games / Columns

The Top 8 Abandoned Nintendo Franchises

June 17, 2024 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Punch Out Image Credit: Nintendo

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! Well, this is the final of the “big 3” with me talking about forgotten Nintendo franchises. Nintendo has a much longer history with their franchises both big and small. Most of the franchises on this list are pretty fondly remembered, just dormant. I didn’t want to pick any singular game, like Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. or Geist. Let’s begin:

#8: Excite

There have actually been five games in the “Excite” franchise: Bike, Bike 64, Truck, Bots, and World Rally. The last three games were on the Wii so that tells you how long it’s been since a new one. I kind of like the idea of them taking a “boring” racing genre, slapping “Excite” onto it and making it really crazy. I’d try to include either a vehicle or a track editor, with online sharing, as well, since it can dramatically increase the longevity of a game.

#7: 1080 Snowboarding

I was honestly kind of surprised to learn that there was a 1080 sequel, Avalanche, released on the GameCube. I guess that shows my relative lack of knowledge when it comes to the GameCube library. The first 1080 Snowboarding game wasn’t particularly crazy or unique, it was honestly just a really good snowboarding game. Avalanche kind of screwed with the formula by adding a titular avalanche in the game, but just being a really good simulation of a snowboarding game is good enough, especially with Amped toast, SSX likely dead and Steep being a wash.

#6: Kid Icarus

There are two reasons why the latest Kid Icarus game failed. One is that to really play the game correctly, you had to bolt-on a stupid contraption to the 3DS in order for it to work. And the second problem was: it was on the 3DS at all. The game came out early in 2012, before the Wii U came out, but it definitely should have been made for that system. Bear in mind, the 3DS was only about a year old at this point either, so it’s not like that was a very established platform then. The game was hobbled from the start by being on a system where people like shorter-time games, then requiring a convoluted controller scheme to play it correctly. A new Kid Icarus game is likely not ever to be made but even putting this game out in a HD remaster on the Switch or Switch 2, might go over pretty well.

#5: Wave Race

Much like 1080, the last Wave Race game that came out was on the GameCube. And for those of you counting, that was almost 23 years ago. Wave Race is easy because the game is actually simple: jetskis, good looking water, water physics and a track. That’s really all you need. It’s not Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing, there aren’t weapons and powerups to contend with, it’s a little more based on skill and chance, especially when the waves come into play. Nintendo did renew the Wave Race trademark in 2016 or so, but nothing actually came from it.

#4: F-Zero

Before the pitchforks are raised, “Yes”, I know F-Zero 99 just came out last year, and it is a neat little thing. The problem is: it’s not a new F-Zero game. It’s just plugging F-Zero into the Tetris 99/Mario 35 framework. It does have a few new things added to the F-Zero formula but it’s not a whole new game. If you want the last non-handheld/domestic F-Zero game, you have to go back to, surprise surprise, the GameCube with F-Zero GX. That game had a blistering sense of speed and was extremely difficult to play. Not all of Nintendo’s franchises need to cater to kids, a more challenging one for adults can be fun as well.

#3: Cruis’n

Now, I like Cruis’n, all the way back to Cruis’n USA. Back then, I didn’t even think it was a Nintendo franchise but I guess it is? Maybe when Midway finally folded, Nintendo got the full rights to it, or something? Anyways, if you’re able to find and play it, the arcade version of Cruis’n Blast is a superb racer, with thrills, a great sense of speed, and a lot of stuff going on. Cruis’n Blast on the Switch, on the other hand, is a tragedy. It severely knee-capped the arcade version, so much so, they barely even look like the same game. Why didn’t Nintendo, or Raw Thrills (who developed Blast), actually just make a new Switch version? It would have done a lot better than the actual wretched port of the arcade game.

#2: Punch-Out!!

Finally, a franchise that didn’t just stop on the GameCube. No, Punch-Out stopped on the Wii, since a GameCube version never existed. The Wii version had a lot of gimmicky control stuff, with either the Wiimote or even the Balance Board, if you had that. Thankfully, you could just use a normal controller and play Punch-Out the traditional way and it was still a blast. Nintendo could/should have just re-released this on the Switch, like they did with Mario 8. Instead, what Nintendo did, was release ARMS. What a great decision that was.

#1: Star Fox

The two franchises, to me, that represented some of Nintendo’s greatest failures have been Metroid and Starfox. I say “represented” in past tense since Nintendo actually got off their duff and have been doing stuff with Metroid, such as Metroid Dread and Metroid Prime Remastered. As for Star Fox? The last mainline Starfox game was Star Fox Zero for the Wii U. It was basically a remake of Star Fox 64, which was the last Star Fox game anyone, including me, actually liked. The problem with Zero? It was hobbled by awkward controls and the Wii U gamepad. Nintendo has had a long history of fumbling around with the Star Fox franchise and the fact that still don’t “get it” is depressing.

For comments, list which Nintendo franchises you wish could come back and why.

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