Classic arcade titles getting the BR treatment
Nintendo surprised the world in 2019 with the release of Tetris 99. A Battle Royale wasn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but Nintendo spun the genre on its head. Taking a non-direct multiplayer title, and more importantly, a non-shooter, and turning it into a Battle Royale is a very Nintendo thing to do. Since then, Nintendo has outdone themselves with the, albeit limited release, of Mario 35 whose servers just shut down, and this week’s announcement of Pac-Man 99. It seems there’s interest in continuing the Nintendo 99 line. What other classic or arcade titles would we love to see get the ’99’ treatment from Nintendo though?
Puzzle Bobble 99/Bust-A-Move 99
OK here’s the obvious one: another absolute arcade classic. Players begin with a wall of randomly generated bubbles slowly approaching and a cannon filled with brightly colored bubbles of your own. Fire the bubbles to create matches of three or more to make them drop, if those bubbles were suspending any others then they fall too. If you’ve played this game I’m sure you’re nodding your head with how easy it would be to turn this into a ’99’ game.
Here’s how Puzzle Bobble would work as a Battle Royale title. You’d be constantly racing against the steady increase of bubble speed. Even if you wanted to play it safe, this would ensure the pressure would constantly be on. Making matches of three colored bubbles would simply clear them, you’d be able to attack enemies by creating larger chains, or by dropping bubbles that were being held together. The game could track how many bubbles drop to the floor over a certain period of time. If you only drop three bubbles, then you’ll have a few seconds to try to score more, otherwise, nothing will happen. If you drop three bubbles, then another four, and then those four are holding 10 more in place that all drop, the game will see you’ve now cleared 17 bubbles. This can add another line to your opponent, or even just add a few new bubbles at the bottom of their list.
Donkey Kong 40
While Super Mario Bros just celebrated its 35th anniversary, 2021 is the 40th anniversary of the original Donkey Kong. We’ve had a Year of Luigi, and every other year is for Mario, but he wasn’t alone in his debut platformer. Donkey Kong 40 would force players to climb rivets and ladders. Hop over fire and barrels, or smash through them and make your way to the top to rescue Pauline, then start all over again.
Players might be able to attack their opponents in a number of ways. You can make it through an entire screen unscathed, use a hammer to break a barrel, or even just the completion of the level could allow you to send debris to your opponent. You might also be able to add some type of bonus tied to your score. For every 10k points you earn, you can get a hammer to immediately activate, almost like a get-out-of-jail free if you’re in a tight spot but also a way to mess with your opponents further.
Of course, being a 40th-anniversary special release, Nintendo would decide that it would only be playable for three months before removing it for no understandable reason.
Does it involve shooting? Yes. Is it still different enough from FPS/TPS Battle Royale that I’ll allow it on this list? Also yes. Gradius, or honestly any other shmup like Ikaruga or Thunder Force IV, would be perfect contenders to the ’99’ series. Like Tetris or Pac-Man, players are already going to be challenged to play the game at higher difficulties, let alone dealing with extra distractions as they appear on the screen. Unlike some of my other suggestions, Gradius 99 might take longer for a round to finish, but if you’re out early, you can always just play somewhere else.
You’d be able to rack up attacks on other players by clearing sections of the game without letting any enemies get through or by collecting/shooting at certain powerups. Gradius could also take a page from Super Mario Bros 35 book; any enemy you kill on your screen you can send to another player. This would immediately lay on the pressure, especially if you’re getting ganged up against. You could spend points to purchase bombs to wipe the screen, and while these bombed enemies wouldn’t go to any opponents, it would give you a bit of time to relax.
Gradius 99 could also allow each player to submit different levels to the level pool. This would mean by playing more and completing levels that others have submitted, you can build up your own collection of completed levels. It’s a fun way to introduce more difficult elements from later levels while also allowing players to work towards some kind of collectible.
Metal Slug 99
This is my black sheep suggestion; it’s a little bit out there, but I enjoy Metal Slug WAY too much to not think how crazy it could be in a Metal Slug 99 scenario. We already have most of the Metal Slug games on the Nintendo Switch, and most of the games share enough mechanics that you might start at level 1 of Metal Slug, but could follow different branching paths to get to a variety of different stages.
You would be able to kill enough enemies on your screen or save enough P.O.W.s that you could send a miniboss to an opponent, or just really power up one of their enemies. Points gained could also be used to purchase upgraded weapons for yourself, more grenades, or a Metal Slug to ride in. They could even factor in an easter egg that if you die by a mummy or zombie that you’d get to respawn as a zombie on someone else’s screen.
If they didn’t want to have the campaign be what’s playable, then they could turn the eating game mode into a Battle Royale. Keep your weight up, kill enemies, and score combos to send more enemies to your opponent. The better you’re going, the slower you are; this could create a rubber band effect to make sure that the battlefield is more even.