It's not an easy task to take a once-popular gaming franchise and fine-tune it to appeal to a modern day audience. Games with cute graphics and simple gameplay aren't very marketable to a more blood-thirsty and online competitive modern crowd. Remember when certain NES games would cost up to $60 when they first came out? No one would buy a simple NES game for that much money these days.
Luckily, there are certain games that were popularized on the NES that have retained their classic charm and feel, yet have matured enough in order to make it a brand-new experience with present day sensibilities. The following are best examples of five classic games that do just that.
Although a lot of fans foolishly dismissed the recent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for being a “God of War clone,” they fail to see that this most recent entry in the Castlevania series has more in common with its NES origins than the “metroidvania” titles such as Symphony of the Night. Lords of Shadow was an excellent attempt to push the Castlevania series forward. It was stuck for quite some time as a portable-only game series that played very similar to each other. The series was not growing. When Lords of Shadow was released for the XBOX360 and PS3, developer MercurySteam turned the Castlevania series into a very somber and serious game with a similar ambiance to popular fantasy movies such as Pan's Labyrinth, and brought back combat-heavy level-based gameplay that was similar to the NES and SNES Castlevania games. Since combat was the focus of the game, a very deep fighting system was integrated into the game, making it very rewarding for players with patience and skill. After playing through the refreshingly new Castlevania experience that Lords of Shadow provided, the portable games felt like nothing more than a miserable little pile of repetitive gaming.
How does one update Metroid for a modern audience? How can Metroid be introduced into 3D without turning into a horrible game like Mega Man Legends? Luckily, developer Retro Studios took a big risk that paid off. Sure, fans (especially die-hard Metroid purists) were skeptical about how their precious 3rd-person action/adventure games series can be changed into a first-person view, but all that changed when Metroid Prime for the Gamecube was released. Everything that made the original Metroid was still there– the music, the ambiance, the ridiculous boss battles, and the joy of searching every nook and cranny for hidden power-ups. All of these components were integrated flawlessly into a modern take on the Metroid series, the only thing that truly changed was the player's perspective, and the addition of a battle system similar to the excellent “Z-targeting” system from The Legend of Zelda series.
Sure, you can say that Pac-Man is basically the same game that it was when it was first came out in the arcades in 1980. You're still a yellow disembodied head eating a bunch of dots and running from ghosts. More than 30 years later, however, the way you play Pac-Man has significantly changed. Thanks to Pac-Man Championship Edition DX for XBLA and PSN, many modern-day characteristics that make downloadable games popular have merged with the timeless Pac-Man formula. The game is now significantly faster. The graphics and music are simple, yet stylish. Online leaderboards have replaced the typical high score display in the arcades, keeping the game competitive with your friends from all over the world. Seriously, when was the last time anyone has cared about a high score? And lastly, the entire feel of the game has changed. No longer is the player constantly running in fear of the all the ghosts in the game. Pac-Man players have been significantly empowered, and can now destroy a whole train of ghosts within seconds. And it's so satisfying to turn the tables of them after 30 years.
2. Super Mario Bros.
Unlike the Zelda series which hasn't changed very much throughout the years (seriously, how many times have you shot an arrow at eyeball on the wall to open a door?), the Mario games have been significantly different time and time again. It wowed the world with Super Mario 64, when it introduced a true 3D game with a controllable camera. Super Mario Galaxy brought the same hard-as-hell platforming of classic Mario titles and placed it on spherical planets. New Super Mario Bros Wii challenged seasoned Mario fans, and was accessible enough to younger (read: suckier) players. "Mario” continues to be a household name for kids today just like it did in the 80s.
1. Metal Gear
What started off as (pretty much) a game of cat-and-mouse, the Metal Gear series has now developed and matured into a very deep and complex game that is part 3rd person shooter, part stealth game, and part action movie. Hideo Kojima originally created Metal Gear as a stealth action game based around the limited technology at the time. He wanted a action game in a war setting, but obviously couldn't create a game with hundreds of soldiers and bullets flying everywhere. Instead, the game was all about sneaking–adding tension and excitement to Metal Gear players while working around the limitations of the MSX.
However, now that the technology (and money) is available at Team Kojima's disposal, Metal Gear continues to retain the same feel of the original games. However, They've modernized it with great graphics, well-written scripts, competitive and cooperative multiplayer, and cinematics on par with some of the greatest Hollywood action films. They've also made a very complicated game very playable. Players can take down enemies in whatever way they see fit. Whether players want to simply sneak past guards, kill them, or distract them with a nudie magazine, the seemingly limitless possibilities to tackle each scenario are staggering. Every player will experience the Metal Gear Solid games differently.
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