Retro or Reboot?: Pocky & Rocky

If there are any regrets I’ve had while writing articles for Retronaissance, it would simply have to be the fact that I’m overzealous when deciding to begin new series. It’s not to say that I don’t like the concept of writing multiple pieces based around a single cohesive theme – quite the opposite, in fact. My problem is that I always seem to decide to start them off with only an idea or two to explore. I always sort of take my ability to come up with new ideas that relate to these categories on a whim for granted, but in reality, coming up with topics that I deem both suitable and interesting is a difficult undertaking. As such, I would often exacerbate the problem: introducing more series with the expectation that they’d be easier to write for. Sometimes this ends up working to my advantage – I’ve got quite a few concepts lined up for a few existing series – but when it doesn’t, it only adds to my guilt. As such, I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to try to restart a few of these abandoned series – or at the very least, give them proper follow-ups – and what better place to start than with good old “Retro or Reboot”?

It’s been a long time since I’ve written one of these articles, so it’s only fitting that I review exactly what Retro or Reboot entails. I’ll be looking at a series – with a minimum of two games – that has fallen victim to a significant hiatus. In the past, I’ve considered only games that haven’t seen a new release since the sixth generation (the days when the PlayStation 2 ruled the gaming world), but since the present generation has finally come into its own, I’ll amend this to involve anything that hasn’t been revived since the seventh generation: Xbox 360, PS3 and the Wii. Anything newer than that still has a chance to be revisited after all. Generally, I’ll favor series that only managed to exist during a single generation – it’s just easier to find a cohesive theme when you don’t have to worry about deviations like the 3D Castlevania games or the 2010 reboot of Splatterhouse when considering a franchise’s core concept. I also tend to prefer older franchises, simply because I’m more likely to be familiar with them. In the end, I craft two proposals to revive the franchise: one retro-themed proposition which simply tries to maintain as much of the originals’ concepts as possible and the other a total reboot that tries to reimagine the series with modern conventions. Of course, both proposals can be best described as fantastical pie in the sky wishing, but these are meant to be happy articles, soul-crushing reality be damned!

This article’s topic is Pocky & Rocky. Developed by Natsume, the P&R series is a perfect example of the shoot-‘em-up sub-genre colloquially referred to as the “cute-‘em-up”. The games play similarly to a specific style of shmup where players are capable of freely roaming the stage at their own pace – other examples with similar gameplay include Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Commando and Shock Troopers. Some time ago, the Nopino Goblins went on a rampage. A young Shinto priestess named Pocky managed to put an end to the mayhem, restoring the peace. One day, a Tanuki named Rocky came to Pocky’s temple, asking her for help. The goblins had lost their minds and began their rampage anew. The two team up to find out just why the spirits run amok once more. The second game involves the harvest festival, attended this year by Princess Luna – not that one –  the princess of the moon when she is kidnapped by a gang of demons, led by an oni named Impy. This time, Pocky and Rocky are joined by two new partners, Bomber Bob and Little Ninja. While I personally didn’t own a Super Nintendo when I was a kid, my cousin did and he had both games, so I have fond memories of them from my childhood. Years later, I got to play them again and they definitely held up. Unfortunately, the games haven’t been re-released since: Natsume expressed interest in putting them on Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, but they claim that Nintendo wasn’t interested in releasing any titles from that platform.

Retro

The funny thing about this is that I’ve already got a perfect framework to base the entire concept around. Recently, Natsume did an enhanced port of Wild Guns: Reloaded – currently on the PS4 and coming soon to PC via Steam – which took the original game and rebuilt it, optimizing it for larger resolutions, adding new characters and stages and beefing up the multiplayer to allow for up to 4-player cooperative play. With such a product already existing, why not expand on its core concept with another classic Natsume game? I normally try to title these concepts and this time around I actually have a perfect title: “Pocky & Rocky: Resurrection”. You know, because the enemies fought in this game are mostly various spirits and other creatures generally associated with the afterlife? Besides, the series hasn’t been active since the Game Boy Advance days – so I think that constitutes “Resurrection” in the title.

Speaking of, that brings up a potential issue with the entire concept. You see, the Pocky & Rocky games are actually sequels in a series of games that were originally created by Taito. Known as “Kiki Kaikai” in Japan, the series originated in Japanese arcades in 1986. Here, the character we know as “Pocky” was referred to as Sayo. Taito would eventually release the game on both the MSX2 computer and the PC Engine and even develop a remake for the Famicom Disk System. After that point, the games that would become the Pocky & Rocky games were developed by Natsume who also published the games in both Japan and North America. These two games improved the gameplay of the series significantly: the original Kiki Kaikai games were slower affairs with stiffer controls. They were also the first games in the series to allow for simultaneous multiplayer play: the previous games in the series only allowed 2 players with alternating turns. The only direct follow-up to these two games was a Game Boy Advance game developed by a third company, Altron. This game was published in the West as “Pocky & Rocky with Becky”, including a third character – “Becky”, Pocky’s nigh-identical friend who first appeared in the Famicom game – though the gameplay itself more closely resembled the original arcade games, to my dismay.

There was another attempt at licensing the Kiki Kaikai name for another title – but by this point, Taito had been purchased by Square Enix which led to an argument over the rights to the name of the game. The game would eventually be released as “Yuikinko Daisenpu” – or Heavenly Guardian as it was known in North America – and is clearly meant to be a spiritual successor. This begs the question: would Natsume be able to make a new game in the Pocky & Rocky series? After all, they re-released the GBA game with little problem, but would Square Enix be willing to license the rights to Kiki Kaikai for a worldwide release or would Natsume have to perform some kind of trademark wrangling in order to get a new game made in the first place? Given the fact that Square-Enix has previously tried to license out the rights to various Eidos properties, allowing independent developers to make pitches for new games in those franchises, I think that there may be a chance that they may be more open to licensing out the property, especially to a former collaborator like Natsume.

The funny thing about this concept is that I’d argue it would work even better with Pocky & Rocky than it did with Wild Guns. They have two games to work from, as opposed to one, offering a wealth of existing content to delve from – after all, both games were pretty much built with the same game mechanics in mind, so utilizing the stages from both games under a shared framework should be completely possible. Throw in some additional brand new stages on top of that like Wild Guns: Reloaded did, and you’ve got a perfect retro revival on your hands.

I’d argue that the gameplay should resemble the original games as closely as possible, but by the same token, take into account various advances we’ve seen in video games since the SNES days. Of course, there were some slightly different mechanics between both P&R games: the single-player in the original allowed you to play alone, while the sequel gave you an AI partner of your choice, that could be thrown as a bomb attack for massive damage or taken control of, offering Pocky an additional hit point. The first game gave each character a health meter and allowed them to power up their shots in two ways – either a spread shot or a flaming shot which did more damage. The second game depicted Pocky’s health via her clothing, allowing her to don additional armor for an extra hit point and added new power-ups like bunny ears that enhance Pocky’s speed and a flashing block that would allow her to switch out her partner for a different character, including those that could be unlocked by finding them while playing the game. Due to these improvements, I would suggest using the second game as the revival’s basis, but offer two different single-player modes: one with a partner (representing the second game) and a solo mode (for those that preferred the first game). Better yet, in the former, you’d be able to choose any of the partner characters as your main – which could allow Pocky to act as a partner character. I originally considered adding in an alternate control method – one akin to twin-stick shooters – before I quickly realized that this would completely break the balance of the games. From the series’ conception, players have only been able to aim in the direction they’re moving, a mechanic that is of the utmost importance when enemy placement is considered. As such, I’d have to insist that Natsume maintain the original control scheme from previous games if they decide to take this route.

Obviously, a multiplayer mode is a must. In fact, keeping in line with single-player mode, there should be individual modes relating to both of the previous games. The first game gave each character their own unique health and extra lives, while the second game only allowed the second player to play as Pocky’s partner – only capable of taking a single hit of damage, but having an infinite set of lives, not unlike the Sonic & Tails mode in Sonic 2 and 3. I’d also suggest adding a 4-player mode (based on the first game’s multiplayer), just like the one found in Wild Guns: Reloaded. This time, however, I’d say that Natsume should try to balance the difficulty levels based on how many players are playing at a time – as the game constantly being balanced for 4 players was the chief criticism I heard levelled at Wild Guns. I’m probably a bit biased, but I’d also love to see an online multiplayer mode in addition to the classic couch co-op mode found in Reloaded. Of course, considering how small of a company Natsume is, a mode like that might be a massive undertaking – but it would be a nice touch all the same.

The graphical style is a simple decision: just use the same graphics from the old SNES games, like Wild Guns: Reloaded did. Upscale the graphics so that they look good at the higher resolutions modern platforms can display, but keep the character to playing field size ratio intact, while rendering the game itself in widescreen. Fortunately, the shift to widescreen shouldn’t have as much of an effect on the game as it did with Wild Guns, just due to the difference in genre. Likewise, the sprite work found in both games is similar enough that they should be easy enough to incorporate into a single title and any new artwork should be drawn to match the existing style.

Ideally, I’d want P&R: Resurrection to include both original games in their entirety: storyline, stage progression, boss fights, effectively acting as both an archive of the original games as well as their evolution. On that note, I’d love to see a “third” story added to the mix – with an all-new assortment of stages, as opposed to the few new levels thrown into Reloaded. In addition, throwing in a sort of “remix mode” that would throw a random assortment of levels from all three scenarios would be another awesome bonus feature that would certainly add hours of replay value.

Reboot

The first issue with trying to conceive a modern take on Pocky & Rocky is simply that it’s hard to think of a modern genre that could easily represent it. After all, the classic beat-‘em-ups of the golden age of arcades clearly share DNA with modern character action games, and even the shoot-‘em-ups of yore could easily be turned into rail shooters for big-budget releases today. However, what of the run-and-gun variant of the shmup? After all, part of the appeal there is having full control over the playable characters, while both standard shmups and rail shooters both rely on the screen scrolling constantly, pushing the player along designated paths. A better question: what’s the modern equivalent of a cute-‘em-up? In spite of the second game’s “Angry Kirby” packaging, the in-game graphics still maintain a light-hearted appearance. The Bomberman: Act Zero treatment clearly isn’t going to work with this one – granted, it didn’t even work with Bomberman in the first place.

My basic concept involves a lot of genre blending. Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any game that plays particularly like this – if anyone does, let me know in the comments – but essentially, it’d be a cross between an action game and a twin-stick shooter, essentially using some elements from a third-person shooter to bridge the gap between those two disparate genres. Essentially, we’d be looking at a game that offers quick mobility, emulating that of the SNES games – you could even incorporate the slide as like dodge maneuvers common in the action genre – but also allows for easy shooting controls. Ideally, the second stick would be used to both direct and aim Pocky and Rocky in a 3D environment, while either a face or shoulder button would be used to fire shots. Likewise, the items used to deflect enemy shots – Pocky’s “magic stick” and Rocky’s tail – would likely be expanded upon, expanding on what the melee attacks both characters were capable of in the previous games, while being sure not to overshadow the long-range attacks.

Originally, I considered basing a reboot of Pocky & Rocky on a third-person shooter. The problem with that is that games of this genre generally have clunky controls, which would be incredibly counterproductive when trying to translate a game like Pocky & Rocky into a modern design. After all, even among run-and-gun/shmup hybrids, both P&R games had remarkably responsive controls. The only game I could think of that even came close to what I was trying to achieve was Red Dead Revolver – itself originally conceived as a modern reboot of Capcom’s Gun.Smoke – but a modern take on P&R would require a much smoother and arcade-like interface. This led me to consider contemporary genres known for their responsive controls – and the action genre struck me as the best choice. Likewise, shooting is much more complex in the third-person shooter genre, so a simpler design choice was necessary and nothing is simpler than twin-stick aiming.

The graphics probably wouldn’t need to be all that complex – and any major release out of Natsume would likely lack the budget for anything ornate – so instead, I’ll discuss the type of art direction I’d like to see in this “big budget” reimagining of one of the cult classics from my childhood. First, I’d rather see an over-the-shoulder camera as opposed to the classic overhead view. If they wanted to retain the overhead view, they’d be better off going with the retro-themed revival. Besides, it would be interesting to see the world of Pocky & Rocky from a more direct angle. As for the game’s art style, I think the game should be done in 3D with cel-shaded graphics. I’m torn about how the art direction should take form beyond that point: either a colorful anime style or a graphical style evoking traditional Japanese paintings (not unlike Okami) would work for me.

As for potential developers, I’m kind of at a loss. Natsume doesn’t really have too many partners that they can commission to develop something like this and the project’s scope is also likely beyond the capabilities of their internal teams. As usual, my gut tells me Platinum Games would be a perfect choice, but given the caliber of publishers that have hired them in the past, they’re likely outside of Natsume’s budget. The best I can think of would likely be some random indie developer. The only team that really comes to mind would be The Game Bakers, the team behind the sleeper hit Furi – a game with an even faster pace than what I would expect from a Pocky & Rocky revival. Having said that, I’m almost certain that there may be some Japanese indie dev I’ve never heard of that would be a perfect fit for this concept.

It feels good to write another one of these and I’m happy to say that I’ve got even more ideas for Retro or Reboot in the pipeline. What did you think of these ideas? Would you rather see “Pocky & Rocky: Resurrection” become a reality or does a more modernized take on the series excite you more? Do you disagree that Pocky & Rocky is worth reviving in the first place? Do you have an even better idea for either concept? Are you also excited that Wild Guns: Reloaded is coming to Steam this year? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Abbott and Costello Meet 10 Games I Want Ported to PC

Hello again, readers. I know I kind of missed out on doing an article earlier this month, but I’m hoping to make up for it with this one. Yep, another article about PC ports. That’s not to say that it’s all been gloom and doom: Sega gave a surprise announcement that the original Valkyria Chronicles would be ported to PC earlier this month, with support for 1080p (and higher) resolutions, the capability to run at 60 frames-per-second, remappable controls (keyboard/mouse support too) and all of the previous DLC included in the base package for the low price of $20. Better still, sales of the game have all but exceeded Sega’s expectations, so there’s a distinct possibility that we’ll see even more delayed ports of Sega games hit PC in the coming months. Tekken 7 was recently announced to be running on two different types of arcade cabinets when it launches in Japan, one that makes use of the System 369 board (used for Tag2, matching the PS3’s specs) and their current System ES (a PC-based architecture), which is fueling existing rumors that Tekken 7 will be hitting PC in addition to PS4 and Xbox One. Finally, in response to Xbox One becoming compatible with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10, it’s being speculated that there’s a possibility that more XBO exclusives will be making the jump to PC at some point in the future, either as full ports or through some ability to stream the games on PC from the console itself.

Needless to say, it’s been a good couple of months for PC gaming in terms of news. Best of all, at least from my perspective, is that my streak of game requests getting PC ports announced appears to be unstoppable. Just a couple of days ago, it was revealed that H2 Interactive, the Korean publisher that has been handling the re-releases of Arc System Works’ fighters on Steam, is going to be porting Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND to Steam next month.

Once again, it’s time to go over the rules. This is pretty much second nature to anyone who’s read any of my previous lists, and if you haven’t, you totally should. A lot of gems buried in those older lists and it may even answer the question of why certain games I’ve mooned over don’t show up this time around. My lists stick mostly to third-party companies (aside from Microsoft) with a general focus on companies that have recently released games on PC. Games will be taken from the seventh (360/Wii/PS3) and eighth (WiiU/PS4/XBO) generations of video games, as well as handhelds from those eras and mobile games. Games that weren’t system exclusives are preferred. Finally, games from the same series released on the same console can be packaged together on a single list entry. Well, that was relatively painless, now to hit you with some games.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – WayForward (3DS/WiiU)

I’ve always been kind of interested in the Shantae series, ever since I first saw an ad for the first game in magazines back in Junior High. Unfortunately, due to a strange aversion to playing video games out of release order, I was only able to actually play through the entire series this past year. Since Risky’s Revenge is already on Steam and the fourth game’s already has a confirmed PC release (among many other platforms), it seems reasonable to ask that “Shantae 3” get the same treatment after the announced Wii U release. Use the Wii U version and Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut as a base and it should turn out just fine. Considering Matt Bozon teased the possibility of Pirate’s Curse on other platforms, I’d say there’s a pretty good shot we’ll be seeing it hit Steam’s storefront in the future.

de Blob series – Nordic Games GmbH (Wii/360/PS3)

Recently, Nordic Games announced that they had purchased the rights to THQ’s colorful platformer duology, de Blob. Honestly, I view that as kind of a relief: we never really heard about the franchise’s fate during the sale of THQ’s assets after they went bankrupt. Other titles like Saint’s Row, Company of Heroes and Darksiders all got picked up pretty quickly. Better still, Nordic Games even teased that they were considering working on new entries in the franchise. What better way to gauge interest in the franchise than re-releasing the first two games on other platforms, like PC for example?

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Sega (360/PS3)

Well, for starters, this is the third and final game in that Sega PC Ports petition I keep spamming at you. More importantly, it’s a damn good fighting game of the 3D variety, and the PC could definitely use more of those. Considering the fact that Sega’s planning an update to the arcade version (which unfortunately will be removing the game’s online features), there’s proof that the game still has a little more life left in it. Might as well port it to PC and introduce it to an all-new audience.

MegaMan Powered Up/MegaMan: Maverick Hunter X – Capcom (PSP)

In the wake of Valkyria Chronicles’ recent re-release and success on Steam, it seems only fair that I bring up another two games that I feel deserves another shot and a PC port could be the best way to achieve that. Considering the fact that Capcom’s recent releases in the MegaMan series have been re-releases of old games anyway, this would be a much better way of achieving this sort of thing. MegaMan Powered Up is probably one of the best and most necessary video game remakes of all-time. Maverick Hunter X, not as much, but it was definitely an interesting package, especially with the OVA and Vile Mode. Neither game really found its audience, as they were released exclusively on PSP early in its lifespan before it found its audience in any region.

The Legend of Heroes: Gagharv Trilogy  – Nihon Falcom/Bandai Namco (PSP)

Technically, these are actually three games: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch (the second game released in North America), A Tear of Vermillion  (the second game in the trilogy, but the first released over here) and Song of the Ocean (third game in both respects). One of the few standard turn-based RPGs made by the folks over at Falcom, I found these games somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, due to my personal aversion to using the PSP, I was never able to finish them. Considering the fact that other games in the Legend of Heroes series have been making their way to Steam (the first game in the Trails of the Sky trilogy has already been released on there and the second part is expected to release soon), it seems reasonable to consider a Steam port. I’m not sure if Bandai Namco still owns the rights to these games, but if not, I’m sure XSEED would do an excellent job on porting them, like they did with the Ys games.

Sunset Overdrive – Microsoft Studios/Insomniac Games (XBO)

This one’s pretty obvious, honestly. It’s a bright and colorful third-person shooter with parkour elements and one of the few Xbox One exclusives that makes the system worth owning, at least in my opinion. Of course, having said that, it’s probably unlikely that we’ll see a port of this game to PC for quite some time, at least until the XBO’s library is healthier. Of course, considering the fact that Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome (both proclaimed “exclusives” at launch) eventually made their way to PC, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Sunset Overdrive share the same fate a year or two down the line.

Samurai Shodown II – SNK Playmore (360/iOS)

Considering the fact that they’ve been releasing a lot of other games on Steam lately, this one seems like another slam dunk. Regardless, I might as well discuss it. Aside from the King of Fighters games, the Samurai Shodown games are probably SNK’s most popular fighting game franchise, and SS2 is definitely the most popular game in the entire series. Throw in the bonuses and online functionality that we’ve seen in their recent PC Metal Slug releases, give it a similar pricepoint, and I’m sure it’ll sell like hotcakes.

Princess Crown – Atlus/Vanillaware (PSP)

Ever since I first played Muramasa: The Demon Blade on the original Wii, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the game’s predecessors. After all, Muramasa’s codename during development was “Princess Crown 3”, while Odin Sphere was referred to as “Princess Crown 2”. Unfortunately, Princess Crown itself has never actually been released outside of Japan. Regardless, I’d still like to see it hit North America at some point in the future, specifically on PC, but seeing it hit other platforms would be great as well.

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury – Treasure (360)

An interesting take on the bullet-hell genre, Bangai-O is a quirky game from Treasure that seems to keep changing every time they release it. The first game was originally made for the Nintendo 64 as a Japanese-exclusive title, but also eventually release in all three major regions on the Dreamcast with enhanced graphics, remixed music and less slowdown. It involved going through stages in an almost platformer-style fashion, while still utilizing typical shmup controls and movement options. The second game, Bangai-O Spirits, was released exclusively on the Nintendo DS, and was more of a puzzle game than anything else, clearing stages with custom weapon loadouts. Missile Fury resembles the original more than Spirits, and the jury’s out on whether it’s a remake of the original or a direct sequel. Regardless, Missile Fury outclasses its predecessors in one significant way: it finally achieves the twin-stick control scheme it’s been aiming for since it was first released on the N64. Either way, it looks hella fun and considering Treasure’s current proclivity to PC re-releases it would be a fine addition to any bullet-hell fan’s Steam library.

Omega Five – Natsume/Hudson Soft [Konami] (360)

Speaking of twin-stick shmups, Omega Five was an interesting experiment. Controlling your character with the left-stick and their aim with the right-stick, the game otherwise sort of resembles Capcom’s old Forgotten Worlds, one of my favorite early shmups. Unfortunately, since the game was originally published by Hudson Soft, I’m not aware if the rights to this game managed to be retained by Konami. Regardless, I’d love to see Omega Five get a second chance on a more welcoming platform.

I was prepared to accept the fact that my streak was technically dead at the end of this article, but I guess it’s stronger than I could have possibly imagined. Nothing new on my lists had been announced to be receiving any PC ports until the last possible day I could’ve gotten any news otherwise. Regardless, I was fine seeing the streak die, after all three games from my lists got announced back in September, so if I wanted to be technical about the whole “one game per list” gimmick. Considering all of the other good PC news I’ve seen lately, I’m sure things will pick up at some point. Until then, I’ll be waiting for SNK and H2 Interactive to release those new (well, new to PC) fighting games on Steam.

Top Ten SNES Games That Need Sequels (Part 2)

Welcome back to my list of ten games/series that made their last appearance on the greatest system ever made and need sequels. Once again there is no particular order, just five SNES games with a description and how I envision a current-gen sequel working. And the mandatory intro paragraph, of course.

Wild Guns (Natsume, 1995)

The Game

Wild Guns belongs to a distinct but extremely rare genre. A combination of run and guns and rail shooters, Wild Guns has you controlling both a reticule and your character simultaneously, shooting enemies in the background while dodging their bullets. There are a handful of other games that use this concept (Cabal, Nam-1975), but Wild Guns is widely considered the best. Like Sunset Riders, Wild Guns takes place in the old west, but it isn’t just the bullets that have a futuristic feel. For reasons I’m not sure are ever explained, robots have invaded the 19th century western settings and it’s up to you to destroy all of them. Wild Guns actually has some features that are ahead of its time, letting you dodge roll and blow up most of the background objects. With intense but never cheap gameplay, it really is an overlooked classic.

The 2013 Version

The first instinct of many developers would probably be to make Wild Guns a traditional shooter. No, don’t even think about it. A modern Wild Guns needs to keep its identity, but the single screen levels could feel a little limiting on modern systems. Thankfully, there is one game that is essentially a perfect 3D translation of this rare genre: Sin and Punishment. Taking the same control scheme of moving both a character and reticule and having them run on rails through full 3D levels is exactly how a modern Wild Guns should work. This lends itself perfectly to the over the top action a game about robots attacking the old west deserves, the game practically programs itself!

Ninja Warriors (Natsume, 1994)

The Game

Another great game by Natsume (possibly the most underrated SNES publisher), Ninja Warriors could best be described as a hybrid of beat-em-ups and one on one fighters. You have the multiple enemies and scrolling levels of a beat-em-up, but you have the one plane movement of a fighter and the moves that come with that. This manages to solve some of the problems beat-em-ups have where the developer doesn’t seem to know how to balance three dimensional movement in a time when it was rare. The fighting feels more strategic, and like Wild Guns the core gameplay is very well balanced and has robots!

The 2013 Version

Ninja Warriors is pretty easy to translate into a modern game. Unlike Wild Guns, I think Ninja Warriors would work fine as the closest mainstream genre to it. The fast paced, combo heavy gameplay feels similar to modern 3D action games, and Ninja Warriors would work well as one. There really isn’t that much that has to be said, Ninja Warriors’ gameplay would translate nearly perfectly into a Devil May Cry style game. There isn’t even a need for a “keep the same tone” disclaimer, since action games seldom try to be overly realistic or serious anyway.

Skyblazer (Sony Imagesoft, 1994)

The Game

Skyblazer is an action platformer with the standard Engrish filled throwaway plot you’d expect from that era. The gameplay is solid and has a good amount of variety (auto-scrolling flight levels, mazes, a level where the walls are rotating in 3D) and bosses. In addition to your standard melee combat abilities you can climb walls and gain access to a number of spells as you progress through the game. A very good but not exceptional game, what makes Skyblazer stand out is that it’s a SNES game made by Sony, so it’s unlikely to ever appear anywhere else.

The 2013 Version

Since a sequel to Skyblazer would be Sony exclusive, it seems appropriate to use another Sony franchise as the template for it. Skyblazer’s setting and melee combat/platforming gameplay would fit perfectly into a God of War style game. Go ahead and make it darker and more violent, it’s not like anyone cares about the groundbreaking characters Sky and Old Man. With a larger emphasis on platforming and the mythology having a more eastern influence, Skyblazer could set itself apart enough from God of War to be a good addition to Sony’s first party lineup.

E.V.O.: Search for Eden (Enix, 1993)

The Game

I’m not sure if thinking E.V.O. was an educational simulation game was common or just me, but the game is actually an action-RPG/platformer hybrid. E.V.O. starts you out as a simplistic sea creature, and as you level up you evolve new forms and abilities from several options. The game also covers several eras, each with its own unique enemies and forms for you to choose from. With multiple endings and real-time sidescrolling combat and dungeons, E.V.O. was a very ambitious game for its time. While the combat and platforming is far from perfect, it’s functional enough to let you enjoy the addictive process of evolving your creature to easily kill and eat enemies that used to terrorize you.

The 2013 Version

This is another game where a modern version is easy to picture, but so is what made the game great being ruined. A modern E.V.O. would be tempted to turn into a full sim game, and that would ruin what made it special. E.V.O. should remain simple in its gameplay and leveling and keep the supernatural elements. A modern version should simply expand on it, imagine if it went from amoebas to space exploring humans. It would be important not to let ambition hurt the game Spore style, but as long as the combat remains real time, the evolution paths simple to manage, and the mystical story intact I think a modern E.V.O. could be amazing.

Demon’s Crest (Capcom, 1994)

The Game

You remember those red gargoyles from the Ghouls ‘N Ghosts series? Well they had their own spin-off series, and it’s actually better than the original. Unlike Arthur who only has one weapon at a time and the worst armor in the world, the gargoyle protagonist Firebrand has a variety of abilities and gains new one and improvements throughout all three of the Gargoyle’s Quest/Demon’s Crest games. Despite the RPG elements, the core of the series is still action platforming, and Demon’s Crest is definitely the best in the series. Don’t let that infamous week it had more returns than sales fool you, Demon’s Crest is one of Capcom’s best SNES games.

The 2013 Version

A projectile-based platformer, Demon’s Crest could be tricky to translate into 3D. I think the best bet would be a big genre combination like Darksiders. A Zelda style overworld and dungeon setup would fit well into the series, especially Demon’s Crest with its emphasis on multiple paths and different forms for Firebrand. The style of combat and platforming mix would be nearly impossible in 3D, so since this is my fantasy about a game that will never be made anyway let’s just make the dungeons 2D. A higher puzzle emphasis and less linearity within them (which means adding a map is ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY, just in case I acquired reality warping powers without realizing it and this game gets made) would be a logical evolution for the series. Since we have a 3D overworld (even the SNES game had that, kind of), might as well use it for some gameplay and having rail shooter style air battles. This game might end up with negative sales again, but it sure would be awesome.

So there you have it, ten games that last appeared on SNES and need sequels. I’d like to make a few honorable mentions for Pocky and Rocky (had a sequel much later, but from what I’m told it was terrible), the Soulblazer trilogy (had an even more obscure fourth game on PS1), and Yoshi’s Safari (which just didn’t quite make the list). Will any of these games ever get actual sequels? Well, it’s not impossible, with the rise of lower budget downloadable games and the internet making nostalgia exponentially more powerful there’s always a chance. But until then, at least we still have these SNES classics.