Nintendo’s history is full of unexpected crossover titles. Just on the Switch alone, Nintendo’s youngest console, are the unprecedented crossovers of Fire Emblem and Omega Force’s Warriors franchise in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors, the fusion of Pokemon and Tekken in Pokken Tournament DX, and the impossibly successful combination of Ubisoft’s Rabbids with Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. With Nintendo, fans have learned to expect the unexpected, but what are some truly surprising crossovers that I think would make exceptional games? Here is my Nintendo crossover wishlist.
Kingdom Hearts and the Nintendo-verse- “Kingdom Hearts: Mushroom Kingdom” or “Mushroom Kingdom Hearts”
I’m not the first to suggest this, and I won’t be the last. Square Enix and Nintendo have a long history together, including one truly brilliant fusion of Square’s first rate RPG gameplay and Super Mario Bros. action, charming character, and familiar narrative in the way of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Star. Most recently fans were treated to the unforeseen inclusion of FFVII‘s Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, allowing the owners of the Master Sword and the Buster Sword to clash for the first time outside of the popularity polls. While I’d be more than happy with another Super Mario RPG, the worlds I’d truly love to see (final) mix it up are those Kingdom Hearts and the entirety of the Nintendo-verse. With KH‘s Dark Seeker Saga finally, maybe, actually wrapping up, what better detour for the franchise to take than one into the beloved realms of Nintendo’s franchises?
Now, I recognize that Kingdom Hearts is already a happy union between Final Fantasy and Disney and adding another element to that coalescence might make a mess, however, while the combination of Disney and Nintendo seems like a match made in family-friendly heaven, I think the best way to proceed would be to substitute Nintendo for Disney for a spinoff title. Structurally, Kingdom Hearts is optimized for crossovers as the narrative follows keyblade wielders hopping from world to world, franchise to franchise to protect them from an external danger.
In this scenario, those worlds, rather than being the wonderful worlds of Disney, would be Hyrule Kingdom, Mushroom Kingdom, Donkey Kong Country, Brinstar, Corneria, Inkopolis, and many, many more beloved Nintendo destinations. Seeing Sora, Riku, and Kairi Disney bound has always been a treat, but how fun would it be to see them Earthbound and fighting Heartless alongside the Super Smash cast of Link, Samus, Fox, DK, and, of course, everyone’s favorite plumber, Waluigi… or Mario… depending on who you ask. Square Enix has been vocal about Kingdom Hearts III being the conclusion of a saga but not the franchise, but what follows for Sora and friends, or maybe even a new cast of characters, no one knows. I’ll hold out hope for Mushroom Kingdom Hearts, but more than likely this will remain a green pipe dream.
Fatal Frame and Pokemon Snap– “Pokemon Spirit Snap” or “Project Pokemon Zero”
The most unlikely pairing on this list, despite the preexisting crossover title Pokemon Conquest shared between the two teams, this
dream nightmare combination might sound like a stretch, but has so much potential it’s haunting. The odds of this title ever happening are ever so slightly improved by the fact that developer Koei Tecmo and Nintendo are on good working terms and even further improved considering Nintendo now co-owns Fatal Frame! Beyond being an eerily enticing concept, the creepy combination would undoubtedly be beneficial to all parties. Being paired with Pokemon could only improve the Fatal Frame franchise’s popularity, while a Fatal Frame scenario and gameplay being applied to Pokemon Snap would resolve the issue Pokemon director Junichi Masuda raised with the much clamored for Snap sequel. In an interview with the now closed CVG regarding Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Masuda had this to say concerning a Snap port or sequel:
As a player, I definitely want to play a cool new version of Pokemon Snap, but, at the same time, I also think if it was just a remake with better graphics, I don’t think it would be as interesting as a lot of people are imagining. If someone was to end up developing it they’d have to come up with some cool ideas to really make it a good game for the current generation. It’s sort of like what I was saying about Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. If it was just a direct port that would be kind of neat as well, but having new elements is definitely important.
Fatal Frame‘s signature gameplay and sinister scenarios merged with the concept of snapping pictures of Pokemon provides exactly the kind of gameplay hook and concept necessary to breathe new life into a now nearly twenty-year-old Pokemon Snap.
But what would this long awaited spiritual (heh) successor to Pokemon Snap look like? Borrowing a scenario similar to Fatal Frame, a town, perhaps the infamous Lavender Town, has been overrun by all varieties of Ghost Pokemon who are menacing the public and resisting capture, (phantom) forcing the living inhabitants of Lavender Town to abandon their homes and town. One photographer, armed with the mysterious Camera Obscura, has what seems to be the only means of pacifying these restless spirit Pokemon and riddling out what mystery lies at the dark heart of Lavender Town’s haunting situation. While a survival horror-lite title might seem like a dark detour for the Pokemon brand, Game Freak’s games always include eerie elements, with some of the franchise’s ghoulish ghosties’ Pokedex descriptions being downright disturbing.
The fun designs of the Ghost-type Pokemon ensure the games imagery would never be unsuitable for a younger audience, while tonally the game could easily keep closer to Luigi’s Mansion rather than the Fatal Frame franchise itself. Narratively, the fright fest could easily resolve with a nightmarish Darkrai, menacing Marshadow, or envious Mimikyu causing all of the chaos without ever encroaching on Fatal Frame‘s typical masochistic human sacrifice notes. As far as finding an audience, well, that should be the least of producers fears! Wherever there are Pokemon, there are eager trainers, where there are trainers, there are those clamoring for Pokemon Snap. If Creepypasta is anything to go by, this dark dream of a crossover’s audience has been lurking in the shadows of the franchise for a long time.
Monster Hunter and Pokemon– “Pocket Monster Hunter”
Ironically, I sleep soundly waiting for the nightmare merging of Koei Tecmo’s Fatal Frame and Pokemon Snap. But, the lack of a Pokemon and Monster Hunter crossover… that keeps me up at night. One might be an action RPG and the other a more traditional JRPG, but fundamentally they are very similar concepts centered around defeating or capturing powerful, elemental monsters out in the wild. That might sound reductive, but I endlessly compare the wyverns and beasts of Monster Hunter World to the Pokemon I’m much more familiar with.
The frigid, elegant Legiana of MHW I’ve taken to calling Lugia. My thunder kinsect? He’s a Vikavolt, for sure! My Palico? Well, he’s named after Dragon Ball Super‘s Lord Beerus, but he could’ve easily been yellow and named Pikachu, or Meowth, that’s right! Jyuratodus is Quagsire, Tobi-Kadachi is a Pachirisu/Emolga mother Muk-er, Paoluma is Swoobat, Barroth is a Bastiodon, and need I go on? As if that wasn’t enough, both games have Dragonites for Arceus’ sake! There needs to be a Pocket Monster and Monster Hunter mashup! The similarities are already there and it’s too fun a concept, not to mention potentially monstrously lucrative, not to happen! Monster Hunter World might have been a monumental success, but imagine the new fans it could capture if it directly appealed to Poke-fans? And what could make the MH gameplay loop even more engaging? If it featured popular Pokemon, of course!
There’d have to be certain adjustments on both ends of the crossover. For one thing, you can’t kill and carve Pokemon. Equally pressing, the game would have to take place before Pokemon battles, balls, and badges. It wouldn’t be the first time a Pokemon spinoff was set in a much earlier era than the main series games, just see Pokemon Conquest. The game could easily revolve around a human settlement handling dangerous, neighboring Pokemon before the advent of Pokeballs and trainers, allowing for the crossover to mirror Monster Hunter‘s signature gameplay. In the place of child trainers would be experienced Pokemon hunters equipped with MH‘s signature arsenal of weapons. A fight with a Pokemon might not culminate in a choice between killing and capturing a target like in MH, but in main series Poke-titles, wild Pokemon encounters present players with a similar choice between knocking a Pokemon out or capturing it, and the same could be said here. Rather than carved, maybe a K.O.ed ‘mon could be sketched and studied before being let loose, where captured monsters would be studied more rigorously. All resulting armor and equipment could simply be inspired by wild Pokemon rather than supplied through wild Pokemon parts.
Alternatively, and admittedly more difficult to conceive, perhaps the player could control roughly human sized sized Pokemon wielding weapons they could generate through their elemental powers. For example, a low level water Katana user might play as Froakie, eventually replaced by a fierce Greninja with a wicked water Katana. After SSB, this isn’t without precedent. Weavile could wield ice Dual Blades, Magmortar a fiery Heavy Bowgun, Empoleon perhaps a watery Charge Blade, and Aegislash… well, he is a Sword and Shield. This might be an unnecessarily complicated rework of the existing weapon and armor system, but could create the quintessential Pokemon battle experience. In either case, Pocket Monster Hunter is about as good a combo as a Slowpoke and Shellder, and given Monster Hunter‘s long history of exclusivity on Nintendo consoles, maybe this pipe dream isn’t so wild after all.
Here’s to hoping for a lot more uncanny combinations out of the Big N and friends. What are your favorite Nintendo crossovers and, given the opportunity, what franchises would you choose to fuse? Let me know! And take the worlds advice to keep dreaming!