By Katie . August 29, 2006 . 1:23pm
By continuing to read this article focusing on the most authentic, most historical of the big three console manufacturers left (said party henceforth referenced as “you-know-who”), you’re agreeing that, despite you-know-who’s rep for listening to their fans and putting out quality merch at an affordable price, not everything said about you-know-who is going to be nice… but no longer can we say nothin’ at all.
‘Cause you have to admit it – no industry outsider, however long a gamer they might have been, can claim a passing understanding of a developer’s decision-making process, you-know-who’s in particular. With a company’s modus operandi now as transparent as the glass of a computer screen, however, they’re as privy to the wildest gameplay desires of every forum-goer as we’ve been to having said dreams flat-out ignored since times forgot. Sure, they’re making good on the promise of an all-new franchise in Disaster: Day of Crisis (which actually sounds a lot like they bought the license to Agetec’s Disaster Report, but I digress…), but you-know-who has most recently gone to such player-shafting lengths as not bringing over the rampantly-anticipated Mother 3, the Kid Icarus GBA rerelease, and further back, entire consoles like the 64DD and the Famicom Disk Drive. Go team!
Henceforth, you bet your ass you know who this “you-know-who” is. And now’s the time to exhume from their great graveyard the caskets, carts of red-and-black 32-bitters and oversized novelty disks alike, those franchises we would have haunt them until they heed our unholy prayers. Say hello to the five series ‘Wii’ want continued this generation, or perish… muahaha.
#5: Kid Icarus (NES, 1987) & Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (GameBoy, 1991 – NA & EU Only)
Before adventures in video RAM eliminated the need for wrap-around, it was a pretty keen trick to keep an engine running on a single screen. While we all remember it from Super Mario Bros. 3’s land of pipes, the overlapped approach to level design was perpetuated throughout another game – Kid Icarus. Not only did it have those vertical-scrolling levels, but Zelda-style, free-roaming dungeons and side-scrolling stages to boot – talk about variety!
With the inclusion of newcomer Pit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, what more natural a move than to revive the little angel boy and his mythological Greek nemeses? Kid Icarus for NES, home of his only global starring role, Pit-ted our archer hero against snakes, Metroid look-alikes, the jar-bound God of Poverty, and even Death itself in over 13 stages of platforming glory. His was the task of finding the three treasures that would kill Medusa, who (spoiler warning) assumed the form of a giant wall as the final boss (end spoiler). A game whose password function is irreverently referred to as ‘entering the sacred words’, while also supplying such amenities as a credit card for use in the Black Market (!) and crawling with robbers looking to pick you clean, Kid Icarus was a humble, avant-garde, and enjoyable effort in giving us the best of both modern living and high-flying Athenian adventure. Read it and weep, GTA & clones.
Alternative of equal or lesser value: Gyromite (NES, 1984)
Although thoroughly unrelated to Kid Icarus, Gyromite is even more esoteric thanks to that lovable robot controller, ROB, who was included with the game in the earliest NES bundles. In the original game, ROB could be commanded to open doors, clearing a path as long as his gyro kept spinning. Can you picture a mechanical-arm simulator slash puzzler, with the ‘wiimote’ as ROB’s arm, lifting impossibly heavy objects to construct a skyscraper with the control of a crane? Something like that would rule.
#4: Battle Clash (SNES, 1992) & Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge (SNES, 1993)
You-know-who can’t be blamed for any malignance towards its Super Scope light gun, nor the players who bought it – although a mere seven compatible titles followed the mini-bazooka’s release, these constituted earnest efforts far beyond a money-grab, and there was no shortage of trying for more. But only one serial would spawn from the Scope, and that started with Battle Clash, a Mobile Suit-inspired, one-on-one shooting game delivered from a then-rare first person vantage point.
What makes Battle Clash and Metal Combat unique is the auto-scrolling cockpit view of each hulking mecha gunning for your heroic hide. Besides 2-player versus with the second using a controller, there’s a story mode replete with these boss fights, where as gunner, you man the turret while main man Mike Anderson maneuvers to expose the enemy’s weak spot. When the pilot can’t dodge the onslaught, it’s necessary to blow the projectiles out of the sky, with either your regular or a charged shot, and pummel those weak spots in between. Think of it as a simpler Virtual-On with superb, sprite-based visuals that showcase your enemies’ wear and tear, and best of all, a barrel to stare down at them. I don’t know why these didn’t catch on outside the history books, and frankly, a light gun attachment for the remote wouldn’t be complete without a new installment of Battle Clash to play with it.
Alternative of equal or lesser value: Duck Hunt (NES, 1984)
As the grand-daddy of consumer light-gun games, Duck Hunt earns irreplaceable mention on this list. If you have to ask what it’s all about, you must be either a toddler or living in an arid, duck-free desert, so let me explain. Ducks are a member of an avian subset commonly known as waterfowl, and the pixilated variety, when flying in ones or twos, may be shot at with the Zapper light gun (maximum 3-round capacity) and retrieved by the Evil Giggle Dog. An alternative to violence towards animals existed in Clay Shooting, where clay pigeons frisbee’d out into the distance for your blasting pleasure. Rumored to have been already in development for the Wii but turning out to be little more than a demo, isn’t it Duck season again yet?
#3: Teleroboxer (Virtual Boy, 1995)
Step aside, Mocap Boxing. That Konami arcade unit with the realistic punching gloves and the “Stand Here” cage could have serious contention if the Wii took another (and this time more literal) whack at one of the bare 16 Virtual Boy titles ever to be released, and one of even fewer worth mentioning, Teleroboxer. As anyone old or dedicated enough to have played a Virtual Boy will know, the oscillating mirrors in the fancy headset created the only real spatial-perceptual experience in home gaming, an environment perfectly suited for a first-person boxing game.
Developed by the same folks in You-Know-Who IRD as the Punch-Out games, Teleroboxer featured robots in place of human punching bags. It seems the VB might have been designed with one aspect of this game specifically in mind – that being, robot Harry was yours to control with BOTH of the directional pads, one for each of his hands. This predated any dual-stick controllers, making it, instantly, a helluva lot cooler than games to come.
Imagine playing with a wiimote per hand, punching the living snot out of robot Kangaroos and Cats, and you get an idea of why Teleroboxer ought strongly to be revived. Plus, the real gloves get so heavy for nerds…
Alternative of equal or lesser value: Punch-Out! (NES, 1987) & Super Punch-Out! (SNES, 1994)
Both of these games are now absolute retro memorabilia, the initial ‘Mike Tyson’ edition of the first in particular (before, you know, the thousands of decidedly family-unfriendly legal infractions). The games pull no punches with their glaring (and admittedly hysterical) racial stereotypes, the flesh-bag facial expressions, and intense difficulty later on. With some of the best graphics, sound, and gameplay on both incarnations of You-know-who’s Entertainment System, Punch-Out made quite an entrance before and it could definitely do so again.
#2: Star Tropics (NES, 1990)
Another from IRD, Star Tropics made history by being the only game with a water-activated code in the manual for use at a critical point in the quest, meaning that before the advent of the internet, second-hand owners could go for years with no hope of finding their way without the proper issue of Nintendo Power. As if that alone doesn’t enough merit a new release WITH all the needed documentation, consider that the RPG/adventure on C-Island features such other assured gaming firsts as: alien abduction of familial units, being swallowed whole by a whale, Yo-Yo attacks and, most famously, the sticking of bananas in one’s ears. Yes, that’s in the ending, but if you haven’t beaten it in 16 years, will you ever?
Alternative of equal or lesser value: … I’m really not sure. We’ll throw in Urban Champion at this inspiration-dry juncture, since, although as far removed as possible from the aforementioned RPG, the pre-Street Fighter brawler seems to be fondly remembered for its confetti-throwing, offbeat style, despite its short innings, weak visual acuity, and lousy replayability. But I speak from a jaded standpoint – you play it and decide.
#1: Mario Paint (SNES, 1992) and/or Mario Artist/3D Studio (N64DD, 1999)
Let’s hear it for the unexpected with Mario Paint as our #1 ‘wiimake’! If the music-making, fly-swatting, and general colorizing hijinks of Mario Paint were coupled with the 3-D modeling and movie-making capability of the N64DD version we never knew, with the Wii’s added microphone and maybe an eventual camera, just picture the high-art results! The worst that could happen is a feature starring yourself and marginally better than what Flash could produce; the best thing is unquantifiable goodness – with the built-in wi-fi, online trading of masterworks and chatting within a shared, real-time canvas are only the beginning of the possibilities.
But let’s not paint everything with a wide-stroke brush – for this, a mouse or better yet, a tablet attachment would have to be in the Wii’s future for the finer details… and finger-painting, because, well, tablets should totally let you splash your hands around in virtual paint.
Alternative of equal or lesser value: None I could possibly suggest can replicate the coolness of Mario Paint.
So ends the list of the Wii’s unlikely champions. Mein Gott, that’s a lot to read. I got a little carried away, but if you’re reading, Ninten—er, you-know-who, listen up and listen good – these are the games ‘Wii’ want!