Over the holiday season we'll be republishing a series of Nintendo Life articles, interviews and other features from the previous twelve months that we consider to be our Best of 2020. Hopefully, this will give you a chance to catch up on pieces you missed, or simply enjoy looking back on a year which did have some highlights — honest!
This feature was originally published in July 2020.
Ever since the rumour that several 3D Super Mario remasters may be coming to Switch, we've been champing at the bit to experience those classics again on Switch. Say what you like about Switch ports but if they're treated with the care and respect they deserve, we're all for bringing everything--past and present-- to Switch. We'll take the lot.
However, there's an argument to be made that recycling the same classic games time and time again is a bit of a waste, especially when we've played them to death already. How about spending that development time sprucing up games that fell short of greatness, or games we haven't had easy access to since they originally released? Rather than gilding the lily over and over, why not put that effort into remaking games that didn't live up to their potential the first time around?
Remakes provide a solid blueprint for developers to work from and come with an existing fanbase, so it's no wonder they're attractive to big companies. Still, it would be nice to see more risks taken in this area. Master System classic was given a fresh lick of paint and polished up beautifully for modern consoles, and although the source material for the remake isn't as revered, the developers will be hoping to pull off a similar trick.
Of course, Nintendo puts out remakes on a semi-regular basis, and we recently enjoyed . However, that's not the sort of HD upgrade and spit-polish we have in mind for the games below. We're talking fundamental overhauls along the lines of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening or, better yet, the mighty Metroid: Zero Mission for GBA, the latter of which took the ageing shell of the original Metroid and gave it a startling refurbishment. In fact, the Metroid series got another excellent remake in the form of Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS.
So, let's take a look at a handful of games from various developers that we believe had a promising, tasty kernel within but could have benefited from more time in the oven...
An expanded, reimagined remake of Super Mario Land, though? That could be a spicy little meatball.
We've spoken to veteran designer Warren Spector in the past and he's quite rightly proud of the game, but it would be fascinating to see how a remake could buff out the imperfections a decade later on modern systems.
Oh, but imagine a remake using the Sonic Mania engine and sprites which would marry the winning concept with the 'proper' movement and inertia of his 16-bit platformers! It could turn a flawed game into an instant classic.
While the upcoming RE4 remake has fans divided, there are few gamers who would argue that Resident Evil Gaiden on Game Boy Color couldn't be improved with a reimagined version for modern systems. It wasn't well received and it came last in our reader poll of the best Resident Evil games ever, but it features the dream team of Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton. Tell us that there's not gold to be mined from that pairing!
Nuts to RE4 - that's already a classic. Why not take another crack at REG, Capcom? And please, please, keep that abreviation; it'd be tagline gold.
Also, Sakurai will never be finished with Smash, ever. Nintendo won't allow it. Poor chap.
Plus, who wouldn't jump at the chance to play a Solid Snake adventure on Switch? We'll take the rest of his back catalogue while you're at it, Konami. Much obliged.
Being a distinctly average game, there's ample scope to improve upon the original's awkward controls and give this game a 21st century makeover. A task for a talented Nindie dev, perhaps? Popo and Nana deserve better.
Viewed in the context of the entries that followed, Zelda II is the most obtuse Zelda, with mistranslations adding to its general inscutability. 8-bit games of all genres are routinely more challenging than modern equivalents, but you should feel zero compunction using save states and a walkthrough to complete Zelda II if you're determined to tick it off your list.
However, its way of doing things came back into vogue and a sensitive remake could bring back one of the oft-ignored and most unusual Zelda games for a new audience. Cadence of Hyrule proved that indie developers have the potential to breathe new life into the old formula (and Zelda II didn't follow the template soon cemented in A Link to the Past anyway). The developers of the Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap remake expressed a desire to tackle Zelda II a couple of years ago, and we'd still be fascinated to see what they could make of it.
So what are your thoughts on our picks above? Let us know below by voting for the two games you'd most like to see given some special remake attention.
Obviously, there are dozens of decent games that fell short of classic status despite having potential, so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.