I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t Nintendo already remake everything? Well, yes, Nintendo is notorious for releasing, re-releasing, and re-re-releasing many of their more popular titles. Take Metroid for example. Excluding its original release on the Famicom Disk System and Nintendo Entertainment System, Metroid has been rereleased a grand total of six times (the Classic NES Series for the Game Boy Advance, as a bonus feature on Metroid Prime, as a bonus feature on Zero Mission, and its Virtual Console releases on Wii, 3DS, and Wii U), the first three of which were within a two year span.
But I’m not talking about Virtual Console style, bare-bones ROM dumps. I’m not even taking about casino games online. 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. The eShop seems like a perfect outlet 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.
Just to clarify 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!). And 4) It cannot have been officially remade previously. 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!
- 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 created an impressive unofficial remake of this one that got taken down by Nintendo, it would be nice to see Nintendo’s own 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 and Star Fox Zero have each put a new spin on a concept from an abandoned SNES sequel, 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. If they really want to impress me, they’ll do it on the 3DS with full stereoscopic 3D. The thought of it almost makes me wanna do a barrel roll! (Sorry.)
- 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 Game Boy, 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. (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.
- Super Mario 64 — Okay, so I’m breaking one of my own rules here, because there was Super Mario 64 DS, but that was more of a port with very few graphical or gameplay enhancements, and the lack of true analog controls was a bit of a step backwards. When Super Mario 64 came out, it changed the face of gaming forever. 3D gaming was here to stay. As always with pioneers, its technological advances have been superseded in the 15 years since its release. It is time Nintendo remade one of the best Mario games ever. I would much rather play a full SM64 HD remake with hi-res, hi-poly graphics. They can keep Luigi as a playable character, but lose Yoshi and Wario. They don’t fit in, they’re kind of annoying, and it made the game feel too much like Sonic Adventures.
- 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, beautifully produced 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 lossless 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 1080p graphics taken from the original CG elements (or using the new Tropical Freeze renders, if necessary), 16:9 support, and a newly remixed soundtrack from the original composer, David Wise.
- 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 it sounds like something you’ve read in recent years, right? When Rare decided to squeeze its SNES cash cow onto the Game Boy, 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 slightly redesigned Game Boy 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.
- 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 besides 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 repeated 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 the original Zelda 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 directly 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 bigger sword, and a faster strike animation. Less damage would make for less frustrating battles, and more exp. points would make leveling up less of a grind. Do away with some of the cheap enemies from later in the game, and maybe add a ledge grab for those annoying times when an enemy knocks you off a platform. Finally, like its predecessor, a little nudge in the right direction would make for less blind exploration.
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures — Here’s a great game that fell by the wayside thanks to the unbelievable amount of crap required to play it as intended: A GameCube, the game disc, four Game Boy Advance systems, four GameCube-Game Boy Advance Link Cables, and four people who can cooperate long enough to accomplish simple tasks without trying to throw each other into hazards and stealing force gems (e.g. not me). Once all these essential components came together however, you had a multiplayer experience that stood alongside Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. for sheer enjoyment. The story was a resounding “meh,” but who really cares when you’re busy attacking enemies and solving puzzles with three of your friends, while simultaneously competing for the most Force Gems? Not I! This game doesn’t even need a graphical update. The enhanced 16-bit style graphics and sound were perfect for the game, but the interface was atrocious. The 3DS can connect to the Wii U wirelessly. Heck, they could even cut the Wii U out of the equation entirely if they wanted and just put it on the 3DS or Switch.
So, there’s my list. I invite everyone to add their own additions in the comments section or on Twitter.