So, after knocking out some of the pernicious rumours that have been circling about the Nintendo Direct tonight/tomorrow, the question tends to circle back; what exactly DO I want to see during the 45 minute broadcast?
Whilst there are some outrageous things on my personal wishlist, I like to keep things somewhat realistic when it comes to expectations. Sure, I’d love a new Wave Race but the Switch is getting two variants of jet-ski racing so I doubt Nintendo is in any actual hurry on this front (which is a shame, because the water physics from Blue Storm are still light-years ahead of modern games). No, my wishlist tends to end up jettisoning anything that is… too unreasonable. Too weird. Too daft.
But that doesn’t mean I have a few strange flights of fancy. So here are my top five ‘wants’ for the Nintendo Direct. Come on Nintendo. It’s my Birthday. You know you want to.
FROM Software / Nintendo Crossover (Zelda Souls)
Nintendo is having some major success with crossover titles. Hyrule Warriors was better than it had any legitimate right to be. Mario + Rabbids is proof positive that UbiSoft can still make inventive, fun and challenging games with charm and wit. Smash Bros. is still the most desired game for the Switch, and even Fire Emblem Warriors is getting people in a tailspin.
FROM Software’s little thing for the Switch has been flying pretty much under the radar for a year now, and I can’t imagine it will be much longer before it materialises. Yes, I know most people want a Dark Souls Trilogy pack – but speaking as someone who platinumed these games on the PlayStation 3 and 4, the prospect of another 200+ hours of gameplay to do it all over again on another platform doesn’t really tickle my interest.
So – that leaves us with the outlier. And for me, this means a crossover – and the obvious crossover, and arguably the thing that would rock me to my core, is a Zelda Souls title.
This isn’t nearly as weird as most believe; Breath of the Wild had more than a few shades of the Souls series about it, so FROM could do a much darker, more depressing kind of game. And even there, it’s not like the Zelda series has always had brevity on its side. Majora’s Mask is pretty damned dark, with plenty of terrifying imagery and themes. Even Wind Waker was a dark game; sure, take the surface chibi-esque cel-shaded art style at face value and it seems almost joyous. But the back story is really, truly dark – the Hero of Time didn’t show up to stop Ganon, so the goddesses – called by a Princess Zelda in her hour of need, came to the rescue. Sort of. They flooded the world. Those who made it to higher ground were spared whilst everyone else… well… insert the Sonic Drowning Music here. Glub-glub indeed. (Also, the ending shot on Ganon in Wind Waker is the most aggressively violent the series has ever posited. What’s that they say about judging a book by its cover, eh?)
The Zelda franchise thrived in translation to a Warriors format, and the Warriors format embraced many of the quirks of the Zelda series which actually injected a refreshing mechanical complexity to the series. I believe the same could be said of the Souls format. Embracing the quirks of the Zelda series, and making a dark and moody Hyrule in a dark dimension (perhaps with your “hero” being called to this broken plane of existence by the alluring call of an ocarina…) is rather delicious as a concept.
This has been a desire for many for a good few years now, and I’m pretty sure even FROM Software know this wouldn’t be a tough sell to Nintendo now. If they show anything even resembling a FROM Software dabble into Zelda… yeah, my birthday wishes got granted for the next decade.
FATAL FRAME a.k.a. PROJECT ZERO SWITCH
Fatal Frame, also known as Project Zero, may not be the most famous or desirable of horror franchises but for some of us, this is the series that dropped Crimson Butterfly onto our unsuspecting PS2’s back in the day. And I’m not even joking when I say that this ranks as my #1 top Survival Horror game ever. Crimson Butterfly is nuanced, well-paced, beautifully written and heartbreaking in all the right ways. A horror game where the underlying horror strikes an unnerving and emotional chord – and then gives you a New Game Plus-style mode where guess what? Now you can attempt to rewrite the ending. A bold move which could have fallen flat if the narration and story weren’t so compelling.
Anyway, the point is – this series, for complex reasons, currently seems to reside as a Nintendo-owned IP. Or rather, co-owned. Unlike most people, I enjoyed Maiden of Black Water. Was it perfect? Oh obviously not. Not by a long shot. But was it better than RE5, RE6 and Silent Hill: Downpour? Yes, by massive and undeniably huge margins. Take it for what it is, embrace its little quirks and it’s a solid horror game (though I’d admit the writing isn’t a patch on the first three entries into the series).
Nintendo needs a new horror game that doesn’t come with the words “Resident” or “Evil” attached to it. I’m hip to the fact that RE Zero, REMake, RE4, 5 and 6 are all going to hit the Switch at some point in the next year along with the confirmed double-pack of Revelations games. This is a lot of Resident Evil to digest in one year. One might even argue it’s a lethal overdose of Resident Evil, and as such getting a really good horror game out there which isn’t a Capcom-driven quest for a quick buck is essential to keep the genre from feeling stifled before it even gets off the friggin’ ground.
Eternal Darkness I think is coming, I believe in it coming, but I also think when it comes – it’s unlikely to be a simple HD Remaster. Nintendo is going to lavish everything on making it an even better game. Which leaves us with Fatal Frame, which whilst co-owned by Nintendo is also a Koei-Tecmo game and they’re due something else on the Switch too. So to stop us all gorging ourselves on Jill Sandwiches, the quirky and actually also kind of naughty and kinky Fatal Frame is due another shot.
I just kind of hope the writing is better, because that’s what has been hurting the series for me. Mechanically the Camera Obscura is still brilliant. And as a survival horror, the aesthetics have only gotten better. But the stories have been getting silly and weird and a bit lazy, so it’s time for that to be fixed. Failing this, a re-release in HD of the original three games in the series would be great. Yeah, Fatal Frame 3 was a little limp, but the first two are simply staggering bits of horror gaming and worthy of yet another shot at the limelight.
FINAL FANTASY XII SWITCH EDITION
That it took a decade for arguably the greatest technically-pitched Final Fantasy game in the series to ascend to its rightful place in the pantheon of video game greatness is one of those things which makes me scratch my head. So wait, you guys will actively argue until you are blue in the face that Final Fantasy 7 is the best JRPG in existence, then dismiss a title which practically laid the foundations for games like The Witcher 3 and Xenoblade Chronicles for a decade, letting Square-Enix run the franchise practically into the ground, before you even so much as deign to consider this the kind of series entry that the series should have been following over the years?
Ahem. Okay, with my minor annoyance done – no seriously, go play Grandia and then come back and tell me with a straight face Final Fantasy 7 is better – I am glad to see Final Fantasy XII HD having done so well with its re-release. It was a great game. And I’ve even come to appreciate Vaan and Penelo over the years too, though that might be Stockholm Syndrome. The real question now is; when does it hit platforms which don’t involve getting on your knees and giving Sony’s CEO Kaz Hirai the happiest finish in the known universe? And more importantly – when does this brilliant decade-old RPG, with one of the best Customisable AI systems ever devised, come to the Nintendo Switch?
No, I don’t want Final Fantasy XV – let it go people, it won’t magically be better in chibi style and it won’t magically improve on the Switch – and I sure as hell did a little sick in my mouth when someone suggested the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy might head Nintendo’s way – serious, Reggie, don’t let Square-Enix defile your actually very good console with such turgid tripe expelled from the anus of Diabolo’s… err… anus.
And short of an HD Remaster of Final Fantasy 9, which would be kinda awesome – I love Vivi and I know it’s stupid to give a game like Final Fantasy 9 a pass based on one single character but dude, it’s VIVI – Final Fantasy XII would make the most sense in a current context. I’ll buy it. I’ll be happy to buy it. Play this game wherever and whenever I want? Sweet, sign me up for some of that good stuff!
… but seriously Reggie, don’t you dare let them try and continue to pass off Lightning as an actual character we give a toss about. I care more about Penelo than I ever could about Lightning. And saying that kind of hurts still…
STREET FIGHTER SWITCH
Capcom might be the dumbest Japanese games company in existence today.
Yes, even dumber than Konami – I mean, Konami are a bunch of gibbering lunatics but Capcom of late are making Konami look like bastions of commercial sanity in comparison. With talk already, as I said, pitching to saturate the Switch with practically every HD remix of a Resident Evil game in existence today – right down to the disastrous decision to make Street Fighter 5 a PS4 Exclusive game. Yeah, how did those sales go Capcom? Yeah… yeah.
And when Capcom shoved out a game like Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers, despite the fact most of us agree 50% of the game was utterly abhorrent – it sold. Guess what Capcom? Nintendo audiences… buy video games. Ask the indie devs currently shouting about how they’re selling more copies of their games on Switch than any other platform they release on –combined– how the Switch is treating them. You’re now beginning to realise this and I think that’s also why, deep down, you’re already considering a western Monster Hunter XX localisation. Better to chase a market provably buying software now, than pitch to a potentially larger market which has already showcased it couldn’t give a two-bit bat turd on a wind turbine about your software.
But deep down, I think even though we know it won’t be Street Fighter 5 coming to Switch – Capcom will endeavour to finally, and I think begrudgingly at that, bring another entry of this series to the Switch.
But which one would it be?
If Capcom has any sanity left in their minds, they’ll push Alpha 3. That game rocked my world on the PS1 and I went back to play it again last year and you know what? It still holds up as one of the better games in the series for me. Maybe it’ll be Third Strike – which I’d like to see if only to see Ser RazörFist projectile vomit everywhere (hey, I love the guys work but I’m also a bit of a prick and I like seeing people suffer sometimes – at least he’ll actually make a decent rant on the subject!). Maybe it’ll be Street Fighter 4. Who knows?
However, sit down with me Capcom. Real talk here… don’t make the next Street Fighter a console exclusive. Your success is built on selling to multiple markets. Limit your market, limit your sales. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I’m glad we had this talk. *fistbump*
Okay. I know I said I wouldn’t go for anything stupid – but I am still hung up on Plok!
For those that don’t know, Plok! was a two-dimensional platform adventure on the Super Nintendo and, in the UK, it was even bundled with the console for a period of time. Plok! is one of the greatest unappreciated gems of this era – inventive, silly, challenging and memorable. The special stages – where you have to navigate a vehicle-transformed Plok! through an obstacle course to skip a handful of levels, or the boss fights, or just the obsession of Plok! to his Grandpappy’s flag. It’s a weird and wacky game, and I was happy to see Plok! return, albeit in comic book form.
With Starfox 2 being pumped out for the SNES Mini, it’s clear Nintendo is at least appreciative of its SNES games. Plok! is one that for me has flown under the radar for far, FAR too long.
I know asking for a new Plok! in this era is a tall order – though I’d pay very good money on crowdfunding for that, my hatred for KickStarter and its ilk would be overridden by the nostalgic compulsion for more Plok! – so I won’t ask for a new Plok!
What I will ask for, however, is an HD Remaster of the original. I don’t think this is difficult, or expensive, or challenging in the slightest. And I do think people should be allowed to play this fantastic game again. I think it, like Final Fantasy XII, deserves one more shot on the modern market. It’s just quirky and fun and interesting enough to have remained firmly stuck in my mind for twenty years.
Of course, failing this, Plok! for Smash.
No, I’m still championing this idea and I will until the day I die. PLOK! FOR SMASH! PLOK! FOR SMASH!