Contributor: The Past is the Future – Five NES games that should be brought back
I like to refer to the last few years as the “generation of nostalgia,” because it seemed like wherever you turned, people were talking about what they used to play and what had gotten them into video games in the first place, and companies took notice. Series remakes and revisits were all the rage last generation. A bunch of old NES and SNES games were updated for modern hardware, such as Punch-Out!! for Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii and the 3DS, and couple more obscure titles, like A Boy and His Blob for Wii and Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS. Making games that remind people of their childhoods is a fantastic way to build your customer base.
I love things that make me feel nostalgic. A lot of people want game companies – Nintendo in particular – to move on and make something new. While I have no problem with that way of thinking, I also can’t help but smile when games I loved and appreciated as a kid 20-plus years ago are given new life.
Not every game can be revitalized, though, and seeing as how there were so many great Nintendo games back in the day, it’s a shame that we can’t bring them all back. Whenever I see an old series rise from its grave, there are always a few specific Nintendo-exclusive titles that pop into my mind that I keep hoping will get remade, but never do.
These are my top five NES games that desperately need to be brought back to the public’s attention.
Metal Storm was a game that kind of made you feel like you had just finished drinking a gallon of coffee immediately before starting to play Mega Man. It had busy backgrounds, an awesome soundtrack, a time limit, and you could fire your laser gun in four directions. The gimmick that made it so cool, however, was the ability to control gravity. At any time, you could instantly flip your robot character to allow it to walk on the ceiling instead of on the ground. This was the perfect way to get past giant pits of spikes or to avoid mounted guns that were shooting at you. But it didn’t automatically make the game easier; some enemies would flip up to the ceiling along with you, doing everything in their power to keep you from the goal.
Sidescrollers are my absolute favorite genre in gaming, and Metal Storm is one of the more unique ones I’ve played. Tamtex wasn’t a well-known developer and Irem, the game’s publisher, wasn’t a big name either. The game was well received by those who played it, but it didn’t sell well at all. That was a different time however. Unique sidescrollers like this are the games that dominate crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, and I’m truly surprised no one has tried to remake Metal Storm yet. The game has enough of a cult following and there’s a large enough group of fans who love older games that a remake would get funded in an instant.
A 2.5D-style Metal Storm game would be a sidescroller fan’s dream come true, and I think it would be a perfect fit for the 3DS. A lot of the backgrounds in the game seemed like they were actually behind the player to begin with, and that was just on an NES. This game would be an excellent addition to the already impressive library the 3DS offers and a great way to kill time between classes or while on break at work. Metal Storm could be the old school shooter people have been pining for.
Speaking of the 3DS, here’s a game that’s just screaming to be brought back to life on Nintendo’s current best-selling handheld. The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner was a 3D on-rails shooter and platformer, if you can even wrap your head around that. Your character would constantly run forward, and enemies and obstacles would rush toward him from the background. You jump over gaps, dodge rocks and monsters, and speed up or slow down with the D-pad to get to the end of the stage. At the end of each world, a gigantic flying dragon would appear, at which point your character would all of a sudden be able to fly around and blast the creature with a bazooka, drastically deviating from the regular gameplay style to more resemble the SEGA game, Space Harrier. After defeating the dragon, the scenery would change and you’d begin to run once again. It was extremely challenging, and it only got harder the farther you went. It was a level of difficulty that you don’t see much in games nowadays.
WorldRunner had a unique feature that not many games showed off back then, and that was to instantly put the game into stereoscopic 3D with the push of a single button. You’d then wear a pair of those blue and red 3D glasses (remember those, kids?) to have the game pop out at you, as if you were the Runner himself! This game would be absolutely perfect on the 3DS. It’s already designed to be played completely in 3D, it already has 3D in the title, and platformers have always been Nintendo’s bread and butter. It would be the best of the old combined with the best of the new. Not only that, but 3D glasses obviously wouldn’t be required, since we’re not filthy cave dwellers anymore. Nintendo has been on a roll with the awesome selection of Virtual Console games on their systems this past generation; WorldRunner would be an excellent downloadable title.
I don’t think Duck Hunt really needs an introduction, but for those of you who didn’t get a chance to play this NES classic, here’s my well thought out and in-depth description of how to play the game:
You shoot ducks.
Duck Hunt was packed in with almost every NES console sold at the time, so I don’t think I could imagine meeting a single ’80s child who hasn’t played it. It was easily the most popular game that utilized the NES Zapper light gun, and it even had an alternate clay shooting game. Unlike the ducks, which would always stay in the foreground, the discs would fly farther into the distance the longer it took you to shoot them, so you had to be quick.
The surprising thing about Duck Hunt is that it never spawned any sequels; the NES game and the arcade game that was a part of the Nintendo VS. System were the only iterations ever made. There were references in other games, like the dog’s appearance in the WarioWare series and the brief duck appearances in the Shooting Range portion of Wii Sports Resort, but no other full actual games. This is really a crime, as far as I’m concerned; part of me honestly wants to say that I have more fond memories of Duck Hunt than any other NES game I played. Considering all the remakes Nintendo has been involved in, I’m shocked this game has never been done.
If a remake of Duck Hunt were to get greenlit, there are a few different ways in which Nintendo could do it. The most obvious option would be to release it as a console game and have the Wii Remote be used in place of the Zapper. Light guns don’t really work all that well on flat-screen TVs, and the Wii Remote is something that most everyone is already going to have, anyway. To make it more like the original experience, there could be a “light gun mode,” where the on-screen cursor usually displayed by the Wii Remote’s IR pointer is rendered invisible. This would make the game feel like the original NES game, where you actually had to aim down sights to make sure you hit your target.
Another way the game could be made is by using the motion controls in the Wii U GamePad or the 3DS. Instead of aiming a remote- or gun-shaped controller, you could aim around with the larger controller or system itself, circling the entire room, turning Duck Hunt into an almost virtual reality experience. Imagine the challenge of needing to actually listen to where the ducks are coming from as opposed to just aiming at the TV screen, or turning around 360 degrees as quickly as you could, before the duck got away. In all honesty, even though the Wii Remote makes more sense, I actually like the virtual reality-type gameplay idea a bit more.
The only real hurdle to overcome would be the violence factor. After all, you are just going around and shooting animals and something tells me that wouldn’t go over as well now as it did almost 30 years ago. But there are easy ways around this: make the ducks fly off without any feathers and goofy looks on their faces, turn them into instantly cooked meals on plates, etc. Duck Hunt wasn’t exactly going for realism back then either, so making it work now wouldn’t be too hard at all.
I’m only now realizing how many duck-themed games the NES had.
Continuing in their tradition of crafting some of the best platformers available, Capcom released Darkwing Duck in 1992, and for any fan of both Nintendo and Disney, it was a dream come true. To be realistic, it wasn’t that much of a deviation from Mega Man, which Capcom was known for more than anything else at the time, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? This title was made back when games based on licensed TV shows or movies were actually a lot of fun. Nintendo and Disney’s fanbases often overlapped, so a game based on Darkwing Duck became really popular, and rightfully so. There were power-ups, weapon upgrades, an excellent soundtrack and great graphics. It was everything a video game should have been, and although he may have been overshadowed by the Blue Bomber, Darkwing could stand on his own two flippers with ease, and everyone I’ve spoken to has fond memories of the game.
You know what the coolest part is about imagining a Darkwing Duck remake? There’s actually a pretty good possibility that it will eventually happen. Recently, Capcom released an enhanced version of another popular Disney NES game they made, Duck Tales. More ducks! Duck Tales: Remastered featured HD graphics, hand-drawn character models and environments, extended levels and remastered music (with the option of unlocking the original 8-bit soundtrack). It sold so well digitally that it received a full retail release in November 2013. This proves that gamers not only fondly remember the NES classics, but they actually want to experience them again.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve been able to pick up a new Mega Man title from Capcom, but Darkwing Duck: Remastered (be still, my beating heart) would fill that void beautifully.
…Okay, hear me out.
I know what you’re thinking: How on Earth could anyone feel that a Mario game needs more exposure? Normally, I’d completely agree; Super Mario is likely the largest and most expansive video game series ever created. But the North American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is easily the oddest entry overall. It’s a pretty well-known fact at this point that it didn’t actually start out as a Mario game, but as an original Japanese title called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic. Because it was a totally different game with Mario and his pals just slapped over the original characters, everything seemed out of place. Instead of jumping on enemies to defeat them, you threw vegetables at them, or threw the enemies at each other. There were also a ton of vertical stages, requiring you to either climb beanstalks or dig through sand. Each of the four available characters also played differently, as opposed to Mario and Luigi being identical in the first game. None of the enemies themselves had appeared in the original Super Mario Bros. either, so it only seemed like a sequel because of the title. But it was an amazing game with solid gameplay and tight controls, and a soundtrack that I still catch myself humming every once in a while.
A lot of the enemies from Super Mario Bros. 2 were actually kept as regular characters in various Mario games (and the cartoon series), the most common ones being Birdo and the Shy Guys. But what happened to everything else? What happened to the vegetables, the door-spawning potions and the entire world of Subcon? What happened to Albatoss, Fry Guy and Mouser?
Most importantly, what happened to Wart?
Wart was basically the Bowser of Super Mario Bros. 2, the big, bad final boss. After this game, he didn’t make any more appearances in any Mario games. But, there was one cameo he made that I find very significant. Wart briefly appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy, in which he taught Link The Frog’s Song of Soul. Nintendo could have chosen any character they wanted to, or just outright created a brand new one, but they put Wart in there instead; he even had his original Japanese name, Mamu. I think this is really interesting, because both Super Mario Bros. 2 and Link’s Awakening take place within dream worlds, which seems to imply that Wart can only exist within someone’s dream. This might sound like some kind of horrible fan fiction, but I think Nintendo has inadvertently given themselves all the material they need to make an honest-to-goodness Mario/Zelda crossover game, complete with the return of Wart and the Wind Fish. Link’s Awakening, while not the most popular Zelda title, is also a cult classic, and combining characters and locales from these two games would be an epic adventure to say the least.
Super Mario Bros. 2 was given a slightly enhanced remake on the Game Boy Advance, but as you can probably tell, I really think it deserves an actual sequel. It was also the only early Mario game that actually had a storyline, and you were even greeted with a plot synopsis if you didn’t press any buttons for a few seconds at the title screen. Everything surrounding this game begs for a more in-depth exploration of Subcon and its inhabitants, and with games like New Super Mario Bros. selling so well, it seems like a no-brainer to remind Nintendo fans that the world of Super Mario Bros. 2 still exists. Super Mario 3D World has also demonstrated how well simultaneous 4-player gameplay can work, especially since the characters and abilities are the same as they were in Super Mario Bros. 2.
Even after all these years, the NES still has one of the most expansive game libraries of any console ever released, and most of those games are absolutely timeless. It’s interesting to think that Nintendo could be sitting on a gold mine 30 years in the making. While I’m all for broadening horizons and developing new ideas and genres, there are some things that will always be welcome, no matter the year, decade or century. Nintendo games are pretty close to the top of that list.