Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul
“Well….didn’t see that one coming.”
That phrase seems to leave the lips of most gamers whenever Nintendo rolls out a new console. Whether it be a revolutionary controller, a unique gameplay feature, or the signed exclusivity of previously non-Nintendo franchises, the Big N seems to always have a surprise or two ready to get people talking.
This isn’t the first time Nintendo managed to lock in a “hardcore” franchise in an attempt to shed off their “casual” monicker; during the Gamecube era, Nintendo and Capcom shocked gamers everywhere when they decided to keep the Resident Evil series exclusive to Nintendo’s system. Of the three new titles released, only Resident Evil 4 was released outside Nintendo hardware, while the critically acclaimed remake of RE1 (and the “eh, it’s okay” prequel RE:0) still remain exclusive to Nintendo.
Even so, the recent announcement of Bayonetta 2 releasing exclusively to Wii U (and so far unlikely to release elsewhere, as Nintendo is handling publishing duties) is still as confusing as it is surprising. While the original Bayonetta received acclimation from critics and gamers alike, its modest sales didn’t exactly propel Sega to sign for the sequel’s development. In fact, recent comments from Platinum Games suggested that the sequel would never have been made without Nintendo’s involvement. As appreciative as fans should be to Nintendo (instead of screaming bloody murder for leaving 360 and PS3 gamers out in the cold), this is hardly the system seller announcement that the Resident Evil exclusivity was.
But then, what if it’s not supposed to be? What if this acquisition is just the first out of many franchises Nintendo plans to “rescue”, thus increasing their hardcore rep while giving these critically acclaimed (but not necessarily commercially successful) series another chance at life? Fans have spent years clamoring for long-overdue sequels that seem no closer to actually happening. Imagine if Nintendo snagged the rights to these series to finally give the greenlight to their development, and thus expanding their own system exclusives further?
I imagined it, and that’s why I would like to share with you now my picks for:
When the first Valkyria Chronicles was released on PS3, it was like a breath of fresh air that washed over the stagnating JRPG market. The game became an instant fan favorite with its gorgeous visuals, WWII-meet-Miyazaki designs and tactical army/tank strategies. It seemed like Sega had the makings of a great new franchise with a bright future ahead.
Then they made the brilliant decision to release the sequels exclusively for PSP, a handheld that proved modest in Japan but dwindling in America. Likewise, the sales had followed suit, causing the well-received sequel to ultimately (if you’ll pardon the pun) tank in North America. Even worse, Sega has so far shown no interest in localizing the third game for the West, leaving English-speaking fans out in the cold.
While we still continue to hope that someone eventually brings the third game over, there’s still the matter of whether there will even be another game in the series. Since Nintendo was so keen to take Bayonetta 2 out of Sega’s hands, why not do the same to Valkyria Chronicles? Not only would a Wii U exclusive agreement bring the series back on consoles, it would give Nintendo another RPG franchise to keep under their belt. Thanks to the simplistic yet striking cel-shaed visuals, VC on the Wii U would have no problem looking pretty even during the inevitable release of newer and technologically-superior hardware (namely Sony and Microsoft’s console successors). The Wii U controller would also be a perfect fit, allowing players to keep tabs on the battlefield map at all times, as well as the ability to control, manage, and swap out their units without ever having to interrupt the action on the TV.
Level-5 and Nintendo have had a pretty good relationship so far, with the developer gracing the DS and 3DS with a hefty amount of quality releases. Unfortunately, Dark Cloud 3 has not been one of them, with Level-5 currently focused on more profitable franchises like Dragon Quest, Professor Layton and (in Europe at least) Inazuma Eleven. Anytime Dark Cloud is mentioned, Level-5 has sort of shrugged their shoulders about it, stating that they would need more fan demand in order to even consider a sequel.
Perhaps some extra cash from Nintendo would change their minds? This Action/RPG hybrid would be a perfect addition to the Wii U library, offering a colorful visual style that is typical of first party titles, but also carrying an unprecedented amount of content and customization courtesy of the Georama feature. Using the Wii U controller, players can manage the creation of buildings and their placement over the blank surfaces while watching their structures come to life in real-time on their TV screen. This could also come in handy with upgrading and customizing the characters’ gear, as well as view the randomized dungeon maps without cluttering up the main screen.
It seems safe to say that Square Enix will be developing games for the Wii U, and that at least 99% of them will have “Final Fantasy” written on the title.
While it’s been a long-running joke about which FF titles would make their appearance on a Nintendo console, how about the dozens of forgotten franchises Square has long passed over in their desperate attempts to keep their number one RPG series relevant? How long have fans begged for a new Mana title, or Chrono Brake/Break? What about a sequel to Vagrant Story, or a chance to undo the recent missteps for both Front Mission and Parasite Eve? Let’s not forget the Enix side either, with Valkyrie Profile, Actraiser, or even Mischief Makers. Suddenly these long-abandoned sequels don’t feel like mere dream projects, but now have a chance to become full-fledged reality so long as Nintendo is willing to invest on them.
In fact, let’s dream a bit further. With Monolith Soft an exclusive developer for Nintendo, perhaps Tetsuya Takahashi can be given the chance to return to Xenogears, finally offering the once-promised additional episodes to his original RPG opus. Such a triple-team title would get gamers talking everywhere, and the with the Big N as the Big Backer, it would undoubtedly result in another fantastic RPG release.
You may be a bit perplexed over this one. While it is true that Darksiders 2 was just recently released on consoles and PC (with a Wii U version as a day one launch game), the sequel’s sales are currently less-than-desirable. With Vigil Games stating that Darksiders 2 needs to sell a considerable amount of copies in order for the series to continue, coupled with publisher THQ’s ship sinking further into the deep, the odds are heavily stacked against Darksiders 3 ever coming to fruition. That is, unless another company ponied up the cash.
The Darksiders games have often been lauded as “the high-def M-rated Zelda games fans have been wanting”. Not only would it be an ironic turn of events if the series ended up as a Nintendo exclusive, the buy-out would undoubtedly benefit both sides. If you checked out my Darksiders II review, the two biggest gripes I had with the game were technical and pacing issues…both things that could be easily improved with Nintendo overseeing the third game. Likewise, Nintendo’s long-running Zelda franchise has lately been accused of growing somewhat stale, with the last few 3D releases offering minimal steps to improving the mechanics of Ocarina of Time rather. Just as Vigil drew inspiration from Zelda to make the first Darksiders a sleeper hit, so too can Zelda learn from Darksiders new tricks to offer some much-needed innovation.
This would also give Nintendo full monopoly over the traditional Zelda 3D mechanic once and for all…plus, we could finally dress up War in that sweet Link costume from Penny Arcade.
Once considered the iconic mascot of everything Capcom, the Blue Bomber has suffered through years of negligence from the very company that birthed him. In addition to having announced projects cancelled left and right, the last time Mega Man made any kind of console appearance was as a joke character that was basically like salt poured on an open wound.
It seems Capcom simply has no idea what to do with Mega Man, or how to make him relevant again to the current generation of gamers. Their last honest effort was returning him back to his 8-bit roots, which won much favor with old-school fans, but was ultimately not followed up after Mega Man 10. So why not take the concept even further, and put him back on a Nintendo platform? The original NES was the very system that spawned him in the first place, with a whopping six games released for the 8-bit system, followed by a seventh as well as a spin-off trilogy in the form of Mega Man X.
Even during his eventual move to other consoles, longtime MM fans have associated the character with Nintendo, making the Wii U the perfect place for a long overdue revamp. Whether it be a continuation of the retro efforts offered with Mega Man 9 and 10, the abruptly-cancelled Mega Man Legends 3, or a brand new take on the beloved icon, as long as Nintendo’s involvement means getting anything MM-related again, the Big N will forever be indebted by the hardcore fanbase begging for the Blue Bomber’s return.