There are many old games that were extraordinarily good at their time. Some of them are still good today. But the gaming industry has evolved. Graphics have gotten much better, and more and more developers deeply understand what makes a game fun and what actually doesn’t. Here’s a list of NES, SNES, N64 and GCN classics that would benefit from new technology and expertise.
Many gamers have fond memories of games they played as a child or in their youth. They would like to play them again, but they either …
- don’t have the hardware and the data medium (cartridge/CD) anymore, or
- they find the graphics and/or some of the gameplay elements too outdated to put up with.
While I’m certainly not a graphics snob, nor do I absolutely require modern quality-of-life features, I know a few games I would be happy to see a 202x remaster, remake or reboot of.
Here’s my list:
1. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
The first two entries in this list shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows me or who has read some of the content I have posted thus far. Illusion of Gaia (or Illusion of Time as it was called here) and Terranigma are my favourite games of all time, period. Quintet made excellent games back then. To some, they were basically the Rare(ware) of RPGs.
While the action gameplay of the first isn’t its core strength, it’s one of the most moving games I’ve ever played. Set in a mythical version of the real world, Its themes are highly philosophical. You visit a lot of places you ‘know’ in real life, like the Inca Ruins or Angkor Wat. The characters are well-developed. The finale is pretty epic. Not over-the-top epic like JRPG finales tend to be nowadays, but still a great conclusion of a great story.
Can you play Illusion of Time today without being put off by the graphics and gameplay of the era it was released? Definitely! The game has aged very well, and if you have never played it, you should start right now, trust me.
Still, if there was an announcement of a remake, I would be as hyped as one can be. What I would love to see are well-animated and voice-acted cutscenes to heighten the impact of the most emotional scenes even further. I would also love to see some tweaks to the combat mechanics to bring them on par with Terranigma.
One thing that could be done is changing the graphics to a HD-2D style as seen in Octopath Traveler. In my opinion, that’s the perfect balance of preserving the original art style while still making it look like a modern game.
EDIT: Shortly before publishing this article, I found this fan remake, which unfortunately, isn’t much more than a tech demo. Still, this is what a remake could look like too! It’s basically the Secret-of-Mana treatment, I’d say.
2. Terranigma (SNES)
You can tell that Terranigma came after Illusion of Time, not only in terms of the combat mechanics.
The game is more expansive, the characters are a little more interesting and the story takes a few more twists and turns.
But still, a remake would be very welcome, for the same reasons as before.
In addition to animated cutscenes, I think that a graphical update could breathe even more life into some of the locations you visit in Terranigma. I would love to see what the Underworld or the Bird Sanctuary would look like if Terranigma was a modern title.
And please try to make Luran even creepier and the Liem escort mission just a little shorter and a little less annoying!
3. Jet Force Gemini (N64)
Apparently, many people, even those who owned an N64, don’t even know Jet Force Gemini. But those who do tend to like it very much. It was a title developed by Rare, the Retro Studios of the past, if you will, and therefore, it was a game of the highest quality.
JFG was third-person shooter where the enemy lines consisted of insects, human-sized or much larger (especially the bosses). It featured three playable characters – a boy, a girl and a dog – with different abilities, some fun weapons and Zelda- or even Metroid-style level structures (you know, with key items and backtracking and a number of secrets).
It also had an awesome soundtrack! Here’s the Jet Force Gemini medley arranged and recorded by FamilyJules.
It was a pretty extensive game (one of those games with a ‘surprise second act’, so to speak). I don’t think I ever managed to beat the final boss. But I would love to give it another try in a remastered, remade or rebooted version.
4. Kid Icarus (NES)
One of the first games I played was Kid Icarus on the NES. Well, I never really played Kid Icarus myself. I did shoot some snakes in the first level to farm hearts (people who have played the game know that this is the way to go).
But it was my father who beat the game. My mother drew dungeon maps. I, being six or seven years old, watched, fascinated by the creativity of the developers and engrossed in the boss fights.
I also read the manual, which often came with the games back in the days, or at least leafed through it. I did so many times, in fact. You see, there were artworks for every character, item and enemy in it! A lot of my early drawing skills came from trying to redraw these artworks. (There were also artworks in other manuals. For example, I remember studying how the Koopa Kids in the Super Mario Bros. 3 manual were drawn).
Decades later, I realise that the game itself wasn’t actually that well-designed. There are several videos on YouTube critiquing Kid Icarus and some of its stranger elements (like this one).
The general theme, however, is super compelling to me, and with new graphics and a modernisation of the game mechanics that didn’t quite hit the mark, Kid Icarus could become the next surprise remake hit similar to Metroid: Samus returns. It’s a shame that after the first game and a Game Boy reboot(?), the ‘real’ Kid Icarus franchise (not counting the shooter Kid Icarus Uprising) has lain dormant. There’s so much potential! Imagine a Kid Icarus with Metroidvania/Zelda elements and some shooter stages (like the final stage of the original)!
- Four worlds, like in the original, each consisting of linear sections (levels) and complex sections (dungeons), seamlessly intertwined, with teleports between the worlds to allow backtracking for items inaccessible before …
- A Metroid-like power progression from standard jumping and simple arrows to gliding and flame arrows to having equipped the three sacred treasures …
- Centurios and egg-plant wizards (but not quite as annoying!) … a return of the Cerberos, the Hydra and, of course, Medusa …
It could be awesome.
5. Eternal Darkness (GCN)
Eternal Darkness was one of the GameCube games that I played through multiple times and that I have very vivid memories of. It was quite an eerie game, especially for a 14-year old (which I think I was when the game came out in Europe) without very much exposure to horror movies or other horror games.
In Eternal Darkness, you play as a cast of different characters across a time span of multiple centuries, following events that revolve around an ancient tome of black magic and an obscure project to reawaken one of three primordial gods that strongly resemble Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones. It is a fascinating story full of insanity (which was actually turned into a game mechanic quite innovative at the time).
I would love to return to this game even if it was simply ported to PC. But a remaster, remake or reboot would, of course, be even cooler. Or a sequel!
EDIT: Coincidentally, I have just watched this 2-hour critique of Eternal Darkness which sums up why we need a remaster, remake, reboot — or maybe a spiritual successor.
6. Shadow Man (N64)
I’ve never finished Shadow Man. It was a difficult game with strange controls and nerve-wrecking moments (those wailers! Or the witches!). On top of that, it was basically a Metroidvania without much hand-holding as to where to go next.
That said, the voodoo theme really appealed to me, and I did watch a full letsplay of the game some years ago. It is a great game with a great story.
But, in addition to the negative aspects mentioned above, it’s also kinda ugly by today’s standards. And thus, a proper remake would be necessary to really make this game shine – um, as far as Deadside, the world of the deceased, can do so.
7. Mother 3 (GBA)
The GBA game Mother 3 is the spiritual successor of EarthBound. It is a strange experience, in a positive sense. Surreal, if you will. And very emotional at times.
The battle system is especially interesting, because it involves mashing the A button to the beat of the battle music in order to combo-attack enemies. It’s a little bit like the standard Paper Mario action command, but better. I guess rhythmic games are also an apt comparison, but I never really played any of those.
While GBA games tend to have a rather polished look (pixel art about as good as it gets at that resolution), there is really no reason to ask for a remake of Mother 3 as a graphical update. Some would even argue that any change to the graphics could potentially break the experience. I don’t agree, since there are graphical styles that could be described as ‘pixel art, but in high-res’, and that’s what I would go for if I were to remake Mother 3.
No, I simply think the game deserves a resurge of attention that only a remake (not a port, maybe not even a remaster) would induce.
8. Bomberman 64 (N64)
Here we go! I bet you didn’t expect this one. But I really liked the Bomberman games on the N64.
I tried 100%ing Bomberman 64, but couldn’t quite make it. Some of the golden cards are really hard to get.
Anyway, the game needs to be played by more people, just like Mother 3, and I think we need a remake for that to happen. I’m not sure if it would actually be possible as far as the licencing stuff is concerned, but legal matters aside, I would be very happy to see the announcement of Bomberman 64 R.
9. Bomberman Hero (N64)
The same goes for Bomberman Hero. It’s quite different from Bomberman 64, being much more of a platformer (while the former had a surprising amount of puzzle elements involving, for example, using differently-sized bombs as trampolines. No, seriously).
Bomberman Hero has some boring moments, sure. The underwater levels, for instance, are too slow and too long. But all in all, the game was a pretty unique experience.
There’s just one thing I would like to add: Please, in the remake, make the health upgrades permanent! It was such a strange decision that after all the work it needs to get even one (of four), health upgrades would disappear when you turned off the console.
And actually, now that I think of it, I would also like to see a multiplayer mode similar to Bomberman 64. I’m sure it would be pretty fun with the Bomberman Hero mechanics of jumping around and throwing bombs that immediately detonate.
Snowboard races could also make for a nice multiplayer experience.
10. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)
The 10th and final game on this list would be Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, I think. In Europe, it was simply called Lufia. There are many other games that I would like to replay in an updated version, and Lufia, once again, does require neither a graphical nor a gameplay update to be enjoyable.
That said, there is little reason nowadays to return to the favourites of old without, you know, a reason, even if it’s a weak one. A port would probably suffice, but I would gladly buy a remake of Lufia available on Steam and enjoy this puzzle-filled JRPG once more.
What they could add is a method to save the game while being in the Ancient Cave. Maybe I would actually try to finish it then. Back in the days, you had to leave the console on over night (or even multiple nights) if you wanted to ‘save’ your progress.
Fun fact: My mother played the Ancient Cave – and just that dungeon – a number of times. I enjoyed watching. We made it to the final boss several times, but had no idea how to beat it. You’re almost required to look up the proper strategy to even stand a chance. As I’ve learnt now, it isn’t even worth it, though. Oh well.
There are many, many games that could be remade, and I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last remakes of all-time favourites from the 8- to 64-bit era.
I have to admit that I don’t know much about the process of porting, remastering or remaking a game created by others. It must be difficult to analyse the code structure, maybe getting rid of inefficiencies and errors while you’re at it, and to produce assets that fit all the requirements (obvious and not-so-obvious) of the game engine.
Thankfully, there are studios which are very good at these kinds of things. I can’t wait to see one of the games on my list being remade, and I’ll be sure to update this article once it happens with my thoughts on it.
Obvious question: What would be the top 3 games you would want a remaster, remake or reboot of? And why?