Nintendo’s history is full of overlooked games that never made it to North America. Here are a few that should finally come overseas on the Switch.
One of the challenging parts of being a North American Nintendo fan is not living in Japan. So much of the company’s DNA runs through the country, making the Western experience of Nintendo fandom sometimes feel diluted, which is no surprise considering Nintendo is located in Kyoto. Thankfully, the Nintendo Switch era has brought parity in many respects. However, Nintendo’s history is full of curiosities and compelling games that never made it to the West — but absolutely still should.
Of course, the discussion around Nintendo games in need of localization often starts and stops with Mother 3. This Game Boy Advance sequel to Earthbound is easily Nintendo’s most notorious Japanese-exclusive title. Whether it will actually come stateside eventually is hard to say, but the fan outcry is certainly potent enough. Unfortunately, the outcry around many other forgotten Nintendo games isn’t nearly as strong. Regardless, the following games are all worthy of localization just like Mother 3.
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There’s a strong argument for Captain Rainbow being the most bizarre Nintendo game of all time. Captain Rainbow released only in Japan on the Wii in 2008 and was developed by Skip Ltd, the team most famous for GameCube cult-favorite, Chibi-Robo. The game is centered around a washed-up superhero named Nick who ends up on Mimin Island, a strange place inhabited by B-tier Nintendo characters with a twist, like an out of shape Little Mac. The goal of the game is to help these characters with various personal problems and wishes, which range from the fun and referential to the overtly vulgar and odd.
Captain Rainbow is full of strange moments that would make localization difficult. However, it’s the sheer weirdness of the game that makes it so compelling. Captain Rainbow shows many of Nintendo’s characters and worlds through downright peculiar lenses. From its hybrid gameplay styles full of adventure elements and mini-games to its distinct personality, Captain Rainbow deserves a chance overseas. While this game getting brought to the West is probably fantasy, fan translation patches do exist online.
Doubutsu No Mori (Animal Forest)
Animal Crossing has become one of Nintendo’s most lucrative franchises thanks to New Horizons. However, most people have not played the game’s first entry. The original Animal Crossing game actually isn’t on GameCube; it’s on the Nintendo 64. Released late in the console’s life in 2001 in Japan, Animal Forest laid the foundation for the GameCube Animal Crossing title. In fact, what the West knows as the first Animal Crossing game is actually just an expanded port of the Nintendo 64 original.
In this sense, Animal Forest would largely be a novelty if it were brought Westward. However, it’s an important piece of Nintendo’s history, jump-starting a series that would become a phenomenon. Besides, this would simply be a fun and unique way to play a classic Animal Crossing title that many hardcore fans have never been able to experience. Should Nintendo 64 games ever come to Nintendo Switch Online, this would be a fun bonus.
Nintendo Puzzle Collection
While they have fallen out of style nowadays, Nintendo used to release a lot of puzzle games. The NES era was especially full of them, from Yoshi to Wario’s Woods to Dr. Mario. However, outside of cursory versions on services like Nintendo Switch Online, these puzzle games have not thrived in a long time. Perhaps one of the best iterations of these titles was the Nintendo Puzzle Collection, which released only in Japan for the GameCube in 2003. The game compiled versions of Dr. Mario, Yoshi’s Cookie and Panel De Pon.
Of the three, Dr. Mario is the least interesting, as it is a port of the often forgotten Dr. Mario 64. By contrast, Yoshi’s Cookie is particularly engaging because Puzzle Collection‘s version is a unique reconstruction of the game for GameCube. Yoshi’s Cookie and Panel De Pon both deserve far more attention than they’ve gotten, and this collection with all its curiosities and robust features is a great way give both series a boost.
In many respects, the Puzzle Collection versions of both are the best way to play. Plus, since these are only puzzle games, the amount of localization work would be comparatively small. The Nintendo Puzzle Collection would make for a great online multiplayer experience, especially on Nintendo Switch.
Doshin the Giant
Unlike the aforementioned titles, Doshin the Giant did leave Japan. While its original release on the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive was exclusive to Japan — that peripheral in its entirety was — Doshin the Giant was ported to GameCube in both Japan and Europe. However, it never came to North America, and since the GameCube is region locked, it is particularly hard to play. It shouldn’t be though, as Doshin the Giant is a quirky and intriguing experience that begs to be appreciated.
In essence, Doshin the Giant is a god game where the player takes control of Doshin to curate relationships with the inhabitants of Barudo Island. Doshin can either work with or against the islanders, taking on quests from them and terraforming the landscape. It has been lauded as a cerebral and tactile gameplay experience that is backed up with a surprising amount of lore, storytelling and complexity. With relatively beautiful graphics and a distinct personality, Doshin the Giant deserves a larger audience.
Of course, these selections only scratch the surface of what Nintendo titles need localization. From New Play Control! Chibi-Robo to Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, there are a lot of Nintendo games both new and old that continents full of fans have missed out on. Hopefully, the precedent set by titles such as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light‘s translation means that Nintendo is open to bringing more forgotten titles overseas.
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