Being the oldest of the three major current console platforms, you’d think Nintendo would pay the most respect to its long legacy of much-beloved games and franchises. After all, the company has been trading for well over 130 years now, having entered the electronic era in the early 1970s before quite literally changing the game with the ensuing release of the NES in 1983. With this legacy comes a huge back catalog.
This means there are plenty of forgotten Nintendo franchises worth revisiting – especially since the Nintendo Switch is continuing to perform so well sales-wise. Of course, one could make the argument that the Super Smash Bros. series in itself is one big celebration of Nintendo games past, but there’s only so long it can supplement the absence of franchises in their true form.
From turn-based tactical battlers set in a steampunk universe to super-charged soccer interpretations of Super Mario, these are the long-lost Nintendo series we want to see return:
Super Mario Strikers
While Nintendo’s iconic moustachioed plumber may have held down many jobs over the years, one of his most underrated sports ventures came in the form of the Super Mario Strikers series. This short-lived duology originally debuted on the GameCube and then made the leap to Wii with Charged, challenging players to outskill each other in small, contained FIFA Street-style games of soccer. The only difference? You do so as your favorite Mario characters.
Each tournament starts by having you select from 12 team captains, which include the likes of Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and others, and pairing them up with four sidekicks to form a five-player team. From here it’s all about dribbling the ball between your squad members, hopefully getting the metallic ball to your Team Captain who can then perform a cinematic skillshot. Video games in general are lacking a true arcade-like approach to the beautiful game, and Super Mario Strikers was perfectly primed to fill this gap. Let’s see it on Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Intelligent Systems as a spiritual successor to the Fire Emblem franchise, the original Advance Wars surprised everyone with its tight turn-based gameplay. For the longest time, both series lived comfortably alongside each other with alternating release schedules, but eventually Fire Emblem’s overwhelming popularity won out and confined Advance Wars to the dusty shelf since 2008’s Days of Ruin.
This is a shame considering that certain people consider the original Advance Wars to be one of the greatest games of all time, delivering tight tactical gameplay that sees players guide units and tanks and officers around a grid-based map. The formula has since been aped by the likes of Tiny Metal and WarGroove due to Nintendo’s refusal to greenlight a new one, but we’ve still got hope that we haven’t seen the last of Advance Wars.
Let’s make one thing clear: racing games set in the future will always be cool. Proving this all the way back in 1990 was the original F-Zero, one of the very few SNES games to make use of a graphics technique known as Mode 7 Scrolling. Pioneering tech such as this allowed F-Zero to convincingly portray high-speed racing better than any driving game that came before it, adding even more so to the feeling of drifting along one of 15 neon-laced tracks behind the wheel of a hovercar.
F-Zero proved so successful that it eventually went on to inspire other speed-centric racing games like Daytona USA and even PlayStation’s WipeOut series. This Nintendo racer, however, has remained dormant since 2004’s F-Zero Climax for the Game Boy Advance, which is weird considering how popular the character of Captain Falcon continues to be in Super Smash Bros. Nintendo, of course, isn’t left wanting for racers, but there’s still a gap for this futuristic take to return to the platform.
Much more than just a larger, meaner Mario knock-off, Wario is a dastardly villain who’s been the subject of many video game spin-offs over the years. He’s given us “smooth moves” as part of the quick-fire WarioWare series and even asked us to “shake it,” but since the last Wario Land entry on Wii in 2008, he’s left us wanting for a new side-scrolling platformer.
This is a shame considering how different the Wario Land games eventually played compared to the mainline 2D Mario titles. Not only did Shake It give us a gorgeous hand-drawn art style that took advantage of the Wii’s underpowered hardware, but using the Wii’s motion controls to forward charge and butt stomp always felt satisfying. This is an experience that can absolutely be replicated on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the Joy-Con’s gyroscopic capabilities, making for a different kind of Nintendo platformer still set in the Mario universe.
Originally starting out life as an arcade favorite, the Punch Out!! franchise has seen many interpretations throughout Nintendo’s history, eventually pairing up nicely with the Wii’s motion controls in 2009. This version came courtesy of Next Level Games, who successfully translated the pixelated aesthetic of prior games into a fully stylized collection of fighters. You play as Little Mac boxing your way to the top of the circuit, dodging and bopping any champion standing in your way.
Little Mac himself is yet another character on this list that, were it not for Super Smash Bros., may have been at risk of becoming forgotten for good. His inclusion in the popular crossover fighter makes sense given his brawling-based move set, but it’d be great to see him in his own game series that once again places emphasis on timing your punches in addition to just simply throwing them. Boxing games in general are a rare breed these days, so a new Punch Out!! could easily clean up.
We’re pushing the definition of “franchise” a little bit with this one, but we think the Ice Climber IP is perfectly primed for dethawing. Nintendo has really only ever developed one entry (outside of an arcade spinoff) that the company has continued to port over and over again. First to the Game Boy Advance, Wii, 3DS and, yep you guessed it, the Wii U, and now Nintendo Switch. Popo and Nana essentially haven’t been given a fair shake outside of Super Smash Bros., which is strange given how unique the act of platforming vertically still feels.
Your objective in the NES original is to work your way up through various colored layers of ice in an attempt to reach the top of the mountain, carving out the correct path while avoiding enemies, holes, and falling spikes. The graphics still have their charm but would hold no candle to a modern-day take on this formula. A new Ice Climber might not warrant a full retail release, but we think a downloadable sequel would wow the 2019 Nintendo crowd.
Star Fox might not quite be forgotten per se, but it’s been a fair old while since we’ve seen an entry done right on current consoles. Star Fox Zero released on Wii U as recently as 2016, but its insistence on staying slavish to the on-rails gameplay of Star Fox 64 meant it felt a little outdated by today’s modern standards. This is especially frustrating given that there’s a huge hunger for Star Fox still there, evidenced by the character’s popularity in Super Smash Bros. as well as the excitement surrounding Star Fox 2’s inclusion on the SNES Mini.
A glimpse at what a revitalized take on Star Fox might look like was given to us by way of the exclusive Nintendo content featured in Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Here players could roam and explore vibrant new worlds from the comfort of Star Fox’s iconic Arwing, engaging in cool space-based dog battles in a way that was fun, thrilling, and totally free form. Most people agreed that this was the best part of Ubisoft’s short-lived toys-to-life venture, so here’s hoping we see another Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle-style collaboration between Ubisoft and Nintendo – this time centered on Star Fox. We can dream, right?