Top 10 Franchises That Deserve A Retro Update

Growing up, a pixel used to be a boy’s best friend. Nowadays, everything all fancy, and “rendered” with anti-aliasing. What’s the fun of that? When we were kids, not having a definitive face on our character meant that it was easier for us to imagine that we were that character with the giant sword and magic spells.

“Mega Man 9″ may not seem like the most innovative game of the year, but, for long-time gamers it is a welcome homecoming for a franchise that has gone astray from its roots. Over the last 30 years of gaming “innovation” has driven many on-going franchises into the ground with constant reworking of beloved classics. Unfortunately, these “updates” don’t always pan out too well, and the only thing that is similar between a new title and an original, are the characters - and sometimes even that’s a stretch.  Sure, “Super Mario 64″ introduced the series to 3D very successfully, but for every success there have been more than a few failures.

Hopefully, “Mega Man 9″ will be such a success that some of gaming’s oldest franchises may stop and take note of their roots, and maybe their next release will be an old-school “update.” Here’s a list of the 10 franchises that could stand for a trip down memory lane - preferably in glorious 8 (or 16) bits.

1. Castlevania
I feel like this is one of the two obvious choices for this list. While the recent DS games have retained the essence of the original NES trilogy, they left me asking one question; where’s Simon? He was the Belmont that made the series famous, yet he has barely been seen in 20 years. I realize that his story was basically told to it’s completion a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some hidden chapter, yet to be discovered, and when they go digging, hopefully Konami will go old school.

2. Madden
Sure, it’s one of the best selling games every year, but really how different have the last 5 Madden games been? Madden peaked with the release of “Madden ‘96″ - it was one step above arcade football, but not super technical like the franchise’s current state. It’s time for EA to throw a hail mary and take the game back to the way it was in the ’90s.

3. The Simpsons
For such a beloved television series, The Simpsons sure have had some crappy games over the last 15 years. The funny thing is, the best Simpsons games came out right at the beginning of the show’s life. Forget the NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, PS2, even the latest Simpsons game - the greatest game based on Springfield’s favorite family was The Simpsons Arcade game. It was four player co-op gaming at its best as you battled your way through the streets of Springfield, and it’s still the epitome of the video game versions of this franchise. If only the next Simpsons game could go back to the very basic sidescrolling multiplayer game, all would be right with the world again.

4. Final Fantasy
The thing about Final Fantasy games is that they haven’t gotten bad by any means, they have just changed a whole lot from where the franchise began. RPG gamers of today might not like the turn based, random battles of the first game, but it might be an interesting direction for FF14 to go. The original is a masterpiece, and the SNES games were absolutely amazing - the FF characters of today could really learn something from their distant 8 and 16 bit warrior cousins.

5. Sonic
What was once a key franchise for Sega, has, frankly, gone to crap. This speedy blue hedgehog used to be the pinnacle of speedy, 2D gaming, but is now, just consistently frustrating, especially to long time fans. While the “Sonic Rush” games for the DS almost brought the game back to where it deserves to be, there was just something about them that didn’t feel right. I think everyone will agree with me when I say that the only way people are going to enjoy the next Sonic game is if he goes back to 2 dimensions, and 16 bits.

6. The X-Men
Ok, so the NES game was pretty bad, but the Genesis game was one of the best games released on a Sega console. Don’t get me wrong, the recent X-Men Legends games were a lot of fun, and fairly innovative for the franchise, but they’re just not the same with their RPG elements, and isometric dungeon crawling perspectives. Imagine just how amazing a fully stacked roster would be for a 2D platformer based on Josh Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men.”

7. Ninja Gaiden
While the three recent versions of this game weren’t bad, they just lacked something that made the original shine - a connection to the character. While the series has always been a little incoherent, the story has barely mattered in the recent titles, and instead it has been replaced by overwhelming difficulty and an all around craziness. Bring back the original Ryu, and those short, yet meaningful cut scenes.

8. Metroid
Samus’ latest adventures haven’t been too shabby, but there is no denying that they feel like an entirely different game than the original. The new games are the same character, same plot, same enemies, completely different gameplay. While some of the more recent GBA games have managed to keep true to the original, it’s time for a full console release with updated retro graphics.

9. Metal Gear
It’s true, Snake started his adventures with 8-bit exclamation points. “Metal Gear Solid 4″ is destined to be remembered a classic of epic proportions, but what if the next title in the series was a throw-back to Snake’s top-down days? Just, this time, no cards.

10. Ms. Pac-Man
Pac-Man had quite the revival with “Pac-Man C.E.,” but his lady friend is left in the dust. “Ms. Pac-Man” hasn’t seen an update in years, even though her original title was essentially a rehash of Pac-Man with a bow, the game was just better. Perhaps Namco should consider a “Ms. Pac-Man C.E.”

On the plus side - ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST.

Within the last year or so there have been a small handful of games that avoided making this list by turning their franchises around, and going almost all the way back to where they began, and for that I commend them. Now, if only the games on this list can follow the lead set by “Contra IV,” “New Super Mario Bros.,” and, of course, “Mega Man 9,” the future of classic franchises would be really bright.

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3 Responses to “Top 10 Franchises That Deserve A Retro Update”

  1. JoshZTP2 on October 21st, 2008 2:58 pm

    Where’s Mario or Zelda?! List seems fine; but complete without them! :(

    On the other hand, you got my other favorites; Castlevania, Sonic, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, and FF! :)


  2. Unit on October 21st, 2008 3:08 pm

    The Sonic games on the DS are great updates that feel like the old school originals


  3. xino on December 21st, 2008 1:01 am

    The list sucks ass!

    Just you complaining and not appreciating great classic revivers:/

    Ninja Gaiden (Xbox), was great because of it’s gameplay, difficulty and graphics.
    Ninja Gaiden classic was great because of it’s story, gameplay and difficulty. The classic was just hard as the Xbox version.


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