Nintendo has a reputation for creating games that feel instantly accessible to anybody and bringing a degree of polish that few games ever see. One of their more recent successes, Super Mario Maker, represents the first time the company has given the player the brush and said, “make your own level.”
Minecraft has long been the arbiter of accessible building tools in video games while also providing a near-limitless canvas to play with. So what if, in an alternate reality, Nintendo had been the minds behind the smash hit that rests comfortably in Microsoft’s hands in 2016? Miyamoto himself recently said he felt like Minecraft was “something we [Nintendo] should have made,” and even mentioned some experiments they ran with the N64 that were similar to the popular game. So let’s don our thinking caps and imagine what a Nintendo-ized Minecraft would be like.
A much more stylized world
A Minecraft made with Nintendo’s hands would no doubt have a heavily stylized world. Minecraft’s current art style has always had its own charm and beauty, but a Nintendo take would likely be noticeably more cartoony. Instead of trying to emulate real world animals with a mix of fantasy enemies, Nintendo’s take might be completely original animals and enemies.
In truth, maybe Nintendo’s take wouldn’t even be exclusively cubic. Perhaps it’s a more hexagonal, or even more naturally realistic looking world with deforming mechanics.
Less violence across the board
Minecraft can be pretty brutal. There’s no blood or any real gore, of course, but violence is a big part of the game — between the zombie-slaying, poison spiders, evil witches, arrows lodged in your head, and that gross, bone-breaking sound that plays when you fall too far. A Nintendo-made version might make combat less of a focus and perhaps emphasize the freedom of creation and the more raw survival elements, like breeding animals or growing crops for food. Think more Harvest Moon than Rust, essentially.
Besides just being a more kid-friendly developer, Nintendo enjoys taking what’s fun about a genre and making sure their product feels uniquely made by them. Take Splatoon — one of the most inventive and fun shooters around doesn’t have a lick of the violence you’d expect from even more T-rated shooters like Uncharted. We think they could do the same thing with a game that right now manages to cram a lot of violence into an accessible art style.
It doesn’t take a wild imagination to see how Nintendo could capitalize on amiibo in their Minecraft game. Assuming Nintendo’s take would star the same Steve avatar, they’d have that amiibo made yesterday. Maybe placing them on the gamepad gives you a chance to revive after being killed and dropping all of your stuff? Dropping Mario or other amiibo opens up all other possibilities, like unique skins, clothes, furniture for your house, fire flower weapons, Metroid missiles — we can go on and on.
Of course, they could always get super crazy with it and bring entirely new playable characters in depending on your amiibo collection, similar to Skylanders or Disney Infinity. You plump Shovel Knight down, you’re Shovel Knight. Bayonetta? Even better. Minecraft is a game about doing whatever the heck you want, so why not let out all the stops?
Few developers are as prolific in making games that are pure fun to play as Nintendo, and just thinking about a take on Minecraft with their degree of mechanical polish puts a smile on our faces. Imagine navigating an endless(ish) open world while playing what feels like a beautiful mashing of Mario’s platforming and Zelda’s tight sword combat.
We could also expect a pretty different UI and mechanics for building, as trying to build ambitiously in Minecraft (in survival mode) can be a real slog with vertical construction works. Maybe Nintendo would design their way around heavier Minecraft labor and focus on the fun of creation beyond all else.