Ninja Gaiden: Everybody loves Ninjas, but they don't tend to make great leads. Ryu Hayabusa, at least, is one of the only "black pajama" type ninjas anyone knows by name. That's got to be worth something right there, though you run into the problem of the modern NG games storylines and techno/feudal setting to be a bit ... daunting to adaptation.
One possible solution: Go oldschool. The NES incarnation's "Indiana Jones meets James Bond with Ninjas" was classic cheese, but it's a workable place to start. Magic statues, CIA, evil cult, there are worse premises out there.
Legend of Zelda: Yeah, like this wasn't gonna be on here. With it's precise mix of just-the-basics story and wholly-unique iconography, few noteworthy franchises would seem to lend themselves to film as well as Zelda in terms of what kind of fanbase one can start with and what can actually be done with the property.
So long as the base elements are in place (Link, Zelda, Ganon, Triforce, Master Sword) and everyone looks more-or-less right, there's ample room for creative interpretation. Plus, the wholly unique mix of Western and Eastern fantasy influences - Link (and also Mario, for that matter) is much more "ronin" than he is "knight errant."
Metroid: Oh the one hand, it's basically Aliens but with powered armor, space-jellyfish and morph-balls.
On the other hand ... it's basically "Aliens" but with powered armor, space-jellyfish and morph-balls!
Mega Man: As some anime, manga and ambitious fan films have already shown, the Mega Man universe is certainly ripe for adaptation - at once a "boy robot" yarn and a Superhero actioner. Still, given what can happen to such things when the wrong hands are stirring the brew, this is a series I'd prefer to see get test-fired in its native Japan (maybe as a mid-budget tokusatsu series?) before Hollywood takes a swing. Might actually work best as a 3D animated feature ... Studio Imagi's Western-made Astro Boy reworking was actually pretty solid (and they're on Gatchaman next, supposedly!)
Earthbound: A classical "mixed party on epic quest" fantasy story ... but set in the present, with psychically-gifted children and a sprawling scifi foundation; like a wish-dream mashup of Stand By Me and Lord of The Rings with a dollop of E.T. and Lovecraftian weirdness for good measure. If this had been released in the states as a book instead of a video game, this movie would already be in your DVD collection.
Super Mario Bros.: The mathematics here are pretty basic, folks: The greatest of all video game heroes deserves a good movie to his name, does he not?
Granted, the almost entirely incidental storyline to the Mario universe will need some fleshing out - probably have to go back to the ever-recurring non-canonical Brooklyn origin, unless there's a better way to explain what a pair of obvious Italian-Americans in their work clothes are doing in the middle of a fairytale kingdom - and some balance will need to be struck between fidelity and, well, physics ... but objectively I see very little reason why this isn't every bit as filmable as the recent Alice in Wonderland feature.
Even strictly in terms of cynical marketing-speak, it's a solid buddy action story ripe for a family adventure franchise, a great bad guy, a ridiculously vast menageries of characters begging to be merchandised (plus not one but at least two princesses for the doll set) and a pet dinosaur. There's no reason not to make this, save perhaps lingering memories of what happened last time ...
But c'mon! Fortune favors the bold, Nintendo, etc.! It's been long enough, let someone take another shot at this. Please ;)
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.