I’m just going to say it: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is perfect and the greatest system ever made. But rather than force my opinion on people who would deny this objective fact, I want to talk about some of the unsung SNES classics. The following five games had their last installment on the Super Nintendo, and it’s time they got their long overdue sequels. This isn’t going to be a complex list, just a quick description of the game and how I think it could work on current-gen systems. In no particular order, here are five SNES games that need a sequel:
Actraiser (Enix, 1991)
Actraiser is a very unique hybrid of two genres. Half action-platformer and half city building sim, Actraiser puts you in the role of The Master and tasks you with protecting humanity from demons and the inability to plan a functioning town in a game which Americans are assured has no religious themes. The platforming is pretty simple and the controls are a little stiff, but it’s still enjoyable. Town building is very fun, simple and with some real time combat from an overhead perspective. The game feels very satisfying to play and the music is great. And yes, I know it had a sequel, but not only did it have nothing to do with the original, it was also a SNES game as well.
The 2013 Version
The biggest obstacle with making a modern Actraiser would be the danger of the sim part being made too complex. Don’t make us manage our town’s economy or grain supply, keep it the simple and intuitive quest to seal monster lairs so you can fight the big demons. Maybe put in some simple tower defense style gameplay to protect your villages, but that’s it. I’d integrate the gameplay styles a little bit more, have specific areas on the map open up action segments when your townspeople reach them. The action segments aren’t difficult to imagine in a modern setting, just give it a solid action game engine and let the angel statue slice through demons with some light platforming.
Joe and Mac 2 (Data East, 1994)
This entry is really for the entire Joe and Mac trilogy. Yeah, trilogy, J&M2 was really the third game, but the second was renamed Congo’s Caper for North America. Joe and Mac is a simple game with a simple concept: dinosaurs and evil cavemen have kidnapped all the cavewomen in the titular heroes’ tribe, and they have to rescue them. Although all three games have some pretty noticeable differences in their presentation, all of them are platformers where you smack colorful dinosaurs and an endless supply of cavemen with your trusty club. You can also do a spin jump, which was enough to get the North American arcade release of the first game renamed Caveman Ninjas, because… well, it was the 90s.
The 2013 Version
I’m re-imagining most of the games on this list as big budget retail releases, but for Joe and Mac I’m making an exception. The concept is so 90s that a download release with nearly identical gameplay is the only way to go. The obvious path to take with presentation is to play up the cheesiness, I’d even say to give it the Caveman Ninjas name again. Other than that, just give us the same colorful, cartoony world and caveman bashing gameplay. Add to the game’s length by including the overworld map from Joe and Mac 2, with more humor in the dialogue and some bonus objectives.
Sunset Riders (Konami, 1993)
Sunset Riders is Contra in the old west. There isn’t that much more to say about it, that’s what it is. You play as a cowboy rampaging through hundreds of outlaws and everyone has six shooters that fire energy bullets. The distinctly western settings and memorable (if sometimes kind of offensive) bosses set this game apart from Contra and make it a solid entry in an underrepresented genre.
The 2013 Version
Making Sunset Riders into a modern game would be tricky, six shooters firing bright pink slow moving energy bullets would seem even weirder in 3D. I think the best way to address this is to make the game as stylized as possible. Don’t make the story too humorous, but give the game an over the top feel. Don’t try to explain why you’re a cowboy in a pink poncho and sombrero shooting spread shots of energy from your realistic gun, just embrace it. For the gameplay, the only game I can think of that has a suitable play style is Vanquish. A third person shooter with an emphasis on fast movement and dodging, instead of time slowing just make the shots slow enough for you to react to and dodge them normally.
UN Squadron/Area 88 (Capcom, 1991)
UN Squadron is a very unique shmup. While the gamneplay itself is completely traditional over the top horizontal scrolling shooting goodness, the structure is very unique. You choose which order you want to do missions in, and this actually matters since the normally useless points are money in this game, money you can use to upgrade your plane. You can increase your plane’s stats and choose which and how many special weapons to have for it, adding an element of strategy to the shmup formula. Your plane can also take more than one hit, which is something I really wish more shmups would do.
The 2013 Version
There isn’t that much that needs to be changed to make UN Squadron’s formula work in a modern game. Replace the limited continue system with saving and make the game a lot longer, and you’re set. Some more missions variety would also be a good thing, UN Squadron had a few mini-missions where you had to destroy a stationary target in a limited number of flights over it, so a new one could make more simple objectives like that. With how limited the amount of 3D shmups is, I would also like at least some of the game to be Starfox style. The game’s anime license is what’s keeping it off compilations, so Capcom would have to make this a spiritual successor. Despite the license, story isn’t a big part of the game so changing it wouldn’t have any significant impact.
Uniracers (Nintendo, 1994)
Uniracers was truly ahead of its time. If I was comparing it to a mainstream game, my first choice would be Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Uniracers is about riderless unicycles racing and competing in trick competitions. What made this game stand out so much among SNES games was the variety of tricks you could do in the air for points or bursts of speed, always having to stop them soon enough to ensure you landed in a safe position. The surreal atmosphere added to this game’s uniqueness, ensuring everyone who played it remembered it.
The 2013 Version
Translating Uniracers to a modern game would be easy. The extreme sports format that was big in the first half of the 2000s is perfect for it, just make the game 3D and expand on the trick engine and you’re set. Since I don’t think anyone would be insane enough to try to bog down a game about riderless unicycles with realism or a distracting story, Uniracers could be just what the genre needs to get back on track.
Well, there you have it, the first five SNES games that may or may not be forgotten, but definitely all need sequels. Since we’re talking about SNES there are obviously more great games to discuss, so stay tuned for the second part of this article where I’ll discuss and re-imagine five more SNES classics.