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10 under-the-radar NES gems that should be remade now

Faxanadu for the NES
Faxanadu for the NES

Whether it's Hollywood, television (which, I guess is still Hollywood? Maybe? Whatever...), or video games, remakes are big business. Or, if not a remake, a sequel to a story that was told years ago - sometimes over a decade. Nostalgia, of course, is a big part of it, as well as returning to an idea that, clearly, had worked before. But, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Despite other people online trying to convince you otherwise, there's actually nothing inherently wrong with remakes. If they were, we would have never gotten to see Brian de Palma's Scarface, John Carpenter's The Thing, or Martin Scorsese's The Departed. There would have been no U.S. version of The Office. Or Tim Burton's Planet of the Ap... OK, that one's a bad example.

What I'm trying to say is that a remake doesn't just have to be a cash grab. And while movie technology has certainly advanced over the years, it pales in comparison to the leaps and bounds made in video games. Just look at Super Mario Bros. All Stars, and the difference between that collection of games and their 8-bit originals. Also, you should go play that later, as its awesome.

Not all of the original 10 games listed here are necessarily good. In fact, one of them is just plain awful.

But, all of them at least had potential - whether or not they lived up to that potential is a different story. But, we believe that with game technology where it is now, some great games should be able to be made out of all of them.

Of course, if you have thoughts of your own regarding what games should be remade - or if it turns out that games like we're suggesting already exist, let us know in the comments section below!


#10 Skate or Die!

Skate or Die!
Skate or Die!

The original: One of the original skateboarding games, Skate or Die! was inspired by Atari's 720° arcade skating game.

It was originally released for home computers, like the Commodore 64 and IBM compatible machines running MS-DOS. Eventually, it was ported over to the NES by Konami (under their Ultra Games label).

It consisted of five different events - such as the freestyle ramp and high jump - and you could compete against eight other skaters. Considering the limited controls at the time, it was still a pretty fun game, especially in 1987, when skateboarding culture was just beginning to hit big.

Interestingly enough, in 2002, Criterion Games was interested in bringing back the series for a release on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

Unfortunately, they had a falling out with Electronic Arts, and the project was scrapped after a year of development. However, they dropped it in favor of the awesome Burnout 3: Takedown, so it wasn't a total loss.

The potential: It hasn't been a great time for skateboarding games lately. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 was a complete disaster, and EA hasn't released a new game in the Skate series since 2010. The pixel art Olli Olli games are really good, but some of us are really itching for a fully 3D skating experience.

So, take the aesthetic and characters from Skate or Die!, put them in a really good skating game engine, do not let Robomodo anywhere near it, and load it with a bunch of cool, original characters. Set it in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian future world, to make the title even more literal.

#9 Vice: Project Doom

Vice: Project Doom
Vice: Project Doom

The original: 1991 was a weird year for the NES in a lot of ways. For starters, the SNES had just released in the US, so a lot of developers were moving their attention towards the new 16-bit machine.

On the other side, though, there were still a ton of people still using their NES, and that was a market that simply couldn't be ignored. But, if you're going to make a game for the NES around this time, I was going to have to stand out.

And, boy, did Vice: Project Doom stand out.

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A combination of Ninja Gaiden-style side-scrolling action, Spy Hunter-like top-down driving, and Bayou Billy-type shooting levels... actually, this game is a lot like The Adventures of Bayou Billy. Except it doesn't suck.

It has an over-the-top, action movie-like story, smooth controls, and ridiculous cut scenes. It's set in the future, it has secret agents, aliens, and sinister corporations, and it's just a blast. If you can find a copy, go play it.

The potential: Of course, this title was fairly overlooked due to so much attention being directed towards the new 16-bit consoles of the time.

But, it was still a great, fun game and worth revisiting. How great would it be to see a studio like PlatinumGames get their hands on a property like this and just got ape with it? So great, you guys.

#8 Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode
Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

The original: Based on the manga/anime of the same name (or similar names, at least), Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode, Duke Togo is an assassin. Actually, I take that back. He's the assassin.

In Top Secret Episode (where, due to Nintendo's strict content control, his profession was changed to that of a spy), Torgo is framed for the destruction of a helicopter carrying the CIA's latest bioweapon. He must clear his name, collect a vaccine for the bioweapon and... you know... save the world. Probably.

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Much like Vice: Project Doom, Top Secret Episode featured a number of different play styles - switching between a side scroller beat-em-up, a first-person view shooting gallery, and numerous others.

Plus, despite Nintendo's censorship of their American releases, Top Secret Episode sure got away with a lot, like images of cigarette smoking and implied sex. Pretty racy stuff for a 1988 NES game.

The potential: It's been over twenty years since Top Secret Episode's release, and ten since the last Golgo 13 game in general (and that one was a Nintendo DS game that was more or less an interactive novel).

While violence and adult subject matter are nothing new to games nowadays, taking a more mature approach to the action genre could be a welcome change. A cool spy thriller featuring one of the coolest characters in manga would be awesome.

It doesn't even need to be a straight remake of Top Secret Episode (or its sequel, The Mafat Conspiracy), either - although, if it was, maybe the story would make more sense this time.

#7 Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde
Dr.
Jeckyl
and Mr. Hyde

The original: oh boy.

Also releasing in 1988 for the NES in North America was Bandai's Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. If the game sounds familiar to you at all, you were either a kid with an NES and bad taste in games (no offense) in 1988, or you watched YouTube in 2006.

Or both, I guess. The game was one of the first games featured on the Angry Video Game (then Nintendo) Nerd show, with an even longer, more scathing review years later.

The game's poor reputation is well deserved, with it's confusing gameplay and awkward controls making it a frustrating experience as opposed to an enjoyable game.

In the game, Dr. Jeckyl is heading to a church to get married, but events unfold that eventually cause him to change into his other, evil form, Mr. Hyde...

The potential: ... which could actually make a pretty cool game.

This premise has been explored in a few other games - usually involving the more modern version of the character, The Incredible Hulk, but never done particularly well.

BBC's excellent 2007 miniseries Jecky - which is set in modern times while still tying into the original Robert Louis Stephenson novel - would be a good starting point, story-wise.

Perhaps an open world, with a day/night cycle and other factors outside the player's immediate control that would cause a change between the two characters.

There's a lot of possibilities here and with the original story and characters in the public domain, it wouldn't cost a studio any licensing money. And that 2001 PC game doesn't count.

#6 Star Tropics

Star Tropics
Star Tropics

The original: Imagine a mash-up of The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, give it a modern (for the time, anyway) setting, and have it blatantly designed for the American market, and you have Star Tropics.

If that doesn't sound awesome to you, well... I regret to inform you that you're wrong because it was and is still awesome.

Mike Jones is an adventurous kid, as well as an ace baseball pitcher, who is visiting the tropical island his scientist uncle, Dr. Jones (sound familiar?), is doing research on.

Unfortunately, when he arrives he is immediately informed that his uncle has gone missing (dun dun duuuuuun!) and only you can find him

Here's a video that will explain it better than I can:

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The potential: With the announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening getting a fancy pants to remake on the Switch, it would be a lot of fun to see this cult favorite also get the same treatment (this goes the same for Earthbound, but we thought that was too obvious of an entry and, besides, everybody knows about that game at this point).

Keeping the same top-down, 2-D perspective, but fancying it up on the switch, maybe adding new content and all sorts of other upgrades, and Nintendo could have another sleeper hit on their hands.

Kind of like how the original Star Tropics was.

#5 Rescue: The Embassy Mission

Rescue: The Embassy Mission
Rescue: The Embassy Mission

The original: There are literally dozens of tactical shooters out there, on as about as many platforms as you can think of.

This wasn't the case in 1988, however, when Infogrames (remember them?) released Hostages for nearly every computer format of the time, including the Amiga, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS. It was released on the NES as Rescue: The Embassy Mission.

Players took control of an elite tactical unit of the French Gendarmerie, a military-based national police force.

Terrorists - as they are wont to do - have taken over an embassy in Paris and are holding hostages. Players begin the game by placing sniper units (who have traditional French names, like "Steve" and "Jumbo") in different strategic areas, avoiding searchlights and other dangers.

Once in place, the rest of the team moves in to rescue the hostages. It's an interesting blend of real police tactics and movie-like action and atmosphere.

The potential: Obviously, and as we mentioned before, games like this aren't particularly hard to come by. What makes Rescue stand out, even today is its simplicity.

Rather than pulse-pounding action and adrenaline, it's tense and precise. You move in steps, with what needs to be done very clearly. That's not to say it's not challenging - it is. It's just not complex.

A game like that, for modern systems, and updating the teams with modern equipment - or having it set in the past - could work very well.

Getting a team together online could be a lot of fun, too - putting teams in a lobby-type room where they are given assignments and they have five minutes or so to plan out their strategy.

#4 Wizards and Warriors

Wizards & Warriors
Wizards & Warriors

The original: Nowadays, the Wizard and Warriors franchise is best known for having romance novel cover model and pop culture punchline Fabio on the box art of its second game.

However, this second game by Rare (the developers behind 007 Goldeneye and Perfect Dark) for the NES was actually a lot of fun, and worth another look.

As the name implies, Wizards and Warriors is straight up sword and sorcery fare - an evil wizard has kidnapped a princess and a brave and noble night must face trials and tribulations in order to ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzZZZZZ Hmmmm? Oh, sorry. I dozed off there for a second.

The potential: Generally, when there's a game with a fantasy setting, it's usually an RPG with both convoluted mechanics and backstory.

And, there's nothing at all wrong with those games. But, while the "knight saving a princess from an evil wizard" trope might seem overdone, it really hasn't been. Not for a couple of console generations, anyway.

As a developer, Rare hasn't really been the same since Microsoft bought them, with more misses than hits. Sea of Thieves, while certainly by no means a dud, hasn't exactly lit the gaming world on fire.

Perhaps a back-to-basics fantasy story, with arcade-style gameplay and fun characters, could be just the thing to help them get their mojo back.

Plus, I hear Fabio isn't doing much these days.

#3 Faxanadu

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The original: Sticking with the sword and sorcery thing here for a moment, there's Hudson Soft and Nintendo's Faxanadu.

When starting out the game, you'd be forgiven if you were immediately reminded of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The side-scrolling action RPG-style of Faxanadu was directly inspired by the first sequel of the Zelda series.

It's actually a spin-off of the Famicom game, Xanadu, which itself is a sequel to Dragon Slayer. Medieval fantasy was kind of a big deal in Japan in the 1980s and 90s.

The potential: I love the Nintendo Switch, and I'm also a big fan of indie games - which is good, as indie games make up, like, 80% of the entire Switch library.

However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really craving a big budget, Final Fantasy-style RPG for the system. Other than Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Nothing against that game of course - it's rad as hell. I'd just like something else, too. And I don't think I'm the only one.

While Faxanadu wasn't exactly what you'd call a massive hit, it's still a title that's fairly familiar to a lot of fans out there - especially to old farts like me who played it when it first came out. It's also a distinct sounding enough name to grab interest, whether or not this hypothetical new game with the same name is a remake or something altogether brand new.

#2 R.C. Pro Am

R.C. Pro Am
R.C.
Pro Am

The original: Yet another title from Rare on this list, interestingly enough. R.C. Pro Am was, in a lot of ways, a precursor to the kart racing genre that's still going strong today.

Eschewing realism for arcade-style action, players would control one of four remote control race cars, trying to win while avoiding oil slicks, puddles, and missiles fired by other racers. It was a lot of fun, even if it was only a single player experience.

Here's our friends at Classic Game Room, with more info on this awesome title:

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The potential: Controlling an RC car is - no duh - significantly different from driving a normal car and, as the original R.C. Pro Am demonstrated, that difference makes for a fun video game.

Moving that experience from 2D to 3D is just the first step, but think of all the other cool features you could add to a game that has such a simple premise.

I'm picturing a ridiculous amount of courses to race on - I mean, well over 100 (the original had 32). Make that the game's big selling point. In fact, adding a course editor would be amazing, as well as the ability to upload and share those courses online.

Same with custom designing your R.C. car - plus, if you have to get microtransactions in there, the publisher can offer limited edition paint jobs, decals and other cosmetic touches for a price.

Oh man, now I got myself all excited over this. Let's get to our last game. It's a doozy.

#1 Nightshade

Lampshade.... I mean... Nightshade
Lampshade.... I mean... Nightshade

The original: There was no other game like Nightshade on the NES. In fact, I don't think there was another game quite like it since.

It might have been too ambitious a game for the NES hardware at the time. Developed by Beam Software (who would go on to develop the SNES Shadowrun game), Nighshade put players in the shoes of a masked vigilante akin to pulp heroes of the 1940s, like The Shadow or, yes, even Batman.

The game was a mish-mash of styles, with one minute it being a point-and-click adventure game. to suddenly jumping into a fighting game, and then, just as quickly, becoming a 2D platformer.

As Metro City's newest protector, it was necessary to win over the town's favor - thus a "popularity meter" was included.

By stopping crimes and helping people in need, your meter would increase and average citizens would be more willing to help you in your fight against Sutekh and the other crime lords under his command.

Seriously, this game was so awesome, you guys.

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(Jump to 2:44)

The potential: Essentially, I'm picturing this remake as Batman: Arkham City meets Grand Theft Auto V. Make the rounds across the rooftops of Metro City, stopping Sutekh's thugs and other criminals from their criminal activities, rescue civilians in danger, and helping the city in general.

On top of a Popularity Meter, like from the original, there would be something akin to the "honor" meter from Red Dead Redemption. Does the populace view you as a virtuous protector, like Superman or Daredevil? Or are you a violent force of nature, something to be feared like The Punisher or Spawn?

Also, I know those comparisons are gonna rile at least some of you up. Have at it in the comments, kids.

This is a remake that needs to be made,and it needs to be made immediately.

Edited by Alan John
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