Nintendo Land, the flagship game for Nintendo’s new console the Wii U, sells itself not just as a showcase for the new types of gameplay offered by the tablet controller but as a celebration of all things Nintendo. Its virtual theme park is crammed with games based on some of the company’s most storied franchises, from The Legend of Zelda and F-Zero to Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. Even lesser known series from the past fifteen years like Luigi’s Mansion and Pikmin got slots in the line up. According to Nintendo, though, more than a few of the company’s classics got axed from Nintendo Land.
Star Fox, Nintendo’s infrequently updated shooter series starring a group of anthropomorphic starship pilots, was actually in the game at one point but it was eventually changed into another science fiction game entirely. “Generally it was easy to match the gameplay from the prototypes with one series or another,” Nintendo Land director Yoshikazu Yamashita told Japanese magazine Famitsu, “For example, a game with air and ground battles works well with Metroid. There was a time when Metroid Blast was going to be a Star Fox title, but the prototype features this vehicle that hovered around like a helicopter and we figured that’d never be a good match for an Arwing.”
Star Fox has at least seen new games come out in the past decade, like Nintendo DS title Star Fox: Command or the 2011 remaster Star Fox 64 3D. Other Nintendo franchises considered for Nintendo Land have been defunct for far longer.
“I’ll admit that some of the tie-ins, like Donkey Kong and Octopus, might be stretching it a little,” co-director Takayuki Shimamura confessed, “With the way the courses are designed, we were originally thinking about making Donkey Kong’s Crash Course into an Excitebike of 1080 Snowboarding title at first.”
Both of those extreme sports series haven’t seen new games released since the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube eras in the company’s history, but they still would have been charming additions to the line up. Part of what makes the Super Smash Bros. series of Nintendo fighters so engaging is that they are filled with more obscure Nintendo ephemera than in Nintendo Land. Nintendo could, of course, upgrade Nintendo Land with new attractions through downloadable content. Nintendo has already released software updates for the game, though no new content was added.