Nintendo Goes Retro: The Mini NES

Mini NES.jpgWe know that Nintendo has a new HD console in the works with the NX, but we don’t know a hell of a lot of details about said console. But this week Nintendo announced a different console, one that’s aimed in a different direction. Coming this November 11, Nintendo is bringing a Mini-NES to us, complete with HDMI video out, a classic NES themed controller and 30 pre-installed classic games. I think this is an excellent way to bring what made Nintendo so special to us older gamers to a younger generation, the kids just starting to play games now who never had the opportunity to play the NES. They’ve never had the joy of getting a cartridge to work after you spend 10 minutes blowing on it and the console; they know the names of the classics but haven’t (most likely) ever had the chance to play the originals. It’s also a fantastic way for us older gamers to reacquaint ourselves with our favorites, especially if you’re like me and gave your original NES away back in junior high and just haven’t been able to find another at the local retro shop since.

A lot of the games that will be part of the new Mini-NES are available already in other forms, mainly on the Virtual Consoles for Nintendos current group of consoles. That doesn’t mean that this is a rehash though – based on what Nintendo has said about the controller being based on the NES one, there’s something very different about playing those classic games on that controller, it’s a special feeling playing the games with the exact controller they were designed for. We don’t really think a lot about that these days, the controllers on the big two consoles are functionally identical, it’s just a few minor design and layout details that differentiate them. The NES controller is such a different feeling and looking controller compared with what we’re used to now – it’s blocky, almost uncomfortable in your hand; it’s incredibly simple in its design, two buttons and a D-pad. It’s actually something I’m really curious to see how the younger generation of players will react to – it’s a weird situation because there are tons of players who are familiar with the controller, but just as many who aren’t.

Mega Man 2 American Box

What they are familiar with, at least more so, are the games the Mini-NES will come with. The list of 30 games hits some of the biggest games that the NES had, including games that started franchises we’re still playing to this day. There are plenty of Nintendo favorites on there, along with a couple other third party gems. The full list includes:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts’N Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!!
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • TECMO Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Just looking at the list there are plenty of games that I’ve already played and beaten time and time again, but keep wanting to play another time. Games like Super Mario Bros 3, Mega Man 2, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid are some of the best NES games of all time. There are a couple deeper cuts in there that younger fans might not have ever played – StarTropics in particular jumps out to me. If you’re a new fan to gaming, or you’ve been playing for a handful of years, this is an incredible collection of games that forms the foundation of modern gaming. If you want to get a history lesson while playing some really amazing games at the same time, this Mini-NES is a must have this November.

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10 Franchises That Need New Entries

E3 this year was a unique blend of new IP’s and the return of some old fan favorites. So now that we’ve all had plenty of time to digest the convention, and get our plans set for this fall’s release schedule, I thought a lot about other franchises that I feel really need a new entry as soon as possible. Some actually were answered at E3 – Battlefront, Star Fox and Mario Party – all come to mind. For my purposes here, I’m defining a franchise as a series with at least two entries already – so no Beyond Good and Evil or Dishonored, as much as I think they deserve them. I also am excluding franchises that are still being supported relatively well – The Elder Scrolls, Fallout – both had games come out recently, or have one in development. So let’s dive in, shall we?

Megaman 4

10. Mega Man
This is probably the most cop-out answer I have on the list, but that’s just because I’m a huge fan of the whole universe of Mega Man. The last new Mega Man game was technically the free Street Fighter X Mega Man from 2012, but before that it was Mega Man 10 way back in 2010. It’s a franchise that has a lot of options for expansion – l think the audience is there for pretty much every one of the different sub-franchises, in particular, the X series. It was a huge deal when Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3 last year. I really think that Capcom just has to look at the response that Mega Man got with his introduction in Super Smash Bros. to see that the Blue Bomber still has a really strong fanbase – yours truly included.

Knights of the Old Republic

9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
I’m not talking about the MMO that came out a couple years back – I want a proper Knights of the Old Republic 3, developed by BioWare. The last entry was way back in 2004, ten years ago, which in this day and age might as well be ancient history. While I am certain that the market for a new KOTOR game is there in spades, I just think the timing doesn’t look good for one anytime soon. BioWare has Dragon Age: Inquisition this fall, and a new Mass Effect in development along with a new mystery IP, so any chance of a new KOTOR is slim at this point. Maybe in a couple years.

G.I. Joe NES

8. G.I. Joe
Here’s one that newer games might scratch their heads at a bit. I’m not talking about games based around the movies from the last few years, I want a new game based around the 80’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon that a lot of us grew up on. I think that the universe is tailor made for a great game, it just needs the right studio. I was thinking someone like High Moon Studios, after their success with the Transformers: War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron games. And before anyone thinks this is a BS entry, there were two games (G.I. Joe and G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor) way back on the NES in 1991 and 92 respectively.

Final Fantasy Tactics

7. Final Fantasy Tactics
While the main Final Fantasy series is getting some much needed love in the next couple years, the Tactics sub-series hasn’t seen a new game since 2008. While it’s a major shift in style from the standard JRPG Original series, I think with the success of the 3DS, the platform for a new Tactical RPG style FF game is definitely there. I think the audience is there – Tactics is one of those “cult” classics that is well loved, but never really got the commercial success it deserved. Plus the success of this could convince Nintendo to get on a new Advance Wars game finally too.

Rock Band Blitz

6. Rock Band
Maybe a little bit of a cop-out, but it’s been four years since we saw Rock Band 3’s release, plus it’s been over a year since the weekly DLC was stopped. The issue is that Harmonix is hard at work on multiple projects – Fantasia, Dance Central, Amplitude – and I just think we have to keep waiting a little bit longer. Maybe once the new gen consoles have a bigger instal base the demand will be there. Luckily, this is a series that never loses fun, so I can still hop on RB3 and enjoy it like day one.

Metroid Logo

5. Metroid
I really hope that Nintendo feels that they’ve put enough distance between them and Other M to start working on a new Metroid game soon. I know that the desire is there from the fans – Kotaku recently had an article answering Miyamoto’s question as to what we wanted, and Metroid was the number one answer – we just need Nintendo to listen now. I think fans would be more than happy to take a new 2D, Super Metroid style game, or a new Metroid Prime game as well. Plus with the whole industry finally taking gender seriously and trying to have more strong female heroes, Samus stands out as being the OG (Other M excluded of course). I think this is a question of when, not if.

Battletoads Cover

4. Battletoads
It’s become a bit of a joke on the web, but honestly, it’s a fantastic series that I think would totally benefit from a new game. The original is still one of the hardest games I’ve ever played, and the spin-off with Double Dragon remains one of my favorite games from that era. It’s also been dormant for a long time – with the last home console game in 1994. That said, there’s a lot of fan support for the game, and RARE is well aware of it, adding in a Battletoads suit for Kinect Sports Rivals, which of course just fuels rumors. I think an ideal plan would be to release on the Xbox Live Arcade the previous games in a bundle to help introduce younger gamers, then work on a new Xbox One game, similar to the new Strider game.

ToeJam & Earl

3. Toejam & Earl
Another classic from that mid-early 90’s era of gaming, the two Toejam and Earl games that I think of came out in 1991 and 1993 respectively. They’re both great examples of how a game can be wacky and out-there and still be a lot of fun and, most importantly, sell well. I know there was a third game released on the Original Xbox in 2002, but it just didn’t have quite the same feeling to it as the originals did. With the resurgence of “old-school” style visuals all the rage now in games, I think the timing is great to do an Arcade release of a new game.

Earthworm Jim

2. Earthworm Jim
Sticking with the classics from the SNES/Genesis era that I loved growing up, Earthworm Jim might be my favorite of the bunch. The whole vibe of the game was like Ninja Turtles on crack, taking nothing too serious – a goldfish as a boss that you just tip over?! – while still delivering awesome gameplay, it struck a chord with me as a young gamer, and as stuck with me over the years. The HD remake on the XBLA a few years back was a welcome addition, but what I really want is a true sequel to the series – again, the time is perfect; games like this, that are self-aware, while still solid games are “in” now. Plus the TV show was freaking awesome.

Timesplitters

1. Timesplitters
There’s no series from the PS2 that I want to see brought back more than the Timesplitters, and it kills me, because when Free Radical closed, they were working on Timesplitters 4 and it just got swept up in the dust. The sad thing is that it’s a series that is well-loved, but misunderstood by the suits. After Crytek bought Free Radical, I think there was hesitation to put out a game that’s so far from their norm – no one could call the TS games serious shooters at all. While there’s been some rumblings of a fan-made Timesplitters 4 in the works, I really want to see Crytek take a chance and run with this, or sell the rights to a studio that can do it right; Insomniac Games jumps to my mind as a studio that could definitely do the series justice. I just think that it’s too fun a series to let waste away as a remnant of that generation.

That’s my list – and I know right away that I missed a few, especially big ones like Half-Life or Left 4 Dead, mainly because they’re so well-documented. I wanted to hit the ones that maybe get passed over these days. Do I think we’ll see these games – I never say never, this is probably the best time to be a gamer, especially one that loves the classic games of yesterday. Who knows – maybe by this time next year we’ll have some answers.