Hollywood trying and often failing to successfully adapt video games into movies or TV shows is nothing new. Over the years there have been countless examples of disappointing game-to-film adaptations, but recently there have been slivers of hope. Streaming services like Netflix have been aggressively aiming to adapt video game properties into episodic shows, and for the most part, it’s turning out better results. The recent Castlevania animated series was highly well received, and with others like the upcoming Devil May Cry and (two) Resident Evil series on the way, there’s definitely potential in the right hands. With the variety of properties under Nintendo’s belt, it could also get in on the action, but which potential Nintendo TV adaptations could result in the greatest success?
It’s been a long time since Mario was seen on TV screens. The 1989 cartoon was a mixed bag, but Nintendo followed it up with The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and a Super Mario World series at the start of the ’90s. Since then: nothing. We know that Illumination is working on an official Super Mario movie (fingers crossed that turns out well), but what about seeing Mario on a smaller screen again? In this day and age, most fans would be excited about a new Mario TV series from Nintendo. A well-produced cartoon adaptation that follows Mario and friends on their adventures would be a perfect fit for Nintendo’s mascot.
A Saturday morning-esque children’s cartoon could involve episodes that shine a spotlight on some of the smaller Mario characters such as the Toads and the Koopalings, while longer multi-episode arcs could cover Mario making his way through one of Bowser’s castles with cute nods to the games. Giving Super Mario fans and new audiences a brand new way to peer into the world of the Mushroom Kingdom and its characters would be a treat, and it’s about time that the Italian plumber has a more consistent way to grace our screens.
The Legend of Zelda
Of all the franchises on this list, this as a Nintendo TV adaptation may be the one that would result in the most somber and understated show. Not counting the “Well excuse me, princess!” Zelda cartoon of the past, the series has yet to receive a faithful adaptation to the small or big screen. You may think that since Link is typically mute it wouldn’t work, but he does have a voice in official manga adaptations and the Breath of the Wild continuity is increasingly adding depth and personality to his character. Link could speak and offer a perspective without betraying the core of the character.
Alternatively, Link could continue to be portrayed as largely silent and still be a strong, stoic protagonist. Backed up with the right musical numbers from the games, some of the best plots of this series may come from the characters or situations that Link interacts with, as well as the lasting impact he has on them. Seeing a wordless Link find a trapped animal and spending the episode figuring out a way to free it, or helping children that have lost their friend in a cave, would be puzzle-like adventures that suit the tone of the games perfectly. For an idea of how this could look, just check out the beautiful fan-made Zelda/Studio Ghibli crossover above.
Whether the Metroid series is actually part-horror is something that’s been discussed among fans for a long time, but without a doubt, a Metroid TV adaptation from Nintendo could easily lean into this. The grotesque looks of the Metroids and the fact that Ridley was even named as a reference to horror classic Alien mean that the creatures of Metroid naturally fit into a sci-fi horror aesthetic. In a CG or animated series, an adaption could decide to follow Samus on various adventures throughout the galaxy.
Episodes could involve exploring the lore of the Metroid universe through her encounters with the Galactic Federation or Space Pirate factions. At the same time, other stories could show Samus at work, taking down Metroids in a more intimate and lonely atmosphere that invokes those horror vibes. A Metroid series that can take advantage of these different styles of episodes, while giving gamers a deeper look into the universe and introducing fans of sci-fi and horror to the series for the first time, would be a win-win situation for Nintendo. Just looking at the Super Smash Bros. Ridley reveal trailer gives you an idea of what kind of atmosphere a Metroid series could bring to the table.
In recent years the fantasy genre has been well served on TV thanks to famous productions like Game of Thrones. The Witcher and Dragon’s Dogma have followed, and Fire Emblem could thrive in this space too. While the other Nintendo franchises I’ve mentioned would be using well-known characters, the strength of each Fire Emblem game is in creating a new cast of strong characters. With the series’s penchant for anime-like character designs, it could have a broad appeal for both Fire Emblem and anime fans in general.
A Fire Emblem series could also take advantage of its strong characters and create an original Fire Emblem cast and story, with some nods to the games for fan service. Following a group of characters on an adventure where there are no guarantees of who could live or die would involve darker themes than other Nintendo shows, keeping viewers engaged and letting the show stand out from the crowd.
Super Smash Bros.
Naturally, an adaptation of Super Smash Bros. would be a licensing nightmare if extended to the non-Nintendo franchises, but the possibilities would be endless if doable. Combining the insane amount of characters and their properties together could lead to fun “what if?” scenarios that fans could only dream of. Full-length stories like Luigi helping the Belmonts with their haunted castles would be a creative and fun way to combine these properties, and in the Simon/Richter reveal trailer we caught a glimpse of how this could look. In fact, the various character reveal trailers for the Super Smash Bros. series have always leaned into fun and unusual combinations of characters in whacky scenarios.
From Samus, Mario, and Mega Man being stalked by Ridley, to the Dragon Quest heroes stepping in to save Link in a pinch, there’s no shortage of ideas that could be turned into one-off episodes. One episode could follow Snake on a mission being backed up by Greninja, while another story could focus on the antics of the Nintendo 64 Rare gang like Donkey Kong and Banjo & Kazooie on a collect-a-thon-style quest. Creatively combining the roster of disparate characters and letting them interact in the various worlds of each game would be a dream come true for most gamers and an even bigger boost to the insane cross-over that the Super Smash Bros. franchise already is.
Which Nintendo franchises would you like to see adapted to TV?