1986 was quite a time for video games. Some of the most influential games of all-time hit that year, including the birth of several historical franchises. Now, 30 years later, these titles are celebrating a pretty significant anniversary. The question is, what, if anything, will be done about it? Here are 6 games that are worthy of being celebrated, and what I think should be done. Because my opinion totally matters.
The Legend of Zelda (February 1986)
This is probably the biggest deal on the list, and as such seems to be getting a proper 30th anniversary celebration. We already know that this year will see Twilight Princess HD as well as the highly anticipated brand new Wii U installment in the franchise, and a 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors. That’s all well and good, but if we’re celebrating the anniversary of original release, shouldn’t there be something relating specifically to it? I know, there’s very little of Zelda’s history that hasn’t been explored or made readily available in some form or another, but there are a few unturned stones that would be worth revisiting. And no, I don’t mean the CD-i games. The first Zelda game was originally released on the Famicom Disk System, and it had a few, albeit minor, differences from the version we eventually got on that shiny gold cartridge. There were some different sound effects and musical instrumentation, as well as microphone support. How about putting that version up on the US Wii U or 3DS Virtual Console? Both of those systems have microphones. It’s totally doable! And what about the BSX Satelliview stuff? If you’re unfamiliar, the Super Famicom had a satellite gaming service, and there was a series of exclusive Zelda games released on it, including a Super Mario All-Stars-esque 16-bit version of the original Legend of Zelda. It didn’t feature the full map, and there were some other restrictions, but it is, in essence, a 16-bit remake of the original Legend of Zelda. The game was broadcast at specific times, with different quests and rules announced during the gameplay. It was odd, sure, but it’s incredibly fascinating to look at. The Wii U is more than capable of recreating of those original experiences, and so few people have ever actually played them, it would be a great way to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. It’s hard to complain about Nintendo’s treatment of the Zelda franchise, since it’s an IP they’ve taken very good care of over the years, but let’s not wait till the 50th anniversary to put these cards on the table.
Kid Icarus (December 1986)
This one is likely to just slip right by, and that makes me sad. Where the Zelda franchise has been treated with a tremendous amount of respect over the years, sometime around the Super NES era, Pit and Angel Land were sort of forgotten by Nintendo. He made a fantastic return in 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which led to his own 3DS game in 2012, but it’s been all quiet on the Kid Icarus front ever since. Which is a shame, because Pit’s universe is an incredibly interesting and charming one. So, how would I celebrate this anniversary? Well, before Kid Icarus Uprising hit the 3DS, Nintendo released 3D Classics: Kid Icarus, and if you’ve never played it, you’re missing something spectacular. All they did was add some gorgeous backgrounds to the original NES game, and that managed to bring the world to life in ways I could never have imagined. More importantly, it added a sense of reward for getting through those first few unreasonably difficult stages. My only complaint about the game is that it’s only on 3DS, and something this pretty deserves to be played on a TV. What I would love to see for Kid Icarus’s 30th anniversary is a compilation for Wii U that includes 3D Classics: Kid Icarus (minus the 3D, of course), a full color remaster of Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters in the same style of 3D Classics Kid Icarus, and an HD remaster of Kid Icarus: Uprising with dual analog controls. And since I’m living in some weird fantasy world where this could happen, how about a brand new 2D Kid Icarus game with Super NES style graphics on par with Super Metroid to round out the package? Now, I’m not out to dismiss the amount of work this would be on Nintendo’s part, but this franchise truly deserves the effort. Kid Icarus has every potential to be one of Nintendo’s second tier properties. It’s easily as marketable as Kirby, Star Fox, or Pikmin, and its world is brimming with all sorts of potential. Uprising did well for Nintendo, and is quite the graphical showcase for the 3DS, but can you imagine how beautiful that could look on an HDTV? Just look at this game. An HD remaster would look absolutely incredible, and while I eventually came to understand the 3DS game’s bizarre control scheme, there’s no denying that it would benefit greatly from a more traditional controller. I’m not diluted. I know the likelihood of this happening is slim to none, but there’s some real potential here. Let’s see what happens.
Metroid (August 1986)
So, as it stands right now, the only Metroid property hitting in 2016 is Metroid Prime: Federation Force. And while I’m sure it’s a perfectly fun game, that’s hardly 30th anniversary material. Especially for a franchise as important as Metroid. Now, Nintendo has been mostly good to Samus over the years, but it seems to come in spurts. She skipped the entire Nintendo 64 generation (with the exception of her appearance in Super Smash Bros.) but returned a few years later with Fusion and Prime back to back. The last time we saw Samus proper was 6 years ago in 2010’s divisive Metroid: Other M. 6 years is a long time. So, what do I propose? Something remarkably similar to what I suggested for Kid Icarus: a compilation game. First, remake the original Metroid the exact same way they did with 3D Classics Kid Icarus. Yes, I know Metroid: Zero Mission exists, and it’s incredible, but this is a celebration of the original release, and adding backgrounds to the flat blacks of the first Metroid could bring 8-bit Zebes to life in remarkable fashion. Second, apply the same process to Metroid II: Return of Samus. Add a map function, carefully colorize the whole thing, add some beautiful backgrounds to SR-388, and call it a day. The art direction in this game is already out of control awesome. Prettying it up and making it playable on an HDTV would just be stellar. Metroid II is easily the most underplayed game in the franchise, and this would solve the crap out of that problem. Third, put Super Metroid on there. Don’t change a thing. It’s perfect as-is. Just have it there because it’s amazing. And finally, an HD remaster/director’s cut of Other M. Hear me out. That game is very nice-looking, and it has a really cool playstyle. Two things held it back: controls and unforgivable character assassination. Controls would be an easy fix. The game is basically designed for a modern controller as it is. Why a game that requires movement in a 3D space was shoehorned into being only playable on a Wii Remote held sideways I’ll never truly understand. It was dumb, and easily fixable. Now, the character assassination problem might be a bit more difficult, but not impossible. It would involve some dialogue changes, but they just need to make Samus strong again. For reasons beyond comprehension, they changed Samus into this weak-willed, fragile creature in the cutscenes, but during the gameplay, she was the same confident ass-kicker she’s always been. This woman wouldn’t lose her shit at the sight of Ridley, she would get pumped and kick his ass. Seriously, this game has the hands-down best Ridley fight in the whole franchise, and so few folks actually played it because of the negative press the game got. One of the worst problems came from Samus purposefully not using her weapons to survive because she was told not to by her ex-boss. Making her completely subserviant to the point of endangering her own life is just dumb. Instead, have her put herself in danger on purpose. Have her use running through a lava filled room without her Varia suit an act of defiance. They want to tell her she can’t use her weapons until they say so? Fine. Have her play along and point out to them how stupid it is as she goes, while also showing that she doesn’t need her super weapons to be a bad ass. Fix that problem, give it a fresh coat of HD paint, and you’ve taken a game that was rightfully lambasted and turned it into a win. I can’t think of a better anniversary gift for the first lady of video games that to give her her power and personality back, and fix this blemish on her otherwise spotless career.
Castlevania (September 1986)
Oh, Konami. what happened to you? Castlevania hasn’t exactly been forgotten by Konami, but for the franchise’s 30th anniversary, it’s time to go back to the series roots. No Lords of Shadow here, just the classics. So again, I’m asking for a compilation. Or rather, a series of compilations. This one might be a bit more of a tall order, but a definitive poriginal recipe Castlevania collection would be something spectacular, and something the franchise deserves. You could do it in volumes. First, you do a remaster of the 8-bit games. Treat them like Capcom did their recent Mega Man Legacy collection, but take things a step further. Include Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse all enhanced for HDTV play. Then include Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge, and Castlevania Legends, all colorized and remastered also for HDTV play. That’s six 8-bit Castlevania games. Hell, toss in Kid Dracula if you’re feeling feisty, but there’s your Volume 1. Volume 2 goes 16-bit and forward. Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania Bloodlines, Castlevania: Dracula X, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth (the most criminally underplayed Castlevania game ever), and the original Haunted Castle arcade game. Oh, and Symphony of the Night. But not just a PlayStation port. It has to include the extra content from the Sega Saturn version. Volume 3 hits us with the 3D entries. Upscale and make pretty versions of Castlevania 64 and Castlevania Legacy of Darkness, and HD remasters of Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness. This one’s a little sparse on the content front, but considering how much cleaning up the Nintendo 64 games need, it’s probably fine. Finally, Volume 4 would include Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia, all remastered for proper play on an HDTV. And just for kicks, throw in Order of Shadows (the mobile-only entry) and Harmony of Despair for good measure. Basically, what I’m asking for is for the entire mainline Castlevania franchise to be playable in one place. PlayStation 4 would probably be the best fit, but the Nintendo fanatic in me would be perfectly happy to see this hit Wii U (or NX in the future)as well. But even if they didn’t go all out, and just did the 8-bit games, that would be perfectly fantastic. Either way, classic Castlevania deserves more for its 30th birthday then a shiny new pachinko machine.
Pro Wrestling (October 1986)
Anything. Do anything. Since this game came out, there’s been absolutely nothing. No sequel. No Virtual Console. No Game Boy Advance NES classics. No cameos. No Smash Bros trophy. Not even a sticker in Smash Bros Brawl! Not even 3D Classics remaster. Urban Champion got a 3D Classics remaster! Urban freaking Champion! There isn’t a single person on Earth who actually enjoys playing that game. Look. Pro Wrestling was huge for me and my friends when I was a kid. We had a blast playing it, and those characters are fantastic. King Slender? The Amazon? Come on! Everyone knows this game, but it’s managed to completely disappear from Nintendo’s mindshare. I would be happy with even a straight Virtual Console port for 3DS or Wii U, but if I’m dreaming pie-in-the-sky, I would love a brand new game developed by Next Level Games. They absolutely killed it with their Punch-Out!! revival on Wii, and I would flip my shit to see them work their magic on this one. Just think of what new designs for Great Puma or Star Man would look like. What about new characters to add to the roster? Nintendo hasn’t had a wrestling game on their platform since the Wii, and that’s simply absurd. This is an IP that deserves a heck of a lot more than it’s gotten, and there’s nothing quite like an anniversary as an excuse to do something special. Make my dreams come true, Nintendo. Give me some ridiculous Pro Wrestling the way that only you can.
Dragon Quest (May 1986)
Easily the biggest thing here next to Zelda, Dragon Quest is seeing some good stuff this year. Several long overdue 3DS remasters are coming our way, and there’s new DQ stuff coming out all the time. But this is the 30th anniverasry on one of Japan’s biggest franchises of all-time, and that history, especially in America, is positively begging to be explored. I say Square should hit us with a compilation of the first 10 numbered games, remastered in HD for home console, but not remade. Remakes are awesome, but we’re talking historical stuff here, and for this pack, these games should be presented as they were originally intended to be played. This one’s a longshot, especially in the states where Dragon Quest hasn’t exactly gotten the foothold Square has wanted, but providing US gamers with a chance to play the early entries in the series as they were first presented would not just be cool for fans, but important for the preservation of video game history. Games like Dragon Quest IX would be playable on a TV instead of a handheld for the first time. The Super Famicom versions of V and VI would be readily available here in the states in their original form for the first time. Sure, many of these games haven’t aged extremely well, but their historical value is undeniable, and the value of a package like this would be insane. If this were to happen, it would have to be some sort of high-end collectible, or perhaps a series of digital releases, but either way, it should be done. This series does have a cult following here in the US, and those people deserve to finally have the entirety of the franchise all in one place.
Of course, there are a bunch of other games celebrating anniversaries this year, but these 6 games deserve the attention the most. Will any of my suggestions come to pass? Not bloody likely, but in the fantasy world of my brain, these are all wonderful things that make me spend way more money than I have to spend. I guess we’ll see. How would you like to see these games celebrated? Let us know in the comments!