5 Retro Remakes we Really, Really Need

Remake, reboot, or regurgitate?

Mature gamers know how good games can be. Or maybe I just think that because I’m getting older and these dang kids with their newfangled FortwatchUBGcraft of Duty nonsense just don’t appreciate the value of a great game. [grumble grumble] When I was just a young Ghetto Gamer, all we had was Pitfall! on Atari 2600 and it blew. Our. Minds!!

I could (and might) fill a lengthy post about how gaming has changed, and which ingredients have become so rare in modern great-game formulas. But I want instead to focus on something that’s become more and more relevant as OG gamers get older. (And publishers start running out of ideas.)

Link's Awakening poster circa 1993
A poster from the original Link’s Awakening. It fills this retro heart with joy!

Remakes have become a staple not just in gaming, but in movies, cartoons, books, and just about anything that can be marketed to older millennials and their generation neighbors the Gen-Xers.

The proliferation of retro gaming knick-knacks in big-box stores like Target and Walmart, and the dedication of entire stores to that stuff (Lunch Box, ThinkGeek) ought to indicate that, yes indeed there is a strong appetite for classic stuff. After all, millennials are taking over the workforce as Gen-Xers approach retirement. We have the cash, y’all. And we want to re-enjoy the stuff we loved as kids, and we want to share it with our own kids.

So yeah. Bring on the re-makes!

So what should we re-make next?

I asked Twitter what they thought and—unsurprisingly—the Ghetto Fam was full of good ideas. I’ve got my own ideas too, of course. So please, allow me to ramble at you about potential reboots until I get tired of typing. But be warned: I’m a professional typer-guy.

StarTropics

I’ll start with my always-top pick for a remake or modern sequel: StarTropics!

StarTropics for NES game box art
My vote for most-eligible reboot: StarTropics

This was the cover feature in my second-ever issue of Nintendo Power. The first was Mega Man III, which blew my mind with its coverage. I spent that whole month anticipating what would come next and was completely edified by the StarTropics issue. 

The game lends itself wonderfully to the Nintendo Power experience with its rich, mappable areas, secrets and tricks, its menagerie of enemies and bosses, friends and allies, and an actual interesting story that drew me in as a kid.

The game itself featured awesome tunes that get stuck in my head to this very day, along with a Zelda-like focus on exploration, action, and adventure. And like Zelda, StarTropics straddles the line true RPGs and more traditional adventure/action titles.

There are no experience points, but you do improve your character by increasing your heart containers and obtaining new items. You switch between an overworld map (with none of those annoying RPG random encounters) where you can explore and navigate, even by ship (a la Final Fantasy), and dungeon segments with that Zelda-style overhead view.

I could (and may) write a long piece about what made StarTropics unique, and why I’m so smitten with it, but this ain’t it chief. (Eye-rolling emoji)

StarTropics for NES octopus boss

The deal is, StarTropics was awesome. I didn’t like the sequel (Zoda’s Revenge) as much because they abandoned the tile-system of dungeon navigation that made the first game so unique. And then after Zoda’s Revenge… nothing. Not a peep from this franchise.

It’s weird that NIntendo utterly abandoned StarTropics, despite its having been so well-received and still well-loved. It was developed by the same team that made Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! and that franchise still gets the occasional game, even after Nintendo broke with Tyson. Makes no sense.

Not only do I think StarTropics would make an incredible adventure game today (perhaps with an art style akin to Dragon Quest XI? We can discuss that later), but I think StarTropics has a good chance of actually being remade. You know… eventually.

Actraiser

Actraiser was a popular response on Twitter.

If you didn’t know, Actraiser was developed by Quintet, the masterminds behind Illusion of Gaia, Soul Blazer, and RoboTrek (play it, it’s great). It was very well received and loved to this day. Actually, several Quintet games were proposed via Twitter.

Players spent the bulk of their time as The Master (or God, in the Japanese version), building up cities and helping their citizens. These city-building sequences were punctuated by The Master going down to Earth and taking the form of a kickass statue hero, wielding his sword and clearing out enemy lairs and bosses so his citizens can live peacefully. 

@CardiacDrop

Actraiser was very well done and tons of fun. But it was very short and (I feel) only hinted at what greatness may have been unleashed, if only the devs had given more time and resources to this project.

Actraiser had a sequel, Actraiser 2, which features some truly amazing graphics for the time. But the emphasis was taken away from the city-buildng portions of the game and given over to the action segments. It was also really, really difficult and lacked the spirit of the original.

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Unlike other games on this list, an attempt was made to spiritually revive Actrasier. Just this year, developer Ace Team released SolSeraph as a modern-day successor to Actraiser. It looked promising and a lot of fans picked it up with stars in their eyes. But alas, Quintet set the bar too high and Ace just couldn’t live up to the hype. Fans were—and still are—disappointed. And the desire for a “good” reboot of Actraiser is stronger than ever because of it.

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Pilotwings

Here’s one I was not expecting, but Pilotwings popped up a few times in the thread. And I totally agree!

@tlwelch85

The Pilotwings series is definitely understated and undervisited. I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this infographic.

While it’s certainly better-populated than a StarTropis or Actraiser timeline, it is definitely scant. And it really would be nice to revisit the franchise.

In fact, with modern motion controls, there is a lot more that could be done with the gameplay. And a big, beautiful sky and nicely-rendered horizon would look amazing on the Switch. 

They could even incorporate other Nintendo franchises into the levels! Imagine trying to bring your hang glider safely to land on the surface of Zebes! Or landing in a jet pack on top of Death Mountain. Or parachuting in to skillfully land atop one of Mario’s green pipes!

Online play could really shine in a game like this. Players could challenge each other to light plane races, or royale-style bombing run missions. Along with score-sharing. Or even—stay with me, now—Pilotwings Maker.

Yessir, I see tons of potential in a return to Pilotwings, and it feels like the kind of game that could realistically get done. Let’s start a petition already!  

TMNT

This may be an unpopular opinion, but y’all can go to hell.

The original TMNT for the NES remains one of my top-favorite retro games. I loved it as a kid (even as it was destroying my fragile little ego) and I love it as an adult (even though I know I’m doomed to fail at it.)

TMNT NES cover
My childhood incarnate

Sure, it’s horribly unbalanced (especially for a “children’s” game). And sure, framerates drop constantly. But that’s just because there are 20 animated enemies on the screen being rendered along with their projectiles. And suuuuuure it’s full of off-the-wall enemies that have never existed an any cartoon, comic, or film. But it’s fun!

Again, I might be alone on this, but I thought (think) the idea of a side-scrolling Turtles game was a darn good one. And yes, the beat-em-up style of subsequent Turtles games is probably more appropriate to the subject matter, but I have always been a sucker for platformers. Even ridiculously hard ones.

Actually, come to think of it: Ninja Turtles side-scrollers DID continue to exist beyond that original TMNT game. On the Game Boy. 

In fact, one of the more interesting Turtles games, Radical Rescue, was an actual Metroidvania on the Game Boy. Go look it up!

TMNT 3 Radical Rescue Game Boy cover
Let’s remake this TMNT Metroidvania!

So how about we remake Radical Rescue? It can replace the choppy/laggy Switch port of Bloodstained in my Pantheon of Decent Metroidvanias.

Cowabunga, nerds!

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Zelda II, nerds (Sign the petition!) How’s that for a hot take? And you know what’s interesting? This wasn’t even my suggestion! It was actually suggested by my buddy RadZero, who shares my undying (and totally justified) love for Zelda II.

Courtesy of RadZero83

My opinion? I don’t think this will ever happen. Not in a million years. Yet…

I suppose if Link’s Awakening does well enough, Nintendo may consider it. Don’t forget, Link’s Awakening includes a few side-scrolling segments scattered throughout. And I’m quite sure Nintendo will competently implement them in the new version. No worries.

Zelda II the Adventure of Link box art

Zelda II gets too much hate from them same youngsters I was complaining about at the top of this post (seems like a long time ago). And I’m not sure why. Like PUBG, Zelda II basically parachutes you into the middle of a big map with nothing but a puny weapon, and challenges you to survive. And it’s bloody difficult.

Some say it’s actually too difficult. Well, I say git gud. Some complain it’s “not a true Zelda” because it’s a side-scroller with experience points or some nonsense. Well, it’s literally the only true sequel to the original Zelda. So quit yer bellyachin’.

I’ll put dollars against donuts that if Nintendo released a Zelda II remake tomorrow, those same haters would become lovers of the game overnight and claim that they always ackchually liked it. They’d throw down their $60 like the rest of us and pick it up on Day One. They’d love it because they are invested in it, as so many of us were back then.

Zelda II was the first Zelda I played, and one of the first NES games I played for that matter. If Nintendo remade it, or came out with a sequel (Adventure of Link II ftw), it might be prove to be too much for my aging heart. But I would play it. And I would die happy.

— GG

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Written by Steven Long

Steven is a professional marketing writer and hopelessly ghetto gamer. He also owns this site, so you'd better just chill.

7 comments

    1. How do you even imagine that ? Zelda 2 is a overhead-during-map-traversal and 2D during level exploration. Resident Evil 2 Reimagining ? Wh…? How ? And most of all why ? What a load of atrocious shit…

      Like

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