Shack Chat: What mainstream IP and indie dev would you like to see collaborate?

A look at some of the indie developers we'd love to see collaborate on mainstream IPs from Metroid, to Monster Hunter, to Pokemon, and more.

Berzerk Studio

With releases that combine indie games with concepts from mainstream IPs like Dead Cells: Return To Castlevania, Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer, or even the Final Fantasy-themed DLC recently added to PowerWash Simulator, the subject of how indie developers might interpret other mainstream IPs came up.

Not just in terms of incorporating bits and pieces, or ideas and concepts, but in general. From us contemplating what it'd look like if Thomas Happ were to develop a Metroid game, to Lucas Pope's take on Monster Hunter, the Shacknews staff is weighing in this week on what indie developers and mainstream IP collaborations we'd love to see.

Question: What mainstream IP and indie dev would you like to see collaborate?

Thomas Happ's Metroid - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Crossover Editor

This one might be a tough sell, because Nintendo showed that there's still a lot of magic in 2D Metroid and also showed that the series is in good hands with MercurySteam. For this hypothetical argument, however, let's pretend that MercurySteam didn't exist. There are dozens of indie developers who have put together fantastic Metroidvania titles, but few looked more like literal Metroid than Axiom Verge.

Axiom Verge remains a favorite of mine, as Tom Happ managed to capture everything that makes the series so much fun, from its emphasis on exploration to its tense atmosphere. Even if the sequel didn't quite hit the heights of its predecessor, it showed that Happ still has a lot of ideas when it comes to these types of games. I'd just cut out the middleman for the sake of finding out what Happ could do with a proper entry in the Metroid series.

Berzerk Studios’ Splatterhouse - TJ Denzer, still playing the heck out of Infernax

Splatterhouse promo image showing Rick and Terror Mask
© Bandai Namco

Infernax was easily one of my favorite indie games of 2022, and quite frankly might be up there on my all-time favorites as well. It’s an unabashedly better take on games like Castlevania 2 and Zelda 2, complete with non-confusing dialogue that doesn’t mislead you. But that’s not why we stay on Infernax. It’s the incredible pixel art and gore. And dang if I wouldn’t want to see that applied to a new Splatterhouse. For those unaware, Splatterhouse is a dormant Bandai Namco franchise that took a side-scrolling beat ’em-up arcade style and applied it to a parody horror theme.

You play as a knockoff Jason Voorhees, traveling through levels and killing all sorts of horror film-inspired monsters and enemies in gloriously graphic fashion. After spending so much time on Infernax, I feel confident that not only does Berzerk Studios have the mechanical chops to make a fun take on the Splatterhouse series, but perhaps more importantly, they know their way around deliciously gross and graphic pixel art. I feel like they would not only succeed at a spin on Splatterhouse, but knock it out of the park. Besides, I imagine it would have to be better than the crummy 2010 game that tried (and failed) to bring Splatterhouse back.

Crema’s Pokemon Crystal - Morgan Shaver, Fan of 1st and 2nd gen Pokemon

Image from Temtem from Crema showing two player characters summoning Temtem
© Crema

I still love what indie developer Crema did with Temtem, a game very clearly inspired by the Pokemon franchise. I’ve also been hungry for a “remake” of Pokemon Gold and Silver for a while now, with Crystal being the definitive version. Aside from having something like Let’s Go, Pikachu but for Pokemon Crystal, it’d be wonderful to see the game brought to life in a colorful Temtem-style sort of way. Especially given how Gold and Silver (Crystal) were the first Pokemon titles to shake things up by allowing players to explore both Johto and Kanto.

Temtem similarly allows players to travel between different floating islands in Omninesia, and does so in a decent organic progression sort of way. It’d be cool to see Temtem’s battle system where multiple Temtem are used applied to Pokemon Crystal as well. I’d love to be able to collect starters like Cyndaquil and Totodile and use them together. It’d also be a blast to explore the world of Pokemon Crystal with friends in multiplayer like you can in Temtem.

Tribute Game’s X-Men - Blake Morse, Still has Pryde of the X-Men somewhere on VHS

I’ve loved every game I’ve ever played by Tribute. I got really into them when Mercenary Kings came out, and I’d been a fan of Flinthook and Wizorb before that. But man-oh-man did they knock it out of the friggin’ park with TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge last year. And if they can do that great of an update with one classic Konami arcade brawler, why couldn’t they do it with another? I would love to see them take a crack at the X-Men franchise.

Think about it, they could update the roster to feature even more fan favorites, beef up the moves lists, and make something truly nuanced and modern while still paying homage to the original game. And hey, Shredder’s Revenge was a 6-player co-op experience, could that have been a subtle hint of things to come? I really feel like Tribute and their publisher Dotemu would crush this one easily and I would really appreciate a new X-Men title in general now that Marvel is paying attention to their Children of the Atom once again since Disney now has the film rights to the franchise.

Lucas Pope’s Monster Hunter - Sam Chandler, A pretty good border agent

Dual image with Monster Hunter imagery on the left and Papers, Please on the right
© Capcom, Lucas Pope

I’m pretty sure Lucas Pope is a genius. Papers, Please is a phenomenal game with an unassuming premise whereby players take on the role of a border agent stamping passports. Meanwhile, Return of the Obra Dinn pits you as an insurance analyst responsible for uncovering the fate of the crew on the ship of the game’s namesake. His ideas are just incredible and thus, I think it would no doubt be amusing to see the man’s take on the iconic Monster Hunter series. Perhaps the player would be some kind of research assistant or even the Meowscular Chef? All I know is that I need another one of Pope’s games.

EXOK Games x Super Mario Bros. - Asif Khan, CEO/EIC/EIEIO

Logo for Extremely OK Games, LTD.
© Extremely OK Games

It’s my opinion that one of the very best video games of the past decade is Celeste. The team behind that indie darling is now working on their next title Earthblade, but imagine a world where Nintendo tapped the team to create a new 2D side-scrolling Mario video game.

Studio Head Maddy Thorson has participated in GamesDoneQuick events providing modded levels for ROM hack runs as well as Super Mario Maker courses built specifically for speedrunners. So much of Celeste felt like a love letter to Super Mario Bros. 3, and it would be awesome to see the Big N partner with EXOK Games. Some players think the 2D Mario formula is played out, but I would love to see the Celeste devs take a crack at making something new and exciting in the genre.

And there you have it, some of the collaborations between indie developers and mainstream IPs that the Shacknews staff would love to see. Now, we turn the question over to you in Chatty. Let us know in the comments which indie developer and mainstream IP combo you'd love to see! 

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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