As a retro gamer, I'm going to start off the year by looking into the past. The 90's was a time when #gaming companies didn't simply compete. They waged war. The "Bit Wars", to be exact. During that time there was a scramble by developers to get their own IP's into the market which would compete with the likes of Sonic and Mario. I call this the “Franchise Arms Race” because that's essentially what it was. It was a race to see who could get their fledgling franchises into the limelight.
While there were some winners in this race, there were a whole lot of losers. This piece explores what could have been. Here are five games with a few things in common. They were released during the 90's, they were classics in their own right, and for one reason or another they never got a remake or a remastering. I'm going to take these games and see what they would have looked like if they were completely remade during this generation of gaming.
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1. 'ActRaiser' (SNES)
This game combined classic platforming action with city building to create a unique experience. The sequel focused entirely on the platforming and left the city building behind. Then the franchise faded away and we never saw it's like again. First of all, WHY!? Second of all, if a developer were to take ActRaiser and release it today with the latest advances in gaming technology, they could create something truly fantastic.
First, let's look at the platforming. Since the player is a god and the hero you control during these segments is your servant. I think it would be cool to give the player the ability to customize the Hero with character creation mechanics and equipable weapons and armour. I would also throw in some more #RPG elements in there. When the player gets enough followers and levels up, that should reflect on the Hero by making them stronger and allowing them to equip better weapons and armour. I would also change the game play from 2D platforming to a 3D hack and slash. The objective would change from getting to the end to killing a certain amount of of monsters and then killing the boss that would then appear. I think that would better reflect the Hero's purpose of exterminating the monsters that plague the land.
The city building segments would get some drastic changes. The core gameplay of building a city and maintaining it while keeping it safe from monsters would still be there. However, I would add a few other things in there as well. First of all, I would have the whole segment take place on a 3D plane where the angel could fly around freely. Next, I would make the cities more interactive by giving the player the ability to land the angel inside the city and talk to your people. This way, you could get feedback on what kind of god the people think you are. You could also get objectives from the temple like before but you would also get side quests as well. Completing these quests would increase the people's faith in you. Finally, I would throw in something of a morality mechanic that influences how you are viewed by the people. If you use your godly power to bring crops and sunshine and other good stuff, the people will shower you with praise and offerings. If you are destructive with your power. Your followers will reflect that by becoming more cult-like and offering sacrifices to avoid your wrath.
2. 'Demon's Crest' (SNES)
I might be bending the rules a bit with this one, given that this game is the last in a trilogy. However, I think Demon's Crest would make an excellent 3D brawler similar to #Darksiders2 in execution.
Let's start off with the combat - the core aspect of any brawler. The character of Firebrand in Demon's Crest is very imposing character who was able to collect most of the elemental crests by himself. The best way to show that off, in my opinion, is to have him pulverize opponents and tear them apart with his bare hands by the dozen. He would also be able to scorch enemies from a distance using his breath weapon, which is his main weapon in the original game. Firebrand would also retain his flight and climbing abilities, which he would be able utilize when exploring the area. He could also use these abilities in combat by jumping off a wall to attack or by taking to the sky to engage airborne foes.
The elemental crests and fire upgrades would also come into play in this game. Each crest would give Firebrand a different form, each with it's own move sets, strengths, and weaknesses. For example, the air form would be stronger while flying and performing areal attacks on ground foes. On the other hand, the earth form would be a slow but powerful tank that would be unstoppable on the ground. This would give the player a sense of strategy by being able to select the form that fits the situation best. It would also allow players the freedom of choosing whatever form suits them best.
This game would not be all combat however. The SNES game had an overworld that featured Firebrand flying through the skies of the demon realm. I think it would be very interesting to be able to explore the demon realm by air as well as on land. This would give developers the chance to create some really nice locations for players to look at from a bird's eye view. I'm talking gothic cemeteries, dark and demonic cities, haunted forests, and big black castles. Aside from enemies, there would also be denizens of the demon realm that you could interact with. These people could sell you items, give you hints, or present you with a side quest. This would help players immerse themselves in a #GhostsandGoblins world.
3. 'King of the Monsters 2' (SNES)
The first King of the Monsters game didn't have much going for it. It was just two generic looking monsters wrestling inside a city arena. The SEQUEL, on the other hand, is where it's at. This game is something of a tournament fighter/beat-em-up hybrid. You had a semi-3D plane that you could roam around in and swat around groups of peons, like a beat-em-up. At the same time, there was a foe waiting for you at the end for you to fight. Like a tournament fighter, the opponent monster had their own move sets that make it feel as though they could be controlled by another player. That's just the core gameplay. There were also power ups to collect, buildings you could pick up and throw, and false goodies to avoid.
First of all I would change the overall presentation of the gameplay. I would have something similar to Godzilla Unleashed. In that game, you're placed in 3d area to roam around that is full of destructible things that made you feel like a big monster come to do some major property damage. I'd also have the camera pulled in for a 3rd person perspective. That way, players would be able to get a good look at how big their character is compared to the surrounding buildings. I wouldn't change the playable characters very much. What I would do is have a bigger roster of characters to choose from. Each character would have their own move set and their own story to make them relevant to the game's overall plot.
I would keep the original game's bright and colourful look as opposed to giving it a dark and gritty look. That's not to say that this would be a game for kids. This would be a pretty graphic game. In the original, you have monsters melting when they die and ripping chunks out of each other. Not to mention that some of the designs for the monsters were equal parts bizarre and even a bit frightening. I would have characters taking damage, bleeding, and dying in brutal yet cool looking ways.
4. 'Vectorman' (SEGA Genesis)
If you sided with #SEGA during the console wars than the odds are pretty good that Vectorman found his way into your library. Vectorman was to the SEGA Genesis what Donkey Kong Country was to the SNES. The developers sought to wow players with pre-rendered graphics and fluid animations that pushed the Genesis to it's limit. Vectorman was so well received when it came out that it's a bit of a surprise that it didn't take off. Well, let's see what a whole new Vectorman game would look like if it was made today.
I think that a third person shooter would be just the thing to revamp Vectorman, since shooting at things is the name of Vectorman's game. In the Genesis game, Vectorman can collect various weapon power ups that only last a short while. I think it would be better for Vectorman to unlock these weapons as the game progressed with unlimited ammo for his basic gun and limited ammo for the others. Another mechanic that could carry on to this would be game would be Vectorman's various transformations. You could have levels where Vectorman is in one particular form or he could have the ability to change into any form available to solve a particular problem. This way, the levels can be laid out in all sorts of ways depending on which form Vectorman is expected to play a part in.
One thing I would add would be a time limit. Since the villain Warhead plans to kill all the humans once they arrive, Vectorman's objective should be to stop him BEFORE the humans return to Earth. Every minute of game play would bring the humans closer to the planet and Warhead's death trap. Of course I would give players a very generous time limit to give them the ability to explore levels and find secrets. There would even be missions where you have the opportunity to send out messages to the returning humans to stall them. However, you wouldn't be able to stop them completely. This would put some real gravity into the game. You could also throw in alternate endings depending on whether or not you defeat Warhead or how close you got to him before the humans arrived.
This would also be an opportunity to expand on Vectorman's world. How did the planet become so polluted that human had to leave? Why was Raster attached to the missile that drove him mad and turned him into Warhead? Why were the orbots even created in the first place? Vectorman himself could use some flushing out as well. Outside of the generic 90's style quips he makes in the games, Vectorman has little character to speak of. What sort of character could he be? Why does he care about Warhead's plan to exterminate humanity? Is he fighting Warhead because of his programming or is there some ghost in the machine stuff going on? There's all sorts of things that could be done with him.
5. 'Metal Warriors' (SNES)
I might of mentioned in some previous articles of mine that I'm a mecha fan. I love watching giant robots blow each other up. I haven’t encountered many games that bring that feeling of controlling a giant robot. Metal Warriors is one game that does a pretty good job at just that. This game is begging to be revamped and I think that the best way to do that is to make it into a hybrid of genres.
One of Metal Warrior's most note worthy mechanics if the ability for the player to hop out of a damaged mech and seek out another one. With that in mind, a revamped version of this game could have two different modes during play. One for when you're in a mech and one for when you aren't. While you're in a mech, the game could be a third person action game similar to Zone of the Enders. I'm talking about mechs flying around, shooting and slashing at each other. Since you can leave you mech and get into another one, there could be all sorts of different mechs you could control. They could be fast and fragile or slow and armoured. They could also have different weapons or perform some other function that only that particular mech can do.
When you leave your mech, the game would become a first person shooter. In this instance, your target would be whoever else is on the ground with you as opposed to trying to shoot at a mech many times your size. In order to make sure that the being on the ground is as much fun as being in a mech, I would make sure that players would have access to all sorts of interesting tools and weapons. Different enemy types would also come into play. Big guys, small guys, and drones as big as your head. I would also have it so that there were mission objectives that you could only complete in or out of a mech. For example, one mission would be to infiltrate an enemy facility to get valuable intel, which you can't do inside a mech. Alternatively, another mission could be to destroy a supply convoy, which would best be done inside a mech. This way the first person mechanics don't feel tacked on or pointless.
So. That's what I think a handful of the old classics would look like if they got revamped today. What do you think? Are there other games that should be remade? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! Also, don't forget to check me out of Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on upcoming articles.
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