There’s a new rumor going around about a new open world game for an established franchise. But you probably won’t expect what the franchise is or its publisher.
But you already read the title. Yes, the rumor is Nintendo is working on a Donkey Kong open world game. In fact, this has been a long rumored project.
As reported by Exputer, this game has the working title of Donkey Kong Freedom, and they tapped Vicarious Visions to work on the project.
Donkey Kong Freedom has been in the works since 2017, and it will be fully 3D, the first such 3D Donkey Kong game since Rare’s Donkey Kong 64 all the way back in 1999.
While Shigeru Miyamoto’s handprints over Nintendo are somewhat exaggerated, as the father of Donkey Kong, it is definitely credible that he spearheaded this project, with the intention of making Donkey Kong an A-tier Nintendo franchise again.
Now, I want to take a few moments to talk about this. Nintendo has a lot of high quality franchises, from F-Zero to Metroid to Punch-Out. Notice that I didn’t mention something like Mario, Zelda, or Smash Bros there. That’s because even Nintendo’s hallowed halls of video games have a line crossed between which games are A-tier and which games are not.
No one is going to try to convince you that Metroid or Punch-Out are bad games. Heck, Metroid is currently enjoying a renaissance with the premium Metroid Prime Remaster and Metroid Dread before that.
But if we are talking about Nintendo’s A-tier, these are the games that Nintendo releases regularly, and these are the ones they rely on during lean times. These are the games that sell the best, and that list has expanded in recent years, but it still hasn’t included even most of their games.
In that A-tier, you can definitely add in The Legend of Zelda, and Mario across multiple genres, both his 2D and 3D platformers, kart racer, party and sports games. There is Smash Bros and Pokemon, and the most recent additions, Splatoon and Animal Crossing.
So, Miyamoto’s desire to make Donkey Kong an A-tier franchise, and separate from Mario, holds certain weight.
The projected struggled a bit under Vicarious Visions, and Nintendo made the decision to move the project to Nintendo EPD Tokyo.
That project from five years ago is apparently still in development. The new rumor is that it is still in the works. The leaker on this even has gameplay footage, though it has been suppressed by the reporters to protect the leaker’s identity.
Exputer opines it may be a launch game for the Nintendo Switch 2, or whatever the Switch’s successor will be. Personally, I believe Nintendo would pull a Breath of the Wild, and make this game available on the Switch and its successor.
While Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is critically acclaimed, that hasn’t quite reflected into financial success, and making Donkey Kong A-tier. Maybe a move to 3D open world is just what the doctor ordered.