Let’s face it—Hollywood has had an increasing influence on game production over the last decade. From A-list actors lending their voices to flesh out characters to an overall cinematic approach to games such as Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect. It’s no surprise that the gaming industry often surpasses the film industry in terms of sheer annual revenue. So why haven’t we seen the same amount of remake cash-ins in games? Don’t get me wrong, most remakes are tripe pieces of garbage pulled from the lowest corner of a film execs money-making idea bin in an attempt to cash in on an already brilliant piece of work (I’m looking at you here, Psycho). But then there are those like The Italian Job or The Magnificent Seven that are crafted with care and effort and aren’t simply about cashing in on someone else’s idea. So why not breathe new life into classic games? Why not give a new generation of players the opportunity to play through classic storylines and the other grizzled vets a chance to relive them in a new era?
I think it can be done.
Below is a list of five classics that have been out of the spotlight for far too long and deserve some much more of your hard-earned cash than an Alvin and the Chipmunks film.
5.) Maniac Mansion
Where would the gaming industry be without the giant green tentacle? Released in 1987 on the Commodore 64 and NES, Maniac Mansion brought brave new ideas to console gameplay, including multiple endings, numerous playable characters and a level of puzzle-solving that was both challenging and entertaining. Lucasfilm Games’ (yup, the ‘arts’ would come later) classic B-movie adventure paved the way for other LucasArts classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island and even Grim Fandango. The sheer amount of characters with their own unique abilities, multiple puzzle resolutions and solid, entertaining storylines would easily warrant the next-gen treatment. Besides, I think some of us owe it to that hamster we could microwave in the kitchen.
4.) Mega Man
The blue bomber has had one of the best runs any franchise hopes to make. Here’s a guy who has managed a near-Mario survival rate, celebrating his 20th anniversary this year, and it’s only fitting that a series that has proven it can hold its own after two decades is one that should get the 360 and PS3 treatment. I’m not holding out for anything revolutionary here, either. In fact, let’s keep the series a 2D side-scroller…just inject it with some serious HD treatment. The original Mega Man series (particularly Mega Man 2) cemented the series as the action side-scroller to beat during its day—I think by sticking with its 2D roots and upping the ante on graphics and overall speed and amount of enemies, a next-gen Mega Man could become the next Viewtiful Joe.
3.) River City Ransom
Released in 1989 for the NES, the long-defunct Technos Japan Corporations side-scrolling beat ‘em-up game taught many of us that it was okay to barf after being punched in the stomach and beat fellow high-school kids with lead pipes and chains. RCR followed a typical rescue-your-girlfriend-Double Dragon storyline that saw two high-schoolers, Alex and Ryan, facing off against some guy named Slick, who has also managed to take over your school. Typical Nintendo fare for its time, right? RCR survives as a cult favorite, quietly revealing naked 8-bit characters who frequent saunas and whose enemies fade into floating coins when they die. So where’s the next-gen update? This is the world I want to live in.
While the classic Bomberman lives on with Bomberman Live, the franchise is long overdue for a full revamping (I think we can forgive and forget the whole Bomberman: Act Zero fiasco). The addictive gameplay is already established, the controls are idiot-simple and the multiplayer practically writes itself. As one of the longest surviving franchises in games, Bomberman seems to be quietly hoping for a good redux, waiting it out while the Halo’s and Call of Duty’s slug it out online. With the Wii revolutionizing the multiplayer field and bringing in a slew of new, casual gamers—a solid Bomberman revamp that still retains the brilliant simplicity of the original could bring friends and family together to experience the greatness the franchise offered in its heyday. So Bomberman, why not Rocky Balboa your way to the top again with the other multiplayer heavyweights and show everyone how folks blew shit up in the old days?
1.) Chrono Trigger
Okay. So this is one of the last games that needs a remake—but for a moment let’s imagine walking through a beautiful 3D festival at Leene Square for the first time as the sun shines over the trees of Truce Canyon. Or traversing through the dystopic, Lavos-ravaged future that is 2300 A.D. Or flying the Epoch over and under the floating islands of the Dark Ages, zipping past lush forests and tumbling waterfalls. Or—you get the idea. Released in 1995 on the SNES, Square’s magnum opus of a game introduced the world to some of the most memorable RPG characters not named Link or Cloud. The sheer magnitude of traversing not one world map, but multiple world maps in one of the most non-linear RPG’s ever created is worth writing more than a few letters to Square Enix alone. If 2000’s Chrono Cross was any indication of what could be done aesthetically with the series, a next-gen update would not only give players a chance to revisit some of the greatest characters in gaming, but also introduce a whole new generation to the experience.