Nintendo Switch has become something of a retro gamer’s dream machine, with its digital storefront increasingly populated with classics of video game past.
The appeal is clear: not only does Nintendo boast an incredible library of classic games which it doesn’t often afford a return to the spotlight, but players can now experience a host of previously television-only adventures on the go as well.
VGC spoke to a group of game developers from across the industry to hear which classic Nintendo games (or games which have appeared on Nintendo platforms) they’d like to see revived on Nintendo Switch.
Game director, Yoku’s Island Express / The Darkness
Bubble Bobble is well overdue for a remaster. The puzzle platformer would be perfect for Nintendo Switch since the console is a co-op platform by nature. Also, games like Binding of Isaac have demonstrated brilliantly how to take an arcade-like experience and make replayability much more interesting, by adding a layer of meta-progression. Unlocking new stuff in future playthroughs keeps the game interesting and gives you a sense of accomplishment, even if the game itself is difficult. [Editor’s note: a new instalment of Bubble Bobble has been confirmed for Switch]
Art director, Donkey Kong 64 / Kameo
My choice, Donkey Kong Country 2, isn’t just because I worked on it and that it brings back memories of an amazing time in my career, but because recently I saw videos where someone had recreated a couple of levels (Bramble Scramble and Bramble Blast) in 3D in Unity. Although the graphics were now 3D they’d done an amazing job of recreating the look and feel of the original graphics whilst also adding loads of little flourishes and touches like foliage blowing in the wind.
The backgrounds in the original were often more simple and repetitive than is possible today due to technical constraints, but this recreation I think was a testament to how bold and strong the original designs were and show that you don’t need to add a tonne of unnecessary detail and clutter to create something stunning. It looked amazing and made me desperate to see more, especially to see how some of the more atmospheric levels and effects would look remastered with modern lighting techniques and loads of sweet particle effects.
Creative director, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Well since we are discussing our dream video game desires then I would like Gunpei Yokoi to appear in my dreams, asking me to do a remaster of Metroid, 1986. But I would be happy even if it wasn’t me creating it, to be honest!
I’ve always had a soft spot for Balloon Fight. It has lovely analog controls and a simple core mechanic that make it feel like a Japanese version of Joust. I think you could grow it pretty easily too: switching it to 3D would make it kind of like a dogfighting game centered on collisions. Imagine Burnout crossed with X-Wing. There’s nothing better than crashes and getting right up close to your enemies.
Even better, it’d be great on the Switch because you could have simple duels with other players on the bus. Maybe you could chop the file size down low enough to challenge players who didn’t even have the game to a 5 minute, 1 on 1 battle, which would act as a demo. I’m not sure what you’d do with the music though… It was catchy and lovely in the original but may need a bit of a tweak. Maybe add an announcer and give it a Smash TV vibe? Get it done, Nintendo! I’ll buy five.
The classic game I would love to see the most ported to Nintendo Switch would be NHL 94 or 96 (I actually prefer the speed of 96 and it’s the last year with my beloved Nordiques). But since there’s no way its going to happen, I would say Ogre Battle 64, I have it on the Wii, but a portable version of Ogre Battle 64 would actually make the experience of playing the game a lot better.
Composer, Banjo-Kazooie / Viva Pinata
My favourite game from the SNES era (and probably my favourite game of all time) is Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. When I first bought a SNES, included in the bundle was Super Mario World and Zelda. I’d never heard of Zelda so I didn’t play it for a while. I remember the music being so fantastic throughout the whole game, the classic Zelda theme, the amazing dungeon music that was just a tiny loop but you never got tired of hearing it and it gave the perfect atmosphere. It’s just a perfect game to me!
Designer, Perfect Dark / TimeSplitters
I would love to see GoldenEye 007 at a solid 60fps with split screen and local console link! If I’m not allowed that, then Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Parodius and the Metroid Prime Series will do. Oh, and a TimeSplitters compendium too!
Creative director, Jupiter & Mars
As much as I’d love to see Skies of Arcadia ported to Switch, I’d love to see another Sega property appear on Switch even more, and that’s Phantasy Star Online. I’ve been beating this drum for years, now. Unfortunately while every publisher with a deep, rich arsenal of retro games seems keen to repurpose them out to hungry gamers everywhere, Sega’s current management doesn’t really roll like that. If they did, then maybe we would see the early Dreamcast (and later Gamecube) classic, Diablo-like, Phantasy Star-branded, multiplayer extravaganza on Switch.
Gamecube ports are, in general, few in coming, but even if this weren’t the case this would still be among the best of them. Colourful, iconic character designs, a memorably trippy soundtrack, awesome multiplayer action (to compensate for the weak single-player experience), tons of customisation, and extensive strategy and depth, PSO Episodes I & II Plus and/or Blue Burst would be a welcome sight on Switch and pretty much anything else that could run it (smartphones, tablets, etc.). Unfortunately, if anything, we’re likely to see SEGA force its F2P sequel, PSO2, on to Switch after its stint on Xbox One, but even if that happens there’s nothing like the original.
I’d love to see a remake of Lylat Wars (or Starfox 64, to give it its international name). I sank way too many hours into that game! There have been a few games since that have tried to emulate it, but none have quite scratched that itch for me. The blend of gauntlet and arena dogfights, the different vehicle types, the pulpy arcade feel to the combat… I love it all. Oh, and if they could throw in a co-op mode I wouldn’t complain!
Composer, Sea of Thieves / Killer Instinct
I reckon I’ll have to go with Tetrisphere from the Nintendo 64 days. The reason being, I have such happy memories of playing it with my old mate Noz (former Rare composer Graeme Norgate) back in our formative Rare years. We used to play it in his office in the GoldenEye block of an evening. I remember being blown away by how good the score by Neil Voss sounded… it was properly amazing!
Designer, Fable II / Sea of Thieves
I’d love to see Nintendo go back to where it all began; ‘Donkey Kong’. I find the design challenge of taking an 80’s arcade game and fully remastering it in a modern 3D space fascinating. Think ‘New Donk City’ meets ‘Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’ with some nostalgic, arcade goodness thrown in. It would be a glorious 3D puzzle platformer, and lay the foundations for a reboot of the legendary ‘King of Kong’ rivalry that is so long overdue!
Character designer, Banjo-Kazooie / Donkey Kong Country
Let’s see SNES Panel de Pon return! “Play this, it’s good,” Tim Stamper suggested during DKC development, so reluctantly I gave it a go. Many years later I was still playing most lunchtimes, such was fun and charm on offer. The satisfaction of stringing combos together as you taunted your opponent, the perfect sound, the cute graphics… I want the original fairies of course, no Yoshi or Pokemon nonsense! You don’t know stress until your blocks have been squashed and you have a couple of seconds of desperate shuffling to save yourself, I tell you.