Nintendo's recent announcement that Namco Bandai will be co-developing the next Super Smash Bros set our minds racing. With such an exciting precedent, backed up by the likes of Ni No Kuni from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, Metroid: Other M from Team Ninja and XCOM: Enemy Unknown from Firaxis, what else could the best designers in our industry come up with if they were let loose on someone else's IP?
So, here we go. Blue sky thinking. No holds barred. So far outside the box that the box is a dot to us. Here are the ten (probably impossible) developer/franchise crossovers we want to happen, and why we feel that they're a match made in heaven.
10: Tomb Raider... By Naughty Dog
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot is certainly looking good, but it's also looking a lot like Uncharted. So why not let Naughty Dog loose on the IP? They've got the experience at creating visceral climbing and shooting rollercoasters in historical settings, not to mention populating their games with relatable action heroes and memorable villains. Go for it, I say.
9: Pokemon... By Hironobu Sakaguchi
I've come to realise that I need more from Pokemon in terms of storytelling and scope, and as far as I'm concerned, the collect 'em all framework could definitely support a stronger plot. Who better to take on the task than Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi, who co-designed Chrono Trigger and the original Final Fantasy? Time-travelling and dimension hopping would be a fantastic diversion, not to mention a great place to find new Pokemon.
If Mistwalker are unavailable, I'd also be happy to give the license to Grasshopper Manufacture. Suda51 would defnitely come up with some worrying Pokemon designs...
8: Silent Hill... By Frictional Games
The Silent Hill franchise is slowly getting back on track now that Konami are finding Western developers (like Vatra) who appreciate what the series is actually about: isolation and the fear of the unknown.
However, with action-obsessed Monolith out of the picture, there's only one developer we want on the next Silent Hill: the creators of Amnesia and upcoming A Machine For Pigs. They know scary. It's what they do. Let them do their job.
7: Conker's Bad Fur Day... By Twisted Pixel
It's about time that Conker came out of retirement... but who should produce it? Rare could supervise, certainly, but with the Microsoft-owned company now developing avatar and Kinect games, it's clear that another in-house studio needs to take the reins. But who?
If only Microsoft already had a second-party studio who are famed for creating hilarious, imaginative and anarchic games. Hang on...
6: Sonic... By Michel Ancel
We originally thought that Mario could do with Michel Ancel's burst of personality and creativity, but there's another platforming hero in need of some serious reinvention. Sonic has been labouring under the weight of its lore and expectations for years, and its colourful levels are ripe for an injection of the Rayman creator's unbridled imagination.
5: Ghost In The Shell... By Eidos Montreal
We're long overdue for a new Ghost In The Shell game, and the choice of developer is obvious. Deus Ex: Human Revolution could have actually been a GITS title if the box art was switched around, and the framework of cybernetic upgrades and shadowy conspiracies are what the revered anime series is all about.
Give us a Batou-style arm cannon and we're hot to trot, Eidos Montreal.
4: Star Wars... By David Braben
Dave Braben is currently best known for developing the Kinectimals series, but Frontier Developments once made two of the most important games of all time: Elite and its sequel. We'd love Braben to get back to crafting entire universes to explore, trade in and conquer... and where better to set this new game than the Star Wars universe? It's right there, ready for a space adventure sim beyond everything we've ever seen from the franchise or genre.
Those Kinectimals sure are cuddly. But do they satisfy your creative urges, Braben? Do they? Really?
3: Blues Brothers... By Criterion
This collaboration coalesced out of a recent PWNcast, wherein we discussed how great the Blues Brothers tie-in was. We reckon that Jake and Elwood are definitely due a comeback, but instead of platforming, why not focus on the brilliant driving sections? Of course, you'd need a developer skilled in creating insane pileups as scores of police cars smash into each other, backed up by accessible arcade handling and all manner of mayhem as She Caught The Katy, Peter Gunn and Sweet Home Chicago blare out in the background. And a car full of Illinois nazis sails majestically over the city.
There's only one studio for the job.
2: Starwing... By Project Aces
Namco Bandai are already collaborating on Super Smash Bros, so why stop there? Namco have a stable of specialist studios ready and waiting to take on new projects, and when it comes to Nintendo's venerable Starwing/Star Fox series, one team immediately springs to mind. Project Aces, the developers behind the Ace Combat series.
With Kono and crew on board, Fox and Falco could fulfil their potential in a visceral full-3D flight sim, complete with High-G turns and customisable Arwings. Perhaps the squad could spend their downtime chilling in a Wing Commander-style carrier, which happens to feature an arcade machine with the original games? Perhaps I should stop this reckless fantasising before my keyboard fills up with drool?
If that fails, Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya went on record to say that he'd be interested in developing a Star Fox title. But we have bigger things planned for him...
1: Metroid... By Platinum Games
Platinum Games are an exceptional studio, and one who we'd gladly task with developing any of these crossovers. They're doing great things with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance at the moment, and every game Hideki Kamiya makes acts as a type example of its genre. Viewtiful Joe. Okami. Bayonetta. Vanquish. Need I say more?
However, let's look at the facts. Their skills at developing awesome sci-fi shooters and responsive brawlers makes them a prime (no pun intended) contender for one of Nintendo's most important franchises: Metroid. Imagine combining the franchise's non-linear exploration with combat ripped straight out of Vanquish, using Samus' suit and weapons to race around the battlefields at breakneck speeds, kicking space pirates in the face with merry abandon. Imagine what they could do with the Morph Ball - potentially turning the puzzle-solving sphere into a deadly offensive weapon? We tossed the idea around in our latest PWNcast, and we've fallen in love with it.
With Platinum hard at work finishing off Project P-100, which stands to be the Wii U's killer launch title, it's clear that Nintendo know a reliable partner when they see one. Let them in, Ninty. Let them make your game awesome. Let Kamiya do what he does best: making unbelievably rad games.
So, that's our wish list, but we'd like to open the floor to you guys. What potential developer/franchise collaborations haunt your every waking moment and enter your dreams, making you wake only to realise that your beautiful fantasy isn't a reality? [that's just you, Jon - Ed] Have your say in the comments!