A look back at the 2006 release, Sonic Riders. A very polarizing things, we look at what the game excelled at, while noting how some of the flaws may have led the game to be overlooked.
Top 10 Obscure Nintendo Games that Deserve a Reboot or Sequel: Part 2
Welcome back to part two of my look at some classic and obscure Nintendo games that deserve a reboot or remake. Last time, I looked at 10 Nintendo owned games and franchises that I’d like to see given a second chance on the Wii U and 3DS. This time, I’ll be looking at some third party offerings from days gone by that could make for some fun revivals on a new generation of Nintendo hardware.
I have something of a love/hate relationship with P.N. 03. The game was the only entry of the Capcom Five to remain a Gamecube exclusive. It was considered a commercial and critical failure, often panned for its control scheme and overall short length. Having said all that, I still dig this game from a design standpoint. It’s got a sleek design, a cool protagonist and a pretty sweet soundtrack. P.N. 03 stars Vanessa Z. Schneider, a freelance mercenary who has been tasked with destroying a series of berserk robots that have begun wreaking havoc on a colony planet. To complete this task, Vanessa wears special gear known as Aegis Suits, which allow her to fire blasts of energy from her palms and use special energy drive moves to clear out large numbers of enemies at one time. Ms. Schneider also has the ability to do some crazy awesome acrobatics and maneuvers. It’s like watching Cirque de Soleil but with more lasers and techno. I think the core concepts of this game could be retooled slightly and make for a great action game. Bayonetta has already shown that high octane action and spiffy dodge mechanics can make for fun time, so it’d be nice to see Nintendo and Capcom give Vanessa a second chance. At least throw me a bone and give her some recognition in the next Smash Bros. as an Assist Trophy or something.
Part surgery simulator and part visual novel, Trauma Center: Under the Knife, was a title released fairly early in the DS’s life cycle. It was later given an enhanced remake on the Wii with Second Opinion and went on to spawn 3 more games. It’s been almost 4 years Atlus. Where’s my sequel? These games did a fantastic job utilizing the DS’s touch screen and the Wii’s motion controls to create a fun and often very intense gameplay experience. At first, players will partake in surgeries that involve things like removing fractured glass and bones from tissue or excising tumors. The game takes a very interesting turn however, when bioterrorism becomes a major plot point. These operations see Dr. Derrick Stiles (remember when DS used to emphasis the DS naming scheme in stuff?) and Nurse Angie Thompson combating freaky virus and living tumor like creatures as they fight to save their patient’s lives. I always enjoyed how tense and nail bitingly close certain operations could get. Both the 3DS and WiiU seem like suitable homes for a new entry in the series. I’d personally like to see how the game could incorporate both the WiiU’s gamepad and the Wii-mote/nunchuk combo.
Nowadays, when most people think of Natsume their thoughts turn to titles like Harvest Moon or Rune Factory. There was a time however, when they were responsible for a number of other great series and games. While I do enjoy me some Harvest Moon, the one Natsume game I like above all others has got to be Wild Guns. This little SNES gem has become a rarity amongst collectors and not just because it’s hard to find. It’s also super fun. Wild Guns puts players in the role of either Clint and/or Annie as they track down the gang that murdered most of Annie’s family. This sounds like a pretty standard plot for a western, but I’ve yet to mention the part about robots and giant mechs. Wild Guns sits firmly in the steampunk genre, as many of the foes that Clint and Annie fight have a lot of science fiction elements peppered into their western aesthetic. The game plays much like a shooting gallery style game, with controls reminiscent of classics like Cabal or the original Sin and Punishment. The game’s style and gameplay could be easily revamped for a light gun shooter using the Wii U gamepad or a Wii remote. The 3DS’s touch screen could also make for a fun precision based shooter with mechanics similar to the aiming shooting controls found in Kid Icarus: Uprising. If you’ve never played this game, I highly recommend you pick it up on the Virtual Console.
Ever played any of the Ghost and Goblins series? Remember those annoying demons that would swoop down at awkward angles and kill you? Yeah, screw those guys, they sucked. But did you also know that Capcom made a spinoff featuring the ever so devious Firebrand? Enter Demon’s Crest. Imagine if Ghost and Goblins had more diverse combat options and some RPG elements sprinkled in. Now add some sweet boss fights and a rocking soundtrack and you have Demon’s Crest. As the demon Firebrand, you seek out a series of six magical crests, each based on a mystical element, and use them to augment your skills and move set. Like another famous Capcom series, the game lets players tackle each of the major levels in whatever order they want, and as new crests are collected, players can return to previous stages to seek out power ups that might have been unavailable to them before. I could see a new version of this game adopting the 2.5D look of other Capcom remakes and being a solid entry as either a 3DS game or maybe downloadable Wii U title in the same vein as Ducktales: Remastered. (Only better) While DK has done a good job keeping the tradition of difficult but fun platfomers alive, I’d like to see Firebrand take flight once more and bring his unique brand of platforming back into style.
The Fatal Frame games are some of my favorite horror titles. For those unfamiliar with the series, Fatal Frame is a franchise of horror games built around using a device called the Camera Obscura to combat lingering and often malevolent spirits. Players enter a first person view, as if through a camera lens, and take pictures of these specters to put their sprits at rest. They’re creepy, atmospheric, and usually have some interesting stories to tell. So, when I heard that Fatal Frame 4 was coming to the Wii, I was excited to see how the new platform and control scheme would affect the game. Sadly, I never got to find out since the game was never given an official English translation. The only title in the series to have been released since was the spinoff Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir for the 3DS. The game was interesting and did some cool stuff with the 3DS’s augmented reality gameplay options, but it was woefully short. But if the game was longer and a bit more story driven, I could see it doing really well. And come on, the Wii U is practically made for this kind of game! Using the gamepad to locate and defeat spirits, having easy access to inventory management on the second screen, the possibilities are palatable. To my knowledge, Nintendo still has the rights to parts of the franchise, The Wii version of Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly and Fatal Frame 4 to be specific. I’d settle for an HD remake of either of those.
Now here’s a NES gem in need of some love. Metal Storm was published by Irem, the same company responsible for the R-Type series, and features a unique mix of action and platforming. Players control the M-308 Gunner, a bipedal mech with a plasma gun and the ability to shift from moving on the ground to walking on ceilings. The M-308 is tasked with destroying The Cyberg, a battle station which has malfunctioned and begun systematically destroying the planets, and Earth is next on the list. The gameplay has some similarities to the likes of run and gun titles like Contra but the aforementioned mechanic that allows the M-308 to switch its orientation gives the gameplay some unique twists. Some levels will see you jumping from floor to ceiling to maneuver your way through labyrinthine space stations while others will have you shifting along the screen to get a better vantage point to take down large bosses. Metal Storm’s controls feel super tight and while walking on the ceiling might take a bit of getting used to, players should have little trouble getting the hang of it soon enough. It will likely come as no surprise to fans of any of Irem’s other games, but Metal Storm is also pretty dang hard. The game starts out simple enough, but with each new level comes new challenges and crazy amounts of enemy fire to avoid. I’d like to see this game given a modern aesthetic, maybe something like the style used in games like Hard Corp: Uprising and the Blazblue games. The M-308 has a pretty cool design and an anime like art style would suit it perfectly. The Wii U would be a perfect home for a downloadable version of the game that would look great on either the gamepad or the big screen.
Okay Sega, it’s time for some real talk. Put whatever Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff/sports game project you’re working on, and give us a sequel to Skies of Arcadia already! While I never owned a Dreamcast, I did get experience several of its titles via their remakes and ports to the Gamecube. While Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Phantasy Star Online were lots of fun in their own right, Skies of Arcadia Legends was the crown jewel of Dreamcast ports for me. It’s an RPG with sky pirates and giant kaiju like monsters! There’s not one part of that sentence I didn’t love typing. Players take on the role of the young pirate Vyse who along with fellow rogue and childhood friend Aika, the mysterious Fina, and a host of other scallywags of the skies take on the Valuan Empire. Gameplay is pretty standard turn based combat with each character having various skills they can use like offensive and defensive magics , healing skills, and a slew of special moves to take on the game’s array of killer flora, fauna, and enemy pirates. As you traverse the world of Arcadia, you’ll come across various NPCs who you can recruit to become part of your crew. Doing so will give your ship some extra options and even help in combat against other sky ships. There are bounties to hunt down, treasures to uncover, and plenty of mysteries to solve. The game oozes style and has remained a fan favorite for years. We’ve seen the game’s trip of primary protagonists make cameos in games like Valkyria Chronicles, but I’d like to see the Blue Rogues take to the Skies once more in new game of their own. Monolith Soft’s X is already looking like it’s going to be a solid contender for the Wii U, so why not give Skies of Arcadia a go in a fully realized HD world in the skies.
What happens when you mix Sim City and action games like Super Castlevania? You get the amazing SNES classic, Actraiser! In time gone by, the benevolent, god-like Master fought against Tanzra, the Evil One and his six lieutenants. The Master was badly wounded in the fight and was forced to retreat to his home in the sky. Years later, The Master awakens to find that Tanzra has carved up the land into different territories, each ruled by one of his lieutenants. To make matters worse, the people that once worshipped The Master have almost all but disappeared, and his powers with them. The player is tasked with rebuilding the various cities that once housed the faithful and protect them from Tanzra’s evil hordes. Additionally, the Master brings life to the statue of an ancient warrior who is tasked with seeking out the six lieutenants and freeing the land from their control. Both the town building and action platforming sections of the game are loads of fun and each have their own little intricacies that players will have to get used to. The game received a sequel (or possibly a prequel), in Actraiser 2, however this entry removed the town building elements from the first game and went for the full action platformer approach. Years later, I still think these games hold up well and I’d love to see the series make a return on the Wii U or 3DS. The touch screen elements of both platforms would be great for the god-like portions of the game where you have to build up cities and defend them from invading forces. The game could add more continents to explore, multiple factions of enemies and gods, and even some new weapon types for the hero to use during action segments. I’d prefer to see the actin segments be in 2D, but a 2.5 D aesthetic would be a nice touch.
Kojima, please. I like Metal Gear Solid as much as the next guy, but show some love to the other great franchises you’ve worked on. Boktai is one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played, both in terms of story and gameplay design. This GBA gem combined elements of spaghetti westerns, the undead, Norse mythology, and Metal Gear Solid stealth and shoot gameplay. Top that off with a built in solar sensor in the game’s cartridge, which powered up your weapons, affected the environment and opened up new pathways for players to explore. True story, I used to play this game and its sequel, Boktai 2, outside in the sun for so long that I routinely got sunburned. I got sunburned because I really enjoyed playing a videogame. Let that sink in for a minute. As Django (the D is silent) your job is to use the power of the sun to cleanse the land of the undead and purify the Dark Lords that seek to cover the world in darkness. The principle big bads of each game are based on figures from Norse mythology like Fenrir, Hel, Jormungandr, and the 4 stags that ate the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. The main characters are all named and somewhat based on spaghetti western characters like Django for Sergio Corbucci’s Django. The soundtracks in both games are awesome and really add to the classic western feel. Listen to this piece and tell me you’re not reminded of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
The original Boktai games were a trilogy for the GBA, with the third entry in the series sadly never making it stateside, much to my dismay. The games received a spiritual successor in Lunar Knights for the DS, but traded the spaghetti western stylings for a deep space setting and a jazz infused score. I’d just about kill for another Boktai game. I’m not sure how or if it would be possible to replicate the sensor from the GBA games, but it’d be great to see the series make a return on the 3DS. Django is also a character with enough of a diverse arsenal of weapons and special transformations that he’d make one heck of an addition to the Smash Bros. series as a guest character. For now, I guess I’ll have to love out my fantasies of new Boktai game with this little easter egg in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Oh man, where to even start with this one. Do you like classic Legend of Zelda games? Enjoy Metroid? Are you partial to top down shooters like Raiden? Then oh boy do I have THE GAME for you! You’ve likely noticed by now that several entries on this list are games that combine multiple genres and gameplay styles in fun and entertaining ways. The Guardian Legend manages to mix Zelda style dungeon crawls, Metroid’s cool heroine and gunplay, and Raiden’s vertical gameplay into one beautiful blend of sci-fi gaming greatness. Earth faces impending doom from the planet like ship called the Naju, which is on a collision course with everyone’s favorite blue, life sustaining sphere. To combat the alien threat, mankind relies on the Guardian, a female android who can switch between a humanoid form and a Gradius style space fighter. Not since the Avengers have so many awesome things come together to create a perfect storm of awesome. Made by the same folks that brought us Metal Storm, I have no idea how this game never got a sequel. It does an excellent job shifting between game genres, has a cool soundtrack, and super tight controls. I don’t care what system a reboot or remake to this game comes out on, I just want it to happen! It could utilize A Link Between World’s dungeon style and versatility with a Metroid Prime visual style to make for hell of a visually appealing and fun game. Words really can’t do this game justice. If you have a NES and around $15 or $20, stop whatever you’re doing, go to Amazon, Ebay, or your nearest purveyor of classic games and get yourself a copy of The Guardian Legend. You’ll thank me later.