Nintendo is known for fun. Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, Smash Bros, Splatoon, and many other franchises on the Nintendo Switch games library let us have fun by giving us lush environments, time-tested gameplay loops, and PG content that can be consumed by the whole family. But I’d like to see more than that from one of the world’s most prolific developers.
But, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have any deep and complex story-driven games, like The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4. Sure, it has a few indies here and there, like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (originally an indie) or Celeste, that toil around with your emotions, but they come few and far between. I’d love to see Nintendo themselves tackle cinematic-like storytelling within one of its first-party titles. Yes, I still want to see bright and colourful Mario platformers and uplifting games like Splatoon 2, but I want them to break out of that comfort zone. They started to do that in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with more of a character focus on Zelda, but I’d love to see more. I want to see deep, complex characters from Nintendo’s first-party studios.
It would be amazing to see Nintendo’s masterminds of gameplay come into touch with the more modern storytelling route PlayStation Studios has taken every once in a while. I am not saying that they should stop making platformers and whimsical takes on well-known genres like Splatoon with third-person shooters, but I want to see Nintendo get tested.
A cinematic story experience, in my definition, would be revolving a character having an arc as he or she explores the world around them. They meet people around the landscape, overhear conversations from townsfolk, and see the effects of their efforts on the world around them. Picture something like Cloud in Final Fantasy VII Remake going around Midgar and him seeing and hearing the impact that Avalanche has done. There would be high budget set pieces, emotional scenes, and a change within the character you play. You don’t get that with any Nintendo-developed game. Some have argued that Xenoblade Chronicles stands up, but to me, the weak side quests, the lack of show-don’t tell world-building, and the mediocre performances from the cast say otherwise. It is perfectly fine for Nintendo to continue the way it is going, but I really want to see them tested with a story that can leave an impact alongside their excellent gameplay prowess.
For example, what if the Kid Icarus series became more of a Greek drama and delved more into the relationship between the Overworld and the people below? With more of an action focus, like Devil May Cry, and the stakes being raised by the hands of Medusa, I could see that series grow up. An older Pit could still make his quips of course, like Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake or The Last of Us‘ Ellie, but I think a coming of age story revolving around a fight against Medusa could really work. They could go into the societal issues of the communities below. Maybe he could be trying to save a human love that has been taken by the forces of evil? There’s a lot they can do with this IP with a follow up to Uprising. An entirely new series from the Big N would fit too!
I hear you saying that Nintendo wouldn’t be able to muster a story-driven game like this, but I would argue that Breath of the Wild is a sign that they could. The relationship between Link and Zelda was shown in a natural way as she steadily got to know him. It wasn’t just a hero trying to save the princess, and then they lived happily ever after; it was more than that. When the Switch reveal Breath of the Wild trailer released, a lot of fans were shaken to the core as Zelda cried into Link’s shoulder, unable to handle the chaos around her. Nintendo can do emotional scenes, and do them well.
Hyrule never felt so alive as well with towns brimming with personality and side quests that popped up here and there. I just hope they expand on what they learned with Breath of the Wild (perhaps with the sequel?) and include this direction towards a few of their titles that would fit; an emotional Mario story wouldn’t fit very well, for example.
I want to see cinematics and interactive storytelling in a Nintendo game that plays extremely well. The Last of Us Part II has engrossing stealth and exploration gameplay alongside the banter between characters and engaging cutscenes. Final Fantasy VII Remake has super fun ATB based combat with the party cheering each other, giving voiced dialogue. It adds a depth to these games, and if Nintendo slightly dips their toes into elements like this, I’ll be happy. There can be both great gameplay and cinematics. They don’t necessarily have to conflict. Nintendo’s strong suit is the gameplay, but this wonderful, highly acclaimed company can be a master of both.
Am I crazy for thinking this? I might be alone but I think making more complex storylines and higher budget spectacles within their games will bring an audience that Nintendo hasn’t embraced yet. I really want to see them take that leap! Do you think the Nintendo Switch games library needs this type of experience? Let us know!