By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
A lot of new games have been made in the style of 8-bit games in the past decade or so. Honestly, I’d say that that trend is a bit cliched and overdone at this point. That said, it’s still something special when a game like Mega Man 9 or the upcoming Double Dragon IV comes along that is designed to look, sound, and play exactly like the NES installments that preceded them in their respective franchises. DDIV had me contemplating which other NES franchises I’d like to see make a comeback in their original NES-style form, and below are my top five picks from what is admittedly a fairly long wishlist.
#5 – Ninja Gaiden
I’ve made no secret on this blog of my disappointment in Team Ninja’s creative direction for the Ninja Gaiden 3D reboot series. I just felt they went too far in the edgy/gory/busty direction, and that it didn’t reflect the spirit and tone of the original games, especially the NES incarnations. With some great 2D ninja-based games like Mark of the Ninja out there now, it seems like a great time for a return to Ninja Gaiden’s roots and give us a brand new Ryu Hayabusa adventure in the classic style (sans all the blood and dominatrix gear). There has been a renewed hunger for games that are uber-challenging in that “Nintendo hard” way, and another installment of one of the NES’ most difficult trilogies would definitely fit that bill.
#4 – Duck Hunt
Don’t get me wrong: Duck Hunt is pretty timeless, with such a pure, simple concept that it’s every bit as fun to play today as it was 30 years ago. But wouldn’t it be great to take those familiar visuals and soundbites–yes, laughing dog and all–and finally give us a proper sequel to one of the first great non-Mario NES games? The double shot of Duck Hunt Dog’s appearance in Smash Bros. as a playable character and Duck Hunt coming to the Wii U Virtual Console revved up our nostalgia for the classic Zapper game–what better time to introduce a sequel with a few new modes, true multiplayer, and yes, a way for us to get revenge on that damn dog? Plus, there are far too few light gun games anymore as it is, which needs to be rectified.
#3 – Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
The most controversial (non-CD-i) installment in Nintendo’s action/RPG franchise, even moreso than Majora’s Mask, is its very first sequel. Whatever side you put yourself on in the great Zelda 2 debate, the fact remains that no other Zelda title has ever returned to its unique overworld-based/side-scrolling action conceit. Maybe if Nintendo took another crack at it, without as much of Zelda 2‘s artificial difficulty and cheap deaths, people would better respect a Zelda game in that style. Perhaps we could even see a new offshoot of the series that continues that style as an alternative to the mainline “standard” Zelda games. They should playfully call the game Zelda 3 without the “The Legend of” in the title as a nod to the original’s unique–and never repeated–naming convention.
#2 – DuckTales
With a new DuckTales cartoon coming soon, I think we are all hoping for a new game to coincide with it. I think it’s safe to say they wouldn’t dare mess with the original games’ legacy by trying to make it 3D, but they’d more than likely go for a more DuckTales Remastered type of approach. I say they go ahead and make it in the style of the first two games that we all love so much. Shovel Knight proved that gamers still love downward-stab-bouncing on enemies in 8 bits, so there’s no question as to whether an audience exists for a new DuckTales that looks and plays like an NES game. We also wouldn’t have to worry about too many voice-acted cut-scenes if the “technology” of the new game doesn’t allow it (with all due respect to the late, great Alan Young).
#1 – Castlevania
A new 2D Castlevania is about as likely as Hideo Kojima rejoining Konami. A new 2D Castlevania with pixel graphics is about as likely as Hideo Kojima rejoining Konami to make a new Snatcher game. But in an alternate universe where such a thing is possible, wouldn’t it be great to see the game made in the style of the NES Castlevania games? That would also be an excuse to return to the traditional level-by-level style of the original games, a nice alternative to the “Metroidvania” installments that I love dearly, but did unfairly cannibalize the original style of the series. And while we’re shooting for the moon, maybe the game could be set during the long-discussed but never shown in a game Demon Castle War of 1999, where Dracula is finally defeated once and for all–which would be a nice full-circle closure to the cannon and legacy of the classic Castlevania mythos that ran for nearly 20 years and close to 30 games.
What other NES franchises would you like to see get a sequel in the NES style? Do you even like that type of thing? What are your thoughts on Double Dragon IV? Are there too many questions being asked at the end of this article? Let’s discuss below!