In the 1980s, Nintendo ruled the home video gaming market. For you youngsters, that’s the “home market” as opposed to the out-of-home “arcade market” which was kabooming back then. If your parents loved you, you had a NES. Even if they were poor, there were plenty of second-hand consoles to go around, as Nintendo was nowhere near the scalper fodder it has since become.
So now that us 80s kids are all grown up (kinda), all of Nintendo’s first-party properties have decades of built-in nostalgia. And good ol’ Nintendo is here to pander to us and capitalize on our grown-up wallets and the strict devotion some of us have.
But don’t forget that Nintendo also has a deep well of 3rd-party content that many of us connect directly to the good old NES and Super NES. Nintendo Switch Online (the NES and SNES catalogs) are a direct link to the past, but there’s more!
And along with NES and SNES nostalgia, Switch players are enjoying even more old-school offerings like the Link’s Awakening port, Super Mario 3D All Stars, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and the upcoming Pokemon Snap (I’m excited!), as well as 3rd-party remakes, reboots and re-releases of games like Trials of Mana, the Collection of Mana, Castlevania and Contra collections, and the list really goes on and on.
So in this culture of nostalgia, where reboots are just part of the package, let’s talk about what nostalgic games are still missing from the Switch library, and I thought it would be a fun and imaginative exercise to see which old games would benefit by being introduced to a whole new generation of gamers, with new graphics and all that jazz.
So let’s a-go!
Yeah, this one always tops my lists when I’m talking about reboots.
There’s basically no reason NOT to reboot Star Tropics. Yeah the sequel Zoda’s Revenge (NES) was a commercial flop, but it wasn’t bad. And the original Star Tropics was well received and people still enjoy it.
Star Tropics wasn’t perfect by any means. Some of the puzzles were really strange, like the one where you have to wet the letter that was attached to the instruction manual (I still have mine haha). That kind of thing probably wouldn’t fly today, and yet…
In the highly digital world of 2021, the idea of offline, real-world clues being integrated into a video game might just work. I don’t know how they would do it, but augmented reality could be a real possibility. Of course a gimmick like that would piss off a lot of fans if it wasn’t implemented carefully. But Nintendo has been on a roll lately, and could surely figure something out.
The music in Star Tropics was incredible and I would love to hear it with modern sounds.
Another big part of Star Tropics’ appeal was its aesthetic resemblance to the Zelda games. To me, it feels like a mashup of Zelda 1 and Zelda 2, reskinned for a more modern, western feel. The overworld looks a lot like the overworld of Zelda 2 IMO. Just without the spawning enemy encounters.
The top-down dungeon levels look a lot like Zelda 1, but with bigger sprites and better graphics.
The main difference, of course, is the tile-based movement of Star Tropics. It takes some getting used to, but once you learn how to navigate the dungeons, you’re good. Till the last level. Then you’re toast.
Yes, yes, I could gush about Star Tropics all day. But I’ll spare you that. Just know I’m a fan and I’d love to see a modern addition to the series.
Where did Pilotwings go?
Sure, it wasn’t much more than a Mode-7 demo for the Super NES, but somehow in its simplicity, the game made for such a chill and enjoyable experience.
And really, the devs could even roll with that Mode-7 demo spirit, and treat PilotWings Switch as an opportunity to really demonstrate with the Switch Pro (or whatever they call it) can do? They could totally make it a fun proof-of-concept game to show off the latest hardware. People love that stuff!
And as long as the Pilotwings franchise can maintain its casual gameplay, relaxing music and overall accessibility, I don’t think anybody would complain about adding it to their library. Old-school fans would welcome its return. Come on Nintendo! Let’s fly!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I’ll be generous and leave it open to which TMNT game they revive. I personally vote for a reboot of the original side scroller, but I’m sure that would never happen. Anyway, they kind of did that two console generations ago and the results were… well, they were okay.
I don’t know a lot of things about the Turtles, but I know when I played Danger of the Ooze (PS3), Activision greeted me with the world’s longest End User Agreement, right on the title screen. Like, why? And why do I feel like Nickelodeon grips its IPs the way a Karen grips her receipt from Starbucks in case she has to talk to a manager. No? Was that a stretch? Sorry.
Anyway, the feeling I get is that either Nickelodeon, Activision, or both are seriously big babies about their IPs and licenses. And TMNT has such a checkered past with being sold and bought and developed by different companies and all that. But if Arcade 1Up can give us a Konami beat-em-up of TMNT and Turtles in Time, how much of a stretch would it be to create a Konami collection of Turtles games?
As of this writing, there are no TMNT games on the Switch. Some people include the Nickelodeon Kart Racing game as one, since the Turtles are present. But we know it’s not the same.
You, in a whiny voice: But the new Prime game is coming soon blah blah
Me: Dude, that ain’t Metroid. (Laughs too hard)
Alright, I guess I could have just said “2D Metroid” instead of being a jerk about it. But really. The whole style of Metroid games revolves around existing in 2 dimensions. I can crush all enemies in Metroid, but am weak and powerless in Metroid Prime.
Not to say that the Prime games aren’t good. They’re fine. I know a lot of people think they’re great. But I’m old school, baby! I want that 2D platforming action.
Besides, the “Metroidvania” genre has enjoyed such a renaissance over the last decade or so, it would be very cool to see the original franchise come full-blast onto the Switch and remind us all just who invented the genre in the first place.
Also, it seems like Metroid, like Castlevania, has had mostly 2D releases on handheld consoles and 3D releases on stationary consoles. But now that Nintendo has eliminated the line between stationary and handheld consoles, they pretty much have to put out a 2D Metroid game on the Switch, right?
Metroid has always been about fast action across massive worlds with a dark and foreboding ambiance. Just imagine how fully-realized a 2.5D Metroid could be if it utilized the Switch’s capabilities to the fullest.
Personally, I’d be okay with a robust Metroid Prime (that I probably won’t play) and an 8-bit style companion game. You know… the way IntiCreates did with the Bloodstained franchise. Pure brilliance. We know what graphics can look like. And we know the Switch already had the weakest graphics among current-gen consoles. So why bother with a modern-looking 2D Metroid? Just give me the pixels and I’ll be happy.
Crystalis is popular with the “hidden gems” crowd. Of course, as I’ve said many times before, Crystalis is in no way hidden, having been extremely popular in its heyday, and having been re-released multiple times since its original NES release. And being popular—even among the “hidden gems” crowd literally makes you not-hidden. But it is certainly a gem!
I find it incredibly strange that Crystalis was a one hit wonder. Considering how well the game did and what a strong legacy it left, why did SNK never make a sequel? Especially back in the NES glory days, when most any successful game garnered two sequels.
If you haven’t tried Crystalis, it’s an action RPG that plays very much like a primitive Secret of Mana with a plot reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Your character awakens from a 100-year slumber with no memories in a post-technology world. In fact, he wakes up in the year 2097, a century after some great “calamity” destroys the world’s ability to use technology.
You quest across the land, making friends and unlocking new weapons and items. Like Secret of Mana, the action takes place in real time and you can hold down the attack button to charge and unleash devastating blows.
If anything, Crystalis was ambitious beyond the capabilities of the NES. You had to switch between items through clunky menus that remove you from the experience. Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore would streamline that whole business with circular menus that quickly populate on the screen. But the gameplay was there. The graphics were bright and really nice for the time.
So yeah! If you ask me, it’s high time this series got a proper reboot, relaunch, renewal or re-whatever. Crystalis is fantastic and deserves to shine to its fullest, without being limited by vintage technology.
If you don’t already know (shame on you!), 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. My main gripe is that the game is too short. But what’s there is absolute fire!
Players take on the mighty role of “The Master” (or God, in the Japanese version). From a heavenly perch (literally sitting on a cloud), you do the masterful work of building up cities and helping their citizens. The (overly simple) city-building sequences were punctuated by The Master going down to Earth and taking the form of a kickass statue hero, wielding a huge sword and clearing out enemy lairs and bosses so his citizens can resume living peacefully.
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 Super NES. But the emphasis was taken away from city-building and focuses entirely on action sequences. Which not only lack the spirit of the original, but are often insanely difficult. It’s just not the same.
There was an attempt at a spiritual successor to Actrasier. Developer Ace Team released SolSeraph as a modern-day 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 disappointed. And the desire for a “good” reboot of Actraiser is stronger than ever because of it.
The Guardian Legend
Like Crystalis, The Guardian Legend is often a darling of “hidden gems” lists. But, also like Crystalis, this game was never hidden. It was extraordinarily popular back in its day and fan devotion is still strong.
This is one of those dual-genre games that combines top-down dungeon crawling (like Zelda but with guns), and classic shoot-em-up action. Most of your time will be spend in the dungeon-crawling segments, as the levels are vast and sprawling, but the shmup segments are also very well done.
(Here’s a whole list of NES games with multiple-genre split personalities. Check it out!)
I keep comparing this one to Crystalis because they really have a lot in common. They’ve maintained a strong fan base for thirty-something years and counting, they never really spawned a franchise, despite their popularity. And bloodthirsty fans would absolutely throw their wallets at a reboot. So hop to it, somebody!
Zelda II; yeah, I said it.
Okay, hear me out.
If you know me or follow me on Twitter, you ought to know that I absolutely love Zelda II. It’s one of my favorite games of all time. And yes, I know fans are divided about this one. I wrote a big article about why haters are so very wrong.
Look: I’m not saying that every Zelda game should be a side scroller. A Link to the Past is my all-time favorite video game and I respect that the Zelda franchise is traditionally in that format. That’s fine. But I do think it’s a shame that they’ve never returned to the Zelda II format at all.
I’ll make the same suggestion I made for Metroid. Release a robust 3D “mainline” Zelda game next. But also release a bonus “retro style” side game in the tradition of Zelda II. Fans would flip, I promise! If they can give this treatment to Link’s Awakening, why the hell not Zelda II?
Okay, I’m getting all worked up again.
I’m just saying that Zelda II is the oddball of the Zelda family. They’ve never made another one like it. But its differentness is part of what makes it such an amazing game! I’ll admit it doesn’t feel much like a traditional Zelda game at all, but all of the elements are there.
If they can make Cadence of Hyrule and Hyrule Warriors then surely they can make a badass updated iteration of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
Trust me, Nintendo. I know what I’m talking about!