By Katie . January 30, 2006 . 12:16pm
Thank you and welcome to the Most Wanted Oldies List, Part 2! Last week’s edition detailed the titles and series that could most satiate the rampant desire for revived imports on the Revolution’s ROM download service. In this week’s follow-up, even more games will be revealed that could induce mass hysteria and renewed faith in the industry upon their re-release. From the incredibly obscure to the insanely sought-after, here’s games 6 to 10 comin’ atcha. The list may be SNES-heavy, but watch out for a real curveball entry, meaning I ran out of ideas and threw in something impossible.
#6: Super Mario Brothers 2: The Lost Levels (a.k.a. SMB2J) – NES Famicom Disk System (Nintendo, 1986)
For the average mass consumer of video games in the NES era (which, let’s face it, was a lot of us), there was no overt reason not to accept the game known as Super Mario Bros. 2 as true successor to the 1985 original. Sure, it was a little weird in concept – the story involved a dreamland called Subcon and a new vegetable-hating, came-out-of-nowhere villain named Wart, leader of an enemy army of flying fork-wielding pixies, bomb-toting albatrosses, and dwarfish, mask-wearing cloaked men – and, in retrospect, even weirder that none other of Mario’s adventures acknowledged any of said setting or cast for years to follow… but back then, we were none the wiser.
It was only a matter of time before the community went global and our suspicions were validated, our beloved Mario 2 proven to be a pure fabrication – a repaint of the Arabian-themed, one-shot game, Doki Doki Panic – that would be known in Japan as Super Mario USA. However good the fabrication and however much, as Nintendo banks more and more on nostalgia to help sell spin-off titles, it may have contributed to the Mario universe, there is still a REAL SMB2 to be properly dealt with.
I say ‘properly’ because a re-release for the Rev would be far from the first. The game has appeared on a battery of systems following the FDS original – in Mario All-Stars for the SNES, in Super Mario Deluxe for the Game Boy Color, and the Famicom Mini Series for GBA in Japan – but none have fully replicated the experience. While the engine and aesthetics, very much similar to Mario the first, are just as dated, this piece of gaming lore would be cherished by the many who have always yearned to play an unadulterated, super-long, and SUPER-hard edition of the Second Brothers Mario.
#7: The REAL Akamajou no Dracula X: Chi no Rondo – NEC PC-Engine CD (Konami, 1993), NOT Castlevania: Dracula X – SNES (Konami, 1995)
Okay. There’s a bit of history behind this one, but for brevity’s sake, let’s summarize:
The year is 1995, and development for the Super NES, forefront of 16-bitters as they bow out to the next gen, is at its peak potential. After 5 years of learning its ins and outs, the envelope is pushed right off the hardware, making possible something many a worldly Castlevania fan had been anticipating since two years prior. An announcement from Konami promises to make this wish come true, and the crowd goes wild… until it arrives.
That game, Dracula X in America, Vampire’s Kiss in Europe, was an anglicized port/sequel of a game for the Japanese version of the Turbo CD called Rondo of Blood.
The much-fabled best Castlevania of its day and the continued favourite of many, the original is indeed worthy of its celebrity. And in turn, so would be the remake, it was thought – before that theory suffered a slowed-down, colour-drained, gameplay-castrated death. The multiple paths, the two playable characters, the soundtrack and vibrant palette that made Rondo – all were severely diminished or removed, and in their place were added hemorraged level design and poor hit detection to no small degree of outrage. It is considered the worst blemish of the prestigious line, second to Castlevania 64 only if you forget the duly elevated expectations that it so horribly failed to meet. Konami, make it right – re-release Rondo, with movies, with Maria, with music, all the way they used to be.
#8: Star Fox 2 – SNES (Nintendo/Argonaut Software, N/A (1995?)
The first (and one of the few) games to bear the Super FX Chip technology, Star Fox was a technical marvel as far as Super Nintendo games were concerned. The enclosed chip, which was powerful enough to push out flat-shaded polygons and render them reasonably quickly, was also expensive enough to limit its production to just a few titles. Shortly thereafter, it would be succeeded by the Super FX 2 chip, a faster polygon-pusher and sprite-manipulating monster, and it was with the advent of this chip that Star Fox 2 was planned, promising many improvements like more playable characters and the Full Range Mode boss fights as later seen in Star Fox 64.
In what was a disappointing but rational move from the ever-cautious Nintendo, the release of Star Fox 2 was cancelled. Not the development, however, which reached a near-complete stage and, with a little help from the fan community, produced fairly playable ROMs of the game some years later. The gameplay is essentially comprised of protecting Star Fox’s homeworld Corneria by intercepting the Andross offensive, in dogfight after dogfight with smaller craft and major battles with battleships, where the player must infiltrate the craft and nuke them some power cores. Terrestrial outposts pose another threat, and require some invasive manoeuvres as well. All in all, impressions of Star Fox 2 suggest more of a quasi-real-time, map-driven strategy game than a corridor shooter, one that yet retains all the gunplay and aerial acrobatics for which Star Fox is best known.
#9: Mario Artist: Paint Studio (Nintendo, 1999)
One game in the previous List may have already touched on the N64DD, but there were even more from the console’s own creators that were the undelivered subjects of wild anticipation. Unfortunately for the many hopefuls who pined for the likes of Mario Artist: Paint Studio, Polygon Studio, and Communication Kit, these games were destined to forever dwell on the Pacific Rim. Paint Studio, the sequel to the much-loved Mario Paint for SNES, came bundled with a mouse, as before, that allowed those with an artistic temperament and a TV to play Picasso. The launch title included a more full-featured toolset, renders of popular Nintendo characters to edit with larger and more detailed stamps, and a polygonal movie-making mode that couldn’t have flown without the accommodating rewrite space on the drive’s disks. Assuredly novel if not technically impressive, perhaps the most appealing part of Paint Studio is the fly-swatting mini-game from Mario Paint in 3-D… what more could you want?
#10: Gyakuten Saiban series – GBA (Capcom, various)
If the Gamecube could use the Game Boy Player to emulate GBA games, then I say the Revolution should take no half-measures with its ROM service and tackle one of the biggest domains of ‘unauthorized’ evaluation. And what better games to bring over, with the proven success of personal favourite Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, than the entire series that preceded it? Yes, there were three of these judicial gems that are yet unknown to los Americanos… and rather than needlessly elaborate when you can just read a review, or better yet, play Phoenix Wright, and because I’m battling sleep and losing the war already at 5:00 in the afternoon, I’m going to kindly demand full-blown GBA support starting with those games. And that you get your butt to your local game vendor and get your conjecture goin’ on.
And thus is concluded the rundown of Most Wanted Oldies for Revolution. If I held sway in the industry, I think we’d see some happy faces on WiFi Launch Day, but since I don’t, go pray at your local Nintendo console shrine, encircling yourself in a pentagram of connected NES, SNES, and N64 controller cords, and chant some psychic mantra directed at Shigeru Miyamoto – do your part. If you missed numbers 1-5 read them here.
Written by Katie Montminy.