disaster-day-of-crisis-screens-20080912072406375 Wii U

30 Overlooked or Forgotten Nintendo Franchises (Part 1 of 3)

For the past generation and a half, Nintendo seems to have slowly dwindled in the variety of the titles they are willing to produce.  Mario averages a staggering 3~7 titles per year.  The Legend of Zelda has now largely become an annual franchise–and years when there is no release seem book-ended by years with multiple releases (2011 and 2013 each saw two Zelda titles released).  On the surface, Nintendo seems to live overly dependent on a steady diet of Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon–with a smattering of Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Wario, and Kirby–and little else.   So, let’s explore some of Nintendo’s history and see what they’ve been neglecting while they churn out way too many Mario titles every year.

This list is focused on older titles with some rare exceptions.  Most games predate the Wii and DS, or vanished shortly after those consoles launched.  The “last seen” dates refer to the last time these franchises received an actual new game or major release–so Virtual Console, in-Animal Crossing, and e-Reader releases aren’t counted.

So let’s begin our trek to the past with…


Quit chuckling. It’s a planet.

30:  To The Earth

Last seen: 1989
Made by:  Cirque Verte
Sequel Talk:  None known.

Another early light-gun (Zapper) centric rail shooter.  To The Earth essentially put the player in charge of the bridge of a space ship where the Zapper was used to destroy enemies in space (apparently through the windshield or something, but let’s worry about that).  This wouldn’t necessarily need to be revived as a rail shooter.  But something that is a bridge simulator where the GamePad is a targeting computer might work just fine.


First Uranus, now guys killed by balls.

29: Odama

Last seen:  2006
Made by:  StudioFAKE, Vivarium
Sequel Talk:  An apparently experimental version of the game was running on the Wii at one point.  That’s about it.

A bizarre strategy pinball game where players bowl over legions of soldiers with giant pinballs.  And the bulk of the gameplay used a microphone which came packaged with the game.  The Wii U and 3DS both have built-in microphones, and a variety of other gameplay options.  Seems a shame not to give such a wacky idea a second chance.


Cow udders…?

28:  Magical Starsign

Last seen: 2006
Made by: Brownie Brown (now 1Up Studio)
Sequel Talk:  Apparently none.  It is a sequel to a Japan-exclusive title, Magical Vacation.

This little-known RPG appeared on the DS to apparently no fanfare, and was ignored by Nintendo Australia.  The game is apparently pretty standard among JRPG tropes, but features some interesting multiplayer options.




One of these things is the player.

27:  Clu Clu Land

Last seen:  1984
Made by:  Nintendo internal
Sequel Talk:  It’s been ported and re-released on Virtual Console a few times, but no real sequel or revival.

Look, you play as a sea urchin and collect stuff.  Seems like this one could be easily farmed out to a different studio and primed for a revival of some sort.  It’s basically another early NES game that was designed around a core gameplay mechanic that was never allowed the chance to evolve in any way. At least it didn’t involve a robot plugged into your console…


What… what does this reference?

26:  Uniracers

Last seen:  1994
Made by:  DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North)
Sequel Talk:  Nintendo was sued by Pixar over this and lost.  It’ll never happen.

Uniracers was Nintendo’s answer to Sonic the Hedgehog and Sega’s highly-touted “Blast Processing” in the Genesis.  It’s a side-scrolling one-on-one racing game using unicycles.  The game was very fast and relied extremely heavily on airborne stunts to increase speed.  Given the lawsuit and halted production, this game is one of the industry’s truest exclusives as it will likely never reappear anywhere but its limited SNES run.


It’s not a JRPG without something Satanic.

25:  Illusion of Gaia

Last seen:  1994
Made by:  Quintet Co.
Sequel Talk:  Nothing known.  The game was published by Enix in Japan.

Quintet was fairly well known during the 16-bit era as they also developed a title called Soul Blazer which has similarities to Illusion of Gaia, and a little game called Actraiser.  Nintendo doesn’t exactly own this IP, but having published it everywhere outside Japan, the company no doubt has some say in its future.




Getting Drill… Dozed… I’m not familiar with this game.

24:  Drill Dozer

Last seen:  2006
Made by: Game Freak
Sequel Talk:  None known.

Do you recognize the name of that developer?  If you’re a Pokemon fan, then you’ve been staring at it for ages.  These are the guys that make the regular Pokemon RPGs.  Also take note of its release:  2006.    This launched a year and a half after the DS.  The focus of the game is the Drill Dozer (betcha didn’t see that coming), which can drill holes, fly, and move the player through water, just like a real drill, maybe.  Given Game Freak’s pedigree, this one might be worth revisiting.



Fun fact: The Super Scope did not resemble a pistol. Or any kind of gun.

23:  Tin Star

Last seen:  1994
Made by:  Software Creations
Sequel Talk:  None.  Software Creations was eventually purchased by Acclaim… and later Acclaim went bankrupt and vanished.

Tin Star was another rail shooter for the SNES made to use the Super Scope, and it centered around an Old West theme with robots.  Each level ended with an Old West Showdown as Sheriff Tin Star attempted to defeat a gang.  This is another one that would have made perfect sense revived on the Wii, but figuring out who owns the franchise is no easy feat.




Believe it or not, some of the most realistic water in all of gaming.

22:  Wave Race

Last seen:  2001 with Wave Race: Blue Storm (GC).
Made by:  Nintendo EAD, Nintendo Software Technology Corporation
Sequel Talk:  Nothing much, but in 2012, the trademark was renewed.

Wave Race once existed to give Nintendo gamers a different racing game from the high-speed intensity of F-Zero and the ridiculous zaniness of Mario Kart—and also to show off the tech of their new consoles with excellent water and wave physics and animation.  In an age when the technical abilities of the Wii U are so questioned, this might be a good franchise to revive.  It’ll never show-up the XBO or PS4, but Nintendo could handily use it to show their console as a leap over the previous generation.



“Gee, I’m sure glad something this awesome wasn’t released in the US,” said the author as he bathed in sarcasm.

21:  Disaster: Day of Crisis

Last seen:  2008, but not in North America.
Made by: Monolith Soft (yes, the Xenoblade guys).
Sequel Talk:  Nothing.

If there was ever evidence that Reggie hated North American Wii gamers, it may have been his adamant refusal to bring over games like this.  Disaster was released in the Europe and Japan, and then nowhere else.  It combined action and shooting in a unique package against a backdrop of conveniently timed terrorism and natural disasters.  At the very least, it could be upgraded to HD for the Wii U with GamePad touchscreen controls for the shooting.



Click here for Part 2.

Nick Behrens Nick Behrens says:

I learned about a lot of these by going to MobyGames or Wikipedia and just skimming a list of games published by Nintendo. Drill Dozer is a title that I’ve been aware of over the years numerous times, but I always forget about it. Maybe I’ll look for it tonight at the local place that sells old games.