Should Nintendo Get Back Into Making Racing Games?

I recently reviewed Aqua Moto Racing Utopia for the Nintendo Switch; to put it simply, my experience wasn’t the best. I ended up giving it a 6/10 due to it feeling like a cheap imitation of Wave Race. As I played it, I just kept thinking: “It would be cool if Nintendo actually made another Wave Race instead of us just having this)”. That lead to the idea behind this article. There are a lot of sports/racing IPs that Nintendo hasn’t touched in years, so should they be brought back?

1080°, Excitebike/Truck/Bots and Wave Race—these are the franchises that I have in mind. When I say that Nintendo hasn’t touched these IPs in years, I mean it literally has been years. Here’s a rundown of the last entries in each of those franchises:

  • 1080° Avalanche – 2003 (Gamecube)
  • Wave Race: Blue Storm – 2001 (Gamecube)
  • Excite(Bots) – 2009 (Wii)

All of these franchises have been MIA for over a decade, and in the case of Excite, it’s not too far off from also being in that category. A statement I’ve seen repeated time-and-again in the gaming community is that Nintendo keeps reusing the same old IPs. While this is true to an extent, it doesn’t actually have to be this way. The aforementioned games are just a few of the several Nintendo IP that have been out of the public eye for several years. With the Switch now becoming an established platform and a very obvious success, right now is a golden opportunity to bring each of these series back into the spotlight.

I’ll admit that I haven’t fully played any entry in the aforementioned franchises minus Excitebots, which I happen to own. Even so, watching gameplay videos of Wave Race and 1080° has intrigued me greatly, and leads me to imagine what it would be like to have new games on the Switch. 

1080°

Trick-based arcadey winter sports action. 

This lost franchise is the smallest of the bunch. It only had two entries, coming to both N64 and Gamecube. Even so, the last game, 1080° Avalanche, was decent. It has a Metascore of 73, which isn’t the highest but is good enough. It went up against the likes of SSX, which was a far more popular franchise (but also one that hasn’t been touched in years). The popularity of SSX is probably why Nintendo didn’t decide to pursue another entry of 1080°, but now there’s a good opportunity to return to it.

The sub-genre of trick-based sports games that 1080° belonged to isn’t nearly as popular as it once was. Franchises like Tony Hawk and SSX are nowhere to be seen, so a new 1080° would have the benefit of being in a class almost all on its own. There’s pretty much only one other recent game that it could be compared to, and that’s Ubisoft’s open-world winter sports title: Steep. Interestingly enough, Steep was announced to be coming to the Switch all the way back in the beginning of 2017 but has yet to make it. This has led to some people thinking that the Switch version has probably been quietly canceled. If it has, then 1080° could definitely fill that void. Perhaps Nintendo could even adopt the open-world formula, to make it a true replacement.

Wave Race

How many other jet-ski racing games are even out there?

Wave Race is literally the polar opposite to 1080° since it takes place on the water. Even so, Wave Race still prides itself on its trick-based racing mechanics. Before playing the aforementioned Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, I was aware it was similar to Wave Race, but I didn’t realize how much of a blatant copy it was until I compared it to Blue Storm. Just by watching gameplay videos of Blue Storm, I could see that Nintendo’s offering was far superior, despite it being a whopping 15 years old. My main problem with Aqua Moto Racing Utopia was that its controls felt far too slippery and unrefined, which is bad for any game, especially a racer.

Bringing back Wave Race would definitely fill a void in the water-based racing genre. These kinds of racers were never all that big to begin with, and the absence of Wave Race has only made that more obvious. It seemed like Nintendo flirted with the idea of doing this during the Wii days, as the Power Cruising minigame in Wii Sports Resort had a very similar gameplay style to that of Wave Race. I don’t know why it was never turned into a fully-fledged new-entry, but now’s the time to try it again. The motion controls could even be reincorporated, thanks to the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers. 

Excite

Sony & Microsoft: “We have highly realistic racing simulators.”
Nintendo: “We got transforming rocket-powered robot animals that do tricks, yo.”

The Excite franchise is the oldest and most established out of all of these lost IPs. The first entry, Excitebike, got its start all the way back on the NES. Since then, it’s come to the N64, GBA, and Wii. The Wii entries saw the introduction of new variations of the formula in the form of Excite Truck and Excite Bots, which added a new flare to the gameplay style with very open tracks that would transform on-the-fly. Excite Bots in particular really switched things up as all of its vehicles are transformable animal-vehicle hybrids which could do pretty absurdly amazing things such as run across water, glide massive distances, and fling themselves from stunt bars.

Out of the three franchises I mentioned, I think a new release of this one would be the most ‘exciting’ (pun entirely intended). That’s because the Excite series is so unique, and clearly very versatile as evidenced by the wackiness of Excitebots. For a new-entry, Nintendo could even combine all three gameplay styles into one game to really try something new. Whatever form it takes, I just want it to happen.

Of course, the big question is: ‘How possible is any of this?’ Considering the incredible length of time that these franchises have laid dormant, there’s a possibility that they just may continue to remain that way. Still, that doesn’t guarantee that all is said and done. Nintendo has been throwing a lot of surprises our way since the Switch came onto the scene, and I have a feeling that will only continue to be the case throughout the system’s lifecycle. Its hybrid nature would benefit all of these franchises rather well, not to mention its focus on local multiplayer also perfectly matches these types of games. Ultimately, only time will tell if these IPs are ever revived.

What other lost Nintendo franchises would you like to see revived?

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.