A technique that seems to be working for Nintendo as of late is to take one of their beloved franchises and smash them together with some other universe. Games like Hyrule Warriors, Pokken Tournament, and Mario + Rabbids are just a few examples of this strategy. These games are effective at getting third parties in the mix when it comes to Nintendo consoles, but beyond that, they stimulate the imagination by exposing the classics to new possibilities. When I actually take the time to dabble in writing fiction, my “trademark” is to combine genres, and I love the potential that arises from mixing the themes and techniques used in different styles. So unsurprisingly, I am a sucker for crossovers and love the idea of putting different worlds together.
Today I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorite crossover ideas! Of course, first come the ground rules; or rather, the lack thereof. These are not crossovers that I necessarily believe would sell well. These are not crossovers that I think fans would actually want anyone to create. These are simply ideas that I personally would be excited about, and who knows, maybe you will enjoy them too. So without further ado, let’s dive right in to my top five desired crossovers!
PHOENIX WRIGHT AND ZERO ESCAPE
Let’s start on the plausible end of things and smash together two visual novel games, eh? I’ve been into Zero Escape for a few years now but I only recently got into the Phoenix Wright series, playing through the original trilogy just within the last seven months. I immediately fell in love with the quirky characters and the over-the-top storytelling. Despite the soap-operatic nature of the stories in Phoenix Wright, they are very compelling and the cases often work together to create a satisfying arc full of plot twists and character development. Trials and Tribulations in particular stood out to me as an amazing example of Phoenix Wright at its finest, bringing together multiple story threads and bringing them all to satisfying conclusions.
Then you have Zero Escape, a game that is always keeping you on your toes. You have no idea who to trust, and every choice you make could result in your death or the death of those around you. There are challenging puzzles to solve and failure results in fatalities. Yet these sickening games are never just about bloodshed – they have a grander purpose that is virtually impossible to recognize in the very beginning. The character of Zero (who changes throughout the series) always has a convoluted scheme that amounts to so much more than just making everyone suffer. Whether or not Zero is truly a villain is a question you are left asking at the end of every Zero Escape title.
Both of these series incorporate elements of the supernatural, Phoenix Wright through the presence of spirit mediums and Zero Escape through pseudoscientific theories. It is not uncommon in either series to have an impossible plot twist brought about by something out of the ordinary. Combine that with the fact that both games tell riveting stories that are never what they seem, and you have the potential for a compelling scenario.
I could see this crossover working well by taking some characters from both games and placing them in some kind of convoluted scenario. Maybe have them all trapped together in a Nonary Game that involves court proceedings after each set of doors, incorporating the courtroom drama of Phoenix Wright after Zero Escape style puzzle sequences. It’d be interesting to see how the characters got on – can you imagine Gumshoe’s reaction when a character like Sigma or Akane tries to describe a complex scientific theory? How would Junpei or Dio handle themselves in the courtroom? Would Edgeworth’s investigative skills give Seven a run for his money? There’s a lot of potential here and I think this crossover could be a real blast.
As for the villain, it really would fit the atmosphere of both games for Zero to be an established character from one of those universes. The question is, who could play such a part? I think it would be better to use a Phoenix Wright character rather than someone from Zero Escape, and it definitely should not be someone who has already been Zero in the series. I think Miles Edgeworth would be a good fit for Zero within the Phoenix Wright universe – he has the cold intellect and forethought to play the role well. Godot could also be a good choice, but would also be way too obvious given his role in Trials and Tribulations.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA AND FIRE EMBLEM
When fantasy adventures collide! The Legend of Zelda is a series with a deep lore and fascinating characters to explore – what better way to capitalize on both of those things than by giving the series the Fire Emblem treatment? Both worlds are filled with similar story elements – gods and goddesses, good versus evil, magical swords, and even time travel. There’s plenty of potential for the series to work well together.
What I would want to see from a crossover in this style is to place Hyrule in a strategy setting, not Fire Emblem in an adventure setting. This would be a great way to see characters from the Zelda franchise in a clearer light. Because of the nature of Zelda games, much of the storytelling is subtle, and characters who may initially seem significant but get little screen time don’t enjoy much character development. Think of the Champions in Breath of the Wild, or the Resistance in Twilight Princess (pictured above) – characters such as these would really benefit from the support conversation mechanic in order to expand on their personal stories.
For the Fire Emblem side of things, this would be a great opportunity to expand on some of the gameplay mechanics. How would tools useful to Link during his journey play into the classic weapon triangle? What strategies and unit placement would help you defeat creatures like octoroks, moblins, or wizrobes? If this game were to take a page from Fire Emblem Echoes and include dungeons, and then fill those dungeons with Zelda-style puzzles to solve, that could create some really interesting gameplay that serves as a refreshing break from turn-based combat. Rather than breaking up puzzle sequences with random battles, battles could occur where you would normally encounter a mini-boss or boss. This would allow players to puzzle in piece and also make it easier on the development side to create interesting battle maps filled with elements to take advantage of, as opposed to the empty maps of Echoes.
If characters from Fire Emblem were to make an appearance, I feel like Lucina is a great character to include alongside Link. They’ve gone through such similar experiences – both were displaced from their natural time, both lost their childhoods to the dark designs of evil and their unavoidable destiny. Each of them have different personalities as a result of everything they have experienced, and it would be interesting to see the sort of relationship that the two could develop. The friendship that could potentially blossom between Lucina and Zelda would also be compelling to explore.
Of course, the big question here is: would Link talk? I know it’s super controversial to have him speak, but at no point in any of the games does the series pretend that Link is literally mute. Either his speech is “hidden” by the game mechanics, or he has a canon reason for staying silent. I think having a game that actually dares to define a personality and character traits for Link would be fascinating, and what better time to do it than a side game like this?
DRAGON QUEST AND THE ELDER SCROLLS
The original Dragon Warrior game follows the story not of a party of heroes, but of a lone warrior who sets out to do battle against a fierce evil. As this hero battles slimes and drackies with naught but a wooden stick at his side, he grows in power, learning magic that allows him to explore further and further with its aid. Soon he can reach the next town, then the next region, then the next continent as he grows more powerful. Finally, with only his own power and the gear of the legendary hero in hand, he faces evil down and saves the world from darkness.
Before western RPGs ever sent us off alone into an open and terrifying world, JRPGs were exploring that territory. Dragon Quest has a storied history and its classic mechanics have stayed true to its roots over decades of changes in the industry. How awesome would it be, after all these years, to experience that first adventure again in the full open world style of Elder Scrolls?
These two series have some features in common already: the first person perspective in combat, skill trees to evolve your abilities when leveling up, and episodic stories that loosely connect as a larger narrative but function well as stand-alone arcs. Imagine combining the gameplay and worldbuilding of Skyrim with such an established and iconic universe. Instead of casting generic magical spells you’re casting the spells you’ve come to rely on in Dragon Quest like Frizzle, Crack, Zoom, and Omniheal. Instead of wave after wave of mindless draugr you face off against quirky enemies with punny names.
For me, I think this crossover would be effective because it combines the popular gameplay of Elder Scrolls with the more approachable, enjoyable atmosphere of Dragon Quest. Traveling to cities with different cultures and goofy accents, facing enemies who try and defeat you with bad dancing or by flashing their smelly undergarments, and rolling your eyes while secretly snickering at puns and alliteration would really lighten the mood of the open world genre and give you a very different sort of world to explore.
For an extra layer of fun, it’d be cool to see Akira Toriyama’s artistic interpretation of common creatures from the Elder Scrolls. What does an Argonian or a Khajiit look like in the Dragon Quest style? If you didn’t know, the artist behind the character design in Dragon Quest is a bit more well known for his work on a certain manga – Dragon Ball. Seeing classic Elder Scrolls enemies, gods, and races in his style would be a pretty cool way to mesh these worlds together.
NINTENDO AND KINGDOM HEARTS
“Ian, Nintendo isn’t a game, it’s a developer. And isn’t Kingdom Hearts already a crossover? This is cheating.”
Hey, I said no rules, right? Allow me to elaborate. What I specifically want is a Kingdom Hearts style game that combines different Nintendo worlds together. I want the lore of Kingdom Hearts – Heartless, Nobodies, Keyblades, etc – but instead of exploring Disney films or cartoons, exploring the worlds of beloved Nintendo characters.
Yes, I understand this is basically the story mode of Smash Bros Brawl with a few more RPG elements, but I’ve been open about the fact that I wanted this sort of thing before today. I want a more meaningful convergence of Nintendo characters than just having them pummel the snot out of each other. I want their ideals to clash, I want to see them struggle together against an enemy that they can’t handle on their own, and that’s exactly the sort of setting that Kingdom Hearts would create.
Which characters from the Nintendo universe would give their hearts to darkness? I could potentially see Luigi having a radical new interpretation where he is similar to Riku, giving himself to darkness after living so long in the shadow of his brother. Maybe the canon “evil” versions of existing characters are actually Heartless or Nobodies, giving a whole new angle to entities such as Dark Samus or Dark Pit. Would heroes like Mario and Link become Keyblade masters, or would there be a new hero that rises up to wield the Keyblade? And what the heck would happen if Kirby or Yoshi were to eat a Heartless?
Of course, if this crossover were to happen, I’d want the developer to take a lot more creative liberty with the established characters than the actual Kingdom Hearts did with Disney. Basically replaying the plot of every Disney film got old pretty fast in Kingdom Hearts, and I definitely would not want this game to end up rehashing the plot of existing Nintendo games. That would get old pretty fast and defeat the purpose of reinterpreting these characters through the lens of Kingdom Hearts lore.
METROID AND POKEMON
Metroid – specifically the Metroid Prime series – has a pretty strong formula. Samus arrives on an alien planet, learns of a threat to that planet, explores while integrating her suit with alien technology, and defeats the threat with the powers and knowledge she has gathered during her journey. Isolation is a powerful theme in Metroid, and you truly feel lost in nature as your explore the wilds of these strange planets. The creatures you face are terrifying and powerful, and only by learning their abilities and weaknesses can you overcome them.
The world of Pokemon is full of fascinating creatures, but we only see hints of what those creatures might really be like in the wild. Pokemon are animals and they have animal habits like hunting, nesting, and mating, yet we see almost nothing of what these creatures are like in their natural habitat. Or what they are capable of if a human crossed their path.
Imagine Samus Aran crashing on an alien planet that is a post-apocalyptic Pokemon world. No trainers, no civilization, and Pokemon have gone from being domesticated pets to being the predators and monsters they once were. Think of what it would take for the bounty hunter to overcome enemies like Charizard or Torterra. Imagine the struggle against legendary beings like Rayquaza, Palkia, or Solgaleo. I would love to see Samus isolated among these alien, terrifying versions of the creatures we have come to know and love.
Incorporating new technology into her suit is an important part of Samus’s journey on each planet, and the Pokemon world would certainly have some interesting pieces for her to try. What if the only way to defeat more powerful Pokemon is to take advantage of their type weaknesses? Perhaps in the absence of things like her Wave Beam or Plasma Beam, Samus needs to capture Pokemon and transfer their elemental energy into her blaster in order to accomplish this. She’d have to find a way to successfully blend the tech of her armor with Pokeballs. Maybe her Scan Visor would be useless until she uploaded the data from a Pokedex, but she’s only able to find regional dexes that expand her knowledge a bit at a time. And could the ride pager allow her to temporarily tame Pokemon that she could then ride into new areas otherwise inaccessible to her? I think there’s a lot of potential here!
Of course, Metroid is certainly not a kid-friendly title and the traditional target audience of Pokemon would need to take a break this time around. No kid wants to watch Pikachu get blasted into a mess of crackling flesh. But the themes of friendship and the bond between trainer and Pokemon could even break apart the typical Metroid isolation, with Samus perhaps forming bonds with some friendlier species and relying on their friendship in a world where she is otherwise cold and alone. Pokemon such as Lucario could play the guiding role typically taken on by alien beings such as the Chozo, helping Samus to understand and survive in this dangerous world.
That’s all I have for today, adventurers, but I am really interested in what you have to say. Are there any games that you feel would work well as a crossover? Do you like any of the crossover ideas I mentioned? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter – bonus points if you can come up with something more ridiculous-sounding than Mario + Rabbids but still pitch it in a way that makes it seem fun!