to wonder what the future holds for the Excite games, if anything at all. Excitebike 64, one of the best sports games from Nintendo, didn't even get a Virtual Console release on the Wii. We already know all those licensed properties could be swapped out for Wii brand names a la the Virtual Console version of Wave Race 64. Maybe Nintendo will right this wrong by releasing Excitebike 64 on the Wii U's Virtual Console service.

Part 2


Chalgyr Vokel said...

Liked the Wave Race inclusion. Something about it always felt 'different'. The water had a different feel than other flying or racing games that had you out in open space or against a hard road.

Reggie White Jr. said...

I like Wave Race on the GB and N64. The N64 version truly did feel like a different style of racing game. It's high time I downloaded it off the Wii's Virtual Console.