The rise of the battle royale genre in this generation has been nothing short of meteoric. Games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have retained their huge player bases over time and changed the way that live-service games can work. As a result, publishers across the industry have scrambled to make their own twist on the formula, and Nintendo is no exception. Last year’s release of Tetris 99 saw great success, and more recently, Super Mario Bros. 35 seems to be another attempt to strike gold by putting the original Super Mario Bros. gameplay to use in an unconventional battle royale.
Nintendo is clearly dipping its toes in the water, but could it take a bigger dive using one of its flagship franchises? Nintendo is in a great position to make a fresh battle royale, and here are some of the ideas I think it could go for.
It may be the most obvious choice, but a battle royale in the Super Mario franchise has a lot of potential outcomes. Super Mario Bros. 35 recently used the classic 2D style to create a battle royale with players simultaneously racing each other. Beyond this though, the 3D style of Super Mario games also has plenty of interesting battle royale potential.
Instead of using typical weapons, the focus of the gameplay could be on jumping on other players’ heads or attacking with power-ups to eliminate them. Combining this with a variety of fan-favorite levels would mean that platforming is at the core of the gameplay, which suits the series to a T. Maps from across the franchise such as Peach’s castle or New Donk City would create a huge variety of combat scenarios, and classic Mario enemies could be thrown into the mix to force players to make interesting decisions.
Do they attack the Goombas for extra coins that can be exchanged for power-ups, or do they focus on stomping on their nearby rivals? Aside from jumping on heads, the series has an enormous history of power-ups that could be implemented. Power-ups could spawn inside randomized question blocks on a map, giving players familiar advantages like being able to use the Fire Flower, Catsuit, or even the Super Star.
In terms of long-term hooks, Mario and friends have had a whole host of outfits that could be easily placed into a battle pass-style system for some added longevity. With a focus on movement and the variety of unique power-ups that Mario fans are familiar with, a Super Mario battle royale could be a fresh experience for fans of both Mario and battle royales.
The Legend of Zelda
Multiplayer isn’t something that the Legend of Zelda series has dabbled in much, but in a battle royale setting, I think it could work. Let’s imagine that a Zelda battle royale took place on Hyrule Field from Breath of the Wild. Players could compete to be the last one standing using the tried and true Zelda combat we’ve grown accustomed to, but the series penchant for puzzle-solving could also be incorporated. Breath of the Wild-inspired shrine puzzles could be randomly placed in the overworld, letting players race to be the first to solve them.
These puzzles could offer some risk/reward gameplay where players decide whether solving them for the reward of a special weapon or gadget is worth the time needed before they see another opponent. Food and various items like potions or fairies could be found in hidden chests or crafted with ingredients, while limited-time events with themes derived from The Wind Waker or Skyward Sword could bring huge changes like sailing and flying abilities.
The sandbox nature of Breath of the Wild lends itself well to creating a new take on the genre. Randomly placed camps of enemies like Lizalfos or Bokoblins could offer quick but challenging encounters for rewards, or they could be lured around to be a useful tool or hindrance to players. Stronger enemies like the Lynels could make rare appearances and require multiple players to take down before the inevitable scramble over dropped loot. Puzzles and bosses could also reward players with core Breath of the Wild abilities like stasis or magnesis. In the physics-based sandbox of a world like Breath of the Wild, a battle royale has a lot of potential for creative players to make hilarious use of the items at their disposal.
In many ways, Splatoon is already positioned as the most likely candidate for a Nintendo battle royale. As a third-person shooter, the Splatoon series already has more in common with typical battle royales than most Nintendo games. Yet, the fact that Splatoon is focused on controlling the majority of a map via paint sets it apart from the competition.
This focus on territory control rather than on killing and survival could be a unique idea for the battle royale genre. In any given match players could form squads that drop onto a map with the simple task of covering as much area as possible with their team color. Randomly spawning weapons from the Splatoon series could make this task easier, and taking over specific areas with your paint color could provide rewards like special paint attacks.
Earning or finding special attack rewards like the Ink Storm, which rains paint across a section of the map, would be a powerful tool to turn the tide of a match. Rather than being eliminated by death, a team could be eliminated once there is no longer any of their paint on the map. Instead of an ever-closing circle of death, the enclosing space could instead wipe away all paint and eliminate opponents who have the least amount of paint covering the smaller new zone.
By using Splatoon’s focus on territory control rather than survival, a Splatoon battle royale could easily be the most approachable game in a genre that’s been difficult to get into for some gamers. And with the multitude of customizable clothing options and limited-time events that the series is known for, there would be some appreciated long-term hooks to this formula.
What Nintendo franchise would you like to see adapted into a battle royale?