Nintendo’s relied on the same canon of classic video games stars and sequels to sell its wares for decades now, but for the first time in a while, it’s not working out so well: the Wii U’s lacking breakout hits despite its innovative and almost insane touchscreen gamepad.
Now it’s trying things a little differently. Since its launch last year, the Japanese gaming giant’s gone back to the archives, focusing on lesser loved mascots like Luigi, and resurrecting long forgotten franchises including Kid Icarus, Steel Diver and Chibi-Robo!, an adorable platformer from Nintendo’s GameCube days.
It’s good news for seasoned gamers, but we can think of many more franchises it could revive in its hour of need: here are 10 of the company's best games from Way Back When that deserve modern day sequels, and could give Nintendo an extra life when it needs it most.
The futuristic racing franchise first revved up on the Super Nintendo in 1990, bringing with it G-Force thrills, an assorted cast of villains and hard as nails, warp speed gameplay. Seven years later, it was followed by fast-paced Nintendo 64 classic F-Zero X, while handheld gamers were treated to F-Zero: Maximum Velocity on the Game Boy Advance in 2001. A full decade has been and gone in the time since the last console release on the GameCube however, the critically acclaimed F-Zero GX, but since the Wii U is struggling to win over gamers more interested in the Xbox One or Sony PS4, now would be the perfect time for Nintendo to hit back with a high-octane, HD sequel.
Diddy Kong Racing
Nintendo's famed gorilla, Donkey Kong, has been one of the company's lead characters since he made his debut in 1981, but his sidekick Diddy was the star of one of Nintendo's best racing games, which purists still insist beats the legendary Mario Kart 64. Diddy Kong Racing, developed by Rare, launched on the Nintendo 64 in 1997 and quickly became one of the top-selling games on the platform. A sequel was tragically canned after Rare was bought by Microsoft in 2002: all we’ve been left to make do with in the years since has been a 2007 handheld remake for Nintendo DS.
Cult-classic RPG parody EarthBound grabbed the attention of American gamers when it launched on the Super Nintendo in 1995, standing out for its humour and style despite the lo-fi graphics. The critically acclaimed game landed a Japan-only sequel in 2006 for the Game Boy Advance, which was later translated by avid fans, but aside from a re-release planned for later in the year on the Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console (which also marks the game's first appearance in Europe), producer Shigesato Itoi has no plans for a further sequel. We know we'd love one though.
While primarily known as the creators of Pokémon, the team at studio Game Freak have many games under their belt, including the critically acclaimed 2005 Game Boy Advance title Drill Dozer, which packed in a novel rumble feature on the cartridge that tied into the on-screen action. The side-scrolling action platformer took full advantage of the GBA, with gameplay as challenging as it was gorgeous, but it left us craving more from protagonists Jill and the Red Dozers. Pretty please, Nintendo?
Legendary racing game 1080º Snowboarding may not have been realistic - you could carve up trees and town roads as well as the powder - but it was still the most accurate depiction of the sport yet when it launched on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, scooping an Interactive Achievement Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science and selling well over a million copies. Despite a sequel in 2003 for the GameCube, 1080º Avalanche, and a re-release in 2008 on the Wii Virtual Console, the series is now dormant. Is there room for an adrenaline-fuelled sequel in the pipeline, especially with the Wii’s Balance Board gathering dust in cupboards up and down the country?
NES classic Ice Climber is a simple, addictive vertical platform title that first launched alongside the console all the way back in 1985, but the series hasn't seen a lot of action since, aside from a series of re-releases over the years on the Game Boy Advance and Virtual Consoles. The characters have popped up in Nintendo's flagship beat 'em up title, Super Smash Bros, along with stages that resemble the game, but there hasn't been a full on sequel for three decades now - how about a modern day Ice Climber title?
Like Ice Climber, Excitebike was a first party launch title for the NES, but it received slightly more attention after launch, at least for a few generations - the well received Excitebike 64 launched in 2000, fairly late in the lifespan of the Nintendo 64 and featured real life motocross bikes, a season mode and an entire garage full of tricks. The Excite name was later used for spiritual sequel Excite Truck on the Wii, Excitebots: Trick Racing in 2009 and direct sequel Excitebike: World Rally in 2010 on WiiWare for the Wii, but curiously, Nintendo has never crafted a direct sequel to Excitebike 64. Given today’s graphics, we can’t help but feel it’s missing a trick.
Jet ski title Wave Race started life on the Game Boy in 1992 as a top down racer, but it wasn't until the Nintendo 64 sequel Wave Race 64 four years later that the series really found its groove as a behind-camera racing game, later becoming one of the flagship launch titles on the on the GameCube in 2001. The GameCube version was known for its brilliant water and weather effects, as well as impressive physics and accuracy, but much like 1080º Snowboarding, the series hasn't been left to rot.
1993 saw Star Fox (Or Star Wing as it was then known in Europe) launch on the SNES. The space shooter eked every last bit of graphical prowess out of the console and paved the way for the franchise’s epic 3D apex, Star Wars 64 (Lylat Wars) in 1997. Walking, talking and shooting canine Fox McCloud and his team would find themselves taking on an army of dinosaurs in the action-adventure follow up Star Fox Adventures on the Gamecube in 2002, before returning to futuristic flight sim gameplay in 2005's Star Fox: Assault. We’ve seen no sequels since however, just remakes for Nintendo’s handheld consoles, although Fox has been spotted in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS - could there be a new Star Fox on the way?
While Nintendo's plucky-pink match-up to Yoshi hasn't been featured in its own game since appearing as a foe in the Japan-only Doki Doki Panic, repurposed for the west as Super Mario Bros 2, we'd love to see Birdo get a chance to step into the spotlight. Mario’s one-time nemesis had become something of a cult favourite in the years since, and would make for an interesting game title, if only so we can see a dinosaur wreak havoc by firing giant eggs out of its mouth. Come on Nintendo, even the Legend of Zelda's Tingle had his own game - let’s make this one happen.