Nintendo will never make another StarTropics. I know this hurts to hear, but it just won’t. Why would you when anything with the name of Mario or Luigi is guaranteed to sell when you can make money or remaster an old Zelda game once a year until the Breath of the Wild sequel is ready? Unlike many companies that would bring back any series with even the slightest name recognition (looking at you, Prey),
Nintendo is more interested in trying to start massive new series rather than bringing old ones back. Sometimes this works, and we see Ring Fit Adventure sell out during the first few months of the pandemic or Splatoon take over the world. Other times, less, and we end up with Labo and Game Builder Garage.
It’s unlikely we’ll see any new Ice-Climbers, Wave Race, or Star Fox anytime soon. But what if we were already getting the next best thing? What if there was an alternative that could be even better than Nintendo bringing back these classics?
Retro throwbacks are nothing new, especially ones looking to fill the void of a beloved series. The modern revival of Metroidvania was born out of indie developers wanting to create something like the long-dormant Castlevania or Metroid games in the early 2010s. More recently, there has been a wave of Zelda-inspired 2D games like Eastward and Garden Story. .
However, in recent years I have noticed an increasing number of games that are not just inspired by developer youth games. These are games that, for all intents and purposes, pretend to be unofficial sequels to series that have been left behind. Some embrace modern technology and sensibilities in their gameplay and art style, while others may trick you into thinking they fell out of the back of a shipping container in 1999.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling came out in 2019 after a season in early access and it was the first time I remember thinking, if Nintendo has no interest in making a new Paper Mario in the style of classic RPGs, at least someone has. This came just after it was confirmed that their upcoming Paper Mario and The Origami Team would focus on a turn-based action style of gameplay.
Bug Fables wasn’t the most innovative game when I tried it, but its large audience didn’t want it to be. Not only did it sell well enough to get a physical edition and console ports, but it has overwhelmingly positive user reviews on Steam nearly three years after release, likely due to its similarities to Paper Mario and the distinct lack of a real Mario game. Nintendo sequel.
It would be easy to give Shovel Knight credit for this groundswell of Nintendo likes, but that game was always intended to be a mashup of various underrated NES, SNES and Game Boy games like Wario Land, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link and Tales. of duck. It was never really a spiritual successor to any particular game, but rather a hodgepodge of influences from that era of gaming. However, Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games released a game that is a much better fit for this spiritual sequel title: Cyber Shadow.
Cyber Shadow is a spiritual successor to Ninja Gaiden. He may have a cyberpunk setup and a few more abilities, but he feels like a long-lost Ninja Gaiden 4 on a console somewhere between the NES and SNES. The game is not only a hard-as-nails action platformer starring a ninja, but also takes on the great challenge of telling a story without words like the first Ninja Gaiden, through beautiful pixel art mosaics. The solo developer even goes so far as to recreate his version of the iconic tall grass intro.
While it’s true that Ninja Gaiden is a Koei Tecmo series and not Nintendo, you really have to wonder if the original publishers brought these types of games, would they be something like this? Would they honor the spirit of those original games? Probably not. Hell, Koei Tecmo brought Ninja Gaiden back in 2004, just as a 3D action game. Nintendo has continued to make Paper Mario games, but each one is less of an RPG than the last.
All of this crystallized for me during this summer’s Steam Next Fest which took place around Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest. During this time, I played at least four that were basically a sequel to an old Nintendo game.
Ex-Zodiac is unabashedly a new Star Fox, right down to its settings that allow you to force it to run at a choppy 15fps. Agent 64: Spies Never Die is so similar to GoldenEye that I’m still a bit worried someone at Nintendo, Rare, or EON Productions will sue me. Thunder Ray feels like Punch-Out If They All Bleed Much More, and Melatonin imagines Rhythm Heaven not as a frantic late 2000s fever dream, but as a chilling daydream about modern anxieties and social media.
While half of these games may not be for me, and some even feel somewhat dated, it’s undeniably cool that fans of these forgotten series can play something so close to a sequel, even if those who own these beloved series no longer they see them. as viable products. Much like game preservation, when big companies leave their history behind, it’s impressive to see fans keeping the light alive for these classics.
This trend is even spreading outside of the games that found their home on Nintendo platforms. Unmetal was released in 2021 and is in the same style as the original MSX Metal Gear. Praey for the Gods’ long development finally released in late 2021 and is more than open about the influence Shadow of Colossus had on the game. Gloomwood enters Early Access today and hopes to remind everyone why the original Thief games were so groundbreaking back in the day.
These games aren’t for everyone, but the joy they bring to fans of the abandoned series is incredible. Now if someone made a modern Nintendogs.
Next: Games to play if you like Ninja Gaiden