With Tetris 99, Super Mario Bros. 35 and now Pac-Man 99, Nintendo has shown that they’ve cracked the battle royale code. The Japanese company has figured out a way that almost any game can be turned into a battle royale, not by pitting players against each other in a direct head-to-head fight to be the last man standing, but by effectively having a competitive high score chase where you can throw a few banana skins at one another.
So, where to next? What other classic games can Nintendo soft whip and stick a chocolate flake into?
The Legend of Zelda 35
We have a feeling that a The Legend of Zelda battle royale might be next on Nintendo’s to-do list, what with the venerable action adventure series celebrating its 35th anniversary, just as Super Mario Bros. did over the last six months.
How would it work, though? Well, similar to SMB 35, it would be a remix of sorts, giving you assorted screens from across the pantheon of the original The Legend of Zelda’s dungeons and asking you to solve simplified puzzles and battle enemies in order to escape. The competitive twist will be in having you defeat enemies and send them off to clog up another player’s screen.
Dr. Mario 99
Another classic puzzle game, Dr. Mario should be as easy to adapt for Nintendo (not least because they don’t need to work with another company to get the license! The game has plenty of common ground with other block-dropping games, as you try to chain together specific colours, in order to clear the screen.
Dr. Mario’s gameplay twist is with the viruses that float in the playing area that you’re trying to dispel. These would act as the garbage that you can send to other players, making things difficult as you remotely battle.
Puyo Puyo 99
And another one! Puyo Puyo has plenty of fans, especially with the recent Puyo Puyo Tetris crossovers. Since it already has a hustling, bustling multiplayer scene, this Puyo Puyo would be exceedingly easy for Nintendo to adapt into a 99 battle royale.
Sonic The Hedgehog 30
Since Nintendo would already be collaborating with Sega over Puyo Puyo, why not ask if they can borrow Sega’s platforming mascot? It’s the blue blur’s 30th birthday on 23rd June after all! The template is already there for a platformer battle royale thanks to Super Mario Bros. 35, with enemy kills being sent over to other players’ games, making it more difficult to progress to successive levels.
Street Fighter II 99
Let’s break out of Nintendo’s comfort zones now. How would you go about turning a fighting game into a ’99’ style battle royale? It’s a one-on-one fighting game!
Well, I’ll tell you: more AI enemies! Instead of fighting another player online, players will go up against a string of AI enemies in a pseudo arcade mode, with each defeat sending a weakened ghostly visage of that opponent over to other players. As other players succumb in the ’99’ format, you earn medals that power up the ghosts you’re able to send to mess with other players.
A truly pioneering game of the SNES era, leveraging the Mode 7 chip for 3D rendering of its circuits and a sci-fi anti-gravity racing theme. It’s a crime that we haven’t had a new F-Zero since the Game Boy Advance.
Compared to Mario Kart, this is a more purist racer, so there’s less scope for teleporting banana skins to other players. So how can it be adapted? Well, I’d suggest turning it into an endless racer, with a stream of AI racers to overtake, with each one you do sending fresh hazards to rival players.
Mario Kart 30
Mario Kart’s 30th anniversary is coming up in 2022, so that would be the perfect time for Nintendo to double dash with a Mario Kart battle royale ’em up. Similar to F-Zero, this could be an endless racer built out of the blocks of a classic Mario Kart game (personally, I’d pick Mario Kart: Super Circuit as the basis for a balance of more modern Mode 7 visuals and wider track selection), or it could have you racing two or more laps of a certain level and then move onto another track.
What’s simpler to manage than F-Zero is the cross-player combat. Pickups could be thrown into other players’ games instead of at your AI opponents.
Another all-time classic from the 90s, Doom makes, to my mind, a truly perfect candidate for the ’99’ battle royale. You’d lift the Super Mario Bros. 35 format here, letting players sprint through levels from the first two Doom games, blasting away enemies that are then sent as ghosts to other players’ games to make things a bit trickier.
Unreal Tournament 99
This one’s all about wordplay. After the release of its sequels with their year-based titles, Unreal Tournament was often referred to as UT99. This arena shooter was really the game that defined Epic Games as a true rival to id Software, both in terms of creating a popular multiplayer game, and as a game engine creator.
For the ’99’ battle royale-ification, we’ll strip away the online multiplayer and put you up against bots, changing the map every minute and giving players a set number of lives to survive with. Each AI opponent you kill gets sent over to another person’s game to try and take them out!
Picture this: a battle royale… inside another battle royale. A folded over calzone of battle royale mayhem, with each match fully realised and filled with other players, not with AI. Every player starts off with 5 lives, with a top 10 finish in a round giving you another life and sending you up a level in a tiered system, but every death spawns you into someone else’s game as an invader, looking to take their place as the numbers are gradually whittled down across an epic 6 hour battle for survival with thousands of players. The storm is your increasingly more and more impatient parent or partner because you “can’t pause” and it’s time for dinner/bed/school/work/life.
Also, here’s ten more ideas for free, which I’ve created by carefully taking popular game franchise titles and putting a 99 at the end:
- Pokémon 99
- Silent Hill 99
- Samba de Amigo 99
- Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? 99
- Final Fantasy XCIX
- SimCity 99
- Donkey Konga 99
- WarioWare 99
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 99
- Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX 99