Nintendo is famously very protective of its IPs like Mario or The Legend Of Zelda. This protectiveness is understandable as these IPs are key to Nintendo’s identity and are how they remain competitive. However, it may surprise some gamers to learn that Nintendo does occasionally bring in outside help to work on games featuring its beloved characters.
Whether these are special crossover spinoff games are fully-fledged mainline entries, there’s a surprising amount of companies who have worked with famous Nintendo IPs. While Nintendo does have subsidiaries like Next Level Games and Retro Studios, they’ve also worked with various third-party companies to make some of their most beloved games.
10 Brace Yourself Games
Notable Games: Cadence Of Hyrule: Crypt Of The Necrodancer Featuring The Legend Of Zelda
While many of Nintendo’s collaborations have been surprising, few shocked fans more than the completely unexpected partnership with Brace Yourself Games. The indie studio behind the beloved Crypt Of The Necrodancer is one of the last studios fans imagined would be working on a legendary Nintendo IP like The Legend Of Zelda.
And yet, Cadence Of Hyrule: Crypt Of The Necrodancer Featuring The Legend Of Zelda gave fans exactly that. The mashup of Zelda’s old-school dungeon crawling and Necrodancer’s rhythm-based combat turned out to be a pitch-perfect combo. Unexpected as it was, this collaboration ended up being the favorite of many fans.
Notable Games: Metroid: Samus Returns, Metroid Dread
MercurySteam is a Spanish game studio whose most well-known project before working with Nintendo was Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow. In 2017, they partnered with Nintendo on a 3DS remake of Metroid II: Return Of Samus called Metroid: Samus Returns. Their work on that game impressed Nintendo so much that they were brought back to work on the fifth mainline Metroid game.
Metroid Dread is considered a masterpiece by fans, and MercurySteam’s DNA is all over it. From the impressive cutscenes to the use of Samus’ new melee counter, all the best parts from Samus Returns were brought into Metroid’s next chapter. Many fans would love to see MercurySteam work on future 2D Metroid games.
8 Koei Tecmo
Notable Games: Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors
A gaming giant in its own right, Koei Tecmo is well-known for its iconic Dynasty Warriors series. Those game are famous for pitting a single player against an entire army of helpless minions. The Dynasty Warriors series has had plenty of crossovers, but some of the most unexpected have been Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors.
While Fire Emblem has always been about the clashing of armies, Hyrule Warriors was the biggest surprise. Legend Of Zelda games had been less action-oriented than Warriors games, so seeing the two together threw fans for a loop. However, many fans loved the strange combination and hope to see this partnership continue.
Notable Games: F-Zero AX, Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games
Previously the most bitter of rivals, SEGA and Nintendo buried the hatchet when the collaborated on the F-Zero AX arcade game. Even so, many fans thought they were dreaming when the two announced a crossover game of their famous mascot characters. Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games was not only very real, but spawned a successful series.
While seeing Mario and Sonic characters competing in Olympic events wasn’t the crossover many fans had been fantasizing about, fans still loved to see the two iconic casts finally come together. Many fans are hoping to see the two most famous video game mascots in the world go on an epic adventure, but the sports party game still has fans.
6 Bandai Namco
Notable Games: Pokkén Tournament
While billed as a crossover between Nintendo’s Pokémon and Bandai Namco’s Tekken series, Pokkén Tournament wore its Pokémon colors much more prominently. The first Pokémon fighting game, Pokkén Tournament had players choose from a selection of Pokémon and do battle in intense, reflex-testing combat.
Players loved the game’s combat, as well as the over-the-top special moves their favorite Pokémon were capable of unleashing. Never before have players seen the iconic creatures move and fight in such a way. It was impressive to see what a new company could do with a familiar franchise.
Notable Games: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope
While famous for games like Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft also has kid-friendly franchises like Rayman and Rabbids. Ubisoft crossed the latter of these two over with Mario and friends in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, an XCOM style turn-based strategy game. It was a crossover no one asked for, but it brazenly defied all logic and ended up being great.
The game was so good that is spawned a critically acclaimed sequel in the form of Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope. Mario wielding a gun alongside the highly annoying Rabbids characters shouldn’t have worked, but the fun gameplay, charming artstyle, and excellent soundtrack made the game a winner.
Notable Games: Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE
The Atlus-developed Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE was a crossover between Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series and Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series. While the game contained many references to Shin Megami Tensei, the cast consisted solely of original characters and reimagined versions of classic Fire Emblem characters.
Despite the heavy changes made to these characters, it was still cool to see them in a much more anime-esque art style. Though the game was met with a mixed reaction, it still has its share of fans who would love to see Atlus reimagine other beloved Fire Emblem characters in a similar fashion.
3 Game Freak
Notable Games: Yoshi, Mario & Wario
While Game Freak is nearly indistinguishable from the iconic Pokémon franchise, many fans may be surprised to learn that they worked on some of Nintendo’s most legendary IPs prior to that famous partnership. Particularly 1991’s Yoshi for the NES and Game Boy and 1993’s Japan-exclusive Mario & Wario for the Super Famicom.
Yoshi was a falling block puzzle game which required players to match two enemies of the same type to make them disappear. Mario & Wario was a puzzle game where players led a blinded Mario through an obstacle course. A far cry from Pokemon, but it’s interesting to see how Nintendo and Game Freak’s collaboration came about.
Notable Games: Star Fox Zero, Star Fox Guard
PlatinumGames is known for its fast-paced and over-the-top character action games like Bayonetta and Mad World. Though they have worked with Nintendo before on games like Bayonetta 2 and Wonderful 101, many fans were shocked when they teamed up with Nintendo for the latest entry in their legendary Star Fox franchise.
Star Fox Zero was a continuity reset of the franchise and came bundled with the tower defense game, Star Fox Guard. While Zero was disliked for its cumbersome motion controls, it was filled with PlatinumGames’ trademark action that even impressed its detractors. It wasn’t enough to save the game, but many hope this won’t be the last time Platinum works with a Nintendo IP.
Notable Games: The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons & Ages, The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap
With legendary IPs like Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter, Capcom needs little introduction. With such a vast and iconic library, many might not know that Capcom worked with Nintendo on an even more legendary IP. In particular, the two titans collaborated on several handheld titles for The Legend Of Zelda.
The partnership started with Oracle of Seasons & Ages, continued with The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords, and concluded with The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Though they didn’t get the same attention as the home console games, they were beloved entries in the franchise. The Oracle games in particular are ones that many fans want a modern remake for.
NEXT: The Best 2D Zelda Games, Ranked