Now That Nintendo is Making Crossovers, Here Are Six That I Would Like to See

Thoughts on the recently announced “Dynasty Warriors” and “Legend of Zelda” crossover “Hyrule Warriors” seem to range from OMG to FML all over the internet, and among the incredibly insane Nintendo hardcore fanbase.

Personally I think it’s about time that Nintendo starting merging their established properties with other incredibly random, yet oddly appropriate, gaming franchises. In fact, as long as the door to the entire concept is kicked in now and anarchy reigns, I can think of  at least six lazily titled Nintendo crossovers I’d like to see.

Bushido Emblem (Fire Emblem/Bushido Blade)

BushidoFireEmblem

If it weren’t already established that life isn’t fair, I would eternally wonder why the “Bushido Blade” series has not seen a proper follow up in years. A truly original entrant into the fighter genre that’s capable of effortlessly producing intense match ups, “Bushido Blade” revolves around a combat system where one hit can end it all. Think “Dive Kick” with more strategy.

The “Fire Emblem” series diverse cast of characters and their appropriately large arsenal of weapons would actually fit nicely into “Bushido’s” mechanics. For that matter, so would “Emblem’s” consistently well done art style and the fact its characters are used to dying quick and unheroic deaths (at least when I play it).

Also…oh screw it I just want a new “Bushido Blade” game. It can take place in “Pokemon’s” world for all I care. Get on it Nintendo.

PokeSpore (Pokemon/Spore)

PokemonSpore

Of course since “Bushidomon” isn’t likely even by the new Nintendo crossover standards, maybe they could blend the famous monster catching series with the 2008 “could have been way better” PC classic “Spore.”

It’s a natural merger really. In “PokeSpore” you could design a world full of Pokemon, and watch them evolve and become prized by Pokemasters everywhere. Plus Nintendo could just scrounge “PokeSpore” player’s games to tap into a nigh infinite free source of increasingly uninspired “Pokemon” designs.

That’s a win-win people.

Silent Crossing (Silent Hill/Animal Crossing)

Pyramid_HeadAnimalCrossing

Anyone can get lost in the world of “Animal Crossing.” Besides being filled with a seemingly endless amount of activities and interior design possibilities, it’s lighthearted cartoonish nature makes for a very inviting setting that can make a 100 hours pass by in what feels like minutes.

However the real question is, can the “Animal Crossing” gameplay survive a trip to a more undesirable locale like “Silent Hill?”

The answer, of course, is shit yeah it can. In “Silent Crossing” you’ll play the new mayor of “Silent Hill” and are tasked with keeping up the town and interacting with its eternally tortured denizens, as well as redecorating the world to reflect the unique psychological horrors of its next outside visitor.

The Binding of Icarus (Kid Icarus/The Binding of Issac)

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Look, most of the ideas on this are poorly conceived and lazily written jokes. A rouge-like “Kid Icarus,” though, is no joke. It would just kick ass.

After all, the original “Kid Icarus” was an insanely tough game that might as well of had perma-death in place, and even featured an upgrade and item system that’s not too out of place from the average rouge-like. Combine that with the diverse mythical elements of the Icarus series, and this isn’t hard to see as a highly entertaining possibility.

In any case a rouge-like is a more logical genre for the series to merge with than a 3D shooter was.

League of Smash (League of Legends/Super Smash Bros.)

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Blitzcrank, Ahri, and Darius? Never heard of them. You want real heroes you’ve got to look at Link, Mario, and to a lesser extent Luigi. You’ve got to look at the “Smash Bros.” roster.

In “League of Smash” you would choose a team of classic Nintendo heroes with their own unique attributes and abilities, and pit them against an opposing team of Nintendo heroes in a MOBA setting. Minions are Pikmin, worlds are based on classic Nintendo environments, and…

Huh. Maybe it’s my 8 A.M bourbon and bourbon (that’s bourbon mixed with bourbon) kicking in, but that actually sounds like something I would buy the hell out of.

Mushroom Kingdom Hearts        (Nintendo/Kingdom Hearts)

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Let’s be honest. At the end of the day crossovers are built on the philosophy of combining two or more popular properties to appeal to a wider, established demographic. Following that logic, the combination of Nintendo, Disney, and “Final Fantasy” would have to be considered the alpha crossover.

It doesn’t even come close to mattering what the actual game plays like. This thing could make so much money that it would completely undo the order and structure of the global economy.

Nintendo versus other gaming companies like Zynga

The gaming world seems to change faster than most industries these days. Several years ago Nintendo was on fire with the Wii, and now everyone seems down on the company and Wii U. How did things change so fast? Well, it shouldn’t be surprising in a world where cheap apps are flooded onto the scene, offering new options daily for gaming fans, and online gaming options seem to expand exponentially as well, with everything from slot games at Sports Interaction, massive multiplayer games and then games like Minecraft that seem to turn conventional wisdom on its head. The console makers seemed to rule the world just several years ago, and then social gaming companies like Zynga suddenly became powerhouses, but now we’ve seen how quickly things change. Wii also will be facing the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in coming months, so even in its own console space the competition is fierce.

But many still have faith in Nintendo. Oddworld Inhabitants founder Lorne Lanning recently made the bold statement that Nintendo would be around for another 100 years, while Zynga would not. Casual observers might be startled a bit by this statement, but when you look more closely at the history, the man has an excellent point. Nintendo is a 124-year-old company that was founded in 1889 as a producer of playing cards. The concept of innovation has been ingrained in this company and its financials are very healthy. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has made it clear he won’t be laying off development staff to deal with short term problems, as that would destroy the company long term. He understands that the key to long term success involves consistently producing great products. He shouldn’t let the short term analysts distort his thinking.

While this culture is ingrained at Nintendo, a young company like Zynga has less to fall back on in tough times. Their games exploded in popularity off of Facebook, but then reality set in when the landscape was changed a bit. Now who knows how they will react to adversity? I wouldn’t make a long-term bet on them.

So when you look at the landscape out there, it’s clear that games will come and go, and so will gaming companies. But I think a company like Nintendo with a tradition of innovation should be able to ride out the highs and lows.

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo’s Report Cards for E3 2013

I’ve mentioned before that E3 is an archaic institution the video game industry continues to put too much stock in, and still stick to that.

However, this year it seems that every major developer and publisher was determined to re-kindle that old spark the event used to have, and across the board triumphantly accomplished just that with an E3 filled with the usual great game announcements, but bolstered by one time only events like Microsoft’s follow up to the “Xbox One” debacle, Nintendo’s rebellious direct service announcements, and of course the true reveal of the PS4.

Ultimately, like so many E3s, it would be the announcements of the “Big 3” that stole the show, and are still on the lips of gamers worldwide. Now that the presentations are done though, how did the world’s largest game companies fare at the most publicized video game event in the world? Well, let’s start with…

 

Microsoft

Microsoft had a lot of explaining to do after a reveal of the Xbox One that emphasized multimedia capabilities over gaming, as well as invoked the dreaded ideas of used game restrictions, and mandatory internet connectivity, that generally left a lot of people feeling pretty irate, and unsure of the future of the system.

While there were many ways to go about this, they made the somewhat interesting decision to go out on stage, drop a turd, hang a $499 price tag on it, and exit stage left.

It’s not that the presentation wasn’t better than the reveal, it certainly was, but even though they did things like focus on major gaming announcements over any media aspects, it seemed even the best announcements came with a catch. A good example is the return of “Killer Instinct,” in the form of a free title. While it should have been an untainted glorious moment of shock and hype, even that was watered down by the reveal that you can only play as one character on the outset, unless you paid into the game’s freemium model. As for major reveals and unique announcements, they were few and far between, and did little to excite.

More than any individual announcements though, it was the greater ideas that hindered Microsoft and the Xbox One. Try as they might they couldn’t escape the stench of bullshit that lingered well after every mention of used games restrictions, online connectivity, and even ideas which challenge the very notion of game ownership itself. As a result, there was a certain tension surrounding the proceedings that prevented even the most exciting announcements from drawing more than the odd applause here and there. It was uncomfortable to watch at its best, and embarrassing at its worst.

Yet I can’t give Microsoft failing marks. Like it or not, they have created a system that addresses issues in the industry from a business perspective, and even though they are horrible, dreadful, just plain awful ideas for consumers, they are at least original approaches to creating a system. But despite the fact no one can accuse Microsoft of playing it safe, there’s also no conceiving the argument that says they played it smart, or even intelligible.

Grade: C-

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Where “The Last of Us” puts Naughty Dog Among the Best Developers Working Today

So, remember when I mentioned “The Last of Us” and how it is getting some great early buzz?

Well, now that the first wave of reviews has hit, it appears that was just the early leaks of the wave of gushing love for the PS3’s biggest game of the year, as some are already calling it the best game of this generation at the least.

While that’s all great, it’s also time that we start viewing the game’s developer Naughty Dog in similar terms. As the winds of video gaming shift with the coming of a new generation, it is time to step back and examine who are the very best developers working in gaming today, and where Naughty Dog ranks among them.

5. Bethesda

Fallout3_special

The thing about Bethesda that almost took them off the list is that really, they’ve only  focused on two major franchises (“Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout”) in the last eleven years.

Yet the fact remains that all of the titles in those franchises get serious consideration for the top of several best of lists. It’s admirable that Bethesda has learned that they do one thing well (open ended RPG’s) and have worked to insure that they are the very best at that field, and that every entrant into the genre not only sets an impossible bar of quality, but also sends shockwaves throughout the entire industry.

Sure it’d be great to see them broaden their creative horizons, but only because they are so impossibly good at what they do now.

4. Naughty Dog

The-last-of-us-cover

A fun fact. “The Last Of Us” marks the first time Naughty Dog has worked on two franchises in one generation, as the PS1 got the “Crash Bandicoot” games, the PS2 had “Jak and Daxter,” and the PS3 has had “Uncharted.”

Yet, much like Bethesda, instead of this being a hindrance it has instead allowed them to focus on doing one thing well. Unlike Bethesda, that one thing isn’t a single genre, but rather an intense focus on exploring the cinematic possibilities of gaming, while perfecting the “gaming” part itself. This started to become clear with “Jak and Daxter II,” but it was “Uncharted 2” that let everyone know that Naughty Dog was simply capable of creating experiences no other developer can.

It sounds like “The Last of Us” is continuing that trend in a big way, and at this point there can be no doubt Naughty Dog will be the first company to really show people the first true next gen PS4 title.

3. Valve

TF2_Group

Hey, I’d love to put Valve higher, but the last 5 years or so haven’t exactly been filled with many actual games.

Still, does anyone need a reason for this? If so, I submit “The Orange Box,” which contained one of the greatest games of all time, it’s two equally good add ons, and just for the hell of it, the best multiplayer game of this generation, and another legitimate contender for the best title ever. Oh, and the whole changing the landscape of how the gaming industry works with their Steam system thing.

So while it would be great if you couldn’t nearly measure the time between full entrants to the “Half-Life” franchise in decades, it’s impossible to deny Valve their rightful place in the hierarchy of developing giants.

2. Rockstar

RedDeadRedemptionGameplay

In 2001 Rockstar changed the way many developers approach video games with “Grand Theft Auto III.”

Since then? Along with maintaining that same revolutionary quality with each new “GTA” entrant, they’ve also managed to create the perfect Western game, adapt a cult classic 70’s film into a cult classic video game, and, most importantly, consistently pursue some interesting new gaming ideas and franchise revivals that may be hit or miss, but have never been dull (well…except for table tennis).

Rockstar may have the advantage of being made of several large studios, but each branch can claim the development of at least one classic video game, and all put them under the same logo that has become a stamp for quality.

1. Nintendo

Zelda128

The champ is here.

It almost seems impossible that Nintendo would have stayed on the throne as long as they have, but since 1985’s Super Mario Bros., they have been the one company not only synonymous with video games, but with the best gaming has to offer. No one can match the stable of classic characters and franchises that Nintendo boasts, and no other company is as dedicated to maintaining a level of quality with each new title over such a lengthy time frame. How they have managed to create revolutionary titles out of some franchises over two decades old seems impossible, yet they do it year in and year out.

What really puts them over the top though, is that they are the only developer on this list who also creates their own best selling systems. To quote a song from their 80’s roots, they’re simply the best…better than all the rest.

The Painful and Slow Death of E3 is Becoming an Embarrassment to Video Games

I used to love getting a video game magazine in the mail, whether it be Nintendo Power, Expert Gamer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, or Game Informer. It was a once a month mind blow where I got pages of information, galleries of photos, and sweet, sweet reviews regarding my favorite pastime in every issue.

That was once a month. Once a year though, there was an event that was like getting a year’s worth of magazines at one time. They called it E3, and to any gamer who grew up in the 90’s, it was this mythical ceremony beyond comprehension.

However, it’s no exaggeration to say that over the last 10 years or so, the event has been slowly dying. What was a mark your calendar and anticipate sleepless nights in anticipation extravaganza, now resembles more of a begrudging necessity where companies do their best to budget as much flash as possible to blind people to the fact they are mostly seeing the exact titles that they’ve known would be there for months due to leaks, or worse retreads of previously released information to fill time.

Recently the declining event has suffered another traumatic blow when one of the “big three”, Nintendo, announced they would not be putting on a presentation this year, and will resign themselves to a booth. 2K has also stated they will be pulling from the show entirely, while Sony and Microsoft are hosting separate events for their new console reveals, which previously could have only occurred at E3.

The writing is on the wall for the event, and has been for some time. Instead of just bleeding the spectacle though, it is time for E3 to die.

Understand that E3, much like the gaming magazine, was only as big as it once was because video games were not. There was no video game channel, there was no segment on the news concerning them (with few exceptions), and there certainly was no internet in the way there is today. Having a singular large event like E3 that didn’t just acknowledge video games, but glorified them, was not only justified in a different time, it was required.

That of course isn’t the case anymore. Instead E3 is an unfortunate lingering relic of a different time that is being unnecessarily worshiped due to the misguided value placed in nostalgia, and is dragging down the potential growth of the entire industry. The larger companies don’t need it, yet they still feel obligated to put on a big spectacle, and completely drown out the noise that smaller companies could use the time for in the process. Meanwhile the growing numbers of embarrassing presentations have their ridicule magnified much larger than necessary by the inherit spectacle E3 still carries, and the rare previously unannounced great game that can emerge (say like “Watch Dogs”) then spends the next few weeks making rounds on every facet of the internet watering down the initial moment until it might as well have not existed at all.

It’s time for gaming companies to take the cue from Nintendo and 2K and move on. Whether that means companies hold their own shows, or provide more services like Nintendo Direct that allow them a forum for their own exclusive major announcements, it doesn’t matter so long as they are no longer dependent on a few days in Los Angeles to define the course of their next year.

It was as long ago as 2008 when representatives from EA, Ubisoft, and others, were quoted lamenting that E3 wasn’t the profitable gala spectacle it once was, and were contemplating ways to bring it back to prominence. The truth is that if the day ever did exist when that resurgence was still possible, it has now passed. If the gaming industry is still truly fiscally dependent on E3, then it has only itself to blame for not making use of the considerable resources available to forge a new path to greener pastures.

Nintendo has been criticized for living in the past, and being behind the times, but in this move they are truly ahead of the game. It’s hard to say goodbye to something that still manages to entertain, but there has never been a case where relying on the glory days was a benefit to anyone, and it certainly isn’t the case with E3.

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