Giving Crypt of the Necrodancer developer Brace Yourself Game the license for The Legend of Zelda is a completely unprecedented move for Nintendo. The secretive Japanese giant has come down from on high and graced a mere indie developer with a high-profile franchise, and that’s wonderful. Cadence of Hyrule looks great so far and the tunes sound great too. The only question that remains is, what other indie developers could Nintendo make new games with, and with which franchises? We’ve put together a list of Nintendo franchises, and the developers that should be trusted to give their franchises a completely new lease on life.
Chucklefish | Advance Wars
This one is obvious. When long-time Nintendo fans first saw the Wargroove trailer, they were ecstatic. It was essentially a spiritual successor to the beloved Advance Wars franchise but revived with smooth sprite art and loads of levels to enjoy.
When such a talented strategy developer, with the skill necessary to bring a series to life, steps up, it seems only right to give them a chance. The team over at Chucklefish would undoubtedly relish the opportunity to handle the Advance Wars license, continue the storyline, and bring its own genre innovations to the series.
Wargroove was popular enough to make a profit in its very first day on sale and continues to do well both commercially and critically. Nintendo could revive one of their most beloved franchises, without even having to lift a finger. It makes too much sense. Alternatively, a retro sprite-based Fire Emblem would also be welcome.
Eric Barone | Animal Crossing
Eric Barone might not be a name you recognize, but you know his work on Stardew Valley. The one-man army built the game himself, creating a spiritual successor to games like Harvest Moon that fans have been crying out for for years. Harvest Moon isn’t exactly a dead franchise, but it doesn’t capture the same feelings it once did.
Barone has proven he has the skill necessary to make some brilliant sprite art and write some memorable and interesting characters. His work is good enough that he might even be a great choice to head up another franchise like Animal Crossing.
He might need some help writing all of those characters, but a small-scale game in the Animal Crossing world, utilizing sprite art, would be amazing, even if you acted as a simple farmer, shipping out fruit and turnips for Tom Nook and hungry villagers. There are so many kinds of games that could be created within the Animal Crossing world that this really is just the start, and Eric Barone is exactly the kind of talented developer that could do it.
Yacht Club Games | Kid Icarus
Yacht Club Games have already proven itself with Shovel Knight. Multiple retro-inspired platformers with a solid difficulty and satisfying gameplay throughout. It’s exactly how you remember the games you played in your youth, but in reality, far better than any of them ever were.
Pit has already had his Kid Icarus series revived once under the watchful eye of Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai, but that was very different from Pit’s original, Metroid-like outing. Yacht Club Games could bring things back to how they used to be — or how your nostalgia views them.
Imagine a faster, more exciting platformer with flight mechanics and speedy attacks. Yacht Club could transform what Kid Icarus was and make it into something that’s relevant now, just as it did with Shovel Knight.
Toby Fox | Paper Mario
The world of Paper Mario feels like an alternate universe to the mainline Mario game where everything is very on-the-nose and characters don’t mind getting meta. Luigi writes long diary entries about his own insecurities, which can only be hinted at through animations in his other adventure.
It’s exactly the kind of absurd alternate reality that Toby Fox creates in Undertale and Deltarune, and his unique sense of humor would pair amazingly with Paper Mario. The unusual caricatures of traditional Mario characters seen in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door are exactly the kind of characters most would expect from a Toby Fox game. Give the man the assets and the time, and he would undoubtedly create a memorable Paper Mario game.
DNVR Prod | F-Zero
We all agree that F-Zero needs to be brought back. The easy answer would be to hand it over to Shin’en Multimedia, who produced the excellent F-Zero-inspired Fast RMX. But for a return of F-Zero, more than anything we need a strong sense of style to set it apart from anything else.
That’s why DNVR Productions, developers of OutDrive, should tackle the project. The PC driving game has a lot of problems, but it’s aesthetics are undeniable. An F-Zero game built with these bold color palettes would look incredible. Nintendo would likely have to step in and ensure the game is up to scratch, but with that oversight, it would be a glorious return of a franchise we all want to return.