The human mind is a tool of limitless potential, and yet I spend a lot of my time using mine to think about how awesome a Mario Paint/Guitar Hero mashup would be. Seriously, hear me out: Remember Mario Paint's composer mode, where you could make your own songs using Mario items as notes? Combine it with Guitar Hero gameplay, and the result is a game where you can create your own songs and then play them on instruments (with the items/notes working as actual items), or simply make insanely difficult songs to try to stump your friends.
While others are thinking of ways to make this world a better place for their fellow human beings, this is the crap that keeps me up at night. I come up with ways to combine existing video games into different ones that don't exist, and probably never will. Why? Because they're simply too goddamn cool. Such is my burden. Please allow me to unload some of it on you.
#4. Super Mario Kart Meets Grand Theft Auto
(Full disclosure: I was searching my browsing history to make sure I didn't steal this idea from someone else, and amid all the YouTube videos of Japanese people playing piano covers of Mario songs, I found this Reddit thread by cm097. It's not exactly the same concept, but I don't like websites that just take articles from other websites without crediting them, so consider yourself credited, cm097.)
When you saw the words "Mario Kart meets GTA," many of you instantly pictured Mario murdering pedestrians by jumping on them or running over mushroom people with a coupe, but that's not what I mean. The best aspect of the GTA series for me isn't the part where you can blow up stuff with a bazooka, but the fact that you have a massive city to explore at your leisure while occasionally running into insane Easter eggs.
"Whoa. That's crazy. Let's blow it up with a bazooka."
Meanwhile, one of my favorite things about the Mario Kart series is that the stages are secretly linked -- as GameXplain points out, if you take your eyes off the road in Mario Kart: Double Dash, you can actually see landmarks from other tracks as background details, suggesting that the entire game is set in a vast interconnected world. For instance, Peach's Castle can be seen from Mushroom Bridge:
"Stop-a here and hand me the binoculars, she's-a getting into the shower. Mamma mia!"
If you throw these two ideas into a blender (a special blender for ideas -- do not try this with a regular one), what you get is a game where Mario can finally drive outside the boundaries of the same old tracks and explore a huge open-world setting. And, yes, this setting can be a city, since Mario Kart stages like this one have established that those exist in the Mario universe, despite Bowser's best efforts to enforce a feudal system. Mario can even (*gasp!*) step off his vehicle to enter buildings and carry out crazy side missions, like maybe doing some damn plumbing for a change. For once, Mario's fiscal reserves wouldn't reset back to 0 once he collects 100 coins, and he'd actually be able to save money in order to buy upgrades for his kart that would allow him to reach new areas and discover secrets.
And then, every once in a while, everything I've said so far goes out the window as the gameplay devolves into chaotic races in the proudest Mario Kart tradition, with the caveat that all those buildings and stuff you're mindlessly crashing into now mean something, since you've actually been in them. You could also race online with other players -- or, better yet, make the whole damn game an online multiplayer. Imagine being about to finish a side mission inside a building when BOOM! A blue shell comes out of nowhere and blows you to shit.
Everyone loves the blue shell, right?
#3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meets Skylanders
Group W Productions, Activision
I realize that the title of this entry probably means nothing to a big chunk of Cracked's readership, since everyone over 30 will be saying "What the hell is Skylanders?" and everyone under 20 is like "WTH's TMNT [confused emoji your computer can't render]?" Well, Skylanders is a popular video game franchise where kids can buy collectible figures that interact with the games through a special reader, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are teenagers who are mutants who are ninjas who are turtles.
Group W Productions
Look, it's pretty self-explanatory.
What do these two franchises have in common, besides the ability to bankrupt parents? They both have an extremely large and extremely weird cast of characters, as the literally hundreds of TMNT action figures that have come out proved. A good bunch of them were just wacky variants of the four Renaissance-named turtles, but you also had dozens of wonderfully bizarre characters like Ace Duck (a mutant duck who dresses like one of the Village People) and Metalhead (a robot who is a mutant who is a ninja who is a turtle).
Or this ... whatever this is.
So, when I read that Activision, the company behind Skylanders, had bought the license to make TMNT games, I thought that made perfect sense. Imagine a game that combines Skylanders technology (toys that interact with your console) with the adult nerd's constant search for an excuse to buy action figures again (I'm sorry, anime fans, "model kits"). The gameplay would be the same as every TMNT game so far: four co-op players go around various stages kicking ass. You start with the four main turtles and can play through the entire game with them, but if you're willing to shell out a few more bucks, you get to play as Napoleon Bonafrog, or Sergeant Bananas, or Slam Dunkin' Don, or 200 other guys. The game would be the same, but the different abilities, weapons, and character combinations would keep it interesting. And hey, if you're left with a new version of your favorite childhood TMNT figure adorning your shelf, so be it.
Of course, that's not what Activision did with the license -- instead, they went and announced a game featuring the ugliest-looking version of the turtles this side of Michael Bay.
Mikey was never the same after the stroke.
There are other franchises with large enough casts to make a good Skylanders-type game, like the X-Men (you can play with the core team, or buy the figure and fight Magneto as Disco Dazzler) and Super Smash Bros. (after all, the plot of the game involves someone playing with Nintendo toys). Disney already put out their own Skylanders ripoff featuring a potpourri of characters from their various properties. However, I believe that none of these would appeal to the "late 20s/early 30s geek with spending money" demographic as well as the Ninja Turtles. Come on, Activision: If you don't act fast, all that money is gonna go to He-Man-themed LEGO sets, and no one wants that.