Gaming Nexus' Picks For Remaking One Game

Gaming Nexus' Picks For Remaking One Game

Written by The GN Staff on 9/27/2006 for

The rules were simple. If we had one game we wanted to see remade, what would it be? It had to be something that is older than 5 years. There can't be a sequel made of it already and it had to be on the PC or console. With that set, let's see what our staff picked.



John Yan:  Mail Order Monsters

Mail Order Monsters appeared on the Commodore 64 back in 1985. The game was published by Electronic Arts and allowed you to build your own monsters to compete in battles. Choosing from 12 different monster types, you then try to acrue money to increase your monster's attributes and to also purchase weapons to outfit them. Weapons range from guns to enhancements to your monster like tentacles and breathing fire. Battles consisted of three goals: defeating your opponent, capturing flags, or defeating more Hordlings than your opponent. You could also own more than one monster by keeping the one you aren't using in a corral. It was a pretty unique game with a catchy title and it was one game I absolutely loved on the C64.

Mail Order Monster

The game today would, of course, get a serious upgrade in graphics. A good start would be Spore's procedural creation of creatures. This way, you're not confined to certain body types and everyone can get some unique designs into their creatures without being limited by models. Diversity would play a big part in the update as I would like to see as much uniqueness in the monsters as possible.

One of the great aspects of the game was outfitting your monsters with various weapons. With the change to a 3D engine, I'd engineer some weapons that would be body type specific so that would be one of the differences in choosing one type over another. I'd also design a way for weapons to be upgradable and perhaps enable users to design their own in some fashion.

An online portion would let others battle it out but I'd take it a step further and create a persistent universe where you can go to different planets, each with their own unique atmospheres and environments. Some monsters would thrive in conditions that others won't giving them a little advantage. Winning in a place where your monster has a disadvantage would give you more money and prestige.

I wouldn't limit the game to battles either. Races would also be a big event in the game whereby different monster classes could enter in horse like racing with you riding on the back and steering the monster through a race track. Earn money and prestige by placing in the top three or even wagering your own money in other races as well.



Cyril Lachel: Panzer Dragoon Saga

Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the most sought after Sega Saturn games of all time; it's a role-playing game that collectors are still willing to pay hundreds of dollars for.  Released just as the Saturn's life was coming to a crashing halt, Panzer Dragoon Saga represented everything that was good about Sega's first party developers.  It features an epic story that spans four discs and is unlike anything you have ever seen before.  Each and every character in Panzer Dragoon Saga is memorable, the music is phenomenal, and the action never comes off feeling like another Final Fantasy clone.

Panzer Dragoon Saga

The only problem is that not enough people had a chance to play Panzer Dragoon Saga.  There just aren't that many copies of the game out there and if you are lucky enough to locate one you can expect to pay an arm and a leg for it.  But it's worth it; Panzer Dragoon Saga is easily one of the best role-playing games of all time.  This is one game that deserves to be played by everybody who loves a good adventure, but due to circumstances out of our control most people won't.

I shudder at the thought of "remaking" a game like Panzer Dragoon Saga, the game was near-perfect to begin with.  But I want people to finally be able to play it, even if that means it gets a face lift and some new game play elements.  I wouldn't mind seeing a port of this game on the Sony PSP; it would fit in perfectly with another rare RPG that was recently resurrected, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.  I think it's about time modern day RPG fans had a chance to play through this amazing game without being forced to get a second job just to afford it.Charles Husemann: Combat

There's a perfectly good Duke Nukem Forever joke here, I'm choosing to go with the Atari 2600 pack-in game Combat.  I know what you're thinking, that's one of the worst Atari 2600 games ever and that there's a reason they gave it away for free for a reason.  For those of you who have never played a console with less than two buttons, Combat was a small collection of games that had you fighting other players in tanks and planes.  The games where very simplistic and usually only lasted a few minutes.

Combat

I'd make the collection a quickie style set of games like Warioware and HOTPXL with the catch that they are multiplayer.  You and up to three other people would select one to three games that will be put into a game deck.



Dan Keener: Qix
When the question was first posed of what classic arcade game you would like to see re-made, a list a mile long popped into my head.  After pairing it down to the likes of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Dragon's Lair, Jungle Hunt, Q-bert and TRON, I finally settled on the 1981 Taito coin-operated drawing game of Qix.

Qix

It was a simple concept.  Draw enough lines to close off 75% of the screen at a slow (double) or fast speed and get points.  All the while, trying to dodge the pixilated "Qix" and the two "sparx" just waiting to destroy your marker.  While it doesn't seem like it would hold your attention or be much of a challenge, back in the day it did both (and ate many quarters as well).

Qix was released to the Playstation 2 and Xbox platforms in 2006 as part of the Taito Legends 2 disk, but I'm thinking of a re-make similar to the Xbox Live Arcade title Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. You would be able to play the original game and an updated version to take advantage of High Definition and 3-Dimensional graphics.



Lydia Graslie: Monkey Magic

One game that I loved and still do love with an unnatural passion is Monkey Magic, released in the latter part of 1999 for PS1. This was a simple 2d platformer with a funky old-school kung-fu movie flavor and enough cheese to run Wisconsin's economy for seven years. The story was based off of a classic Chinese literature piece called Journey to the West(this was also used as the plot basis for the Dragon Ball anime series). Except instead of having humans as the protagonists, they used monkeys. Which is awesome.

Monkey Magoc

The reason this game excelled was because it executed simple concepts well. You ran, jumped, rolled, used magic spells on yourself and on other objects(such as fire, ice, shrink, etc.), and later hit stuff with a stick. That's it. It doesn't sound that awe-inspiring, but the fact that I could sit down in my ADD days of yore and play this game for hours and hours speaks pretty loudly. There were no unnecessarily complicated game mechanics to get bogged down in; the path to success in Monkey Magic required quick reflexes and tenacity. I always wanted more, no matter how many times I went over the same level or beat the final boss; something I find in few games I play today.

Porting this to a modern console would be easy in terms of raw pixel-crunching, but most likely difficult to sell without a team of clever developers to bring it up to speed. This is a game that would need some serious style upgrades. The retro B-grade martial arts theme worked well on the PS1, but with all of the advances in rendering and other pretty stuff it would probably need a total overhaul in today's market. I'm thinking cel-shading would work well. Developers would also have to make a choice about who they would want to sell this to. The 2D platformer genre is great but is increasingly getting more difficult to sell. Making the game 3D would increase its appeal to a wider audience, but it would also leave a gaping hole in terms of tight gameplay. Maybe they could throw in some crazy special attacks, like "Monkey Steals the Peach", where Monkey pulls a peach out of his enemy's ear like your uncle would pull out a quarter, then eats it calmly as the enemy explodes in the background. That would be cool. Or "Divine Judgement", where they get pulverized by a meteor and there are a lot of dramatic poses and giant Chinese characters in the background.

They should port this to the 360 because the 360 needs more titles like this. Or maybe the Wii, they could probably figure out a way to do some cool stuff with staff moves and that new controller.Sean Colleli: Metroid II Return of Samus

Well, it was a tough decision at first for my remake of choice, and at first I went down my line of favorites: GoldenEye 007, Jedi Knight, Deus Ex.  However, I feel a remake should be something more than a graphical facelift or added technological gimmicks.  A remake should be an honest-to-god improvement.  So, I decided on Metroid II: Return of Samus, one of the most under-appreciated sequels of all time, and a game in desperate need of an overhaul.

Metroid II

For a black and white Game Boy title, Metroid II was impressive for its time, but quickly became outdated in both graphics and play mechanics.  Today it is universally the least popular of Nintendo’s flagship sci-fi franchise.  Its immediate successor, Super Metroid, claims title as the fan favorite of the Metroid games, and the Prime series of prequels have gained immense popularity in their own right as instant classics.

So, what’s so bad about Metroid II?  Well, for a sequel to such a successful NES game, it added a lot of features, but ended up as a functional stepping-stone on the way to Super Metroid.  Save stations were infinitely preferable to the cumbersome old password system, but they were more numerous and conveniently placed in Super Metroid.  Samus’s gunship acted as a home base for the bounty hunter, and has appeared in all subsequent games and spin-offs.  Basically, every Metroid game since Metroid II has made exponential improvements, making Metroid II look more like a low-tech experiment than a sequel.

How do I propose Nintendo goes about updating Return of Samus?  Well, let’s take a look at another remake in the Metroid series.  Back in early 2004, Nintendo released a GBA remake of the original NES game, entitled Metroid: Zero Mission.  Although short in length, this game did a wonderful job of updating the seminal NES adventure.  It added a plethora of features from previous games, included several new bosses and a whole new “epilogue” chapter at the end that had Samus evading the Space Pirates without the protection of her power armor.

Zero Mission retconned several story ambiguities, gave a look into Samus’s mysterious past and brought a classic game to a new audience.  Younger gamers who had discovered the enigmatic huntress in the Prime games or Smash Bros. could go back and experience her first quest in a much more accessible way—the first Metroid was hard to find and play on the discontinued NES hardware, and it was also a brutally difficult game, even back in 1986.  Zero Mission gave new players an easier, more robust adventure, and for comparison (and nostalgia’s) sake included the original NES game in all its 8-bit glory.

However, Metroid II is possibly harder to find than the first game, and almost as frustrating for modern gamers to play.  It’s an important chapter in the Metroid chronology, so it’s only natural that gamers discovering the Metroid series will want to play through it.  What’s more, the Prime series ends where Metroid II begins; Prime 1, 2, 3 and Hunters take place between Metroid and Return of Samus.  So, how can new gamers continue the story?  Simple: a remake, for the Nintendo DS.

I admit, at first I thought Super Metroid would be most appropriate for a refit, but with its inevitable appearance on Wii’s Virtual Console, Metroid II is the only game in the series in dire need of attention.  With the same tune-up that Zero Mission received, it could become a hit.

First, the basics need to be addressed—graphics and gameplayZero Mission had visuals surpassing Super Metroid, with highly colorful animated sprites, morphing textures and 2D transforms, all rendered in a very cool graphic novel style.  Return of Samus could be made even prettier on the DS hardware, with more colors and even some 3D effects.  I think the Sonic Rush approach would work well, with a 3D modeled and animated Samus, 2D backgrounds and maybe a few polygonal features.

As with Zero Mission, the world could also be drastically expanded.  Zebes underwent a huge overhaul and still remained faithful to its NES roots, and I think SR388 can stand even more improvement.  Metroid II’s world was rather bland, thanks in part to the monochrome color scheme, but even the scenery lacked proper definition.  It was very easy to get lost in the repetitive caverns of SR388.  A remake could give each area of the planet its own distinct “personality,” differing climates, backgrounds, obstacles, threats and the like.

In turn, each area should also have its own boss, in keeping with Metroid tradition.  Return of Samus focused on exterminating the Metroids, and while that should remain the primary goal, other enemies need to be included for variety.  SR388 was home to some daunting and increasingly grotesque Metroid specimens, but using the same technique against the same monsters over and over became tedious.  A planet with predators as dangerous as the Metroids should have a pretty ferocious collection of flora and fauna.  We got to see some of this indigenous life in Metroid Fusion, albeit mutated by the X parasite, so a remake should show these beasties in their natural habitat.

Aside from new creatures, Zero Mission also gave Samus her full arsenal, which opened up some great gameplay possibilities.  Even more of her tools and weapon could appear in a Metroid II remake, from the power grip to the speed booster, the gravity suit to the grapple beam.  The ability to use these gadgets on newly updated enemies made Zero Mission all the more memorable, and was a serious nostalgia trip for veterans of the series, so cleverly incorporating them into the remake is a no-brainer.

So, why not just slam all of this onto a GBA cartridge and be done with it?  Well, the special features of the DS could turn this remake into an evolution of the 2D Metroid formula.  I suggest that the action take place on the bottom screen, with the ever-important map on the top screen.  A top-screen logbook would also be a better alternative to Fusion’s chatty “Adam” computer.  This will eliminate the irritating process of pausing to check the map and logbook, but also open up the touch screen for a slew of innovative new uses.  Powers and items could be used like never before.  For example, the grapple beam could be activated by tracing a line on the touch screen to an enemy or a hook point.  Speed boosting could be accomplished by stroking the screen rapidly, making the thumb-numbing shinespark puzzles just a little easier.

Some of the Prime series’ cooler features could also be incorporated through touch control.  Tapping enemies or bosses could activate the scan visor and retrieve readouts on weaknesses or strategies.  Tracing circles around multiple baddies could acquire missile locks, like the multi-missile from Metroid Prime 2 Echoes.  The tiring process of cycling through weapons by hammering the select button, about the only flaw in Super Metroid, could be remedied with an on-screen menu for quick touch access.  The morphball could be activated in a similar fashion to Metroid Prime Hunters.

The slim story of Return of Samus could also see some fleshing out, much like Samus’s origin story in Zero Mission.  Because Metroid II has some direct correlations to Metroid Fusion, I’d like to see some flashbacks about Samus’s old CO, Adam Malkovich.  These would be a nice parallel to the flashbacks in Zero Mission.

With the imminent launch of the Wii and all of the new IP’s coming out, it’s easy to lose track of the classics.  Nintendo will have the big three, Zelda, Metroid and Mario, at launch or shortly thereafter, so they stand to gain a lot from the Metroid franchise’s continued success.  A remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus could ride the popularity of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and act as a portable counterpart, much like Prime 1 and Fusion’s mutual release.  Corruption is poised to revolutionize first person perspective games, and a remake of Metroid II could do the same for 2D adventures and the side-scrolling Metroid games in general.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


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