The unprecedented usage of one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, Zelda, in combination with a successful indie game, Crypt of the Necrodancer, to create the brilliant new release, Cadence of Hyrule, begs the question: what other mashups can Nintendo develop with indie game studios?
Let’s make a list and see what we can come up with. Here are some of the biggest Nintendo names from over the years. Some have been around forever, some are relatively new, but they’re all some of the top-selling and most beloved Nintendo developed games. (If I’m forgetting anything obvious, I apologize!)
- Mario (Luigi, Yoshi, Wario, etc.)
- Donkey Kong
- Animal Crossing
- Fire Emblem
Now, to personalize it more, I’m going to make a list of some of my favorite indie games from the past few years:
- Stardew Valley
- Into the Breach
- Dead Cells
- Hollow Knight
- Return of the Obra Dinn
- Darkest Dungeon
- SteamWorld games
- Hotline Miami
Now, the key to a good and interesting mashup is having two different styles combined. This is important to note because it rules out combinations of games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, which are generally speaking, very similar types of games both in gameplay and aesthetically. It’s a bit hard since a lot of indie games, and a lot of big name Nintendo games, revolve around platforming, etc. but we’ll look at stylistic differences if we need to.
Ok let’s get to the fun part - let’s start mixing and matching! First I’m gonna go with... Return of the Obra Dinn and Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong, fresh off a win over King K. Rool, returns to DK Island only to find all of his friends disappeared. Each of them has left behind a banana peel and he finds that his incredible passion for bananas has unlocked an ability to reach into the banana peel’s eaten memory. He sees what they were each doing while consuming their final banana which leads him to the area they were last seen. An island-wide banana-peel hunt ensues eventually leading him to his friends who had been kidnapped and hidden by some final enemy. Should be very noir-y and serious, with a dash of silly DK humor here and there.
Not a bad first try. Could definitely be fun, would certainly be weird. Now let’s try again! Mario and Cuphead! Mario and his brother Luigi eat some mushrooms one night and get all full of themselves and bigheaded. They go to Bowser’s Castle only to find Bowser is throwing a casino-themed party! Bowser gets them drunk with overconfidence by allowing them to win and then doubles down making them lose everything. To pay Bowser back he makes them collect money that he’s owed from all their friends throughout various Mario games. Could still be a boss rush game, where characters like Toad, Princess Peach, Rosalina, Cappy, etc. are all big boss fights. Of course, you’d have a choice at the end whether to hand over all the money, leaving your friends destitute, or fighting Bowser and returning all your friends money all of you agreeing never to gamble, especially with Bowser, ever again!
That actually sounds pretty awesome....I’m gonna try one more and see what happens. How about Animal Crossing and Darkest Dungeon? You build your town above an ancient abandoned city. You soon find it has a seemingly bottomless labyrinth. Deciding you have to decorate it, you travel deeper and deeper beneath the city destroying monsters and decorating the halls with cute bright colors and themed items. More and more allies arrive at town after hearing of your pursuits and your town continues to develop and your characters get stronger. Sounds awesome!
So, come on Nintendo!!! The possibilities are endless. I really hope the excitement around Cadence of Hyrule pushes Nintendo to keep trying stuff like this. It’s a fantastic idea and gives a chance to indie studios (even if they are already pretty successful ones) to show what they’ve got to a larger audience.