5 NES Classics that Deserve Remakes
by Jon Greene
Have you heard the news? Capcom has released DuckTales: Remastered , a 2.5D HD remake of DuckTales, one of their many NES classics; great news for nostalgic fans of the NES version. It's out now for the PS3, Wii-U, and PC, with a 360 version launching on September 11 (I won't go there). New features in this remake include new areas, authentic voice acting from the cartoon, and a remastered version of the original soundtrack. The question is if this is successful, or all at good, could other NES classics see a remake in the near future? It's a long shot, but none of us even knew this DuckTales remake was in development until Capcom suddenly announced it, so anything's possible. In any event, the possibility of HD remakes of NES games is intriguing, so it's worth exploring which NES games are most deserving of a remake.
5. Marble Madness (1984)
One of the earliest games I can remember playing, Marble Madness nearly drove me to cerebral madness. That's not to say it was a bad game, because it's not. It's an isometric puzzle game in which you control a nondescript marble, and guide it through a maze filled with pits, hills, and valleys. Each maze has a time limit causing you rush towards the end while simultaneously trying to avoid obstacles and enemies - yes, there were enemies in this game and they were evil... Evil, murderous slinkies. But what really made Marble Madness fun, however, was its competitive two-player mode. Nothing provided a greater feeling than knocking your brother, or best friend down a bottomless pit. In a remake, the competitiveness can be extended online, with up to four players trying to navigate newly 3D mazes, constantly knocking into each other like a weird, geometric version of bumper cars.
4. Paperboy (1988)
Ignore the fact that paperboys are virtually nonexistent, and that it's more likely a trained circus bear will deliver your news than a boy from today's generation, Paperboy is one of the hardest NES games you'll ever play. Originally an arcade game, Paperboy was ported to the NES, and is arguably better known for its NES version. As the titular paperboy, your objective is to survive an entire week of delivering papers to the worst neighborhood on earth. As you progress through the week you gain more subscribers and, for some reason, more enemies. The innocent paperboy has to deal with people backing out of their driveways, break dancers, giant cats, freakin' tornados, and a little entity called Death. Holy crap! Why does his success translated into more hazards? And you have to go through all of it just for a single-screen ending that congratulates you on your efforts . Was it worth it? No, but it's somewhat satisfying being on the front page of the very paper you deliver. The remake can include different paperboys, different bikes (who wouldn't want to delivery papers on a unicycle?), and different neighborhoods. If death and tornados frequent a while-collar, suburban neighbor imagine the obstacles one could encounter delivering papers in the inner-city.
3. Kid Icarus (1986)
This has my vote as one of the greatest single-player games on the NES. Kid Icarus is a platformer that takes place in the mythical world of Angel Land. As a young angel named Pit it is up to you to recover some sacred treasures stolen by Medusa and her underworld minions. The game is divided into three worlds: the underworld, the surface, and the sky. Each stage within the worlds has the player traveling from bottom to top, or from left to right. And each world concludes with a fortress that transforms the game into a metroidvania labyrinth with multiple rooms, and a final boss at the very end. Kid Icarus was downright fun to play, and introduced the player to some of the strangest, and scariest enemies of that time. Fire bushes with dreadlocks, giant Groucho Marx noses with eyes on them, a skier who throws snow balls at you? A skeletal witch who flips the hell out when she sees you sending miniature skeletons at you, and of course the infamous Eggplant Wizard *shivers*. A character so well-known that he was on the cartoon Captain N: The Game Master. This game also sported some of the most memorable tunes on the NES, like the themes to the title screen, the fortress, and the final stage. Yes, Pit has a game out for the 3DS, and he's current on the roster for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. U, but this potential remake should be based specifically on the NES version. It should also remain a 2D platformer, but in a 3D environment. More weapons for Pit, an upgrade mechanic for his weapons, with a remastered soundtrack, and the return of the original enemies is exactly what a remake of this game needs.
2. Bubble Bobble (1986)
Another NES game that was ported from an arcade machine. Bubble Bobble is perhaps the second greatest co-op game on the NES. The game can be played by yourself, but in order to achieve the apex of enjoyment (and the best ending) it's better to play with a friend. There isn't much in terms of story, just two dragon-like creatures going through a gauntlet of levels encasing enemies in bubbles, and popping them into harmless food items - yeah, typical stuff. Oh, and they used to be humans, and had their girlfriends captured, or something to that extent. Anyway, each stage must be cleared of enemies before progressing the next one, which may include more complicated structures. Later in the game, the structures will require players use their ingenuity like generating bubbles to pop up to higher levels in order to reach certain enemies. The same repetitive, but oh-so-lovely theme practically plays throughout the entire game, and only changes its tempo when players take their sweet time on any given level. When that happens, the tempo increases, enemies get pissed (why are they in such a hurry to die?), and an invincible, ghostly whale emerges from the depths of hell to stalk the players until one of them dies... It turns out this game isn't so cheery after all. In fact, the final boss is called the "Super Drunk." Seriously. He's probably based on a drunken relative of one of the creators. But, regardless, this game deserves an HD treatment. Nothing too complicated, just good old fashioned 2D stages, with either hand-drawn, or cell-shaded characters. Maybe some difficulty settings, challenge levels, or a 4-player mode with significantly larger levels can be added.
1. Jackal (1986)
Yes, Jackal, the greatest co-op game on the NES (IMO). If you were going to sleep over a friend's house, this was the game you HAD to bring. Four men, two jeeps, one mission - as the Jackal squad, it was your duty to burst through enemy strongholds and save as many POWs as possible. When saving POWs, you'd come across one that was flashing... A high-ranking officer perhaps? And when you saved said flashing POW, your special weapon would be upgraded from a grenade launcher to a missile, and then from a missile to a missile that spreads shrapnel, or something. Each stage concluded with a boss battle, and after the stage was completed, your squad would look at their map as if they didn't know where to go next (see above). "Is there an enemy stronghold there? Yes? Then that's our next destination!" In all respects, Jackal is a polished game from start to finish. But what stands out from the obviously enjoyment gained from playing with a friend? The music. Jackal arguably had the best soundtrack on the NES. Till this day I hum the various stage themes in my head; just so memorable. As for a remake? Well, this entry might come as a cheat somewhat as its spiritual successor came out in 2011. Although it's made by a completely different company, Renegade Ops is as close to a Jackal remake as we're going to get. High-res 3D stages; 4-player co-op; multiple characters to choose from; damage streaks; an upgrade mechanic; challenging bosses; mini-objectives; a cheesy, throwback 80s storyline... You name it, Renegade Ops has it all. We'd all be lucky if DuckTales: Remastered delivered like that.
So, do you agree with this list? If not, what NES classics would you suggest? Leave comments and suggestions below!