A version of this article originally posted on this site in February of 2013.
All bets are off!
2013 began with the announcement of the unexpected crossover Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem. December saw the reveal of the even more surprising Hyrule Warriors, a Dynasty Warriors and Legend of Zelda mash-up. Those Wii U titles follow in the footsteps of recent releases like Pokmon Conquest and Fortune Street, so this trend has us dreaming of all the other possible team-ups ahead of Nintendo and some lucky third party.
But this feature isnt some crazy wish list full of a ton of games that could never, ever happen. All these picks are based on Nintendos current love of teaming with the top Japanese developed-and-published franchises. With that in mind, heres a list of the most exciting--and most probable--X-overs that will come from Nintendos newfound openness, and it starts with
Hatsune Miku and Kirby: Dance Off!
As with most things, Japan is way ahead of the West in the field of manufactured pop stars. Miley Cyrus has nothing on the entirely virtual Hatsune Miku, the digital vocaloid that has sold out arenas and starred in a number of popular rhythm games. The green-haired robot deserves a crossover partner that's as destructively cute as she is, so were going with Nintendos pink puffball, Kirby. Seriously, theyd look so cute together.
How would it play? This one could be as simple as the upcoming Miku/Persona 4 crossover, and just have Kirby sing and dance with all his cute buddies. We can easily envision seeing a heavily choreographed routine between King Dedede and Miku. It would be like Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, only good.
Yakuza X Hotel Dusk
Yakuza, or Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, is like Grand Theft Auto, only its criminal adventures are a little more serious and set in a surprisingly realistic Tokyo. The game about tattooed gangsters has had lots of success in its home country (plus a niche audience in the West), and its realistic style would fit best with an even more overlooked Nintendo game: Hotel Dusk. The DS visual novels gritty story deserves a comeback with the help of Segas open-world franchise.
How would it play? If money wasnt an option, wed have a fully featured, multimillion dollar Yakuza game that places Hotel Dusks main character, Kyle Hyde, into a next-gen rendition of Tokyo. But a far more likely situation is a new visual novel for 3DS that pulls the Yakuza characters into Hydes world. The world deserves another hardboiled game like Hotel Dusk, and if including Kazuma, Haruka, and the rest of the Japanese underworld makes it more possible, thats all the more reason to make this happen.
Tales of Golden Sun
The Tales Of games are likely the most popular JRPG in, well...in Japan, at least. Meanwhile, Golden Sun has been an underappreciated B-tier franchise for Nintendo. Past Nintendo consoles have hosted exclusive Tales games that have sold huge in Japan, so its entirely possible that Nintendo and Namco could combine these two fantasy franchises into one exciting 3DS package.
How would it play? For as fun as Golden Suns turn-based combat is, were leaning more towards the combo game using Tales action-RPG fusion. But Golden Sun would still get to leave its mark on the combat and exploration by using the trademark Elemental Powers. Just as in Golden Sun, those abilities would be used in battle and on the world map to solve puzzles throughout the adventure. Itd all work splendidly in stereoscopic 3D.
Phantasy Star X Xenoblade
Monolith Softs X series has bounced around from publisher to publisher, but it now seems to have found a comfortable home with Nintendo. Xenoblade Chronicles was such a hit that Nintendo has already greenlit what appear to be the sequel. Meanwhile, Sega has returned to its erstwhile Phantasy Star series with Phantasy Star Online 2, a title that will soon be out in the US. Both popular franchises mix fantasy with sci-fi, so connecting the two universes is just one interdimensional wormhole away.
How would it play? Hopefully the developers would find common ground for gameplay based on both games similar action-oriented approaches to RPG combat. And given the mystical elements of Xeno and PSO, its believable enough to have their realities somehow meet, thus allowing Shulk and his friends to encounter iconic Phantasy Star races and enemies. Just imagine battling one of PSOs monstrous bosses inside a giant mech like the one seen in the most recent Xeno trailer. And to satisfy retro Phantasy Star fans, this crossover would be offline, and would feature the type of deep story that series hasnt seen since the Genesis era.
Project X Zone Plus
The 3DS is currently playing host to the type of publisher teamwork that Nintendo now seems interested in. Coming to the US this summer, Project X Zone is a strategy RPG that teams up dozens of characters from Namco, Capcom, and Segas rich histories. And while the roster is impressive, the inclusion of Nintendo characters would take the crossover to the next level.
How would it play? Though a full-on sequel would be preferred, the current trend in gaming--particularly with Japanese games--is to rerelease a game with a wealth of new content. We expect that the same would happen if Project X Zone added Nintendo characters, resold as Ultimate Project X Zone or something similar. But dont expect to see Mario, Kirby, or any other cartoony franchises appear in the update. The current PXZ roster is stacked with somewhat more realistic characters, so wed expect the presence of Nintendo stars like Samus, Marth, Pit, and Captain Falcon, which is a situation were totally cool with.
Puyo Puyo X Dr. Mario
Dr. Mario was one of Nintendos early puzzle hits, but outside of some eShop and Virtual Arcade ports, Mario hasnt put on his stethoscope in some time. Meanwhile, Puyo Puyo (aka Puyo Pop) has been Segas top puzzler for more than 20 years--sorry Columns. The Doc and Puyo share a love of colorful drops and funky music, and a team-up could potentially reinvigorate both franchises.
How would it play? While the art styles match pretty well, putting together the two gameplay types wont be as simple. Perhaps you could simply replace the viruses in a standard Dr. Mario stage with Puyos. Or maybe the game--and the simplistic plot--could deal with the Dr. Mario viruses infecting and transforming the Puyos into weird hybrids, and that weirdness continuing on into the gameplay. The infection spreads too fast for the cutesy cast of Segas series, so they call in a medical specialist to help clean up the mess.
Were mostly focusing on crossovers that would appeal to Japan first, because that seems to be Nintendos plan as well, but we wouldnt put it past the company to make some Wii U and 3DS games with a western franchise as big as Lego. Nintendo is already publishing the Wii U exclusive Lego City Undercover, and that game has some sly references to classic Nintendo games. If the companies are already on friendly terms, why shouldnt Nintendo follow Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Batman into the profitable realm of Lego?
How would it play? Expect the gameplay to be the same open world, light action-platforming that most Lego games use so well. However, while thats easy to pin down, the hardest part is deciding which Nintendo franchise to use. Nintendo could allow for a full Mario or Zelda adventure in block form, but its not Nintendos style to let someone make a title so close to the originals. Instead, the two parties could take the Nintendo Land approach and just Lego-ify 10 to 12 classic titles as cute, miniature versions of the originals. The experience might not be as deep, but this means those that wanted a Lego Kirby, Lego Pikmin, and a Lego Metroid will all get their wish.
Taiko Drum Master X Rhythm Heaven
Nintendo already has a history of teaming up with Namcos arcade rhythm game, as some GameCube owners will recall smashing their hands on the Donkey Konga bongos back in the day. That teaming made some sense, but pairing the Taiko drum kit with Nintendos quirky music title makes way more sense. At the very least the potential Wii U release would have a better soundtrack than the weak US version of Konga.
How would it play? Each song would be short, sweet, and kooky like past Rhythm Heaven titles, only now all the rhythmic input comes from the drums. We suspect Nintendo and Namco could find a number of cute ways to combine the two art styles to make for some adorably strange scenarios that play out on-screen. And it has to be playable with a drum peripheral. There could also be the option to play it by tapping on the GamePad, but it wont feel right unless were smashing away at a real life drum.
Gundam X Star Fox
While arcades are a distant memory in the US, in Japan they still thrive, and titles like Gundam Vs. are some of the most successful. That success has spread to consoles too, making the long-running anime a big moneymaker for Namco Bandai. Namco and Nintendo seem increasingly friendly these days, so we expect to see an increasing number of team-ups from the publishers, particularly with something as big as Gundam. If that happened, the spaced out furries of Star Fox are the most fitting group of characters for a space opera like Gundam. It makes even more sense when you recall Namco already made a Star Fox game for the GameCube.
How would it play? These two universes would work best as a pretty straightforward combination of on-rails and on-foot, kind of like Kid Icarus: Uprising. The first half of each stage follows Fox and friends in their Arwings as blast their way through massive space battles. When they reach their destination, the Arwings then combine and interlock to transform into a new, decidedly animalistic Gundam. Said robot would then use its twin beam swords to strike down Andross Zakus left and right until it met the boss in an explosive showdown.
Castlevania X Kid Icarus
Konamis current agenda for Castlevania is to make the horror series more modern, which means ditching some of the sillier concepts from previous entries. And while we enjoy Castlevania: Lords of Shadows as much as the next guy, we still think theres a place for the types of adventures we enjoyed on the NES and SNES. And Nintendo could bring that old Belmont style back with a little help from the newly revamped star of Kid Icarus.
How would it play?: Though both series have successfully made the jump into three dimensions, we think itd make the crossover more special if they returned to 2D, or at least 2.5D like the upcoming Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate. The overly dramatic plot would see Simon Belmont working with Pit to stop the combined mythic forces of Dracula and Medusa. The 3DS co-op adventure will feature both characters exploring a series of castles that are a combination of Gothic and Greek architecture, battling zombies and Eggplant Wizards in equal measure.
Kingdom Hearts: Nintendo
If theres one dream project that the a dedicated branch of the internet has been dying to see made real, its seeing the Disney/Final Fantasy epic extended to the world of Nintendo. The original Kingdom Hearts was proof that video game crossovers could be international blockbusters, no matter how joyously ridiculous they are. And while KH may have begun on the PlayStation, the franchise has numerous spin-offs on Nintendo handhelds, including last years Kingdom Hearts 3D. Its ridiculous how long Square Enix and Disney have dragged their feet on a proper Kingdom Hearts III, so they should just give fans the next best thing by finally having Sora and friends visit some Nintendo universes in a Wii U exclusive.
How would it play? We dont want any ancillary card games or monster collecting in this one. We just want straight action-RPG gameplay that we first came to love the series for. We want to see Sora, Donald, and Goofy hop around the Mushroom Kingdom. We want to see the Gummi Ship fly next to Arwings and Samus ship. We want an epic sword fight between Link and Riku. We want to see Mario and Mickey shake hands! Nintendo and Square Enix have had a pretty positive professional dealing lately, so find a way to make this happen, and youll all be rich er.
Monster Hunter X Pokemon
Its virtually impossible to walk around Tokyo and not be reminded of how insanely popular Monster Hunter is. In fact, its so big that the cute animal mascots for the series, the cat-like Felynes, are even more ubiquitous as average MH products. Nintendo is no slouch in the cute animal merchandise department either, as its billion dollar Pokmon series proves. If Capcom and Nintendo somehow found a way to combine the two, itd account for 20% of Japans 2013 GDP.
How would it play?: It honestly doesnt matter what type of game brings together Pikachu and a Felyne. The title is secondary to all the limited edition toys, clothes, kitchenware, and other products thatd flood hobby shops all over Japan. For the sake of argument, lets just say a 3DS minigame collection and move on.
Best of both worlds
Thats all the matchmaking we could dream up for today, but if you have any suggestion, let us know in the comments below!