One of the most enjoyable things in gaming can be seeing famous characters in unfamiliar formats and arenas. When you think about it, this is half of what’s made Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart such great franchises for so long. We’re used to seeing Bowser guarding a keep beyond a moat of lava or carrying off Princess Peach over his shoulder – not driving a race car and launching slippery bananas. We know Pikachu as an adorable RPG team member and pet-like adventurer, yet Smash Bros. presents him/her/it as a Thor-like force of thunder.
Nintendo tends to give us the best examples of these kind of character-genre crossovers, and is continuing to do so in the mobile gaming era, win which such crossovers are arguably easier to develop than ever before. For instance, Super Mario Run, despite having the appearance and feel of a classic Super Mario game, essentially plugged the most famous character in gaming history into a style of gaming – the endless runner – made popular largely by mobile. Without Temple Run, that is to say, we probably never would have seen this particular sort of Mario game come about.
There’s no way of really knowing what the next examples in this always-interesting category might be. Just for fun though, and in appreciation of crossovers like those named above, these are some of the games we’d love to see….
Princess Peach Escape
Now that a guy named Bowser is president of Nintendo, it seems only right to revive the tried and true Bowser-kidnaps-the-princess narrative, only in a simpler game than ever before. If we’re talking about mobile games primarily, the escape genre is one that’s really thriving in the medium. Because escape games usually only require text commands or swipe- and tap-based controls, they’re ideal for phones and tablets. They also exemplify the medium’s heavy reliance on atmosphere over action in its best games. All of this makes the escape genre ideal for most any theme or characters, but it would be hard to beat Princess Peach escaping Bowser’s Keep. There could be all sorts fo fun elements and side characters worked into a game like this.
James Bond Platformer
Platformer arcade games have always been some of the best, and they do fairly well on mobile devices. Tons of different characters and themes could conceivably be spun into this category, but James Bond might be the most interesting. Ever since GoldenEye 007 helped establish the FPS genre we know and love today, the world’s favorite secret agent has been a noteworthy gaming character, but we’ve never really seen him in this kind of game. Rather than the average FPS or third person action game, controlling Bond from the side looking in, progressing a cross screens full of obstacles and bad guys, would be refreshing.
Gonzo isn’t quite Princess Peach or 007, but he’s become a very famous character in certain gaming circles. In case you’re unfamiliar, he’s the subject of a game called Gonzo’s Quest that’s gained fame through excellent reviews and through being showcased for free play despite being part of the real-money casino gaming business. He’s an adventuring explorer in 1400s Peru, and the game essentially enhances the slot experience by showing his progress through lush, unexplored territory. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a perfect setup for a “run” game, nothing will. Granted it would be fairly similar to Temple Run stylistically, but there could be enough stylistic differences to keep the focus on Gonzo and a fresh environment. And anyway, it’s not as if Temple Run isn’t a huge hit!
Pokémon Battle Royale
Fortnite might get most of the attention, but “battle royale” is a growing category of combat games, and one that could use a bit of innovation already. Throwing Pokémon into a game like this would be an incredible move for the related developers. Gamers could enter games, find themselves controlling different Pokémon at random, and then attempting to survive using those Pokémon’s abilities against others. It would be a whole new way to play with these fascinating creatures, and could even put a spin on battle royale progression and arms-gathering features by including evolution for Pokémon based on kills or length of survival time.
Mushroom Kingdom Tower Defense
It feels only right to include a second Super Mario-related idea, given that – as mentioned – Nintendo has been at the core of some of our best character-genre crossovers. And really, of all the games we’re suggesting here, this one seems like the most feasible and, potentially, the biggest hit. Tower defense games are hugely popular on mobile devices and even in online browsers, but there really isn’t a good one based on a major gaming or entertainment franchise. The world of Super Mario is extremely well equipped for it. Just imagine a Mushroom Kingdom setting with classic bad guys (goombas, koopas, and the like) progressing along a path to be stopped by different “towers” (Toads, Mario, Luigi, etc.) and the weapons and ammunition they have at their disposal. Done correctly it could be a brilliant game and an extraordinary success.