Nintendo shocked the world with its Direct Event on January 24th, 2013. Not only did Satoru Iwata confirm a deluge of exciting titles like Yoshi’s Epic Yarn and a successor to Xenoblade Chronicles, but he also reaffirmed the company’s desire to partner with other talented software developers. Above all else, the announcement of Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem exemplifies Nintendo’s renewed commitment to third-party exclusives and bold gambles on less popular franchises. “This collaboration with Atlus is an example of one of our new approaches,” Iwata-san assured viewers, “We are working with many more partners on additional collaborations as well.”
The question before us is clear: What other unlikely team-ups could Nintendo have in store?
The following are my personal 5 dream crossovers. My choices are absolutely arbitrary, silly, and unlikely–just like SMTxFE (or MegaFire, as it will now be known). This list is purely for fun (and generating even better ideas!) but a few rules were observed, in order to keep to the spirit of the unveiled Atlus venture. This means that only firms dealing in Japanese games were considered and, if possible, obvious pairings and surefire successes were avoided.
Let us begin!
Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age are stone cold classics. Camelot Software Planning may have started as a division of Sega, but it’s their Game By Advance JRPGs that define their current incarnation as a second-party Nintendo developer. With that said, 2010′s Golden Sun: Dark Dawn was a disappointment in a number of ways, which appears to have consigned Camelot to an eternity of making Mario Tennis and Mario Golf games. This will not do.
As I see it, there are two key ingredients missing from the currently rudderless GS series: more challenge and better writing. Since Atlus is already spoken for, it appears that Weyard is in need of some Nippon Ichi magic. The wacky humor, complicated gameplay, and deep pool of content that the Disgaea series is known for is just the shot in the arm that the world of Golden Sun needs. The combination seems unlikely, but the two franchises share more than you may think. Of particular note is the potential for combining the Djinn mechanic from Sun with the monster taming/raising system from Disgaea. The strategic possibilities are as limitless as the comedic ones.
Also, I really want to hear Etna berate the stupid kids from Dark Dawn.
“Criminally overlooked” is an apt description of a great many projects in a medium as diverse and esoteric as gaming. However, the mystic power of the internet has allowed passionate fans to share praise and enthusiasm for niche brands and auteurs, giving unappreciated works second life as cult classics. Two of the most deserving beneficiaries of this unique fandom are Shigesato Itoi of EarthBound (known in Japan as Mother) fame and Goichi Suda, the mastermind behind Grasshopper Manufacture joints like No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, and Lollipop Chainsaw.
What could the surreal RPGs of HAL Laboratory have in common with the violent fever dreams of Suda51? For my money, the works of Itoi and Suda contain some of the cleverest and most insightful social commentary in the realm of interactive electronics. Whether it’s Mother 3‘s take on consumerism, art, and death or No More Heroes‘ brutal lampooning of every nerd/otaku stereotype, these artists know how to get to the heart of a culture and tear it apart from the inside.
I have no idea what a Nintendo collaboration with Grasshopper Manufacture would look like. It is extremely unlikely that the corporation would ever let Suda51 near any of their family-friendly properties, especially something like Mother. However, it was also unthinkable that something as palatable as Fire Emblem would ever mix with a franchise known for its apocalyptic body-count, anti-Christian overtones, and penis demons.
What I’m trying to say: A man can dream.
The Legend of Zelda is perhaps the most beloved series of all time. Valkyria Chronicles is probably the best new intellectual property of the HD generation. These two franchises are exclusive to two wholly different platforms and genres, but their quality is undeniable. Then why is it that their respective fandoms are so discontented?
For Zelda, the answer lies in a growing resentment of rigid tradition. The classic gameplay formula is solid, but many fans are hungry for change–something that Nintendo addressed head-on in the aforementioned Direct Event. For the Valkyria faithful, the issue lies with money. Despite its satisfying gameplay, likable characters, and brilliant art direction, the first two games were relatively unsuccessful in the West, leading to Sega’s decision not to localize the third entry. It’s a tragic tale of genius going unrecognized in its time.
While it might sound crazy at first, it is clear that these two IPs could come together and accomplish something special–something to shake up the Zelda universe while boosting the signal of the unappreciated Valkyria titles. My vision for this crossover takes place in Hyrule, with the forces of Zelda at war with the evil minions of Ganon. Link sits astride Epona like an equine Edelweiss, with various VC characters making up his army alongside Goron, Deku, and Zora. On the other side of the battlefield are Moblins, Dodongos, and a host of other classic enemies, ready to throw down in a strategic battle for the fate of the kingdom. Needless to say, Selvaria Bles somehow returns as Ganondorf’s most trusted general.
There are only two rational responses to such an idea: “Yes please” and “I’m already writing the fan fiction.”
Hear me out on this one. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is the quintessential aimless life simulator. There is no story to speak of, unless you count the machinations of Tom Nook, the world’s most despicable extortionist. Meanwhile, 5pb.’s Corpse Party visual novels (based on a manga of the same name) are literally all story. It’s like peanut butter and (bloody) chocolate coming together for the first time.
This crossover practically writes itself. The player character arrives in the peaceful village, accumulates crippling debt, and is forced to remain in the town to work off the ridiculous sum. Things go smoothly for a while, but then… people start dying. The fatalities are as mysterious as they are gory, but it’s up to the player to unravel the plot before it’s too late. Will Mr. Resetti live or die? Who (or what) is behind the killings? How much will you spend on interior decorating? The choice is yours.
Multiple endings are a given, but I imagine that Tom Nook will survive very few of them.
A colorful cast of characters awaken to find themselves trapped in a sinister game. The stakes are life and death, but the contest isn’t so simple. Complicated, arbitrary rules dictate their every move, as the men and women stumble from trial to trial, just searching for any way out. Friendships are forged, alliances are broken, and backs are stabbed as the mad dash to the finish line strips everyone of their humanity. More often than not, all of your efforts are in vain.
Pop Quiz: Is that a description of Chunsoft’s Zero Escape series or just your average game of Mario Party?
The similarities are uncanny, but the idea is as solid as it is utterly stupid. As you may recall, we heaped unending praise on 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors and Virtue’s Last Reward for everything from their story and characters to Aksys’ solid translations. Meanwhile, the Mario Party series has continued along its path of relative competence and questionable importance for years now. This combination doesn’t just make sense–it actively needs to happen.
It would be easy enough to combine recognizable Nintendo properties with any random big-name title from Japan. F-Zero X Monster Hunter? Pokemon X Final Fantasy? Metroid X Dynasty Warriors? Donkey Kong X Namco’s Tales? Sure, those are all fun in their own way, but Mario Party X Zero Escape is better. In fact, it makes more sense than the actual plot of Zero Escape. It’s brilliant, it’s transgressive, it’s unexpected, and–
Ok, fine. I just want an excuse to inflict suffering on Waluigi.
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