But I'm not talking about Virtual Console style, bare-bones rereleases. I mean full-on overhauls, akin to Super Mario All-Stars, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, or Metroid: Zero Mission itself; new versions of the originals that look better, sound better, and maybe even play better, with new features and new incentives to play again. WiiWare and the upcoming DSiWare seem like perfect outlets for some much needed attention to these oft-ignored gems. What follows is a list, in no particular order, of some of the games I think are most worthy of remaking:
- Metroid II: The Return of Samus — I figured since I used Metroid as an example already, I may as well start off with this one. Metroid II for the GameBoy is one of the earliest examples of Nintendo trying to turn its fat, green-screened portable into a genuine platform for new content and series extensions. Probably the least popular of the Metroid series due its confusing monochrome graphics and minimal, mostly forgettable music, it is also an integral chapter of the Metroid storyline. It introduced several elements to the series that its successors would turn into standards, and a unique gameplay style which still allowed the aimless exploration of the first game, while providing a more direct, linear pathway to the ultimate showdown with the Queen Metroid, and the surprising, foreshadowing conclusion which would be exploited in Metroid 3: Super Metroid. While Project AM2R is working on an impressive unofficial remake of this one, it would be nice to see Nintendo's own R&D1 team take on this forgotten chunk of Metroid history themselves in a future release.
- Star Fox — This game was truly groundbreaking for its time. It was one of the first 3D polygonal games, and the first 3D polygonal game on a console, ever, thanks to the revolutionary Super FX microchip. While the graphics don't really hold up to today's standards, the classic on-rails shooting and unforgettable music still do. While Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Assault have taken the formula to more modern consoles with more impressive graphics, and Star Fox Command put a new spin on a concept from an abandoned SNES sequel (we're going to pretend Star Fox Adventures never happened), none of them have really captured the feel of the original. Just imagine the same levels, enemies, and music, remade with hi-res, hi-poly, textured graphics (of course, Andross would remain the same boxy face he always was), full voice acting, and analog controls. The thought of it almost makes me wanna "do a barrel roll!" (Sorry.)
- Kid Icarus — This entry will be brief, as I've never actually played the game for more than about 40 seconds (thank you, Smash Bros.). I am, however, familiar with the fan base this game has, and before Nintendo pours the resources into the oft-rumored, full-fledged, 3D sequel to this classic, they should first consider giving it the Zero Mission treatment. As a bonus, they could throw in the lesser-known GameBoy sequel. (There really do seem to be a lot of those.)
- Super Mario Land — You knew that a Mario game would eventually appear on this list. It was inevitable. There are so many of them, Nintendo was bound to forget a few. Super Mario Land was another attempt to put an established NES game on the GameBoy, while still keeping its library original. Super Mario Land took everything that made the first Super Mario Bros. popular, and shrunk it down to fit on the little green screen. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto stepped down for this entry and allowed his mentor, Gunpei Yokoi, father of the GameBoy as well as many other Nintendo products, to take the reigns of Mario's first portable adventure. While the basic gameplay, several enemies, and even some of the graphics stayed true to the original, most of the rest of the game was completely new. New worlds to explore, new power-ups (for example, the Flower now gives Mario the ability to throw "superballs" which ricochet at 90° angles, rather than the traditional fireballs which bounce across the ground), and some strange new enemies to compliment the old ones make this a familiar, yet unique, Mario platforming experience, and one that would greatly benefit from, if nothing else, color graphics and improved sound quality. (Though a save feature would be nice too.)
- Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins — As long as we're on the topic of remaking portable Mario games, we may as well tackle this one now. While Super Mario Land proved a Mario game could work on the GameBoy, its sequel, this time helmed by Metroid II director Hiroji Kiyotake, greatly expanded on the formula, adding an overworld map screen (à la Super Mario Bros. 3), unique power-ups (collecting a carrot gives Mario bunny ears which he can use to slow his descent from a jump or fall... crazy Japaneses), a battery-backed auto-save feature, and a new villain. Wario would go on to infamy and fortune in his own spin-off series, as well as appearances in pretty much every Mario themed competitive game from 1996's Mario Kart 64, to the present, and probably well into the future. While the game itself still holds up quite well, as with the other GameBoy games on the list, it deserves to be brought out of its 15+ years of monochromatic obscurity, and into the modern era of color, hi-res gaming.
Well, that will wrap up Part I of this list. I'll return to it soon, but for a first post, I feel it would be better not to exhaust you, the reader. Aren't I nice? Stay tuned for more Video Game related editorials on "Fear The Claw's" Video Game Blog!
UPDATE: Part II is up! Click here to read it!