The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Rayman 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Super Street Fighter IV, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory: all these games have something in common, namely, they were all critically acclaimed at the time of their individual releases and are all set to be remade for or have already seen re-releases on the Nintendo 3DS. Remakes and remasterings of old games are obviously big business right now – with the 360 and PS3 also getting in on the act in a big way – as the industry has gotten to the point where it has a rich heritage filled with a vast and varied library of games to re-release not only so that those of us who enjoyed them the first time around can sit down for a few hours with a nostalgic grin on our faces, but also so that younger gamers can see what all the fuss was about and learn about the golden oldies that influenced their favourite titles.
The 3DS remasterings have thus far been met with mixed responses – you can read my reviews of Rayman 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D right here on The Reticule – but that’s by and large the risk developers take when they choose to dig up old titles and put a fresh coat of paint on them; some games age well like a fine wine, while others grow tired and cumbersome like a blind, arthritic 80-year old. Nonetheless, I’ve dug through the dark, scary depths of my brain and dragged out the top five games from the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube back catalogues – in my eyes, a golden age in gaming’s history – that I’d like to see spruced up and remade for the 3DS.
Note that this is purely a personal wishlist and none of the titles mentioned below have been either confirmed or even hinted at by the respective publishers/developers as being in the works. Ultimately, none of this is ever likely to happen. EVER!
Super Mario 64 – Nintendo 64 (Nintendo/Nintendo EAD, 1996)
I can almost hear your exclamations of “say WHAT?!” and see your open-mouthed stares of disbelief from here, and to be honest with you I don’t care what you think. Yes, Super Mario 64 DS was a launch title for the original DS and, yes, it already did us the favour of adding thirty new stars to find along with Luigi, Wario and Yoshi as playable characters. But you know what? I found the E3 reveal of Super Mario 3DS to be somewhat underwhelming. I expected to see something along the lines of Super Mario 64 but instead was presented with a game more akin to Mario’s 2D outings, which makes the prospect of another Super Mario 64 remake all the more enticing. I want more stars, more characters and the chance to play the game that kick-started the 3D platformer phenomenon of the late 90’s on the go with proper analogue controls and with even better visuals; if there’s one thing to knock about Super Mario 64, it’s the fact that time has ravaged its once youthful looks.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Nintendo 64 (Nintendo/Nintendo EAD, 2000)
Making Majora’s Mask a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time was a stroke of genius on Nintendo’s part as far as I’m concerned. After players had spent countless hours following Link’s epic journey from lowly Kokiri boy to the Hero of Time all the while forging friendships, making enemies and getting to know the many denizens of Hyrule, a couple of years later they found everything tipped on its head. Unwittingly lured into an alternate dimension, Link finds himself in the land of Termina, itself a twisted version of Hyrule at the mercy of a moon which will crash and obliterate everything in three days. What made Majora’s Mask so engrossing was getting to know these – albeit altered – characters all over again coupled with the unique structure of the game, which required the player to repeat the three-day cycle until they’d found a way to prevent the impending doom, and the many masks that bestowed special abilities or even completely new forms unto Link. Majora’s Mask is easily my favourite Zelda game next to Ocarina of Time – it kept the core gameplay of Zelda intact while putting its own unique spin on things – and the fact that the 3DS is home to one game and not the other is practically a crime in my opinion.
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg – Gamecube (Sega/Sonic Team, 2003)
Chances are you probably didn’t play this. It received a mixed reception back when it was released and to this day Billy Hatcher has yet to appear in another game in a starring role, instead relegated to cameo appearances and being playable in Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Gameplay was comprised of platforming and rolling colour coded eggs around; each egg contained an animal vital to helping Billy progress through the game’s levels. Realistically speaking, the chances of either a Billy Hatcher remake on the 3DS are more than a bit slim, but the handheld presents the perfect opportunity for Sega to bring this underappreciated gem back for a whole new audience complete with either touch screen or gyroscope controlled egg rolling. Some new levels and an expanded array of animals would seal the deal.
Jet Force Gemini – Nintendo 64 (Rare, 1999)
With its visceral third person shooting, an arsenal of immensely satisfying tools of destruction and optional two-player co-op play throughout the entire campaign (rounded off with a lacklustre multiplayer component; you can all send your angry emails directly to Chris), Jet Force Gemini was without a shadow of a doubt the twentieth century’s Gears of War. While it’s extremely unlikely that Jet Force Gemini would ever make it to the 3DS – it’s an IP owned by Rare itself, after all – if Nintendo has any sense whatsoever it will pull whatever strings necessary to get one of the N64’s magnum opuses onto its new handheld. With revamped visuals, precision touch-screen aiming and local and online drop-in/drop-out co-op play, a 3DS Jet Force Gemini could really buck the trend of substandard handheld shooters.
Star Fox Adventures – Gamecube (Nintendo/Rare, 2002)
Star Fox Adventures is noteworthy for being Rare’s last major release before they were bought out by Microsoft and forced to waste their inarguably immense talent on the utterly forgettable Grabbed by the Ghoulies, the watered-down Conker: Live & Reloaded and a duo of Wii Sports rip-offs for Kinect (although Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is the Best Thing Ever). Blatantly inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox Adventures mixed up the series’ trademark on-rails aerial combat with an admittedly shallow and by-the-numbers approach to adventuring, but it was nonetheless good fun and the tale of Fox McCloud crash landing on the crumbling Dinosaur Planet allowed Rare to flesh out Nintendo’s band of space-faring anthropomorphic animals further than the usual cries of “DO A BARREL ROLL!”. If Ocarina of Time 3D has taught me anything, it’s that fully fledged, open-world adventure games have as much a place on handhelds as they do on home consoles and with a few tweaks a potential Star Fox Adventures 3D could be something truly special, as well as pave the way for a triumphant return for the Star Fox team, who have been denied adequate exposure in the last five years or so.
And that’s my personal top five, although I could drone on for more than your monthly internet allowance about all the other games I’d like to see remade, not just from the N64 and Gamecube libraries but any number of other consoles.