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8 games that Nintendo hardware missed out on

Every long-time Nintendo fan knows that the company’s external publishing partners can be good weather friends. Many of the largest franchises in the industry have not been featured on Nintendo hardware for a while. In some cases, Nintendo’s own bold decisions about cartridges and standard definition games have cost them important entries in series that once stood for their brand.

But thanks to the Switch’s popularity, some of the most infamous games skipping Nintendo hardware have made their home. Square’s ambitious Final Fantasy VII was once too big to fit on an N64 cart, a factor that led Nintendo’s long-time partner to opt for optical disc media on Sony’s PlayStation. The move apparently resulted in Nintendo Square saying “never to come back”.

And yet, Final Fantasy VII 2019 came on Nintendo hardware – and no less on a cassette! Soon Grand Theft Auto III and Kingdom Hearts will also be there; The latter is not on a cartridge, but this is an item for another time.

Many popular games have skipped Nintendo hardware entirely, but here are eight of the most noticeable absences in history – games we should definitely be playing on our Switch right now.

Nights in Dreams (1996) • Sega Saturn

If the Sega Saturn were remembered for just one game, it would be Nights into Dreams. Nights was a knockout for the short-lived 32-bit console, a flashy flying game with dynamic music and even an artificial life system that was all built around Sega’s fancy new analog stick.

Nights was a formidable achievement for Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima, a first glimpse into the remarkable breadth and skill of the Sonic team that would flourish at Dreamcast. It was so impressive that Shigeru Miyamoto reportedly said he wished he had made it.

When Sega went to a third party in 2001, its IPs went all over the place, with Nights getting a port to the PS2 and a remaster for HD consoles. Nintendo fans got the exclusive Wii sequel Nights: Journey of Dreams, but the original high-flying act never landed on Nintendo hardware.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997) • Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn

Castlevania’s roots go deep with Nintendo. While the original NES game from 1986 was ported to other 8-bit platforms of the time, the next three numbered entries were Nintendo-exclusive. Count Dracula and the Belmonts are well represented on Nintendo’s home and handheld consoles, with one major omission: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

1997, the year of Goldeneye 007 and Gran Turismo, releasing a 2D side scroller on next generation hardware was a risk. Symphony of the Night has been slow to sell, but has become a cult hit over the years.

Originally inspired by The Legend of Zelda – not Metroid as one might think – Konami and designer Koji Igarashi soon brought their burgeoning “Metroidvania” formula to the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. But Alucard’s big break on PlayStation and Saturn missed Nintendo – even when the game was remastered for PSP, Xbox 360, PS4, and even smartphones.

Mega Man Legends 2 (2000) (and The Mishaps of Tron Bonne) • Sony PlayStation

Everyone went in 3D in the late 90s, and Mega Man was no different. After six side-scrollers on the NES and a revamped Mega Man X series on the SNES, Capcom packed the Blue Bomber to switch 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 had to stray far from the series’ roots in order to translate classic run-and-gun gameplay into 3D.

Even so, Legends was successful enough to produce a sequel, Mega Man Legends 2, and a prequel, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. Nintendo saw a version of Mega Man Legends in 2000 that was renamed Mega Man 64, although it wasn’t as well received as the PlayStation original. At this point, Capcom had given up porting the other two games.

Oddly enough, the canceled Mega Man Legends 3 was originally in development for the Nintendo 3DS in 2010.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) • PlayStation 2

Metal Gear is usually thought of as a Sony range, even if the franchise hasn’t been exclusive to Sony hardware for many years. But Konami’s tactical espionage drive has also come to Nintendo in some strange cases.

The NES received a bizarre port of the original Metal Gear from 1987 that swapped the title mech for a supercomputer, followed by the non-canon sequel The snake’s vengeance. There are two versions of Metal Gear Solid on Nintendo consoles: a completely unique Game Boy Color game that plays in an alternate timeline (entitled Metal Gear: Ghost Babel in Japan) and a GameCube-exclusive remake of Silicon Knights called Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

The Twin Snakes runs on a similar engine to Metal Gear Solid 2, but Konami would skip that game entirely in order to port Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D to the 3DS.

Mario Kart Arcade GP (2005) • Arcade

Technically, it is was released on Nintendo hardware – namely the Triforce arcade board, which was jointly developed by Nintendo, Sega and Namco. But unlike other Nintendo arcade titles, Mario Kart Arcade GP has never seen a home release.

This line 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 contains a camera that players can use to take a snapshot of themselves with Mario’s hat and mustache.

Nintendo isn’t shy about bringing its arcade games home. F-Zero AX, which also ran on the Triforce board, was GameCube’s sister game as F-Zero GX (and can even be found hidden in that game if you have an action replay). And of course, games like Pokken Tournament and Cruis’n Blast continue to bring the arcade experience to traditional consoles.

Come on Nintendo, let’s at least race through Diamond City in Mario Kart 9.

Defeat (2010) • Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

PlatinumGames was only three years old in 2010, but the ex-Capcom developers’ supergroup studio got off to a great start with wild and punchy action titles like Hideki Kamiya’s Bayonetta and Shinji Mikami’s Vanquish.

Sega was an early partner of Platinum and released the studio’s first four games, including MadWorld for the Wii and Infinite Space for the DS. Vanquish was Mikami’s only game for Platinum – a relentless third-person shooter that helped define the studio’s signature style. Mikami left shortly after to start Tango GameWorks.

Vanquish and Bayonetta were re-released in a 10-year anniversary package in 2020, but it oddly 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)

There was little chance Bandai Namco would bring FromSoftware’s beloved Souls games to the much less popular Wii U, but that made Dark Souls: Remastered on Switch a delightful surprise in 2018.

To be honest, it’s not much of a remaster here as the Nintendo version is closer to the original 2011 release in some areas. But it’s still a great way to play an ice cold classic on the go. Then why did Bandai-Namco keep quiet about the sequels?

It can just be a matter of opportunity. Remastered was released around the same time as versions on other platforms; Scaling these 5 and 7 year sequels for Switch may not seem worth it at this point. Even so, we need something else to do with our Solaire amiibos!

Persona 5 (2016) • PS3, PS4

Persona 5 is possibly the most requested switch port of all time. The inclusion of P5 protagonist Joker as the first third-party DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate left many fans speculating on whether Atlus’ dating sim dungeon crawler would come to Switch. Two years later, nothing happened except for the spin-off Persona 5 Strikers.

Sega may have some sort of exclusivity deal with Sony for the Persona series. Though Persona’s parent series Megami Tensei has had a much stronger presence on Nintendo hardware since the Famicom, 1996’s Revelations: Persona is another example of a third-party franchise that opened a store with Sony in the N64 era.

Sega recently broke Persona’s PlayStation exclusivity by releasing Persona 4: Golden out of nowhere on Steam.

Any other amazing games that have never appeared in these parts? Let us know below the games that you would like them to appear on Nintendo consoles.

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