Every new generation of video game consoles enables developers to make prettier, more complex games, but there will always be those who look back fondly at the roots of our medium. This explains the booming demand for games with retro aesthetics, such as Megaman 9 and 10, which look and sound identical to their 8-bit predecessors. The nostalgia market has also given rise to many remakes of popular titles, ranging from simple HD upgrades, a la Metal Gear Solid, to more complicated efforts like the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy IV, which completely remade almost every aspect of the original’s presentation and gameplay. One company that has become well-known for such remakes and retro games is Wayforward Technologies. In addition to their original properties, like Shantae and Mighty Switch Force, Wayforward has released many well-received games for existing franchises, such as the stellar Contra 4 and the HD remakes of A Boy and His Blob and Double Dragon Neo. This week, they released DuckTales Remastered, an updated version of the NES cult classic, and from what I’ve heard, they did a pretty damned great job. In honor of this, let’s take a look at some other classic platformers that deserve a modern reworking.
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Little Nemo follows a young boy who journeys to save Slumberland from the Nightmare King, armed only with a bag of infinite candy. While this might only sound like an effective weapon against an army of diabetic monsters, it turns out that this little bag has a much more sinister role. By luring animals into sugar-induced stupors, Nemo is able to take control of them, allowing him to gain special abilities by riding the monsters or, much more terrifyingly, wearing their skins, like the main villain from the first Men in Black movie. In all seriousness, though, The Dream Master has a wide variety of interesting locales to visit, ranging from a forest of Alice in Wonderland-style giant mushrooms to an upside-down house. Also, unlike many of its platforming contemporaries, Little Nemo focuses more on exploration than combat. This, combined with a catchy soundtrack, would make for a great remastered title. Like in DuckTales Remastered, Little Nemo would benefit from a graphical upgrade to enhance the already quirky level backgrounds, as well as potentially bringing in the voice actors from the original animated movie to lend their talents to the story. The gameplay of could also use a few tweaks, such as a dynamic map to assist in exploration or an increase in the number of creatures you can lure with candy. If all else fails, I’m sure that American McGee could make some interesting scenarios with that whole “skinning and wearing monsters to gain their powers” mechanic.
With a difficulty that ranges from rage-inducing to friendship-ending, Battletoads remains to this day one of the most infamous games in the NES library. With co-op play that leaves friendly fire on, reflex levels that require complete memorization and perfect timing, and more death traps than a Bond villain hideout, completing this game with only the allotted three continues is possible only through the use of black magic. However, as my time with the Souls franchise has taught me, there a little bit of masochism in all of us. A remake of Battletoads could actually offer multiple difficulty levels, which would offer something that most of us have never seen: a look at what comes after Level 2. Whoever works on this game should also include Kinect and PlayStation Eye support, so that the game can keep track of how many times the player breaks down and cries while playing.
This Genesis game is enormous, boasting over a hundred levels that require players to explore every nook and cranny to find warps, treasures, or even just the ending flag. Of course, Kid Chameleon’s claim to fame comes from its masks. The player, taking on the role of generic 90’s attitude kid, can transform into a wide variety of costumes, each with its own powers. Tanks, samurai, axe murderers, and hoverboard riders are all fair game. With a very non-linear feel to it, this game was ahead of its time when it released. Just imagine the possibilities that would come from a modern Kid Chameleon. More levels, more challenges, more transformations; heck, the game could offer a build a mask feature, similar to the creation modes in the recent Scribblenauts games. I know what my first creation would be. One word: Sharktopus.
With the release of one remastered version of a classic platformer based off a beloved Disney franchise, I thought, “What the heck; let’s talk Aladdin.” (Disney actually released several versions of this game, but based on my personal experience, I’m going to discuss the Super Nintendo game.) Who needs a sword when you can throw apples? Loosely following the plot of the movie, this game features precise controls, great animations, and fantastic level design. The levels taking place in the genie’s lamp, in particular, have always stuck in my memories. I can’t count the number of times I played through this game when I was a kid, trying to snag all of the red diamonds in each level. A remake for this game would make the game look like a Disney cartoon, and the soundtrack could be pulled straight from the movie, since most people still have “A Whole New World” still stuck in their heads anyway.
Super Star Wars
It’s a classic scene: Luke Skywalker, arriving at the Jawa’s Sandcrawler to buy R2-D2 and C-3PO, pulls out his blaster pistol to confront the towering Lava Monster in the bottom of the sprawling vehicle. What’s that? You don’t remember that part? Well, that’s because you didn’t play the Super Star Wars games, which have about as much respect for the events of the original trilogy as The Phantom Menace. None of that matters, though, when the end results are some of the most awesome platformers on the Super Nintendo, platformers with tight controls, multiple characters to play as, and a challenge level that perfectly straddles the line between satisfying and infuriating. A remastered version would need to include all three games, in order to give players the full experience of single-handedly wiping out every monster in the Galaxy. One must-have feature would have to be update the soundtrack with the actual John Williams score. There’s been a lack of quality Star Wars games recently, and this remake would go a long way toward making up for that.
What do you all think? Are there any more classic platformers that you would like to see remixed, remastered, otherwise updated? Share your ideas in the comments below!