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Top 10 8-Bit NES Franchises That Could Use a Retro Revival [top ten]
Retro revivals are all of the rage nowadays, and they come in many varieties, from ports / remakes with upgraded visuals (DuckTales Remastered), to new games that are trying to look, sound, and feel almost exactly like the original games (Mega Man 9), to new games that look, sounds, and feel almost nothing like the original games (Kid Icarus: Uprising.)

Iíve always found it a bit interesting that some franchises, even ones that were at the top of the industry for a time, just straight up roll over and die. I know that there are often complicated reasons for this, including licensing issues and changing tastes in the market. However, weíre at a period now where, due in large part to the advent of digital downloads on consoles, franchises that might have been riskier in the past seem like fair game again. So this is a list of NES franchises that, in my opinion, died off way too soon, and are primed for a return.

I originally planned this as a single list containing games from both the NES and SNES eras, and as always happens when I make these lists, I realized that my list was getting pretty darn long and I didnít want to have to chop it to pieces. So Iím going to do an NES-era top 10 first, and then a separate SNES-era top 10. As I also planned this as a pre-E3 feature (so I can pretend I'm prophetic if any come true!) and E3 is right around the corner, Iím going to have to stick to making this short but sweet. Which is fine, because really, does anyone ever read the walls of text that I paste along with these top ten lists anyway? Youíre just here to see what I picked, and then complain about my choices.

Iím going to lay down a few ground rules for my choices though:

1. All of these franchises, as far as I can determine, have never had a new console game post-NES-era on any platform, nor have they had a new handheld game post-Game Boy-era. At least, not in the West. So for awesome NES games that had SNES sequels, you will have to wait for my next list!

2. Franchises that have seen ports and remakes on various platforms over the years are ok for the list.

I guess that is it. Letís go!
Posted: 06/07/13, 22:38:46  - Edited by 
 on: 06/10/13, 05:37:38
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Life Force

This may be cheating, because Life Force is essentially a Gradius game that isnít called Gradius, and there have been plenty of new Gradius games over the years, including the retro-styled Gradius Rebirth on WiiWare. So why do I want a new Life Force specifically? Itís tough to say, but it stood out from Gradius by having a ďFantastic VoyageĒ feel to it, flying around inside a bunch of weird environments fighting weird enemies all based on the human body. While Gradius... erm, also had that kind of thing, but only in part. Iím not making the best argument here, am I? Shut up, Life Force was awesome. And co-op!
The Goonies

The Goonies II confused the F out of me as a kid, because it seemed to be a sequel to a game that didnít exist. But contrary to the popular opinion that this game is a sequel to the movie, it is actually a sequel to a Goonies game which very much exists... in Japan. Which is still pretty weird, since The Goonies was a popular American movie, so why did it spur on a Japan-only tie-in game? Anyway, I donít remember too much about The Goonies II, other than I liked it at the time, and it had very awesome music that I remember to this day.
Marble Madness

This would probably be higher on my list, but the concept of rolling a ball through various challenges has been explored in the years since Marble Madness by games like Super Monkey Ball and Kororinpa: Marble Mania, among many others. We even recently had a 2D take on the idea with the sublime, yet excellent 3DS eShop game NightSky. Still, Marble Madness is one of the originators of the genre, and I wouldnít mind seeing a return, especially as Super Monkey Ball is kind of worthless now.
River City Ransom

River City Ransom is one of the original side-scrolling co-op beat-em-ups, and it stood out from the pack by adding RPG-like elements to the mix. This genre has seen a huge comeback in recent years, both in retro revivals (Double Dragon Neon) and brand new games (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, which borrowed a lot from River City Ransom), so it isnít completely crazy to think that River City Ransom may get itís chance to shine again. Time will tell, my friends. Time will tell.
Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball

What the...? Andrew picking a sports game for his list?! Well sure, Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball is technically a sports game, but it is also one of the first ďwackyď sports games that I ever played, kind of a precursor to the Mario sports games that we all know and love. You created a team from a ragtag group, including a punk, a devil, a miner, and a guy named Froggy who erm... jumped around like a frog, and then played a game of softball that didnít exactly follow league standard rules. It was always interesting to me how normal looking the cover to this game is, considering the game inside.
Metal Storm

Metal Storm is basically VVVVVV on the NES, if VVVVVV were about a badass mech going around shooting stuff. Sort of. The game took what might have been a somewhat ordinary shooter / platformer otherwise, and mixed it up by allowing the player to flip their own gravity at will. This led to some pretty unique gameplay, especially way back in the NES days when the ďhigh concept platformerĒ thing wasnít as ubiquitous as it is now following the rise of the indie game. I canít see any reason why bringing Metal Storm back would be a bad idea.

I actually never played much StarTropics back in the days, so my first time really sitting down with this franchise was a recent retro game club that we did on the original game. And you know what? Some frustrations aside, itís actually a pretty sweet game. StarTropics is a very Zelda-esque franchise, which may explain why Nintendo never bothered to pursue it much further... why not just focus those attentions on Zelda itself? But StarTropics does some things that Zelda does not, and it might not hurt to have a bit more variety in Nintendoís action / adventure line-up.

Yeah yeah, weíre getting a remastered version of the original, neat! But should that be the end of it? Why not get a brand new DuckTales game after that? DuckTales was one of the many excellent licensed Disney games created by Capcom on the NES (and probably the most beloved), and if the remastered version is a success, I see no reason to stop there. Knock out a remastered version of the NES sequel if you like, but please make us a brand new DuckTales eventually!
Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Another licensed Capcom game, although the license is a bit more obscure to most Americans; Little Nemo was based on a Japanese animated film which itself was based on an early 1900s American comic strip. Everything has come full circle! Anyway, the game puts you in the role of Nemo, who travels through surreal lands in his sleep with the help of animal buddies that he can ride if he feeds them candy. Thatís pretty much the best idea for a video game ever. Iíd love to see what crazy worlds developers could come up with in a new Nemo game.
Wizards & Warriors

Unfortunately, my top pick has almost next to no chance of appearing again on a Nintendo platform, since it is a Rareware franchise, and Microsoft owns them now. Boo! But Iíll play a new Wizards & Warriors wherever they put it which would probably be Xbox One, ug. With three excellent NES games (ok fine, two excellent, one mediocre) and a Game Boy game, Wizards & Warriors seemed primed to continue on as a big-name franchise well into the 16-bit era. But then it just... inexplicably vanished. David Wise took his excellent composition skills to the Donkey Kong Country series, and Wizards & Warriors was never seen again. Perhaps this can be rectified. Someday.
There you go. Anything that I missed? Agree, disagree? Let me know in the comments below! And donít forget to check out my list of 16-bit SNES franchises that could use a retro revival!

PS. Some others that almost made my list: Darkwing Duck, Popeye, R.C. Pro-Am, Rush'n Attack, Skate or Die

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Posted: 06/07/13, 22:38:46  - Edited by 
 on: 06/10/13, 05:37:38
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Honestly a little surprised to not see Darkwing Duck, considering how big of a fan you are of the show.

I agree with your list, and I'd love to see a new Marble Madness game. Though maybe it'd be better if SEGA just got their $#!+ together and actually made Super Monkey Ball good again.
Posted: 06/07/13, 23:19:39
Remember when we thought we had River City Ransom 2 coming for WiiWare? Postponed indefinitely. Good times. Apparently a whole 'nother studio is now making a new RCR for PC (and other consoles in consideration).
Posted: 06/07/13, 23:44:47
@GameDadGrant Yeahhh but I tried to be at least a little realistic, I'm making the claim that these franchises "could use" a retro revival, not just that they are Andrew favorites. Although another Goonies game is probably incredibly unlikely at this point, but that could at least ride the nostalgia waves in a way that I doubt a new Darkwing Duck game could. And Dusty Diamond like... was that ever big enough for nostalgia? I really don't know, a bunch of my friends seemed to love it, but when I talk to gamers in general they're like... the what now?

I actually thought that you would be posting about my console-focus. Are there any big Game Boy / Game Boy Color franchises that died off soon after? I was, admittedly, not much of a handheld gamer before the GBA so I'm not sure what early Game Boy gems there were.
Posted: 06/07/13, 23:51:51  - Edited by 
 on: 06/07/13, 23:56:51
Marble Madness is one of my favorite games ever I've never really played any other marble-rolling games though, aside from the balance minigames in Wii Fit. Maybe I should look into Super Monkey Ball or something similar.
Posted: 06/08/13, 00:02:09
It's so painful to read that true fact about the state of the Super Monkey Ball franchise.

Also, I'd much rather have, Dustin Diamond's All-Star Softball.

And numbers 3 and 2 are spot on. But for DuckTales, this thing coming out soon does not count at all to me.
Posted: 06/08/13, 00:24:00
I THOUGHT Salamander ReBirth (LifeForce) WAS coming...

Didn't read now, but I liked the pictures. And YES, Wizards & Warriors is a great selection there.

Don't wanna see it modernized, but I'd do it on Wii U Ware.
Posted: 06/08/13, 00:28:47
Sometimes it feels as though I am the only one that really likes Life Force - easily one of the best NES games. So it's good to see it listed and to know I'm not alone in my adoration of it. However, I think Little Nemo: The Dream Master would take number one if I were to make a list (or just to have it as is on the eShop). Sadly, though, I don't think we'll ever see a revival or a release.
Posted: 06/08/13, 00:50:48
NoName said:
Sometimes it feels as though I am the only one that really likes Life Force - easily one of the best NES games. So it's good to see it listed and to know I'm not alone in my adoration of it. However, I think Little Nemo: The Dream Master would take number one if I were to make a list (or just to have it as is on the eShop). Sadly, though, I don't think we'll ever see a revival or a release.

Its my FAVORITE third party NES game (love SMB, LoZ). It got me into Shmups

Great list
i'd put these in the mix

Posted: 06/08/13, 00:57:28  - Edited by 
 on: 06/08/13, 01:00:07

NoName! Its my favorite NES game! Come on! And some others like it, tooooooo. I'll agree though -- I don't think it gets nearly the attention it deserves. Way behind on the Konami scale, too. Contra gets the attention for the 30 guy code, even though its well used here, too. What about awesome Jackal? Another great Konami title nobody talks about.

I was actually trying to set the Twin Galaxies record on there for High Score. The weekend I decided to try it, some guy -- OUT OF THE BLUE -- walked in and DESTROYED the "current" record, and played for a while more before just turning off the game because he "got bored." You need to play like 8 hours straight without continuing. Eek!
Posted: 06/08/13, 00:57:31
Posted: 06/08/13, 05:15:41

Hmm, Gameboy games that were gems but died soon after? Eh. Not particularly. I mean, I guess some of the "hidden gems" on 3DS Virtual Console may count (Avenging Spirit, Fortified Zone, Qix, and Mole Mania) but overall there aren't that many. Many good games continued on and got sequels and/or remakes. I mean, I would have voted for Shantae, but obviously she's made a comeback, and received with open arms. Heck, even Nintendo's own WaveRace got a couple sequels (years later) and was adored and celebrated when it finally came back.

Actually, speaking of racing games? You know what could come back, and might actually do well with modern graphics and today's online technology? Anyone remember F-1 Race? It's a hidden racing gem from the early '90s and boasted 4-player simultaneous play...on Gameboy. (!) I think having a "realistic" racing game from Nintendo with the Formula 1 branding could score some "cool" points with gear-head gamers. Maybe? Or would people just be more upset that they are getting F-1 instead of F-Zero?
Posted: 06/08/13, 05:46:16
I know there have been quite a few attempts since the NES, but Blaster Master would be incredible in the right developer's hands.

I wouldn't mind Adventures of Lolo coming back as a cheap digital game, Adventure Island could be reinvented as a fun action platformer, and Rare is still sitting on fucking Battletoads.
Posted: 06/08/13, 15:58:43
@Hinph Adventure Island had a recent game, Adventure Island: The Beginning for the Wii. I believe that this was a brand new game? Although I remember it being a bit unclear whether it was new or a remake. Anyway, Adventure Island would definitely have been on my list except that it did get this game already so... didn't qualify.
Posted: 06/08/13, 19:33:17
Screens I see of Life Force always seem familiar, I think I borrowed that game from someone way back in the day, but never owned. I'm not really into shmups, but I recall liking it, probably because it's so weird.

We had Marble Madness, it's a fun concept, but too short, and therefore gets hard too fast. I don't think we ever beat it with two players, it's tough to get through some of those later levels with two marbles. Anyone who likes this game should really check out Marble Saga: Kororinpa on Wii, it's quite similar and a lot of fun!

Metal Storm wasn't my kind of game.

I prefer StarTropics II to the original, but I s'pose it doesn't matter in terms of wanting a new game. The modern setting is enough to differentiate the games from Zelda, but there's also more platforming elements, too. If they really want it to be different, they don't make top-down view Zelda games on consoles anymore, so they could use this series to fill that role. The only problem with this series is that it was released only in North America, which further limits the amount of people who'd recognise it.

I'm pretty sure I borrowed DuckTales too, but don't recall anything about it.

The original Wizards and Warriors was fun, but I couldn't get into the other two. The lack of infinite continues meant I never bothered with the second game, and number three was an interesting concept executed poorly.

Everything else, I never played.
Posted: 06/08/13, 21:27:42  - Edited by 
 on: 06/08/13, 21:29:05
It is really too bad Irem is dead. I was kinda hoping that Metal Storm would have shown up on the VC. Such a good game. Also a Little Nemo game would be cool since there are tons of ideas that could be used.
Posted: 06/08/13, 21:42:09
Would you rather these games were revived in the style of Kid Icarus: Uprising or something more faithful like the new Duck Tales? Assuming the new Duck Tales plays the same as the original.
Posted: 06/08/13, 23:49:13

Kung Fu
Iron Tank
Pro Wrestling
RC Pro AM (but it'd be a Xbone exclusive since they own Rare)

Tecmo Bowl
Blades of Steel
Posted: 06/09/13, 01:55:35

Went looking for it myself, found this link.

Familiar names!
Posted: 06/09/13, 01:59:58

Haha... Looks my longing for more Life Force love hasn't wained a bit since 2009!
Posted: 06/09/13, 04:53:55

Yeah, same with Blaster Master... but they were such half-assed, low-budget "bleh" revivals.
Posted: 06/09/13, 05:49:14
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