Retrofit: 5 Classic Games That Should Have Current Gen Sequels
Retrospect is a powerful force in the world of gaming. The average gamer is around the age of 30 as of 2012, which means that people have been playing games for most of their lives. These people grew up gaming, they grew up on consoles like Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive and they have incredibly fond memories of the games that they played on those systems. We only have to look at recent HD remakes such as Final Fight: Double Impact or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-shelled to see that people still enjoy retro gaming. We can look at modern day sequels to classic games such as Street Fighter 4, Mortal Kombat and Ninja Gaiden to see that these games still have a place on our shelves. With that in mind, let’s have a look at five games I would love to see get sequels.
5. Captain America and The Avengers (1991)
Captain American and The Avengers was originally released for NES and Arcade systems in 1991. Following that, it was slowly ported to the Sega Mega Drive and SNES as well as handheld consoles such as Game Boy and Game Gear. The version of the game I played was the SNES version which boasted upgraded graphics and sound, but cut the players in the hotseat down to two from the Arcade versions four. You could select from one of four Avengers including Captain America, there was also Iron Man, Hawkeye and Vision. The plot was simple, Red Skull had assembled an army of super villains (among them was Juggernaut, Ultron and The Mandarin) and it was up to Captain America and The Avengers to stop them. Game play was simple and reminiscent of the time with the side scrolling brawler style. It also included projectiles such as Captain America’s shield throw or Iron Man’s energy blast. Other Avengers, such as Wonder Woman and Quicksilver, would show up if the player collected specific power ups and help them battle through the level for a short time. While Arkham Asylum finally got a comic book game adaptation right, one can’t help but think if developers looked back at this gem it might not have taken so long. With the release of the Avengers film, and a sequel in the works, as well as the other Marvel films being released it’s time that this classic brawler got the sequel it so long ago deserved.
4. Clay Fighter (1993-1997)
The Clayfighter series saw its initial release on the SNES in 1993. It was a strange little fighting game that boasted Claymation graphics and a roaster of weird and wonderful characters such as Bad Mr. Frosty who was a snowman with a bad attitude, Blue Suede Goo who was a Elvis impersonator and Taffy who was a piece of taffy with stretchy Dhalsim like attacks. In 1994 an updated version was released called Clayfighter: Tournament Edition. While initially a rental only, the Tournament Edition fixed many of the original versions bugs as well as adding some new stages and versus modes. In the same year it was also ported to the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis and in 2009 it was made available on Nintendo’s Virtual Console.
Such was the success of Clayfighter that in 1995 a sequel was released for the SNES titled Clayfighter 2: Judgment Clay (and obvious ode to Terminator.) Clayfighter 2, or C-2 as it was known, introduced a slew of new characters to the roster with only three returning from the original game, Bad Mr. Frosty, Blob and another character named Tiny. Generally the game was similar to its predecessor in design and tone and continued with its off-kilter sense of humour. There were plans for a port of the game to the Sega 32X but eventually they were abandoned.
With the release of the Nintendo 64 came the final Clayfighter game, Clayfighter 63⅓. Like the other games in the series Clayfighter 63⅓ stood out for the time because of its use of stop motion and Claymation instead of normal computer generated graphics. Being much more self-aware of its genre, Clayfighter 63⅓ pokes fun at many other contemporary fighting games of the day. It introduced ‘Claytalities’ as an answer to the Fatalities of Mortal Kombat and it borrowed heavily from the combat systems of Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. In 1998 an updated version of the game was release called The Sculptor’s Edition. Once again a rental only, The Sculptor’s Edition featured new story arcs as well as an upgraded combat system and four new characters.
The Clayfighter series were rare games for their time. They had a unique sense of humour that showed fighting games can be funny too, as well as show casing a wholly original way to make a fighting game. With the recent success of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 4 its time Clayfighter stepped back into the ring.
3. Earthworm Jim (1994-1999)
Earthworm Jim was one of the defining games of its generation. Released in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis it was quickly ported to every other major console of the day. You played as Jim, an everyday earthworm who comes across a super space suit that gives him upgraded intelligence and also acts as his body. With this suit Jim must save Princess What’s-Her-Name from antagonists such as Psy-Crow and Bob the Killer Goldfish. A classic side scroller, the player navigates Jim through each level to reach the boss. These levels were broken up by racing levels called ‘Andy’s Asteroids’ where the player must race against Psy-Crow to the finish and avoid the asteroids in their way, if they lost they would have to fight Psy-Crow to continue to the next level and other similar ‘inter-levels.’ In 2010 Earthworm Jim was given a HD remake and you can now pick it up on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade.
In 1995 Earthworm Jim 2 was released for Sega Genesis and SNES, eventually being ported to most other consoles. The story was very similar to the first game; you played as Jim having to save Princess What’s-Her-Name from the bad guys. This time though there were a few different moves Jim could perform as well as a few different weapons at his disposal. While some of the levels resembled the first games design most were extremely different, showcasing the creator’s off-the-wall sense of humour. There were the hellish ‘Puppy Love’ levels where Jim had to juggle Pete’s puppies back to safety and ‘Inflated Head’ where Jim’s head had become inflated and caused him to float, the player would have to dodge sharp objects as well as attacks from Evil the Cat. Earthworm Jim 2 was generally received as an improvement over its predecessor and is currently available on the Virtual Console as well as Steam.
Earthworm Jim 3D was released in 1999 for Nintendo 64 and Windows and found Jim breaking away from the traditional 2D side scroller and into the 3D world. Jim is hit by a flying cow and falls into a coma. He wakes up in his subconscious only to find he is slowly going insane, something he must stop before he wakes up. Sadly the move was not for the better as the game was poorly received by fans and critics alike, which can also be attributed to series creator Doug TenNaple barely being involved.
The Eathworm Jim series deserves to end on a higher note than it did, and with Doug TenNaple working on a sequel to The Neverhood let’s hope that his next project will bring Jim back for another adventure.
2. Blackthorne (1994)
Blackthorne, or Blackhawk depending what region you are in, was initially release for SNES and MS-DOS in 1994. Without sounding overly biased, this is probably one of the best side scrolling shooters I’ve ever played. You play as Kyle Vlaros, a mercenary who facing a court martial breaks out of prison. He meets a being named Galadril who tells him he is the heir to the throne of a planet named Tuul. Kyle is told of how his father, the king of Tuul, sent him to earth as a child to save him from an invading force, and how his father was killed by the General of this army named Sarlac. He must return to Tuul, kill Sarlac and reclaim his birthright. Game play revolves mostly around shooting and platforming but Blackthorne stood out from other side scrollers of the time in one significant way. It had a cover system. While basic, it was implemented extremely well with the player only having to hold up on the D-pad and Kyle would lean against the wall to dodge incoming fire. He also had the ability to blind fire behind himself, things that no other shooter did at the time. The enemies varied between other humans and creatures that suspiciously looked like Orcs. Blackthorne was eventually ported to the Sega 32X and the Game Boy Advance in 2003 but since then it has sat in the backcatalogue of Blizzards library. If Blizzard could take their eyes off of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft for even a moment, maybe, just maybe they could make another excellent shooter for the modern day in the form of a Blackthorne sequel.
1. Battletoads (1991-1994)
It was always going to be Battletoads. I can think of no franchise that is more deserving than Battletoads. The first game was released in 1991 for NES, originally created as a response to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You take control of Rash or Zitz, who are (you guessed it) toads, in an attempt to rescue another Battletoad called Pimple and their friend Angelica from The Dark Queen and her minions. The game was a classic beat-em-up in every sense. But the levels did vary from the standard find a bad guy, beat him down and onto the next one. There was also a speeder bike level which would get faster and faster as you progressed and another where you repelled down the inside of a tree fighting your way to the bottom, just to name a few. As excellent as the game play was, Battletoads was made infamous for its crushing difficulty and will always be remembered for that. Despite this it was received well enough to be ported to the Amiga in 1992 and Sega Mega Drive and Genesis in 1993 and to the Amiga CD32 in 1994.
Because of the success of the first game, the sequel was no ordinary sequel. It saw the Battletoads teaming up with another legendary beat-em-up team called Double Dragon. The game, originally released for NES in 1993, was simply titled Battletoads & Double Dragon. The Dark Queen had teamed up with the Shadow Warriors (from Double Dragon) to help her take out the Battletoads. Replying in kind, the Battletoads enlisted Billy and Jimmy Lee to help them fight against their mutual enemies. The game combined everything excellent from both series and was one of the better examples of the beat-em-up genre of the time. It would eventually get ported to the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis as well as SNES, these versions being vastly superior to the NES counterpart due to better graphic and sound.
Battletoad & Double Dragons was quickly followed by Battletoads in Battlemanics in the same year for SNES. Having a similar plot to the original Battletoads release, this time Zitz is kidnapped along with another friend called Michiko Tashoku by the Dark Queen, Battlemanics feels almost like a rerun. An extremely challenging rerun though. It recycles several levels from the first game, including that damn speeder bike level, and keeps the difficulty high. Overall it is an improvement on the original with better controls, graphics and sound.
The final entry in the series, simply called Super Battletoads, holds a strange place in the series. It was released only for Arcade in 1994 and never ported to any other console. The game also differed as it had a much more mature content and a higher level of violence. Aside from Battletoads & Double Dragon it is the only game to allow the player to choose from all three of the toads, and as being an arcade game up to three people can play simultaneously. The plot was minimal in that the toads simply had to stop the Dark Queen from taking over the galaxy, but that didn’t hinder its incredible game play. Focusing more on the fighting aspects of the series, this time around the toads had a much more distinct style to each of them. For example, Pimple being the biggest of the three was slower but could deal a higher rate of damage. Despite never being release for consoles the game still gathered a hefty following.
The Battletoads series has not seen a game since 1994, but the series left a vivid imprint in the fans minds. It’s time the Battletoads stepped up once again and showed everyone how it’s done.
There will always be those certain games or that specific series that we just want more from. Sometimes you’ll find a series, like Mario, Final Fantasy or even Metal Gear Solid that just keeps on giving. Other times you’ll find that one game that was just so brilliant that you wait and wait for the sequel that never comes. Shadow of the Colossus I’m looking at you. These five games and series are all games I played in my childhood and when given the chance I go back and play through them all over again. Seeing a sequel come to anyone of them would not only make my day, it would make my decade. And banking on the fact that other games from my childhood are now getting sequels, maybe that might just happen.
What do you think? Leave a comment.