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.
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 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.
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 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.
I LOVED Marble Madness. Never could beat it though. I was usually only left with 2 lives on the "Silly" level.(yellow)
I tried getting it on GBC or GBA I think (or was it PS1?) but it was just too hard to control without holding the controller diagonally, which I couldn't do on handheld. For some reason I also remember it being on a computer and trackball way back when at some uncle's house (vauge recollections of a Colecovision at the same house), but I'm not really sure anymore.