When I started this list, I had no idea it would grow to such a length that it would need to be split up into multiple parts, but every game I already had on the list reminds me of another game that I think should be on the list. Then comes the process of narrowing them down, choosing their order, and deciding what will stay, and what will be held until the next part.
Just to clarify some confusion on what defines a "Classic Nintendo Game" for the purpose of this list, here are the necessary criteria I've used: 1) It must be published by Nintendo (though not necessarily developed by). 2) It must have originally been released on a system that is now extinct. 3) It must have been released, in some form, in the U.S. (otherwise the list could be a lot longer than it already is!). Please note that, while I do know lot about Nintendo's history, I do not have encyclopedic knowledge of all the games they've published for all their systems. Therefore, while this list will only be made up of predetermined games I am personally familiar with, I welcome your own additions in the comments sections!
- Donkey Kong Country — Sure, Donkey Kong Country has been released several times... as in many, many times, but it's never really been remade. At the time of its release, DKC was acclaimed for its revolutionary graphics, pleasing audio, and tight gameplay. (Many years later, some would negate these rave reviews with harsh criticism, though most "non-professional" gamers would refuse to detract.) It was marketed, and often accepted, as proof that a new generation of hardware was not yet necessary for great games, and along with its two sequels, "Diddy's Kong Quest" and "Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!," helped keep the SNES alive for three more years. Time has not been kind, however, to this once breathtaking platformer. Higher resolution graphics, true CD quality sound, and more innovative gameplay have come and stayed, leaving DKC shrouded in nostalgia. I think it is time for Nintendo to resurrect this classic, sprucing it up with full 480p graphics (the Wii can only output in ED, after all) taken from the original CG elements, 16:9 support, and a newly remixed soundtrack (I recommend OverClocked ReMix, a long-time favorite of mine, and the ones responsible for the SSF2THDR soundtrack).
- Donkey Kong Land — After the initial success of Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, there was a bit of a backlash which continues even to this day. Criticism arose, insinuating that DKC was a sub-par platformer hidden under a beautiful coat of paint, and that it was only successful because of its fancy graphics and sound… Okay, most of that criticism came from Cranky Kong, but sounds like something you've read in EGM in recent years, right? (Incidently, EGM gave the game a near perfect score in their original review… but I digress.) When Rare decided to squeeze its SNES cash cow onto the GameBoy, some were skeptical, but Donkey Kong Land turned out every bit as fun and challenging as the game that inspired it. Unlike future entries, DKL 2 & III, which were basically GameBoy ports of the SNES originals, number 1 was a completely unique game, with new enemies, environments, and music. All the more reason it should be remade alongside its console big brother, as it is a true sequel and not a port.
- Super Mario Advance 4-e — Say what? Okay, let me explain. In 2003, Nintendo intruduced the e-Reader, a peripheral for the GameBoy Advance which read dot codes off of standard deck size cards as data for games, or game add-ons. One of the games with e-Reader add-ons was the fourth entry in the Super Mario Advance series, a GBA remake of Super Mario Bros. 3. Packs could be purchased that included power-up cards (including the rare Tanooki and Hammer Bros. suit, and Super Mario World's feather), demo movie cards, and new level cards. These levels were exclusive to their respective cards, and were not on the cartridge data. 10 new levels were released (20 in Japan) out of a proposed 30, plus a recreation of the original SMB's World 1-1. These new levels were not only completely original, some of them incorporated elements from other Mario games, such as the throwable vegetables from SMB2, and Chargin' Chuck from SMW. These elements were combined into a new überMario game which was cut short due to the e-Reader's commercial failure in the US. Wouldn't it be a nice treat to get all these levels, and maybe even some never before released, in a Wii- or DSi- Ware exclusive release? Now that would be a real Lost Levels!
- The Legend of Zelda — This is a game that requires no introduction. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto as the antithesis of Super Mario Bros., (SMB is side-scrolling, LoZ is top-down; SMB is linear, LoZ is free-roaming; SMB's power-ups are temporary, LoZ's are permanent; and so on) The Legend of Zelda, along with its hero, Link, have become as synonymous with Nintendo as the iconic plumber and his own adventures. This first game set the stage for nearly all future adventures in Hyrule: Princess Zelda is captured by Ganon, who is searching for the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link has to explore the kingdom and its dungeons to find the artifacts required to defeat the evil wizard/monster. The first game was very light on storytelling, and NPCs outside of enemies, are scarce, and not always helpful. While the game is still very much playable today, some enhancements to the gameplay would be most welcome to less than hardcore gamers. Let Link move diagonally. The sword stabs Link uses in this game could be replaced with the 90° slashes of later games. His hearts could deplete at half the rate they do in the original, reducing the need for restarts. Allow players to save their game without dying. Give players some kind of clue of where to go next. Then, of course, there's the obvious graphical enhancements and orchestration (even if it is synthesized) of the music, and you've made Zelda more than just playable, you've made it near perfect!
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link — Much like Super Mario Bros. 2 (The Japanese version, not the version we got over here), Miyamoto was not involved with Zelda II. Unlike SMB2, his absence would result in a radically different game. Zelda II is by leaps and bounds the black sheep of the Zelda series. It is primarily a side-scrolling adventure, and it uses experience points, not items, for leveling up. It did, however, add a few elements that became series standards, such as magic powers, and towns Link could visit for information and side-quests. A well-thought-out remake could fix a lot of this flawed classic's problems. First and foremost, give Link a much bigger sword, and a much faster strike animation. Less damage would make for less frustrating battles, and more exp. points would make leveling up less of a grind. Finally, like its predecessor, a little nudge in the right direction would make for less blind exploration.
Well, I was hoping to finish this list in two parts, but I keep thinking of more games! I guess you'll have to wait until Part III to find out the rest!
UPDATE: Part III is up! Click here to read it!