The gaming industry can be cruel. Entire development teams can be made or broke by a single good or bad title, and even the best of games can still bankrupt a company if the marketing isn't top-notch. It isn't unusual for such companies to disappear altogether with nothing but a single game, let alone a franchise, to show for the monumental effort they generated.
Given the harsh, corporate reality behind the gaming industry, even if a game is beloved, it's almost expected for beloved franchises here and there to be permanently shelved for new 'hot' projects that producers think the kids will eat up. This top 10 list will be an overview of some of those beloved franchises that came out of Nintendo only to get shelved.
10 Kid Icarus
Kid Icarus and the winged protagonist Pit first made their debut on the NES in 1986 in Japan and 1987 in America. In the game, Pit inhabits the Greek-inspired world of Angel Land, which has been taken over by monsters. Players must reclaim three sacred treasures by flying, dodging, and firing off his memorable arrows to take down enemies.
Initially criticized for its high difficulty, the game became an underground hit and was followed by numerous titles to the series before dying out all but entirely. Another entry to the series, Kid Icarus: Uprising, was eventually released in 2012 following popular demand, but that's the last we saw of Pit and likely the last we'll see for some time. However, like many on this list, he still enjoys popularity in the Super Smash Bros. franchise.
While many gamers won't recognize this franchise's title, they all know its protagonist: Captain Falcon. First released on the SNES, F-Zero was an innovative, high-speed, space racing game. Like many early games that broke ground, F-Zero was also notoriously difficult.
Nonetheless, it and its enigmatic lead character left a permanent mark on the gaming world due to F-Zero's improved racing graphics and controls, paving the way for future racing games. However, despite inspiring several subsequent racing series and having several titles to its name, the F-Zero franchise hasn't had a new edition since 2004. An F-Zero collection was published in early 2019 to commemorate the lasting legacy of the early racing franchisee.
8 Golden Sun
Released on the Gameboy Advance in 2001, Golden Sun brought the old JRPG formula to life on a hand-held like no other game at the time. Taking obvious inspiration from the first Final Fantasy games, Golden Sun added a fresh take on the genre with its greater inclusion of puzzles and the Psynergy energy system and was well-received across the board.
Despite this, as JRPGs became more and more geared towards platformers, Golden Sun fell to the wayside with its last edition to the series coming out in 2009.
7 Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Originally released on the Nintendo GameCube, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a unique title on a platform more known for its colorful, playful stories and bubbly characters. Along with Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4, Eternal Darkness was a standout hit for its darker content, being one of the few exclusive games on the GameCube to be explicitly horror driven. Moreover, the game was the first to implement a “sanity meter.” This mechanic forces players to manage their sanity by avoiding particularly horrific and disturbing content, of which the game has plenty.
However, as mentioned, the gaming industry can be cruel. Despite winning numerous awards and becoming a cult classic, the developers went bankrupt soon after and a planned sequel was canceled after that. To this day, fans still demand a sequel or remake, but such demands are unlikely to materialize.
6 Double Dragon
A game franchise so good it inspired a live-action movie and animated television series, Double Dragon was one of the most beloved series to ever be released on the early Nintendo platforms after making waves in the Arcade scene.
An action-packed, beat 'em up RPG, Double Dragon set the tone for all beat 'em ups that came after, including Final Fight and Street Fighter II. Unfortunately, the success of the games never carried over past the NES and SNES, and it was shoehorned into a cult-classic status where it has remained ever since.
5 Banjo Kazooie
Released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie were smash hits on the console. With a colorful story, fun, intuitive gameplay, and a memorable, joyful soundtrack, to this day, the Banjo series is remembered fondly by N64 fans.
However, while additions to the series were made up to 2008, a third main entry never came to more modern consoles. Accepting the game’s waning shelf life, a spiritual successor, Yooka-Laylee, was released for multiple consoles and the PC in 2017. Unfortunately, there has been no news of any more Banjo games in the making and its unlikely there ever will be.
4 Mother / Earthbound
Known as Mother in Japan and Earthbound in the Western world, the Mother series originally came out for the NES and SNES platforms, becoming beloved cult classics. The games saw some sales success and three main editions to the series were released; though, these releases were sometimes spread out by close to a decade.
In 2015, Nintendo released Earthbound Beginnings on the Wii U, but this wasn't so much a new edition to the series as it was a remaster of the original Mother that never reached the United States. Thankfully, Ness has become a staple in the Super Smash Bros. series so gamers will still be able to get their dose of PK-Fires.
Led by Captain Olimar, the dependent Pikmin in the Pikmin franchisee work together to overcome obstacles and retrieve ship parts to cross an Earth-like planet devoid of humans. The colorful games were highly popular when they were first released on the Nintendo GameCube.
With a focus on puzzle-solving, they'd be perfect for mobile adaptations; however, the series has seen a great decline in popularity since the early 2000's when it made its headway, and no such adaptation has been announced. Pikmin 4 was announced back in 2015, but there hasn't been much news since. While another title, Hey! Pikmin was released to a lukewarm reception in 2017, news about the franchisee has all but fizzled out.
2 Conker's Bad Fur Day
With witty albeit crude humor, Conker's Bad Fur Day became a fan favorite soon after its release, much to the disgust of parents everywhere. With an M-rating, this cuddly, drunken squirrel provided a much-needed edge that was in short supply for the Nintendo 64 platform.
Guns, decapitations, bank robbery, cursing, and a giant opera-singing crap monster would all be prominently featured in an aesthetic like other games by Rare at the time, such as Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. However, Conker's would never see a sequel. One was planned but soon scrapped, with a remake coming out in 2005.
For nearly every kid in the early 2000's, Nintendogs served as the first immersive experience that incorporated the innovative touch screen on the Nintendo DS. This pet-simulator game was a surprising hit, captivating kids from Japan to the United States with its intuitive mechanics, progressive gameplay, and adorable graphics.
There isn't much in the way of story, but Nintendogs stood out nonetheless, functioning as the more kid-friendly, pet counterpart to The Sims. However, while both memorable and successful in terms of sales, Nintendogs would be a short-lived franchisee, with its last entry being released in 2011 and no word of another sequel any time soon, despite some fans asking for a mobile release.