Best Of 2020: 8 Games That Could Really Benefit From A Modern Remake On Switch

Over the holiday season we’ll be republishing a series of Nintendo Life articles, interviews and other features from the previous twelve months that we consider to be our Best of 2020. Hopefully, this will give you a chance to catch up on pieces you missed, or simply enjoy looking back on a year which did have some highlights — honest!

This feature was originally published in July 2020.

Ever since the rumour that several 3D Super Mario remasters may be coming to Switch, we’ve been champing at the bit to experience those classics again on Switch. Say what you like about Switch ports but if they’re treated with the care and respect they deserve, we’re all for bringing everything–past and present– to Switch. We’ll take the lot.

However, there’s an argument to be made that recycling the same classic games time and time again is a bit of a waste, especially when we’ve played them to death already. How about spending that development time sprucing up games that fell short of greatness, or games we haven’t had easy access to since they originally released? Rather than gilding the lily over and over, why not put that effort into remaking games that didn’t live up to their potential the first time around?

Remakes provide a solid blueprint for developers to work from and come with an existing fanbase, so it’s no wonder they’re attractive to big companies. Still, it would be nice to see more risks taken in this area. Master System classic Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap was given a fresh lick of paint and polished up beautifully for modern consoles, and although the source material for the recently-announced Alex Kidd in Miracle World remake isn’t as revered, the developers will be hoping to pull off a similar trick.

Of course, Nintendo puts out remakes on a semi-regular basis, and we recently enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. However, that’s not the sort of HD upgrade and spit-polish we have in mind for the games below. We’re talking fundamental overhauls along the lines of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening or, better yet, the mighty Metroid: Zero Mission for GBA, the latter of which took the ageing shell of the original Metroid and gave it a startling refurbishment. In fact, the Metroid series got another excellent remake in the form of Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS.

So, let’s take a look at a handful of games from various developers that we believe had a promising, tasty kernel within but could have benefited from more time in the oven…

Sonic Spinball (MD)Sonic Spinball (MD)

Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA Technical Institute

Release Date: 12th Mar 2007 (USA) / 5th Apr 2007 (UK/EU)

We’ve got a special place in our heart for Sonic Spinball, and we won’t hear a word said against its soundtrack, bonus stages or overall premise. Still, even for we young Sonic fans back in the day. the stuttering gameplay and odd physics didn’t feel quite right back in the day, especially after coming from the silky smooth Sonic 2. And the less said about the hedgehog’s sprite here, the better.

Oh, but imagine a remake using the Sonic Mania engine and sprites which would marry the winning concept with the ‘proper’ movement and inertia of his 16-bit platformers! It could turn a flawed game into an instant classic.

Resident Evil Gaiden (GBC)Resident Evil Gaiden (GBC)

Publisher: Capcom / Developer: M4

Release Date: 3rd Jun 2002 (USA) / 3rd Jun 2002 (UK/EU)

Capcom are no strangers to remaking (sorry, REmaking) the Resident Evil franchise and the success of the recent RE2 and RE3 releases (sorry, REleases) means Capcom will be recycling (sorry, REcyc–okay we’ll stop now) the lot of them, no doubt. It started back on the GameCube, and although the original PlayStation game is a kitsch gem, REmake transformed it into a modern classic in keeping with the tone established by later instalments. We’re still sore that Capcom hasn’t brought the remake of the second game to Switch.

While the upcoming RE4 remake has fans divided, there are few gamers who would argue that Resident Evil Gaiden on Game Boy Color couldn’t be improved with a reimagined version for modern systems. It wasn’t well received and it came last in our reader poll of the best Resident Evil games ever, but it features the dream team of Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton. Tell us that there’s not gold to be mined from that pairing!

Nuts to RE4 – that’s already a classic. Why not take another crack at REG, Capcom? And please, please, keep that abreviation; it’d be tagline gold.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 1st Dec 1988 (USA) / 26th Sep 1988 (UK/EU)

With so many games to its name, the Zelda franchise is bound to elicit a variety of opinions as to the best or worst game in the series. We find that one good way to gauge someone’s Zelda fandom is whether or not they’ve played through Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The first sequel in the long-running series, it’s very different from the original and has enjoyed a critical reappraisal over the past decade, fuelled largely by the success of Dark Souls and similar games which refuse to hold your hand.

Viewed in the context of the entries that followed, Zelda II is the most obtuse Zelda, with mistranslations adding to its general inscutability. 8-bit games of all genres are routinely more challenging than modern equivalents, but you should feel zero compunction using save states and a walkthrough to complete Zelda II if you’re determined to tick it off your list.

However, its way of doing things came back into vogue and a sensitive remake could bring back one of the oft-ignored and most unusual Zelda games for a new audience. Cadence of Hyrule proved that indie developers have the potential to breathe new life into the old formula (and Zelda II didn’t follow the template soon cemented in A Link to the Past anyway). The developers of the Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake expressed a desire to tackle Zelda II a couple of years ago, and we’d still be fascinated to see what they could make of it.

So what are your thoughts on our picks above? Let us know below by voting for the two games you’d most like to see given some special remake attention.

Obviously, there are dozens of decent games that fell short of classic status despite having potential, so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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