I remember when Nintendo first announced Tetris 99. It was such an insane idea — I mean, playing Tetris like it was a battle royale, with 98 other people (or CPUs)? But, as the saying goes, the idea was just crazy enough for it to work, as there have been times where Tetris 99 is the only reason I have a Switch.
In the time since this revolutionary way of playing Tetris was released and today, it’s been made clear that Nintendo wants to turn ‘99’-type games into a genre. We’ve had the short lived Super Mario Bros. 35 that, while technically not a ‘99’-type game, plays the exact same way as if it were; Pac-Man 99, a chaotic twist on the classic game; and now we have F-ZERO 99, leading the younger generations to ask ‘what’s F-ZERO’?
In any case, the question of the day is: what’s next? We have Tetris, Pac-Man, Mario and F-ZERO, and presumably the next big variant is being planned as of writing. So if we had an unlimited budget, and no one to tell us ‘no,’ what games would we like to see emerge as a ‘99’-type game?
10. Balloon Fight
Balloon Fight seems to be screaming for a competitive variant. If they really wanted to foster chaos, they could put all players into the same level and watch the popping begin. But, I could also see it manifesting like Super Mario Bros. 35, where players would effectively be tasked with racking up the highest score.
9. Dig Dug
I used to love playing Dig Dug (and other classics) with my grandma in the Namco Museum compilation for PlayStation 2. It was one of the only gaming experiences we shared. But, sentimentality aside, Dig Dug, like Balloon Fight and several other titles on this list, would be perfect for the ‘99’-type of gameplay.
I could probably list most of the old Namco classics in this list, but I’ll draw the line here, with Galaga. I think this one could work in much the same way that Tetris 99 does, where enemies you defeat are sent over to your opponents until they are overwhelmed. And then, in an interesting twist, if you were to die, you could choose to send a helping hand to another player in the form of an extra ship.
7. Super Mario Kart
I shouldn’t need to explain this one, especially if you’ve ever played Mario Kart 8 with strangers online. It’s a firm opinion of mine that, if you need to check your ego, play Mario Kart 8 with strangers online, because when you emerge on the other side, you will be utterly demoralized. Let’s do that, but with pixelated, 16-bit sprites. It might create world peace. But it could also result in World War III.
6. Puyo Puyo
Puyo Puyo — or, as most here in North America first heard of it, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine — would be an excellent addition to the ‘99’-type genre because it’s already practically a Tetris variant. To be honest, it kind of surprises me there hasn’t been an acknowledgment of Puyo Puyo in Tetris 99 yet, considering the existence of Puyo Puyo Tetris, a full crossover game that received a sequel in late-2020.
I think a potential Metroid 99 would probably need to follow in Super Mario Bros. 35 and not be 99 players. It would probably be very dependent on level progression, which might be very complicated to keep track of with more than fifty players. There’s little chance it wouldn’t be fun, however.
4. Donkey Kong
To be very clear, I mean the original Donkey Kong — barrels, Jump Man, the works. I mean, the game was designed to be played indefinitely, so it’d make sense to reframe it with an online context. Let’s see who can survive the longest against Donkey Kong, and maybe hand out awards for highest score as well!
3. Super Mario World
I don’t need to say much about this one, because in my imagination, it’d function in much the same way as Super Mario Bros. 35 did, only it’d be with Super Mario World instead. But, I’d insist they up the total participants to at least 50 to sharpen the competitive edge (and increase the chaos).
2. The Legend of Zelda
To be honest, I am very surprised we don’t currently have this. It seemed the best time to do this would have been the 35th anniversary celebration of The Legend of Zelda in 2021. But, it’s still not too late, as we’re already halfway to the franchise’s 40th anniversary in 2026, so get crackin’, Nintendo!
1. Wario Ware Inc.
I don’t know about you, but an infinite loop of competitive microgames sounds like a truly good time to me. It’s the kind of thing that appeals most to my limited attention span, and there’s nothing quite like playing a bunch of competitive, online mini-games to appeal to my ADHD-addled brain. I need this to happen, and I need it to happen now!
In any case, it’s almost certain that F-ZERO 99 won’t be our last experiment in this burgeoning genre, so we’ll just have to play the waiting game to see if any of these are picked in the future. Would you like to see a different game receive a ‘99’-type variant? Let us know what you think in the comments!