Our look at Nintendo’s studios is nearly complete. We have looked at their internal teams, their first-party subsidiaries, and their second-party partnerships. Now, we are going to examine their third-party collaborations. Over the years, Nintendo has partnered up with many different companies and, if recent claims are to be believed, it seems that they will be joining up with even more.
However, this article will not be some wishlist of what partnerships I hope come to fruition; rather, it will look at the studios they have collaborated with in the past to discover if they might do so again — and if so, how. Also, do keep in mind that this is not a look at how these companies are currently supporting Nintendo, but rather, how they have joined forces for publishing and developing games.
Square is an extremely popular third-party developer and publisher and I think we all know most of their story. Created as a merger between Square and Enix in 2003, they are well-known for their Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest franchises, many of which still appear on Nintendo hardware, if not exclusively.
Square has had an interesting relationship when it comes to collaborating with Nintendo. One of their most popular partnerships was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the SNES back before Square and Enix merged, but unfortunately, there was little else of note for some time after.
That changed in 2006 when Square Enix asked Nintendo if they could put Mario characters in a basketball game they were creating and Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for the DS was born. This was followed up with Itadaki Street DS in 2007. Three years later, Mario Sports Mix was released in Japan and in the States in early 2011. Fortune Street, a follow-up to Itadaki Street, was also released for the Wii in 2011. Nintendo has also pitched in to translate and publish a few strictly Square Enix games in the States, Bravely Default being the most recent example.
Where this relationship can go from here is certainly an interesting thought. It’s clear they are not averse to teaming up for sports and party titles, so seeing something with more depth certainly is not out of the question. Additionally, it seems clear that Nintendo will continue to publish Square-developed games in the States and Europe when necessary.
Tecmo Koei and Nintendo have certainly had their fair share of collaborations, but alas, they have not always turned out the greatest. One of the most polarizing titles to come out of this partnership is Metroid: Other M from Team Ninja. They also created an upgraded version of Ninja Gaiden 3 for the Wii U’s launch which, while not staying exclusive, was originally published by Nintendo.
As has just been announced last December, the Dynasty Warriors team is evidently creating a Zelda spin-off known as Hyrule Warriors. How this game will turn out critically and commercially still remains to be seen, but either way, it is clear that Nintendo and Tecmo Koei have a solid relationship — one good enough to combine two of their biggest franchises, at least. It will certainly be exciting to see how their relationship advances from here.
Bandai Namco — known until recently as Namco Bandai — has several huge franchises. The Tales Of series, Pacman, Ace Combat, One Piece, Tekken, Soul Caliber, Ridge Racer — the list goes on. Their partnership with Nintendo is quite extensive. For starters, the Mario Kart arcade titles are developed by Namco, the most recent of which released just last year.
The Mario baseball games are also created by this third-party, though whether we will see another after Super Sluggers (2008) remains to be seen. The Donkey Konga series on the GameCube was collaborated with Namco, too. A pretty huge announcement was made a while back: the next entry to the Super Smash Bros. franchise would be developed as a joint between Bandai Namco and remaining members from ex-Nintendo studio, Project Sora (which is once again known as Sora Ltd.)
That Nintendo is willing to partner with Namco for what is arguably their most important upcoming game shows that they have a huge amount of faith in this partnership. As such, it seems highly likely that it will continue in some way. The possibilities are endless and, of all the publishers on this list, Bandai Namco is the company I’m most excited to see more collaborations from.
Created from a merging of Spike and Chunsoft in April of 2012, they are who are in charge of the 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward series — which, while not published by Nintendo, is a franchise well-known by many Nintendo fans. With the big N, they have not joined forces on many games, but they are the creators of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, the most recent of which released last year for the 3DS. I certainly would not be surprised to see another Mystery Dungeon in our future. Whether the partnership will branch out, however, remains to be seen.
Level-5 and Nintendo have a pretty limited relationship. Level-5 tends to publish most of their games by themselves, but Nintendo does occasionally step in to publish their games in the states. Professor Layton is the main series, but they also translated and put the games from the Guild series on the eShop. Other than that, they don’t have much of a relationship — though, of course, this may change.
Originally one of Nintendo’s most bitter rivals, both ended up on quite good terms after Sega became a third-party developer, releasing several Sonic games for the GameCube — some even exclusively. They notably partnered together during this time to create F-Zero GX, a critical success that garnered solid, if seemingly unremarkable, sales.
When the Wii rolled around, Sega and Nintendo joined forces for an interesting experiment: Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. This ended up being a monstrous sales success and, as we all know, it gained several sequels, the most recent of which being 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. They have also been getting quite cozy when it comes to releasing games exclusively to Nintendo consoles. Sonic: Lost World released only on Wii U and 3DS and it appears Sonic Boom will do the same. Needless to say, they have an extremely strong relationship.
How it might evolve in the future is interesting to think about. Though the original studio that created F-Zero GX is now closed, I could certainly see another Sega team taking a stab at the franchise. Any number of possibilities could come to fruition, from full-on developmental partnerships to console-exclusive releases. Either way, the future appears to be bright between these two companies.
Capcom is well-known for their Megaman, Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter franchises, among other things. Unfortunately, they have not fully joined forces with Nintendo often since Flagship Studios shut down and merged with Capcom back in 2007. They were the team that worked on the Oracle Zelda titles and Minish Cap.
Even so, Nintendo and Capcom still seem to have a pretty solid relationship. Monster Hunter is exclusive — for the most part — to Nintendo platforms and Capcom has released several titles for 3DS and a few for Wii U as well. Though this does not necessarily mean that they will produce another game together in the near future, it does prove that they have a solid relationship and that can always lead to an even better one.
Ubisoft is one of Nintendo’s biggest third party supporters. However, despite putting large amounts of their games on Nintendo hardware and often offering major exclusives with the launch of new hardware, they have very rarely joined together to make a game. That said, Nintendo has published Ubisoft games in the past, such as Rayman Legends in Japan.
WB Games, while showing support for their console via the Batman and Injustice games, has not had many partnerships with Nintendo. One of their studios did recently make a title with the company. TT Fusion, a part of TT Games — which is fully owned by Warner Bros. and is in charge of the Lego video games — teamed with Nintendo to work on Lego City Undercover.
With Warner continuing to support the Wii U with the Arkham and Injustice games, they clearly have a solid relationship with Nintendo. As such, the potential is certainly there for more partnerships in the future — perhaps another Lego game or perhaps a title from a completely separate part of the company. Either way, it certainly seems more than possible that they might team up again this generation.
Thus concludes our analyzation of Nintendo’s studios. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it. More importantly, I hope that this has helped to shed light on what resources Nintendo is working with and what they may be creating next. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: we will never truly be able to understand or predict the workings of Nintendo, but hopefully, this has helped us to get closer to doing so. We’ll be back soon with a concise summary of everything we have covered.