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Five Nintendo Properties We Want To See Get The Open World Treatment

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has launched the franchise into the open world, receiving positive acclaim worldwide. With the success of Zelda, we’ve chosen four Nintendo properties we felt could use the open world treatment.

open world

Pokémon

Game Freak has recently posted several job adverts, indicating there could be a possible new Nintendo Switch game under development; Pokémon the rumor churning around the media. After The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s release, and how much it changed the Zelda franchise, the possibility of a new Pokémon on the Switch opens many possibilities.

In just the same way as Breath of the Wild became an open world format, revolutionizing the Zelda franchise, Pokémon on the Switch could transform the Pokémon franchise with much more freedom to the player. Whilst Pokémon represents one of the greatest strategy games of all time, it’s also used the same recipe for its two-decade history. The player is confined within the same cage of play, each town joined by a route that usually goes in two directions, back and forth.

Pokémon Sun and Moon brought a lot of new ideas to the franchise, but the difference between trials and gyms is quite minuscule. The opportunity to forge your own Pokémon journey has never really begun, ushering us off on the same conquest of the Elite Four. On our way, we encounter a typical group of thugs whose reign of terror becomes short-lived thanks to our supposed bond with our Pokémon.

Much of the current gameplay of Pokémon was due to the hardware capabilities of the Game Boy. The Nintendo Switch isn’t the Game Boy, it’s much more powerful, capable of supporting Breath of the Wild to a high performance. An open world that allows Pokémon trainers to walk on every blade of grass they see on the horizon would owe more to the spirit of the game. Adventure and self-discovery; diversity the malasada of life.

At this point, Pokémon has been influenced by the anime just as much as the games. There are many ideas within the anime for the usage of Pokémon.  Many of the concepts from the anime can be used to create missions within an open world Pokémon. This concept is occasionally touched upon in the games, such as fetching medicine for the sick Ampharos in Pokémon Gold and Silver.  This also creates a divergence away from the linear approach to Pokémon battling, opening up more possibilities for the Pokémon performances that never really shined as bright as they could have.

An open world would make Pokémon much more unpredictable. Encountering a new town should be exciting, but currently, it’s a formality to gain a new badge or Z-Crystal. Imagine standing on the summit of the Indigo Plateau and seeing the small village of Pallet Town in the distance. Rather than traverse on a linear pathway, you can find new Pokémon in the strangest of places on your way there. A Pokémon Go without the rural abandonment. A Goldeen in the sea, a Mankey in the tree. The Pokémon revolution we’ve been waiting for. (James Baker)

open world

Fire Emblem

There’s no denying that the Fire Emblem series is rife with opportunities for exploration and discovery. The long-running tactical RPG franchise excels at taking players on grand adventures across wild and exciting worlds. While leading troops into battles set on diverse, gridded landscapes has been an enjoyable endeavor, it’s become rather repetitive. Furthermore, each Fire Emblem title follows a similar progression pattern of linear levels and short dialogue events, giving the player little chance to explore the world around them. It’s high time Fire Emblem made the jump from a sprite-based tactical RPG to a full blown RPG, and the design that Breath of the Wild provided is the perfect template.

The constant through line of Fire Emblem is that the player is the commander of an elite troop of heroes, doing battle against the armies of some unspeakable evil, or something comparable. In this way, the series tried and true formula of progressing through each battle in sequential order, without much deviation, fits well. However, handled correctly it could be easily replaced. If the series were to become
open world, it could make each battle an immense event that the player would have to prepare for. They could do this by participating in smaller battles across the map that would allow them to gather their forces. In this way, the player wouldn’t have to be herded from one battle to the next, but rather choose the route they took to arrive at the next monumental set piece in whatever ongoing war the game revolved around.

Transforming the Fire Emblem series into an open world behemoth would not only work wonders on the series’ gameplay formula, but also its storytelling. As fans of the franchise know all too well, the storytelling in Fire Emblem is amazing, but also disjointed. Voice acted cutscenes with beautiful animation are interspersed amongst walls of text alongside drawn representations of the characters that show little to no emotion. If the series were to adopt an open world and 3D design similar to that of Breath of the Wild, then characters could be seen in a more fully realized fashion, and display a wider range of emotions and actions than they ever could in a simple sprite form. Furthermore, by transitioning to a 3D format, some of the ancillary characters would get the chance to shine in a way more akin to that of the party members in Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Rather than being just bodies on a field or simple conversation partners, these side characters could add meaningful weight to the overall story, and feel like a bigger part of the team as the journeyed with the player across a fully realized expansive environment.

The complex nature of Fire Emblem’s story and the grandeur of its battle system make it the perfect game for a redesign in the open world style of Breath of the Wild. Giving the player a chance to engage in the masterful tactical combat of Fire Emblem on a larger scale, and fully explore that multitude of environments and locals that these games offer would elevate the franchise to new heights.

 

open world

Super Mario RPG 

While the Mario RPG series has certainly changed since its Super Nintendo inception, its basic formula really hasn’t. Many linear RPGs have successfully transitioned to an open-world style, and this could be the next one to do it. The newer titles have all the right pieces to create a massive open world that would retain the exciting combat system that the series in known for.

Interesting game worlds are often filled with a variety of unique locations, both aesthetically and functionally. The Super Mario mythos is famous for its “Worlds,” aka unique areas that house different types of environments and enemies. These could all be combined to form a massive area that can be freely explored by the Bros. This could include the typical ice world, Peach’s castle, the desert, and more. Past Mario games have also been filled with dozens of unique enemies, so there would be no issue with filling the world with monsters.

The trickiest part in transitioning the series from linear to open world would be the battle system. Enemy encounters could be handled similarly to games like Xenoblade Chronicles; enemies seen in the wild could be immediately fought rather than cueing a screen transition. The camera could zoom out in order to keep the viewing angle consistent, as this particular battle system call for a lot of timing in both offensive and defensive moments.

The new open world system could also benefit from the movement options of the 3D Mario games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. Exploring the world would be a blast with Mario’s jumping abilities and acrobatics. Throw Luigi into the mix to incorporate the series’ “Bros. Moves,” which would seriously add to player’s movement repertoire.

So much of the world could be borrowed from past entries in the series, making this transition a no-brainer. It could be tricky to nail the battle system down, as the turned based gameplay has been a series staple that fans look forward to, but it’s definitely not impossible. This could be the first opportunity for Nintendo fans to truly explore the Mushroom Kingdom. (Zack Rezac)

open world

Star Fox

Forget open world – how about open galaxy? It would be easy to go with a Metroid pick here, but the themes of isolation and labyrinthine dread don’t really fit total freedom very well. So, while there may be plenty of groans from those who cling to the idea that any new Star Fox game MUST adhere to the traditional Arwing-based combat that made the original Star Fox and its amazing N64 sequel so beloved, anyone that played the vastly underrated (and strangely abused) Star Fox Adventures should have no problem wrapping their heads around the idea of Fox McCloud stepping out of the cockpit and fully exploring a planet’s surface. With a universe brimming with potential for fantastical space adventure populated by alien enemies and an epic cast of anthropomorphic weirdos like Pigma Dengar and Grippy Toad, though, why stop at just one?

Breath of the Wild has a variety of regions that make up its enormous map, with terrain that varies from deep forests to arid deserts, but it still feels like one Hyrule, still feels connected. An open-world Star Fox that utilized its space well could see the canine commander running around civilized Corneria, then hopping into his Arwing and seamlessly blasting off to the stars on a voyage of discovery, boldly going where no fox has gone before. Imagine a Lylat System like the sea in Wind Waker; each speck on the horizon, be it an asteroid, moon, or entire planet would inspire excitement and the prospects for adventure, a beacon in the infinite abyss that may hold either treasure or traps, or possibly both.

With any luck, players would also be witness to strange new lands with fantastic environments, the flora and fauna only limited by the imaginations of those creating them. From towering Xenoblade X-sized beasts roaming lush countrysides outside shining cities to monsters lurking beneath the barren surface of a dead star, and maybe even a visit to the world of Pikmin (please!), the sights and sounds alone would be a treat, letting the franchise’s universe finally stand front and center in the way that other sci-fi properties have.

And what a universe! Of all Nintendo’s properties, Star Fox could be the most ripe for world-building. The series’ stories have always come across like popcorn soap opera, loaded with colorful characters and distinct personalities to go along with light melodrama, the sort that was found in the golden age of radio serials. The backstory of James McCloud, the rival Star Wolf team, the insane machinations of a mad-monkey-scientist-turned-giant-ape-face, puts a foundation for the main story is firmly in place, but there’s no end to the amount of intrigue and side quests that Fox could run into, whether suffering Falco’s repeated challenges at home base or wandering through a small trading outpost filled with old friends and nemeses of a father thought long gone. So many possibilities for talking puppet heads…

Sure, shooting things with a spaceship is still lots of fun, and that can certainly be an element of any open-world Star Fox game, but freeing Fox from the pilot seat could be one of the best options Nintendo has for rejuvenating a stale franchise. (Patrick Murphy)

open world

Kid Icarus

Breath of the Wild has expanded what it means to be a Zelda game, taking the series in a direction that has re-introduced the joy of surprise to what had become somewhat predictable (even if excellently so), but the shift to open world could also help some of the franchises Nintendo doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with, allowing them to experiment, letting them really stretch their wings and fly. While Pit and Co. haven’t been shown a lot of love over the years, Kid Icarus is a valuable claim still worth mining. The NES and Gameboy games may not serve as much inspiration, relying on traditional side-scrolling setups of the day, but the absolutely amazing 3DS experience that is Kid Icarus: Uprising introduced players to a gorgeous mythical world pulsing with hilariously convoluted intrigue, a wealth of treasure to seek, and epic battles over locations ranging from glittering cities to cavernous underworlds, and even the moon. All that’s needed is for more powerful hardware to loose the shackles a bit, removing the rails and knocking down the corridor walls.

If the setting alone – a colorful comic book/bizarro-style version of ancient Greece complete with towering gods and colossal monsters – doesn’t hook you, then maybe the possibilities for a world populated with witty characters, each with their own motivations and backstory, will. Despite Pit fighting solo, gamers would never feel lonely with the always chatty (and often amusingly deprecating) Palutena constantly  in his ear, helping the hero uncover the secrets of whatever mystery is at the heart of whatever attack on the unsuspecting populace is being perpetrated, and temporary team-ups with a host of ambiguous allies like Dark Pit and Magnus, would only make the conversation livelier.

A who’s who from stories as old as time allows a Kid Icarus game to cram its world full of characters, but the refusal to adhere to any sort of reverence can provide for a unique personality often lacking in more serious titles. From Hercules to Jason and his Argonauts, to gods and goddesses apart from devilish Hades and sarcastic Viridi, a whole ancient tradition is at the writers’ disposal, providing the chance to intersect video game fun with a rich mythology. Green valleys and dark abysses, fiery forges and wind-swept mountains, towns filled with shops, upgradable equipment, statues to the divine, citizens in need – any of this sound familiar? But instead of melancholy and meditative, these landscapes and acropolises would appeal to a more bubble-gum kind of entertainment need. Open worlds aren’t often about sensory overload, but a new Kid Icarus game could change that, bringing the snap-crackle-pop atmosphere to a grand stage, with petty disputes among the pantheon resulting in an action-packed, joke-filled quest for the fate of all mankind. (Patrick Murphy)

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ricky D

    April 4, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    In an interview with Famitsu, Eiji Aonuma suggested that Zelda games will likely continue using expansive, open-world settings.

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