In a recent interview with GameSpot, legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that when developing a game, his work first goes into the core gameplay, and then he decides what IP best suits the experience.
"Whenever I start working on something I always start with creating new gameplay. After that gameplay becomes more concrete, we look at which character is best suited to the gameplay. So I guess from my standpoint, the ideal situation would be that we’re creating an experience that’s so new and so unique that we can present it to consumers with a new character or IP in a way that would be easiest for them to really understand the concept and enjoy the gameplay. But it may also be that in some of those cases it makes more sense for it to involve some of the characters that are more familiar to our fans."
— Shigeru Miyamoto
Now funnily enough, I can imagine that there are a lot of times when he breaks these rules. Surely when developing a New Super Mario Bros. game, the associated franchise is the first thought in development, rather than building a sidescroller. Similarly, I’m sure Skyward Sword began production as a Zelda game before they decided to slap Link onto a faceless dungeon-filled adventure game. But of course, for brand new types of games like the famously rebranded Kirby’s Epic Yarn, this kind of approach is completely unsurprising. It does make you wonder, though, just how many potentially great new IPs Nintendo’s thrown away over the years.