Five Nintendo Series That Need a Pick-Me-Up

Nintendo tends to have a strong track record, but it can be tough for even them to keep up a consistent level of quality. When a series dips down, its fans are sure to notice. Together, fellow Nintendo section writer Tim Gruver and myself have come up with five Nintendo series we feel are down on their luck, and what could be done to fix them. Tim took on Paper Mario and Star Fox, while I covered the other three series.

Paper Mario series:

This screenshot looks like something from a fun game, but not so much...

This screenshot looks like something from a fun game, but not so much…

Paper Mario’s cut, taped, folded, and rolled our favourite Italian plumber through some of Nintendo’s strongest JRPGs to date, but it’s undeniably that the tears in Paper Mario: Sticker Star still show. Somewhere in between its superb set pieces and ace combat it lost its heart, not to mention its addition of terribly tedious leveling. Paper Mario’s battle may not just be technical–it’s a battle for its own soul–and one it needs to win more than ever.

Bring back experience points and you have your answer to poor pacing. Replace items with the blessed tune of the series’  classic level-up system and you can avoid the dull fetch quests that took up so much of players’ precious time finding health in Sticker Star. Dramatically decrease enemies’ attack range and you can open up the world for exploration again too. For whatever items you do find, throw in Thousand Year Door’s culinary crafting system to give more bang for your buck.

It’s harder to say where writing can be improved upon beyond more jokes, the more sarcastic and ludicrous the better, but it’s been high time that the notion of developed partners is revisited. Like Fi can attest, Kersti was no more a character than she was your faithful tutorial bot. Look no further than Thousand Year Door if you want your CHARACTERS by your side. We need our Goombellas, our Vivians, our Admiral Bobberies to make something of the people you meet along the way, and I’d think a few might agree.

Star Fox series:

Take charge, take command, and wait for a new Star Fox game!

Take charge, take command, and wait for a new Star Fox game!

Star Fox has always been something of an oddity. The SNES and N64 sold the series as an itty-bitty rail-shooter and Star Fox Adventures and Assault shoehorned the series into two broken adventure games. Command dressed the series up into the trappings of a strategy game, and eight years later, its been M.I.A ever since. The real question is: What IS Star Fox?

In short, it’s been anything trendy at the time. The 90s kept it a Star Wars arcade game, the early 2000s boiled it down to a Ratchet & Clank clone, and 2006 made it Fire Emblem with a cheap battle mode. Now? It could be anything it wants to be. More importantly, it could be bigger.

It’s identity that the series struggles with most, so why not toss the entire franchise into a blender? Take the best of all three of its genres and dissect the best and trash the worst. The only rule? Just keep the Star Fox team in the cockpit.

In space, your Arwings should be dancing to the tune of Rogue Squadron’s dogfights. On land, throw us into the landmaster and let us play sumo with the Project Robot mechs Miyamoto was so eager to show off. Better yet, make each world a seamless surface-to-air battle, descending from your space-bound fight to the planet’s surface at a moment’s notice, Battlefront III style. Maybe keep three or four branching story paths in the campaign, not a dozen.

As for tone? Let’s be honest: a space opera starring anthropomorphic animal mercenaries is hardly as dramatic as it’s passed itself off to be. Make it wacky–make it Conker’s Worst Fur Day wacky. Team Star Fox isn’t Mario, and it’s not Metroid. Balls off the walls humour is the only thing that’d make Star Fox stand (loudly) apart from a crowd of sour-faced shooters. There’s gotta be something to be said about the anatomy of a fox WITH pants, now right?

Metroid series:

It looks like a Metroid game, but...well, I'm sure you've heard it all before.

It looks like a Metroid game, but…well, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

We all know about the disaster that was Metroid: Other M. The game has its defenders, sure, but for the most part, the game received the backlash it deserved. The problems lie in the game’s numerous cutscenes and the laughable story unfolding during them, and the not-quite Metroid gameplay.

We haven’t seen a new Metroid game since. When we do, here’s how I would like to see the game do to help bring a little life back to the franchise.

The story should be put in the back as far as possible. Instead, the game should favour exploration and provide small plot details when the player locates them (think the scanning for lore and information within Metroid Prime).

Speaking of exploration, I would love to see a Metroid title built around that sensation again. Tone down the linearity and allow the player to carve their own path through the game. To me, the best way to do this is with a new 2D title, and what better system for that than the 3DS?

Yoshi series:

It tries, but Yoshi's New Island looks and feels off compared to the SNES classic.

It tries, but Yoshi’s New Island looks and feels off compared to the SNES classic.

Yoshi’s New Island tried to capture the feel of the SNES classic title, but much like Yoshi’s Island DS, there was something missing. If I had to pinpoint it, Yoshi’s New Island is a bit too slow and awkward – it doesn’t have the silky smooth gameplay or nearly perfect level design of Yoshi’s Island (but to be fair, very few games do).

Fixing up this series would actually be harder than it seems. While all it would really take is to copy the first game verbatim, you might as well just go play Yoshi’s Island. I don’t even think Nintendo could make a perfect clone of it. It’s just one of those amazing games that comes around every so often and nails everything it wants to do.

But hey, Yoshi’s Woolly World seems to have some elements of Yoshi’s Island in it, and honestly, I’m quite excited for that title, so maybe it’ll capture the magic blend of great fast-paced gameplay and amazing level design.

Wario series:

Wacky doesn't always mean good, and Game and Wario is full of problems.

Wacky doesn’t always mean good, and Game and Wario is full of problems.

Oh Wario, you’ve long been a source of the more offbeat side of Nintendo, whether it’s your weird platforming efforts (like Wario: Master of Disguise) or bombarding the player with microgames. Game and Wario certainly kept up the weirdness and tried to make use of the Wii U GamePad, but it ended up being a disappointing collection of half-finished ideas.

How do you fix the problems this game presents? I think it’s pretty simple actually. You need to take an idea the whole way or don’t bother with it. Game and Wario only has a few games worth checking out, such as 9-Volt’s hilarious “mom avoidance” game that will entertain everyone in the room. But some of the games will only last a few minutes and that’s all you’ll ever get out of it.

Instead of reusing the Game and Wario concept, I think Nintendo should just return to the microgames format. Sure, it’s a bit played out, but I’d rather whip through a ton of microgames in a frenzy than spend the time to not enjoy most of Game and Wario‘s modes.

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