With discussions circling around a possible Let’s Go Sinnoh remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, I can’t help but feel that Nintendo is sorely underestimating the potential of its other IPs. For a studio where exclusives and classics go hand-in-hand, it’s odd that Nintendo rarely pops up with a Link’s Awakening. Rather, you’re more likely to find that it ignores the older titles altogether, emulates them, or ports them over in HD with a tweak or two here and there, while other studios with beloved oldies are pushing to bring them up to the forefront for new generations to enjoy. Nintendo needs that energy.
Diablo 2: Resurrected, a complete remake of the original, was recently announced by Blizzard. It keeps the balance and core gameplay that fans loved intact, retaining that spirit of the classic while bringing it to the modern-day with slicker graphics, more responsive controls, and better online connectivity. Yet, when it comes to Nintendo, it seems that either it will go the full mile – i.e. Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee – or it’ll just dump out an HD port a la Mario Galaxy. Where’s the love for its classic library?
The reason I hammer home the point that Diablo 2 retains that original feel and that old-school balance is because the question that many have is whether Nintendo is keeping the games as they were simply to retain that original feel that might get lost in translation. It’s a strange topic because Pokemon has been getting remade since the days of Fire Red – it’s a franchise that has regularly updated to let new players in on old experiences, and refreshing the gameplay for the diehards. Zelda got a handful of HD ports, DS ports, and a full-blown Switch remake. Yet, Mario, Metroid, Kirby, and Star Fox? Well, Nintendo seems content to ignore or to go for the ol’ PS3 HD bundle tactic.
That tactic deserves to be left in that era, though. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation kicked ass with the likes of Crash Bandicoot’s N. Sane Trilogy from Vicarious Visions, the very people bringing Diablo 2 to the modern-day. Vicarious Visions also delivered the hugely successful Tony Hawk’s remake recently too. In essence, it appears as though Activision is using them as their go-to remake studio, and what’s the harm? There’s always been that stale argument of, “Why not make original games? This is taking away from the developer’s time!” And now? No, it’s not. That’s Vicarious Visions’ role as a studio for Activision. While others can work on new games, new experiences, and even new IPs, VV is bringing the classics up to date so a new audience can enjoy them without having to go over that hurdle of archaic designs and shoddy graphics that don’t hold up.
Then there’s Sony, utilizing Bluepoint Games for its own remakes. It brought Uncharted’s trilogy to the PlayStation 4 with The Nathan Drake collection which was, more or less, that typical HD port with a few tweaks. However, the studio then got more free reign to go balls to the walls with Shadow of the Colossus, paving the way for Demon’s Souls. Meanwhile, Capcom pushed out Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes with rumors and leaks abound of 4 following suit, while fans clamber to ask for Code: Veronica and even Dino Crisis to receive the same treatment. The era of gaming that we are currently in is filled with remakes, sequels, and brand-new IPs. It’s living, breathing proof that they don’t necessarily take from one another, so why doesn’t Nintendo open a studio dedicated to doing just that, bringing the classic library up-to-date?
Well, it sort of did. Grezzo is the studio that made The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It also ported Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask to the 3DS. However, it is also the studio behind Luigi’s Mansion from 2001 and Tri Force Heroes which launched in 2015. It’s not a dedicated studio per se but rather the one that Nintendo hands IPs to every now and then. Opening a new studio with the sole intent of remakes, hiring new staff, and expanding is the way to go. Now, yes, that’s costly – it’s a risky endeavor, one that others like IO Interactive have jumped headfirst into after acquiring the rights to make a James Bond game, but with Nintendo? It might be a risk at first, a costly investment, but it will pay in turn. A company of Nintendo’s size can afford the risk, especially when so many of their classic games would be guaranteed best-sellers with a good remake.
One of the most pertinent issues surrounding remakes for many is that nagging feeling that it stops developers from branching out, doing new things, and yet, the Crash Bandicoot games are a key example of the flaws of that mindset. The remade N. Sane trilogy paved the way for a fourth installment, one that was developed not by Vicarious Visions but rather Toys for Bob, who themselves remade the original Spyro trilogy in Spyro: Reignited. Not only do remakes have the potential to bring classics up to the modern day for a whole new audience, but they offer an enormous opportunity to expand upon older series’ and further the IPs to new places. Even the latest Ratchet & Clank is partly tied to the re-imagining of the original from 2016. Nintendo teetered on the edge of this with Super Mario 3D World’s port over to the Switch, as it added an entirely new expansion which felt like a blend between the Wii U game and the Switch’s own Odyssey.
Who knows what a remake from Nintendo could blossom into? It could be something as simple as a sequel – maybe even Super Mario Galaxy 3 – or Nintendo could very well learn something vital from remaking these games, enriching future experiences with lessons learned from titles of a bygone era. Demon’s Souls could certainly do this for FromSoftware’s future Souls-like entries such as Elden Ring, so who’s to say that a remake of something like Kirby’s Adventure wouldn’t bring with it potential to add a spark in the development of the next Super Mario Bros?
Nintendo has a huge library of classic games and the Switch is supposedly only halfway in its life cycle with a pro version constantly being rumored, leaked, and speculated upon. If there was a time to bring the oldies up to date, it’s now, with its most successful console since the Wii – a console with far more potential. The potential in giving Metroid a much-needed kick, Star Fox a bit more of the spotlight, or even paving the way for another 3D Zelda akin to Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, is all there. Nintendo just has to grab it by the horns and actually run with it, rather than hiding behind Pokemon and the odd Link endeavor here and there. There’s plenty there ripe for an update – far more than just Pokemon and the odd Zelda here and there. But, if Nintendo’s approach to the 35th anniversary of Zelda and its release of Mario’s 3D All-Stars is anything to go by – this is all just a pipe dream. But, Diablo 2 looked bleak for a while, so who knows? Perhaps Nintendo will pull the stick… well, you know where I’m going with this. One day, just maybe, it won’t only be the fans trying to remake Nintendo’s library before being slapped with cease and desist orders.
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Cheerio! That’s what everyone thinks Brits say, right? James is a Newcastle University student from, funnily enough, Newcastle, England. He’s been gaming for as long as he can remember, from Half-Life to Thomas the Tank Engine.
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