Any longtime Nintendo fan knows that the company’s third-party publishing partners can be good friends. Many of the industry’s biggest franchises have been missing from Nintendo hardware for quite some time now. In some cases, Nintendo’s own bold decisions regarding cartridges and SD games have cost them key articles in series that were once synonymous with their brand.
But thanks to the popularity of the Switch, some of Nintendo’s most notorious hardware-less games have made their way back home. The ambitious Final Fantasy VII Square was once too big to fit on an N64 cart, prompting longtime Nintendo partner to opt for Sony’s PlayStation optical discs. Obviously, the move made Nintendo tell Square, “Will never come back.”
And yet, in 2019, Final Fantasy VII appeared on Nintendo hardware – and no less on a cartridge! Grand Theft Auto III and Kingdom Hearts are also coming soon; the latter is not on the cartridge, but this is an article for another time.
Many popular games are completely missing Nintendo hardware, but here are eight of the most notable flaws in history – games that we should definitely be playing on our Switch right now.
Dream Nights (1996) • Sega Saturn
If the Sega Saturn was remembered for only one game, it would be Dream nights… Nights was a knockout for the short-lived 32-bit console, a spectacular flying game with dynamic music and even an artificial life system built on the trendy new Sega analog stick.
Nights was a standout achievement for Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima, a first glimpse of the amazing range and skills of the Sonic Team that will bloom on the Dreamcast. It was so impressive that Shigeru Miyamoto allegedly said that he would like it.
When Sega went over to the side of third parties in 2001, its IP addresses diverged: Nights received a port for PS2 and a remaster for HD consoles. Nintendo fans got a Wii-exclusive Nights: Journey of Dreams sequel, but the original high-end game never made it onto Nintendo hardware.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997) • Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn.
Castlevania has its roots in Nintendo. While the original 1986 NES game was ported to other 8-bit platforms at the time, the following three numbered entries were exclusive to Nintendo. Count Dracula and Belmont are heavily featured on Nintendo home and handheld consoles, with one major omission: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night…
In 1997, Golden Eye 007 and Gran turismo, releasing a 2D scroller on “next generation” hardware was a risk. Symphony of the Night sold slowly, but over the years it has become a cult hit.
Originally inspired by The Legend of Zelda rather than Metroid as you might think, Konami and designer Koji Igarashi soon brought their promising “Metroidvania” formula to the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. But Alucard’s big break on the PlayStation and Saturn has overlooked Nintendo – even though the game has been updated for PSP, Xbox 360, PS4, and even smartphones.
Mega Man Legends 2 (2000) (and the Misadventures of the Throne of Bonn) • Sony PlayStation
In the late 90s, everyone was switching to 3D, and Mega Man was no exception. After six side-scrolling games on the NES and a revamped Mega Man X series on the SNES, Capcom assembled the Blue Bomber and moved to the PlayStation. In 1997, they went all-in on polygons with Mega man legends… While Legends has its fans, it’s clear that Capcom and producer Keiji Inafune have had to stray far from the series’ roots to adapt the classic run-and-gun gameplay in 3D.
However, Legends was successful enough to spawn a sequel. Mega Man Legends 2, and the prequel, The Misadventures of the Throne of Bonn… Nintendo saw a version of Mega Man Legends renamed Mega Man 64 in 2000, although it wasn’t as well received as the PlayStation original. By then, Capcom had given up porting the other two games.
Curiously, the canceled Mega Man Legends 3 was originally developed for the Nintendo 3DS in 2010.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) • PlayStation 2
Metal Gear is generally considered the Sony series, even if the franchise hasn’t been exclusive to Sony hardware for years. But Konami’s tactical espionage has also made its way to Nintendo on several odd occasions.
The NES received a quirky port of the original 1987 Metal Gear, in which the supercomputer was replaced in place of the titular robot, followed by a non-canon sequel. Revenge of the Serpent… There are two versions of Metal Gear Solid on Nintendo consoles: a completely unique Game Boy Color game set in an alternate timeline (called Metal Gear: Phantom Babylon in Japan), as well as a GameCube-exclusive remake from Silicon Knights called Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Twin Snakes runs on the same engine as Metal Gear Solid 2, but Konami would skip this game entirely to bring Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D to 3DS.
Mario Kart Arcade GP (2005) • Arcade
Technically it is It was released on Nintendo hardware, namely the Triforce arcade board, jointly developed by Nintendo, Sega and Namco. But unlike other Nintendo arcade games, Mario Kart Arcade GP never came out at home.
This series of arcade racing games is actually a unique spin-off of the Mario Kart series, with bespoke tracks, items, and even crossover characters from the Pac-Man and Tamagotchi franchises. The closet also has a camera with which players can take a picture of themselves wearing Mario’s hat and mustache.
Nintendo is not shy about bringing its arcade games home. F-Zero AXwhich also ran on the Triforce board was a GameCube child game called F-Zero GX (and it can even be hidden in that game if you have Action Replay). And, of course, games like Pokken Tournament and Cruis’n Blast continue to bring arcade power to traditional consoles.
Come on Nintendo, at least let us ride Diamond City in Mario Kart 9.
Vanquish (2010) • Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
PlatinumGames was only three years old in 2010, but the studio supergroup of former Capcom developers got off to a great start with wild and energetic games like Hideki Kamiya’s Bayonetta and Shinji Mikami. To win…
Sega was one of Platinum’s early partners, and they published the studio’s first four games, including MadWorld for Wii, Infinite Space for DS. Vanquish was Mikami’s only game for Platinum, a ruthless third-person shooter that helped define the studio’s identity. Mikami left shortly thereafter to found Tango GameWorks.
Vanquish and Bayonetta were re-released in a 10th anniversary kit in 2020, but oddly enough, it missed the Switch. Hopefully Nintendo’s close relationship with Platinum will change that.
Dark Souls II (2014) • Xbox 360, PS3, PC (and Dark Souls III)
It’s unlikely Bandai Namco will bring FromSoftware’s popular Souls titles to the much less popular Wii U, but it did make 2018 Dark Souls: Remastered on Switch a delightful surprise.
Honestly, there isn’t much remaster here, as the Nintendo version is approaching the original 2011 release in some areas. But it’s still a great way to play cold-blooded classics on the go. Why, then, did Bandai-Namco remain silent about the sequels?
Perhaps it’s just a matter of possibility. Remastered was released around the same time as the versions for other platforms; Scaling up these 5- and 7-year-old sequels for Switch may seem impractical at this stage. However, we need to do something with our Solaire amiibos!
Persona 5 (2016) • PS3, PS4
Persona 5 may be the most requested switch port ever. The inclusion of P5 protagonist Joker as the first DLC side character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has led many fans to speculate if the Atlus-dungeon-crawler dating simulator will be coming to Switch. Two years later, nothing happened other than the Persona 5 Strikers spin-off.
Sega may or may not do some sort of exclusive deal with Sony for the Persona series. Although the parent series, Persona Megami Tensei, has had a much stronger presence on Nintendo hardware since the 1996 Famicom. Revelations: Persona is another example of a third-party company opening a store with Sony during the N64 era.
Sega recently ditched Persona’s PlayStation exclusivity, releasing Person 4: Golden on Steam out of nowhere, so maybe they’re testing the water for wider releases in the future.
Any other amazing games that have never appeared in this area? Let us know which games you want are coming to Nintendo consoles below.