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If you were to tell me five years ago that a video game headlining Mario and the Rabbids of all people would ever become a thing, let alone a profitable franchise, I’d have thought you were crazy as…well, a Rabbid. After all, Mario is Nintendo’s precious baby. Their golden boy. Their sacred cow. And like all things sacred, you don’t embroil him in the affairs of lesser beings, much fewer affronts against all that is good and holy like the Rabbids, the “Minions” of the video game world. Right?

Yet somehow, the completely asinine-on-paper concept not only worked, but surpassed everyone’s wildest expectations. Like an utterly bizarre food combination no one ever thought to try, the Mario/Rabbids pairing was a shockingly delicious one. More importantly to their respective companies, though, it was a financial success, so much so that we just saw the release of the sequel, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.

That got me thinking. If something as insane as the Super Mario and Rabbids franchises can mesh well together, what other popular video game franchises could Mario feasibly cross over with?

 

Final Fantasy

This is another once-foreign crossover concept no one thought would work: Mario and the RPG genre. Then Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) came along with Super Mario RPG and showed gamers that Mario could not only work in an RPG setting, but could also thrive. Square’s initial design documents for that title featured Mario with a horse and sword, which, while Miyamoto shot the concept down, I think could absolutely work. If the Rabbids can give him a laser gun, is a sword really that outside the realm of possibility? Super Mario RPG also featured a secret boss that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Final Fantasy title, showing that clashing art styles can be a fun novelty instead of a cause for concern.

Additionally, it’s not like Final Fantasy is a stranger to crossing over with colorful, cartoony franchises. Look no further than the insanely popular Kingdom Hearts series, which just so happens to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. If Final Fantasy can create a viable multi-decade franchise crossing over with Mickey Mouse, the Mario equivalent of the television/movie space, Mario seems like a no-brainer. Give the guy a hammer and some Koopa shells and let him go to town on the likes of Gilgamesh and Sephiroth (Just…watch out for that guy’s sword, Mario. We don’t need a repeat of that Smash Bros. trailer).

 

Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog finally together

Sure, we technically have the Olympic games, but what a missed opportunity. You finally bring together two of gaming’s biggest icons with two of gaming’s most colorful, fun universes, and the idea you settle on is having them compete in a realistic real-world event? Just because the games sold well enough to warrant multiple sequels doesn’t mean that gamers aren’t hankering for something more ambitious. Mario and Sonic fans alike have wanted to see these guys together in an honest-to-goodness action-adventure/platforming game since the original Nintendo/Sega wars of the 90s, and half-measures like the Olympic games aren’t cutting it.

A common objection to the concept of a Sonic/Mario platformer is that each character’s typical level design doesn’t lend itself well to the other’s gameplay style. To that, I say there’s a simple solution: Design levels that play to each character’s strengths. For Sonic’s levels, litter the Mushroom Kingdom with loop-de-loops, springs, and boost pads. For Mario, drop him in Sonic’s world and pump up the number of platforms and pipes. Seeing these familiar worlds tweaked in such ways would be fascinating to see, and frankly, I’m floored that this hasn’t happened yet.

 

Mario and Kirby Team Up

When it comes to Nintendo franchises with colorful, crazy worlds, the closest one can get to the likes of Mario is probably that little pink puffball Kirby. Both are Nintendo-exclusive platforming stars who have donned dozens of different caps (literally) in their careers and can be adapted to fit just about any style. Their arsenals of abilities, whether natural or with the help of powerups, is virtually limitless. And both characters’ affinity for stars makes for an obvious common theme that could tie the two universes together.

I can already picture the plot for such a game. No doubt, Bowser would go after some kind of power source of celestial proportions and either become possessed by or enslaved to a malevolent multidimensional cosmic entity, leaving our titular heroes to stop them. It wouldn’t even necessarily have to go the platformer route. I’ve long thought that the Kirby series lends itself well to an RPG format, and since Mario has already mastered the genre, he could easily take the lead in such a crossover game.

 

Splatoon

Fans have been batting around this crossover idea since Splatoon first entered the public consciousness, and it’s still an intriguing concept today, if not a bit more outside the box. Splatoon is all about slopping colored ink every which way and covering as much ground as possible. What sort of gameplay from a Nintendo franchise basically counteracts this? Why none other than the water-based FLUDD gameplay from Super Mario Sunshine. The idea is elegant in its simplicity: The inklings ink things up, and Mario washes things down. Of course, Mario would not be enough to tackle the inklings on his own.

Naturally, we could throw Luigi, Peach, and maybe a Toad or two into the mix, each with their own FLUDD packs that give them unique moves that the other characters lack. While two of our favorite Nintendo franchises are clashing in color-based combat, Bowser and Splatoon villain DJ Octavio could team up and…well, steal the Great Zapfish again, I guess. It’s far from an original evil plot, but considering that both villains seem to be content with pulling off the same shtick game after game, why not stick to their strengths?

 

Mario meets LEGO Land

Mario made a significant splash when he hit the world of Lego last year, and the partnership has obviously been a healthy one for both Lego and Nintendo. What kid wouldn’t want to have a Lego version of Mario leaping around through various blocky playsets based on Mario-based worlds? From my perspective, these increasingly complex sets are a clear indication that Lego is chomping at the bit for the opportunity to make a legit, full-on Lego Mario video game in the same vein as their Lego Star Wars or various superhero titles.

Really, why wouldn’t both companies want this? One could argue Lego has seen more success in the realm of video games than their actual toy sets in recent years, most recently with the release of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Taking their relationship with Nintendo up a notch seems like guaranteed money in the bank for both parties. With how things have been going with the Nintendo/Lego partnership over the past few years, I think this little venture is more a matter of “when” than “if.”

Of course, there are countless gaming franchises out there that could mesh well with the world of Super Mario besides the ones mentioned here. What are some other great series Mario could potentially cross over with? Share your ideas in the comments below.