A recent trend among game developers has been to revive the classic game series of the NES, SNES, or Genesis. Sometimes they are updated with HD graphics, and other times they are restored in all their 8 or 16 bit glory. While about a year ago these were relatively new, there are a bunch currently in development. I am sure you have seen an article about some upcoming revival, such as the new Duck Tales game or the new entrance in the Mickey’s Castle of Illusion series; perhaps you have even played some of the games that are already out, such as Mega Man 9 and 10 (arguably the first games to really start this trend).
While some of these games are hits, and a few are definitely misses (some developers really don’t have a grasp of what made these games good…I am looking at you, Turtles in Time: Reshelled) I must say that I am enjoying this recent trend, as it is bringing back the games that I loved in my childhood, and allowing newer and younger gamers to experience these games as well. Here are some series that I hope some aspiring developers tackle next, and I am going to break them down by popular genre!
1. First Person Shooters: A Classic Duke Nukem
Remember the days when Duke was the king of first person shooters? Those days are certainly long past, and many people feel that his most recent outing, the very unfortunate Duke Nukem Forever, proved that Duke might be best left to the past. Well why not then? Why not make a game in the style of Duke’s golden years?
My problem with classic first person shooters, such as Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, is that they tend to be a bit dull and repetitive after a while. They were 3D mazes with enemies peppered around, no way to hide from damage, and many of the environments looked roughly the same. But first person shooters have come a long way since then. Imagine a new “classic” Duke Nukem 3D complete with voice acting (I mean you need Duke’s quips), crazy well designed enemies and environments, the addition of fun physics (especially with the weapons), insane guns, and perhaps some other gameplay changes to spice it up. It could be the perfect marriage of modern FPS game mechanics in the trappings of a classic Duke game (no automatically renewable health though…grrrrr). I think it could be a fun project, as the FPS genre has been pretty much untouched as far as these revivals go.
In the meantime…
System Shock 2 was recently released on Steam. It isn’t a revival or anything, but damn is System Shock 2 a great game!
2. Arcade Style Beat-Em-Up- Final Fight
Ah Final Fight! The classic Beat-em-up, and my personal favorite among the SNES/Genesis era of gaming. Granted Streets of Rage was another favorite, and one that should get its own renewal in time, but Final Fight always held a special place in my heart. Maybe it was just Haggar himself…he looks like a roided out Tom Selleck!
Beat-em-ups in general are one of my favorite genres, as they encapsulated those trips with friends to the local arcades, where you and three friends would dump quarter after quarter into the machine with hopes of reaching the epic last boss fight. The beat-em-up has also been making quite a bit of a resurgence lately. Games like Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, or Double Dragon Neon have pushed the genre back into the spotlight.
What I would hope for in a Final Fight reboot is a classic return to the series, but with the upgrades featured in modern beat-em-ups. Perhaps larger and more diverse set pieces, grander and crazier enemies, and while maybe not a level up system (though I wouldn’t be opposed if the game was long enough), perhaps a deeper and more malleable skill/move set for each character. This series always had a certain allure with the “cleaning up the mean streets” angle, and it could benefit from its previous tie-ins to the Street Fighter series.
In the meantime…
Double Dragon Neon isn’t that bad a game, but coming up are remakes of the two Dungeons and Dragons games Towers of Doom and Shadows of Mystara in a collection known as the Chronicles of Mystara. The originals were really great games in the arcade, so here’s hoping that these beat-em-ups have stood the test of time!
3. Action Platformer- Actraiser
Actraiser was a short-lived action platformer series that only spawned two games. The original was a fascinating game in that it blended two genres pretty darn successfully: action platforming and a Civilization-style society building simulation.
An Ancient Demon, Tanzra, has defeated the god of this world, known as the Master, and the Master has entered a hibernation-like sleep in order to heal his wounds. When he awakens, he finds that the entire world has forgotten him, so he must reclaim the land from Tanzra’s demons, instill belief in the people again, and eventually defeat Tanzra himself.
The game is split into platforming segments, where the Master takes the form of a Warrior statue and fights Tanzra’s lieutenants, and the SIM-like segments where the Master directly controls the growth of humanity in a region of the world. It was a great game, and while the sequel is a pure action-platformer with the SIM segments removed, it would be a great series to return to for developers due to its unique nature. I think an indie developer could go very, very, far with this IP and do something truly experimental, fun, and new without forsaking the source material.
In the meantime…
Oh, there is a ton that has come out or will come out in this genre: Duck Tales, Mickey’s Castle of Illusion, Mega Man 9 and 10, or even Shovel Knight (not a revival, but it looks so go that I have to give a shout-out).
4. RPG- Chrono Trigger
I think every person who has ever played an RPG wants another sequel to this game, yet Square-Enix remains pretty darn adamant in not making another sequel to what is considered one of the best video games of all time. It had so much going for it in terms of design, amazing game-play, and all around fun. So why not make another 16-bit sequel to the game and release it instead of either making a huge expensive sequel, or another port of the same game?
Imagine revisiting this world (or time?) in all its 16 bit glory, with fresh new times, new locales, new bosses, and amazing new characters and story lines. They can even make the combat system deeper and more malleable, playing off the whole combo fighting system that they had in Trigger with maybe a dash of service to Chrono Cross as well.
You know, I was thinking about going with Final Fantasy for this one, but it has already spawned a 16 bit remake (Dimensions for iOS in case you haven’t heard or played it), and while I think that there could certainly be a better Final Fantasy 16 bit game than that, the good gamers who have waited patiently would rather see another Chrono Trigger sequel.
In the meantime…
This isn’t a remake of any particular series and it is incredibly expensive to find, but I would recommend checking out Pier Solar. It’s an interesting project in that it is a brand new, modern RPG made for the Sega Genesis, and it even had a limited release on an actual cartridge. From what I have heard (sorry I don’t have 200 bucks to splurge on a game whose system I don’t even own), the game is pretty amazing. And it is supposedly going to be released over Xbox Arcade and the PSN, so it eventually won’t break the pocketbook.
5. Run and Gun- Gunstar Heroes
I like to think of Gunstar Heroes as the series that beat Contra at its own game. Seriously, the game was so good! It had intense boss fights, great stages/set pieces, and very memorable characters. It is an obscure game, yes, but one that is incredibly fun, very rewarding with its high level of difficulty, and a blast to play.
Gunstar Heroes is one of the few cases where I wouldn’t even change anything if I made a sequel–I would keep the core mechanics but make more crazy stages and boss fights (just like the Metal Slug franchise!). Sega, why make more Sonic games when you have this great IP waiting in the wings just begging to be used.
In the meantime…
There aren’t many new games coming out in this genre, but I just picked up the Metal Slug Anthology. It’s been out for many years but it is worth playing if you haven’t tried it. Man, I love me some Metal Slug.
So that’s it folks! Even if these franchises never have another sequel, there are still plenty of other revivals coming out in the coming months and through next year. It is a great time to be a gamer, as finally the industry is starting to realize that there is a good bit of money in celebrating its past and history. And hey, as long as the quality is maintained, I will be right there waiting with a pocket full of greenbacks to stroll right down memory lane again and again.