Five Obscure Franchises Nintendo Needs to Bring Back
11 mins read

Five Obscure Franchises Nintendo Needs to Bring Back


As the years go by, Nintendo Switch’s claim to having the greatest library of any system in Nintendo history solidifies. It’s been nothing short of a dream maker and a miracle worker, home to some of the best entries in long-running franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Smash Bros. But beyond genre-defining experiences and Game of the Year winners, I’ve been equally impressed by Nintendo’s commitment to reviving long-lost series and exposing them to contemporary audiences.

When Switch launched in 2017, I would have never guessed we’d see a 99-player F-Zero battle royale, a faithful remake of the beloved Super Mario RPG, the first Advance Wars in over a decade, a surprising return for the Another Code franchise, or that Metroid Dread would be real. It truly feels like anything can and will surface during a Nintendo Direct, and it happened again this week with Nintendo’s reveal of Endless Ocean: Luminous during the latest Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase. Along with the expected cadence of Mario games, Nintendo has added a scuba diving sequel to its publishing slate for 2024, and it just doesn’t get much more niche than that.

And it’s not just the fact that these unlikely games exist – some franchises are seeing better sales than ever before on Switch. The Nintendo Switch sales chart is littered with million-plus sellers, and more often than not when Nintendo puts out a game, it rapidly becomes the best-selling game in that franchise.

But as video game fans, of course, we always want more. Nintendo has brought back a ton of its smaller franchises, but there are still several obscure series I’d love to see make a comeback on Nintendo Switch, or its successor.

Kid Icarus

Kid Icarus was poised for a comeback when series protagonist Pit was an out-of-left-field addition to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl roster in 2008, followed up by a new game in Kid Icarus Uprising on Nintendo 3DS in 2012. But after a brief return to relevance, Nintendo quickly clipped Kid Icarus’ wings once more, and it’s been 12 years since the last entry. There are only three Kid Icarus games in total, even though the series dates all the way back to 1986 on NES. Time hasn’t been kind to the NES original and its Game Boy sequel, as the pair of brutally challenging 2D platformers aren’t much fun to return to in 2024.

Instead of taking inspiration from the series’ origins, I want the future direction of Kid Icarus to follow up on the groundwork laid in Uprising. Directed by legendary Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai, I firmly believe that Kid Icarus Uprising is one of the most underrated Nintendo games of all time, and it deserves to find a whole new audience with an HD remake on Nintendo Switch. Uprising is a complete departure from the series’ challenging 2D platforming roots. Instead, it’s a full-blown 3D action game, equal parts on-rails levels reminiscent of Star Fox (but better, in my opinion), ground missions where you take complete control of Pit in combat and light puzzle-solving scenarios, and some of the most creative, bombastic boss fights in Nintendo history.

If you can get over the infamous controls that became uncomfortable after a while (to the point Nintendo shipped Kid Icarus Uprising with its own custom peripheral), you’ll find what’s easily one of the most ambitious games Nintendo has ever shipped, with deep, satisfying gameplay, an impressive amount of customization and content, stunning visuals that still hold up to this day, and a genuinely fun story with charming dialogue and a fully voice-acted script. Not to mention, Uprising even touts a fleshed out online multiplayer mode with over a dozen maps to battle on. Over a decade later, I’m still blown away by what Sakurai and his team at Project Sora were able to squeeze out of the 3DS. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a beautiful example of what can happen when you let one of the industry’s greatest minds make exactly what they want to make.

I hope Nintendo takes a chance on Kid Icarus: Uprising and remakes it for Switch with a fresh coat of HD paint and a revamped twin stick control scheme with optional motion controls for aiming. If Nintendo fixes the controls – which is really the only big criticism most people lob at Uprising – it will give a huge opportunity for new players to experience one of my favorite Nintendo games ever.

Rhythm Heaven

Whether it’s desperately trying to fit in with a group of singing chorus kids, playing badminton against a cat while flying a single prop airplane, or taking control of a wrestling superstar during an interview and photoshoot, Rhythm Heaven is one of the weirdest (and best) Nintendo series around. We haven’t seen a new entry since 2016’s Rhythm Heaven Megamix, and although it’s fantastic, it launched as a digital-only release at a time when many players were ready to move on from the 3DS hardware. Rhythm Heaven deserves another chance in the spotlight, either through a simple port of Megamix or a brand new game.

I’m a fan of both WarioWare: Get It Together and WarioWare: Move It, but I was surprised and admittedly a little disappointed that WarioWare – which I consider to be Rhythm Heaven’s sister series – got two entries on Nintendo Switch while its foot-tapping, monkey-clapping, wing-flapping counterpart remains noticeably absent from the console’s library. Like WarioWare, Rhythm Heaven is a perfect showcase for some of the most bizarre ideas Nintendo can come up with that wouldn’t otherwise fit into any other game, and adding it to the Switch software lineup would provide an element of that trademark Nintendo zaniness that’s currently missing.

Punch-Out!!

There’s nothing else quite like Punch-Out – it’s a series that presents itself as a fighting game, but underneath the hood it’s actually a puzzle game. You could make a strange argument that it’s the closest comparison Nintendo has to boss fights in the soulslike genre: you’re a small, meek boxer who must read the patterns of your much more powerful, threatening foes and execute moves with the right timing and speed to eventually emerge victorious. There’s a lot of trial-and-error and sweaty palms involved in both Dark Souls and Punch-Out, and while Little Mac’s world lacks complex lore and intentionally obtuse exploration, you see what I’m getting at.

Punch-Out’s history is similar to Kid Icarus, where after its initial run in the 1980s and 1990s, the series went dormant until a revival a couple of decades later. Punch-Out on Wii was a welcome return for the series, and Little Mac has since joined the Super Smash Bros. roster, but there’s still no word on a proper Punch-Out comeback. For now, Punch-Out fans are latching onto Big Boy Boxing, an upcoming indie spiritual successor that has definitely captured the look and feel of Punch-Out. I played Big Boy Boxing at PAX West last year and loved it, but I’d still like to see Nintendo step back into the ring and schedule one more money match for Little Mac.

EarthBound

The EarthBound community was sent into a frenzy after Nintendo added Mother 3 to the Game Boy Advance Switch Online app in Japan, but I’m not even asking for Mother 3, because I’ve accepted that we’re probably never going to see that game get localized. Instead, I want something that is much more reasonable and likely: a full remake of EarthBound.

For years, EarthBound was on life support in the West. But in 2013, Nintendo finally dropped EarthBound on the Wii U virtual console, and the classic SNES RPG eventually made its way to New Nintendo 3DS and Switch as well. This opened up the world of Eagleland to more people than ever before, including me. I played EarthBound for the first time through the Wii U virtual console, instantly becoming absorbed by its heartfelt story and hilarious satirical depiction of the United States. I think EarthBound is required reading for any Nintendo or RPG fan, and it’d be much easier to recommend without its steep difficulty curve and archaic inventory management.

We just saw Nintendo remake Super Mario RPG – another beloved SNES RPG that most figured had been lost to time – so why not do the same with EarthBound? Turn-based RPGs are back in a big way right now – look no further than Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth and Persona 3 Reload for proof – and I think EarthBound could establish itself as another modern pillar of the genre. Would an EarthBound remake ever lead to a Mother 3 port or a brand new entry in the series? Maybe not, but it’d be a phenomenal place to start.

Hotel Dusk

In January, Nintendo published Another Code: Recollection, a dual remake of puzzle adventure games Another Code: Two Memories and Another Code R: Journey Into Lost Memories. It’s one of the most niche games Nintendo has put out in a long time, and it has me thinking about another pair of obscure puzzle adventure games: the Hotel Dusk series. Both Another Code and Hotel Dusk were originally developed by the now-defunct studio Cing, and now that one of their long-lost series has been modernized, I’d love to see Hotel Dusk get the same treatment.

Hotel Dusk got two entries on Nintendo DS: Hotel Dusk: Room 215 launched worldwide, while Last Window: The Secret of Cape West never made it to North America. The original stars Kyle Hyde, a former detective searching for his missing partner. Hotel Dusk has a really memorable cast of characters and a striking art style resembling sketchbook drawings, and it would be great for North American players to finally get the chance to see the sequel that didn’t come out here. I would have never thought of this as a remote possibility for Nintendo Switch, but now that Another Code is out in the wild, anything feels possible.

Those are just some options for Nintendo franchises that should make a comeback. There are plenty of other choices, like Star Fox, Ice Climbers, Duck Hunt, Wario Land, Golden Sun, Chibo-Robo… The list goes on. Let us know in the comments what obscure Nintendo franchises you want to see brought back.

Logan Plant is IGN’s Database Manager, Playlist Editor, occasional news writer, and frequent Super Ninfriendo on Nintendo Voice Chat. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.



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