In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Top 10 Obscure Nintendo Games that Deserve a Reboot or Sequel: Part 1
Rebooting old franchises and popular titles of yesteryear is nothing new for the videogame industry. In recent years we‘ve seen a menagerie of nostalgic series and standalone titles brought back to life in the era of high definition and downloadable content. Capcom in particular has embraced the idea rather wholeheartedly, most recently resurrecting the Strider series with a new game that borrows elements from both the arcade classic and its NES port. The folks over at Nintendo have also brought back some fan favorites in recent years like Punch-Out!! and Kid Icarus.
While both of the aforementioned games were plenty of fun, there are plenty of other Nintendo classics I’d like to see given new life on the 3DS and WiiU. So many in fact, that I’ve split them into two lists! This week I’ll be looking at my top ten obscure Nintendo classics in need of a resurrection. For a game or series to make this list, it has to be owned or developed by the Big N. Next week I’ll take a look at some 3rd party favorites from consoles and handhelds past I’d like to see given a new coat of paint, but for now, let’s see what games and franchises from yesteryear Nintendo should give the next gen treatment to!
10.) Sin & Punishment
Okay, yes, this game received a sequel back in 2010. Yes, it was awesome, at least in the gameplay department. But I want more. When Nintendo announced the sequel to the import gem of the N64, I was super hyped and with good reason. Treasure did a great job delivering their brand of frenetic and fun run-and-gun action in Sin & Punishment: Star Successor on the Wii. The story and characters were just as bonkers as they were in the original but lovingly so. Every time I see a shaman character in a game or movie, all I can think of is this scene. (Skip to the 21:00 mark for the best line delivery in the game) While Treasure was the company that developed the game, I’m including it on this list since Nintendo gave Saki, the protagonist from the first game, assist trophy status in Brawl. As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough to make this a Nintendo franchise. But seriously, I’d love to see a new game in this series on the WiiU. The gamepad’s gyro sensor and touch pad could make for some interesting control schemes and the nunchuck and Wiimote setup from Star Successor is still a viable option.
9.) Custom Robo
This is a series that I’ve really wanted to see Nintendo experiment with some more. The first Custom Robo game was a Japan only release for the N64. The US was first exposed to the series with Custom Robo on the Gamecube while Europe only ever got the most recent game in the franchise, Custom Robo Arena for the DS. The games allow players to collect and customize a variety of mechs to use in closed combat arenas. Think of it like a more colorful and anime inspired Armored Core. That comparison is also the reason I’d love to see more of this series. I’ve always enjoyed games that let me build and customize my own mechs, and I could see a new console iteration of this series being a great way to bring that kind of game style to a new audience. While the story in the Gamecube game was nothing to write home about I’d honestly be happy to just see an HD version of this game with more mech styles, more parts, and plenty of weapon types. I’ve never played Custom Robo Arena, so I’m not sure how the game handles in comparison to its console predecessor, but I could also see a 3D version of the game controlling and playing something like Kid Icarus: Uprising.
8.) Battle Clash
Did you ever own a Super Scope? If not, that’s understandable. The Zapper’s behemoth brother took six AA batteries and only had about 12 games it worked with. Battle Clash, along with its sequel Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge, were arguably the two best games to make use of the famous light fun. For those unfamiliar with either title, Battle Clash pits you in the role of the gunner of a specialized mech called a Standing Tank or ST for short. Over the course of the game you’ll travel across the world doing battle with other ST pilots from different countries, tournament style. Okay yes, this plot is pretty much identical to G Gundam but is that really a bad thing? I’d love to see this game retooled for the WiiU. The gamepad is a more than suitable replacement for the somewhat cumbersome Super Scope and the gyro sensor could make for some fun control options. Would you look a bit goofy while moving the gamepad from side to side while trying to track down your enemy’s mech? Probably. Goofier than a kid waving around a giant plastic bazooka at his TV screen? Probably not.
If anyone out there besides me remembers this game, then congratulations, you are freaking awesome. StarTropics feels and plays much like a classic Zelda game, albeit instead of swords, bows, and bombs, you fight with yo-yos, baseball bats, and bolas. Players take on the role of Mike Jones as he searches the islands of the South Seas in search of his missing uncle, Steve Jones. The game used a combination of Zelda II style overworld exploration, sans the random monster encounters, and Zelda I dungeon exploration and puzzle solving. It’s literally the best of both worlds. Given how well A Link Between Worlds turned out on the 3DS, I can see a new StarTropics being just as fun in the same style. One of my favorite things about the original game is that it came with an actual letter that players had to use to solve one of the puzzles. When dipped in water, part of the letter would reveal a hidden code that players could use to progress through part of the game. The game had one sequel, StarTropics II: Zoda’s Revenge, which was one of the last games to be released on the NES. If Kid Icarus could receive a sequel some 20 years after its last game, then I don’t see why StarTropics can’t do the same. On a side note, I just realized it’s been 20 years since Zoda’s Revenge came out. I feel really old now.
6.) Nintendo Wars
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Advance Wars games for the GBA and DS. What you might not know however, is that the series actually started back on the Famicom in 1988. For the first 13 years and 6 titles in this franchise’s life, Japan was the only country to partake in these turn based war games. In 2001, the series finally reached American shores as Advance Wars for the Gameboy Advance. Man had we been missing out. Multiple armies with a variety of foot troops, tanks, planes, ships to control, varied terrain types, and plenty of colorful and cool commanding officers to guide troops so what’s not to love? The game got 3 more handheld sequels, Dual Strike for the DS being my favorite among them. The series took a shot at consoles with Battalion Wars I and II for the Gamecube and Wii respectively which traded the handheld game’s turn based tactics for real time battles. While both games were fun in their own right, I’d like to see the series return to its roots in a new turn based 3DS rendition. I could even see using the WiiU’s gamepad to command and position troops like a tactical battle map. Come on Nintendo, you’ve already shown us you can make an amazing handheld strategy RPG with Fire Emblem Awakening why not give Andy, Max, Sami, and the rest of the Orange Star Army a chance to shine again?
5.) Drill Dozer
I sometimes worry that Game Freak will only ever be remembered for their contributions to the Pokémon franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pokémon, a lot, but the folks have created some great titles that didn’t feature everyone’s favorite electric rodent too. Most recently, there was HarmoKnight on the 3DS, which was kind of a rhythm platform hybrid. Prior to that though, was the highly underappreciated Drill Dozer for the GBA. This action platformer had players in control of Jill, a young member of the Red Dozer Bandit Gang. Using the titular Drill Dozer, Jill was able to carve her way through all sorts of terrain, obstacles and enemies in her quest to retrieve the Red Dozer’s special treasure, the Red Diamond, back from the villainous Skullker Gang. The core mechanic involved using the Drill Dozer’s drills to solve various puzzles and shifting to stronger gears to bust through more difficult terrain. The game also had a pretty catchy soundtrack to boot! The game’s ending set had potential for some future games but sadly, nothing ever materialized. Which is a shame, because a sequel to this game would be right at home on the 3DS. A 2.5D visual approach would suit the game’s world and general aesthetic marvelously, and I’m sure the 3D slider could be used for some sweet visual depth effects here and there. Jill did make an appearance as an assist trophy in Brawl, so who knows what the future might hold for the spunky little digger.
4.) Hotel Dusk/Kyle Hyde
It’s rare that I ever get jealous of European game releases. In fact I think it’s only ever happened three times. First, they got the excellent Terranigma on the SNES. Then they got Tales of Eternia on the PSP in 2006. Then there’s the subject of our number 4 spot, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West. For those of you on US soil like me, you might know the game better as “the Hotel Dusk sequel that was never given an American release.” For those of you who might not be familiar with either title, Hotel Dusk was a point and click adventure game for the DS which followed the exploits of former New York detective Kyle Hyde as he explores the mysteries surrounding the eponymous Hotel Dusk. The game’s characters were animated using rotoscoping, which really added to the pulp noir atmosphere of the game. The game was published by the now defunct Cing, who were also responsible for titles like Trace Memory (or Another Code if you’re from the PAL or JP side of the pond) and Little King’s Story. Like Sin & Punishment from earlier on this list, I’m considering this a Nintendo franchise since there’s a trophy of Kyle Hyde in Brawl. At any rate, I’d love to see the Big N revive this franchise on the 3DS, maybe even in an episodic DLC format like what Telltale has been doing with The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.
3.) Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan
Agents are go!!! If you’ve never played this fantastic rhythm game for the DS, then man did you miss out. The concept behind the game is pretty simple, albeit silly. The Elite Beat Agents are an organization that find people in their moment of need or crisis and help them in the best way they know how; catchy pop music and crazy-awesome dance moves. By using the DS’s touch pad, players have to tap and slide the stylus to different rhythms and tempos to keep the agents dancing. With multiple difficulty levels and a nice selection of tunes, this game is easily one of the most entertaining rhythm games I’ve ever played. In Japan, the games were known as Ouendan, a title which is based on the real like concept of ōendan. If you played and like Elite Beat Agents, then consider importing both Ouendan titles if you’ve still got an old DS that isn’t region locked. It’s been years since these games were released and I still see people cosplaying as the characters from EBA when I go to conventions. The 3DS and WiiU could both serve as excellent platforms for a new game in this series. For now, I suppose I’ll just have to make due with Osu! on my laptop. Too bad I suck at using a mouse for this game. What I wouldn’t give for a new game that let me use a stylus! Agents, HELP ME!!!
2.) Eternal Darkness
Good horror games are so hard to find nowadays. While titles like Amnesia, Lone Survivor and Slender are helping to slowly revive the genre, a lot of old favorites like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have abandoned their horror roots in favor of more action oriented gameplay. But screw that, I want to play a horror game that messes with my head and has me on the edge of my seat. That’s one of the things I loved about Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for the Gamecube. While the game hasn’t aged super gracefully, man did it do a good job messing with your head. Did I just spend the last 2 minutes fighting an enemy who wasn’t really there? Did my head just fall off? Wait, WHAT HAPPENED TO SAVE DATA?!?! These are all questions that you’ll ask yourself while playing this game. Nintendo actually patented videogame sanity when they made this little gem. Equal parts Lovecraftian love letter and historical fiction, Eternal Darkness was just my cup of tea when it game to psychological horror games. In May of 2013, former Silicon Knights members attempted to crowd fund a spiritual successor to the game in the form of Shadow of the Eternals. Said attempt, along with a handful of subsequent tries, never reached the funding goals they asked for. I’d like to see someone, maybe even another one of Nintendo’s subsidiaries like Retro Studios or a third party like Grasshopper Manufacture, who have did some cool stuff with Fatal Frame on the Wii, take a stab at making a sequel to the game on the WiiU.
Remember how I said you’re freaking awesome if you remembered StarTropics? Well if you know what Baten Kaitos is then congratulations my friend, you are part of a small collective of RPG fans with exquisite taste. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is one of the best RPGs to ever grace the Gamecube. The game is set in a world of floating islands, winged humans, and special cards called magnus cards, which allow the denizens of the world to capture the essence of everyday objects like apples, paintings, or even elements like fire and water. The magnus cards are one of the things I love about this game so much. Depending on the passage of time in both battle and quests, you can create whole new items. For example, if you collect sparkling snow and let it sit around for a while, it will eventually melt into pristine water and if that sits around long enough, it becomes stagnant water.
The game uses a unique spin on the turned based battle system which has each member of your party carrying a deck of magnus cards that allow them to do things like strike with weapon, cast magic, or use defensive items. Careful deck planning is key for pivotal fights because you need to ensure you have a steady supply of both offensive, defensive, and support cards to make it through each battle. Combat in this game is like equal parts trading card game and poker, since each card also has a number value and using a series of cards that have the same number or form a straight, can lead to things like extra damage or special attacks. While the battle system is my favorite aspect of this game, the characters, story and art style are all fantastic. If I had one major knock against this game, it’s that the first game’s voice acting is a tad stilted and uses an odd filter effect that makes it seem like everyone is talking in a wind tunnel.
The game was originally published by Namco however in 2007 Nintendo purchased Monolith Soft, the group responsible for developing the game, from Namco, thus making the original game and its prequel Nintendo owned properties. While I love the work that Monolith Soft has done with Xenoblade Chronicles and I’m left drooling every time I see videos for the upcoming “X” for WiiU, what I wouldn’t give to see them return to the world of Baten Kaitos. The WiiU is a bit lacking in the RPG department at the moment and this is a series that I feel would be right at home on the console. Bonus points if they can get Motoi Sakaraba to do the soundtrack to a new game too. At the very least, should the WiiU ever see Gamecube games added to the Virtual Console in the foreseeable future, this is one I’d be more than happy to buy a second time.