8 Nintendo Series That Have Never Gone Open-World (But Should)

To say that Nintendo changed video games in 2017 would be an understatement. The launch of the Switch alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the perfect combo. Anyone who had a Switch got that game although it was tough to find a system at first.

Now, technically, the Zelda series had been open-world before this but it was never as expansive. Areas were gated off too often to call anything truly open-world, although the sailing segments of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker did come close. To reiterate, Nintendo revolutionized the Zelda series in 2017. So, what series should they turn into an open-world experience next? Any one of these ideas could help launch the Switch 2.

8 Animal Crossing Exploring the world in Animal Crossing New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a big step forward for the Animal Crossing series. There was the online functionality, the island gave players more to do, and it was supported by a healthy amount of updates. It wasn’t perfect though as even the friend aspect was a bit backward.

A truly open-world version of this series could be spectacular. Imagine a game wherein a map could randomly populate itself with your town and a few dozen others from friends online. Players could get in a car, drive to a friend’s town, explore open fields for materials, and so on.

7 Donkey Kong Country Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong in Donkey Kong Country Returns

Forget about an open-world game. Donkey Kong Country could be the first open-jungle experience. The word “country” is literally in the title and yet every game feels small. An open-world game could truly show how large of a kingdom, or country, the Kongs rule over.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie had the right idea as it showcased a giant metropolitan area complete with homes, businesses, and even interconnected highways. Nintendo could turn that idea into a game, or they could go back to the roots of the series and make that open-jungle concept a reality.

6 EarthBound Exploring the world in EarthBound

EarthBound, and the Mother series as a whole, are technically all open-world games. Most retro RPGs from the 80s and 90s are to some degree but there are gates to progression. Since the series has never gone 3D before, a proper open-world adventure would be a great way to get fans excited for the series again.

The combat could still be turn-based and be good as the Persona series has proven. Assuredly they would also be happy with an official translation of Mother 3. Heck, even a new Amiibo figure may satiate the hungry fan base out there.

5 Fire Emblem Promo art featuring characters in Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon

Fire Emblem has primarily been a tactical RPG series since it began on the NES. It has experimented with traditional turn-based RPGs accompanied by exploration like in Fire Emblem Gaiden. Since the series is now almost as popular as The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo should allow Intelligent Systems to experiment with the series.

They could make an open-world RPG like the older Final Fantasy games and use either action combat or turn-based combat. The experiment may fail with hardcore fans who prefer tactical battles, but it could also draw new fans in.

4 Golden Sun A cutscene featuring characters in Golden Sun The Lost Age

The Golden Sun series falls into the same range of open-world experiences as EarthBound. The first two games on GBA were in 2D but the third was in 3D albeit with simplified graphics. It has been over a decade since the last game on DS and the series has never left portable systems.

What would be more hype for longtime fans than to get a new game on a home console? An open-world reboot for the Switch 2’s launch could make that fan hype skyrocket to the moon.

3 Kid Icarus Promo art featuring Pit in Kid Icarus Uprising

Kid Icarus has been more of a Metroidvania series from the start or at least an early version of one. With Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS, the tone changed to more of a cross between Star Fox and Kingdom Hearts. And that was the last game in the series.

A lot of fans thought that Immortals: Fenyx Rising was going to be a Kid Icarus game since Nintendo and Ubisoft were cozy at the time. It turned out to be an original title, but maybe Nintendo could learn from Immortals: Fenyx Rising to create an open-world Kid Icarus game now.

2 Mario A cutscene featuring characters in Super Mario Odyssey

The various Mario franchises have teetered on the edge of open-world games before. Super Mario Odyssey came the closest as planets were like large open sandboxes to play around in. The game wasn’t a true seamless open-world adventure though.

The Mario RPG games like Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario have come even closer to a true open-world experience. Now, an open-world Golden Sun game at the Switch 2’s launch would be cool, but an open-world Mario game on the level of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would probably sell more consoles.

1 Pikmin Exploring the world in Pikmin 4

The Pikmin series has always been segmented into small, level-based excursions. Pikmin 4 changed that and allowed a lot more exploration chances in a smaller number of spaces. These areas were packed full of secrets to uncover and monsters to fight.

These open areas were a welcomed change to the gameplay, but like Super Mario Odyssey, they weren’t completely open-world. Would a Pikmin game work in a large-scale area? Could it be like a more kid-friendly version of Fallout 3?

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