Between the eclectic selection of NES and SNES games served up as part of everyone’s Nintendo Switch Online subscription, Fire Emblem's long-awaited (if time-limited) English language release thirty years after its Japanese debut, and the upcoming remake of their Disc System adventure game Famicom Detective Club, it seems clear Nintendo is not only able but also more than willing to make the effort to dive into its extensive back catalogue in the search for old titles.
Whether it's bringing these lost gems to a fresh international audience for the first time or digging up retro curiosities which are deserving a head-to-toe remake after decades languishing on plastic platters and silicon chips, it seem that a game’s age, genre, or current obscurity apparently are no barrier to its re-release potential.
And this exciting behaviour got us thinking: with Nintendo taking such an active interest in its history, what else could be on the horizon for Switch owners – and if we were given the keys to Nintendo’s vaults what would we choose to bring back? Knowing the legendary Japanese company the only honest answer is “Expect the unexpected”, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating...
We’ll start with something simple. Imagine a Nintendo sports pack, gathering together all of their oldest and most straightforward titles in the genre (Golf, Ice Hockey, Tennis, Baseball, Soccer, and so on) and then giving them a stylish facelift, anything from the familiar faces of Mario and friends to the cutting-edge minimalism of the bit Generations series – or even both, flipped between at will.
With their simple setups enabling entire matches to quickly start and end in easy to digest chunks of unplanned-for time, almost universally understood rules (we have to admit baseball is utterly lost on us, but even we can bumble our way through an 8-bit match), and multiplayer built into the very nature of the games themselves, these would make the perfect bundle of pick up and play games; the digital equivalent of a quick kickabout with a friend in the park or some casual throw-and-catch in the garden. We could see it becoming something like Clubhouse Games or Ring Fit Adventure, the sort of title nobody would never dream of asking for when there are more Zeldas waiting to be made but the instant you’ve got it home you wonder how you ever managed without an evergreen collection of easygoing sports games that won’t expect you to purchase a full-priced annual update or require a serious time investment to enjoy.
Another obvious choice is Famicom Wars: We may already be a few years too late to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of this once popular franchise, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much because any time is the perfect time for a Famicom Wars/Super Famicom Wars double pack. Never made available outside Japan in any official form, a release of early Wars history could perform double duty as a playable slice of history as well as an English language first all rolled in one.
If Famicom Detective Club proves to be a success that could easily pave the way for a release of its Famicom Disc System cousin, Shin Onigashima. Released on Nintendo’s 8-bit hardware in 1987 and ported to the Super Famicom eleven years later, this supremely Japanese adventure game would leave a strong impression in any region thanks to its unusual subject matter and beautiful artwork. As it stands, an international release of either of the older versions in any language would be welcome, but a full remake so stylised it appeared to be illustrated with woodblock prints would surely be nothing short of incredible.
One of the more obscure hypothetical candidates for a Switch makeover would be a revisit of the Mario Artist concept, the under-experienced series of creative utility programs originally created for Nintendo’s N64 add-on, the 64DD. With barriers to sharing creations all but gone Nintendo could potentially build up a thriving online community of budding pixel and polygon artists by reintroducing accessible creativity to a whole new generation of gamers.
Another possibility that in its original form also required a specialist attachment would be the e-Reader series, the GBA card reader/card pack combination first released in Japan back in 2001. At the time they were expensive to collect and some would take some serious swiping over several cards to get anything worth playing working, which has to make them the perfect subject for a more convenient modern package. The NES games released on the format are already handled elsewhere on the Switch but that still leaves a wealth of other content hidden in those dot codes just waiting to be rediscovered: the special Mario levels intended for use with Super Mario Advance 4 would be a perfect capsule of entertainment, as would the courses designed to be used with the Japanese version of F-Zero: GP Legend, and surely the Switch’s screen would make a serviceable replacement for Mario Party-e’s physical play area, keeping everything in one neatly contained portable pack. It’d definitely be an odd and unexpected collection, but that would only mean it’d fit right in with Nintendo’s existing Switch output.
Oh, and we couldn’t mention the GBA without giving Mother 3 a nod, could we? Whether it’d sell more copies than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or sink without a trace within a week, it’d be nice to at least draw a line under the oft-requested RPG conspicuous absence. On a slightly more likely note (sorry, Mother fans), Kuru Kuru Kururin has lain dormant for far too long, the game’s unique action-puzzling just begging for an utterly bizarre gyro-control/Nintendo Labo collaboration that will either make users dizzy due to its raw innovation or spiral out into an angry forum-filling frenzy.
Whatever happens, there’s no doubt there’s plenty of options for Nintendo to explore and it’s clear it is happy to consider any and all possibilities; its rich history is something it wants to bring into the light rather than keep locked away forever. Some of these suggestions may be more likely to become reality than others, but then again, this is the same company that decided to blur the lines between home and handheld gaming when everyone else was content releasing another black slab of plastic, the same company that gave the world satellite-broadcast SNES games, a cube with a handle on the back, and glasses-free 3D in a handheld – what’s one more unlikely idea made reality to Nintendo?
What do you think of our suggestions? What titles would you like to see revived or re-released? Let us know with a comment below.