What does the future hold for 2D side-scrolling revivals?

As I recently completed my first playthroughs of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection and Shantae and the Seven Sirens, a thought occurred to me. Games like this have suddenly started appearing left and right over the course of the last few years. While indie devs began to fill the gap of side-scrollers with games like Shovel Knight and Freedom Planet, Nintendo, Capcom, and even Konami have begun stepping up with revivals of their own.

Developed by fans and published by Sega, Sonic Mania Plus sets the example of an ideal revival for 2D side-scrollers.

And yet, before you knew it, they were gone. Just fizzled back out into obscurity after a few years without a peep since. E3’s coming up next month and it’s given us hope that we’ll get to see more of what we love.

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010). Developed by Metroid Prime team, Retro Studios, this was a prime example of how to do a revival.

However, that’s not to dismiss the claim that a number of these revival titles could be more than what they are. After all, that’s one of the main reasons they develop sequels, right? I would love to see more of our familiar favorites coming out from our favorite developers. And I can think of a few games that come to mind.

Mega Man 11

One of the predominant side-scrolling series across the past 35 years, Mega Man deserves a place in every gaming generation. Returning for the first time since 2010, the Blue Bomber geared up for a new adventure to take on his nemesis, Dr. Wily. Featuring new fusion abilities, Mega Man 11 set a new standard for trademark copy abilities and gave you new ways to progress through levels.

Unfortunately, Capcom’s mascot took an unwarranted leave of absence after the release of Mega Man 10. Shortly after its release, series producer Keiji Inafune left. Ambitiously attempting to replicate the success of Mega Man at his new studio, Comcept, his next game left disastrous results to say the least.

Mighty No. 9 (2016) featuring pizza explosions.

Meanwhile, Capcom finally decided to cave under the pressure of demand and, after a seven-year absence, developed Mega Man 11. The very notion that Mega Man had returned had people leaping for joy. This new title brought Mega Man into HD and looked much better than Mighty No. 9 could ever hope to be. The Nintendo Switch release even featured an exclusive amiibo.

Future of Mega Man

However, it comes with a few issues that could be tackled. It’s a good Mega Man title but one that could always use more. While I feel the soundtrack wasn’t as much of a hit as past games, it still did its job. But where are the extra playable characters akin to Mega Man 9 and 10?

Mega Man 10 featured Protoman and Bass as playable characters. But the real question is when will Roll become playable in Mega Man?

In addition to Mega Man 12, fans continue to demand Mega Man X9 as X8 came out on PS2 in 2004! While Capcom has been on fire with its recent Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Monster Hunter releases, here’s hoping they haven’t forgotten their beloved mascot either.

Metroid: Samus Returns

When Nintendo announced Metroid Prime 4 at E3 2017, they announced a side-scrolling 3DS title alongside it: the reimagining of Metroid II: Return of Samus for Game Boy. Metroid: Samus Returns is the first 2D Metroid title to come out since 2004’s Metroid: Zero Mission for Game Boy Advance. Developer Mercury Steam took the reigns and gave Samus Returns a 2.5D remake playing similar to the hit title Super Metroid. Adding a map, new abilities, and some mighty battles, the developer took cues from past Metroid titles, including Prime, and delivered a hit Metroidvania on the 3DS.

Now, I can’t vouch that Metroid: Samus Returns was the prettiest looking game on the system. While its animations looked great, I feel its character models and backgrounds looked rather bland. Call me spoiled by the 2D sprite work used in Metroid: Zero Mission but I feel the art could have used a bit more polish. However, it’s at least passable and the game itself still delivers a solid experience. I should also mention, however, that Samus Returns looks gorgeous on the Citra emulator.

Metroid: Samus Returns is a remake of 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Samus Returns added the new Aeion abilities which allowed Samus to use powerful rapid-fire abilities or stop time. The final boss fight also took a massive swerve from the original Game Boy title in the best possible way. However, unlockable images in the gallery showed the potential for a sequel. Despite being released in 2017, this has yet to surface. It goes without saying Nintendo is long overdue for releasing another Metroid title.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

When I beat this game, I can’t say I was as satisfied as I’d hoped to be. Instead of taking the balanced level design and double-jump options from Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, it was more of an enemy mob rush akin to the original arcade and NES Ghosts ‘n Goblins title. As such, I found myself unsatisfied with several design choices.

This comes despite its awe-inspiring artistic work. The animations, colors, and gorgeous level backgrounds spoke of an epic fantasy adventure worth your eyes and ears. The new skill tree system gave Arthur new abilities and spells to help him survive using skills like Doppelganger to double or triple his attacks.

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins (2006). Before Resurrection, Capcom waited 15 years to release a new title in the series.

However, even despite my critique, that doesn’t mean I want the series to go away. If anything, I want Capcom to continue digging back into their vault and reimagining their franchises for the modern era. Ghosts ‘n Goblins already took a decade and a half before coming back to the forefront. I would love to see it since there’s another certain demon fighting game series by Capcom which has yet to see a new game.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained is interesting in that it’s essentially an indie title but one by a former well-known producer from Konami. The former producer of the Castlevania titles from Symphony of the Night onwards, Koji Igarashi, created Bloodstained as a spiritual successor to his titles. The game included much of the same gameplay as his Metroidvania titles and even featured his game’s composer, Michiru Yamane, at the helm.

Through and through, Bloodstained is heavily inspired by Koji Igarashi’s last mainline Castlevania title, Order of Ecclesia, which was released in 2008 for Nintendo DS. The 1800s setting consists of demon attacks on villages while the female protagonist enters a castle and absorbs enemy shards to gain their powers.

Sometimes it feels a little too close to Order of Ecclesia, but that’s also not bad. However, it leaves less of an impact than Symphony of the Night, which practically defined its own genre. It also doesn’t feel like a polished refinement or evolution, like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, but rather serves as a love letter to the series’ fans.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2008). This title featured a female protagonist named Shanoa who could absorb glyphs for enemy powers.

Pros and Cons of Bloodstained

My gripes with Bloodstained came from its visual style and some pacing issues. Even though they fixed the game’s lighting and backgrounds, something about the game still looks rather stiff in comparison to past Metroidvania titles. Another problem stemmed from its disastrously long loading times should you get killed.

In one instance, you also have to kill an aquatic enemy to gain the power to swim. Yet you’re given no hint to this and in past games underwater travel was unlocked through a nigh-unmissable item you could obtain after a boss fight for instance. Plus, while previous Castlevania games unlocked Boss Rush and extra character modes after clearing, these were free DLC pieces that came months after the main game came out.

Speaking of extra character modes, I feel Julius Mode in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow did it best for having actual dialogue and an alternate final boss battle. I feel IGAvania titles rely too much on the “swap character but have no storyline” formula that they’ve done since Richter Mode in Symphony of the Night. In addition to a game rounded out with unlockables from the start, I would love to see the next Bloodstained title look prettier and offer more to the extra character story.

Getsu Fuma Den

Finally, on the subject of Konami and Castlevania, the developer actually unveiled a trailer featuring the remake of a title never released in the U.S. While Nintendo delved deep into their vault to remake the NES title, Famicom Detective Club, Konami figured they would do the same. In a time where the aforementioned titles gained success from longtime fans and newcomers, Konami decided instead of releasing a new Castlevania to dig into their own NES vault to release this mystery title.

Konami initially showcased Getsu Fuma Den: Undying Moon was initially via DLC in 2011’s Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. The multiplayer dungeon crawler’s final level featured a metal remix of one of the game’s themes, an 8-bit level from the game, and a new character: Getsu Fuma. The game’s theme also came to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

As such, Konami has hopped onto the retro remake bandwagon to capitalize on a franchise previously unreleased to the west. While Konami has been under heavy scrutiny for the past decade, their release of Super Bomberman R has at least shown some promise that they might begin developing actual console games. The announcement of Getsu Fuma Den certainly does not disappoint!

Final Thoughts

I could go on about games we would love to see. By no means am I disappointed to see how many 2D side-scrollers we’ve received since the latter half of the past decade. Even if Capcom keeps releasing Resident Evil 4 HD and Okami HD, that doesn’t mean we might not get Viewtiful Joe HD someday.

Viewtiful Joe (2003). A stellar platformer and beat ’em up hybrid.

But it also goes to show the progress that fan demand has made in getting developers to release these long-standing series with a glorious HD makeover. Whether it’s through their art styles, new music, creative game mechanics, or just a nice throwback to the past, these quality gaming experiences prove they can last as well now as they did in the 80s and 90s.

Before a cease and desist order from Nintendo, fans created their own remake of Metroid II titled AM2R.

With E3 coming up, I really hope to see what else developers will throw at us. 2D side-scrollers deliver some of the most enjoyable experiences gaming has to offer.

What’s your favorite 2D platformer or Metroidvania revival of the past decade and what do you hope to see? Let us know in the replies below. As always, be sure to Like our main page and follow our social media accounts for more quality gaming content.

Until next time!

How Are Video Game Companies Preserving Their Titles for Future Generations?

Over the last decade, we’ve seen publishers release a tremendous amount of remakes and remasters. Some have given us incentive to play an even better version of a beloved favorite. Others, ever so rarely, have left players with a bad aftertaste.

However, one can’t deny the importance of re-releasing classics. Not only have publishers given longtime fans a chance to replay a favorite. But they’ve also introduced their legacy to a new generation of fans. With that said, I want to list a few noteworthy game companies that have put some effort into preserving their video game library for generations to come.

Capcom

Known for their many re-releases of Street Fighter II throughout history, Capcom has remastered many of their titles over the years. They’ve maintained Mega Man, Street Fighter, and several more as household names thanks to their countless re-releases. Mega Man Legacy Collection, Mega Man X Legacy Collection, and Mega Man Zero + ZX Legacy Collection feature a massive chunk of their classic platforming series. Capcom even released the Beat ’em up bundle which features some titles never seen on consoles before.

Notably, you can find the entire Resident Evil series on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Plus, this generation saw the re-release of Okami HD, onto modern platforms, as well as Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen remastered for modern consoles. Capcom also released Devil May Cry 1-3 on Switch with DMC3 receiving some hearty new additions.

Perhaps even more noteworthy would be to consider Capcom’s remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3. Much like Resident Evil 1’s remake, 2 and 3 were completely built from the ground up. These new features incorporate modern-day enhancements, controls, and storytelling fitting for a game of the current era.

Absences

Despite releasing Darkstalkers, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Breath of Fire, and Power Stone for PSP, however, we have not seen these games in over a decade. Capcom did release several of their Marvel vs. and Darkstalkers titles during the last generation, but have not been seen since. Furthermore, we have not seen the likes of Viewtiful Joe since the 2000s. Capcom keeps some of these series alive, so to speak, as costumes in Street Fighter V. But we would love to play them as full games again.

However, given that Capcom does continue to release some of their best games every generation, new players will get to try Resident Evil , Okami, and many other classics. Perhaps we may yet see more long-missing names appear in this decade.

Square-Enix

The company’s habit of re-releasing titles dates back to the early 2000s. You could find Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI, on Game Boy Advance, all remade with extra content. Chrono Trigger, the 1995 SNES classic, also came out for DS in 2008. All of the aforementioned games would later come to mobile devices and Steam Despite coming out to various levels of reception, Square-Enix would continue to update and polish them for a new generation to enjoy.

Despite their noble intentions, the sprites could use some work.

One of the biggest walls Square-Enix smashed was when they announced the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII, in 2019, for modern systems. The new version of the game includes redone character textures, upscales the title to HD, and features other minor improvements. This came with a slew of other announcements featuring remastered games.

Among those included in the announcements, Square-Enix released The Mana Collection, which features the original 90s Mana trilogy. This includes Trials of Mana, previously known as Seiken Densetsu 3, which was never released in the west. Similarly, Square-Enix released Star Ocean: First Departure R, Romancing SaGa 3, and SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions on modern consoles. With that being said, expect to see the newly-announced remaster of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, as well as NieR: Replicant, within the next year.

Speaking of remakes…

Super Mario RPG

Despite the love Square-Enix has shown for many of their series, one particular game stands out missing in action. Due to the copyrights involved, Square-Enix owns the rights to many of the characters in the 1996 SNES classic, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Mario’s breakout RPG remains heralded as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time.

While it was released on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles, you would never see more than a passing mention from Nintendo’s social media accounts. However, it released on the SNES Classic along with Final Fantasy VI. Despite this, though, unlike many of the aforementioned titles, Super Mario RPG has never been re-released as more than a direct port without any updates.

Many fans want a remake or a true remake or sequel to Super Mario RPG. While Square-Enix has done well for preserving their most famous series, fans would love to see Nintendo and Square-Enix collaborate on another classic featuring its sorely missed characters.

Bandai Namco

Perhaps the single most impressive re-release Bandai Namco has published is Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. Once lost to history as the Japan-exclusive release, the Definitive Edition includes all of the story content, new characters, and battle improvements never seen in the west. Save for Troy Baker, voice of Yuri, it also includes the original voice actors reprising their roles for the newly dubbed lines.

Meanwhile, Bandai Namco has stayed busy reviving SoulCalibur in 2018 as well as maintaining Tekken 7. These include songs from their past respective entries which you can add to any stage. If you love SoulCalibur music, you won’t be disappointed.

Also, if you’re a fan of Pac-Man, you can download it on mobile apps and play newly released maps. Namco Museum Arcade Pac for Nintendo Switch also includes a number of their old arcade hits, like Galaga and Splatterhouse.

Perhaps one day, though, Bandai Namco might release more Tales games in the west. While we’ve never gotten Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut, Tales of Destiny II, or Tales of Rebirth, hope never truly fades.

Sega

With each generation, Sega releases new Genesis collections. You may have seen them released as Sega Genesis Collection, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, or even Sega Genesis Classics. Let’s also not forget the release of the Sega Genesis Mini microconsole.

I’m a little sad knowing that the Sega Genesis Mini in America does not have Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen.

Even though, for some reason, re-releases of Sonic 3 & Knuckles are apparently rare, Sega generally does a good job of keeping their Genesis games afloat. Sega even released a Dreamcast Collection, featuring several hits, on Steam, as well as the Saturn classic NiGHTS into Dreams…

As of late, it seems Sega has become more interested in releasing some of their classic series. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD recently came to modern consoles. Following that, Sega released the Panzer Dragoon Remake on Nintendo Switch. Also noteworthy includes not only the remaster of Shenmue I & II on modern consoles, but the release of Shenmue III, which released over 15 years after Shenmue II.

But one more thing I want to cover is how Sega has distributed their classic series to different studios to develop their games. They collaborated with Christian Whitehead and his team to develop Sonic Mania, one of the best reviewed Sonic titles of all time. Now, with April 30th around the corner, Dotemu is set to release Streets of Rage 4, the first official title in the illustrious beat ’em up series in over 25 years.

While we would certainly love to see the return of Skies of Arcadia and Billy Hatcher, Sega has done a surprisingly stellar job of releasing classic titles and new entries onto modern-day consoles and PC. Since they own the rights to Puyo Puyo and its characters, I would also love to see the Madou Monogatari series return.

With that said, I’m even more surprised that I didn’t have to name many absent franchises this time. Sega has done a surprisingly stellar job of releasing most of their classic entries into the current era. Well done!

Nintendo

Over the last decade, Nintendo has built up a bit of a resume remaking classics we grew up with. One example includes Fire Emblem Gaiden, for Famicom in Japan, which never came to America until it was released as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for 3DS. Nintendo has also released four Legend of Zelda remakes, three of which were developed by GREZZO. The latest remake includes Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was developed by Nintendo EAD, which built the GameCube classic from the ground up and added several upgrades.

Furthermore, Nintendo has released many of their unsuccessful Wii U titles – largely due to the failure of the console itself – onto the Nintendo Switch. You’ll find some amazing software like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers, Bayonetta 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, released with a visual update and some noteworthy updates.

However, I feel Nintendo still needs help when it comes to keeping some of their franchises alive. It goes without saying that we’ve seen more than a decade without the release of F-Zero or Golden Sun. The Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES Classics library misses a number of heavy-hitters such as Super Mario RPG and Donkey Kong Country. The lack of regular updates does not help its relevance who wish to see more titles. Even compared to the Wii Virtual Console from 14 years ago, Nintendo could do much better with the Switch online.

Puyo Puyo 2 imported on the SNES Classics libary? Now that’s a surprise.

In the past, Nintendo released the Ambassador Program for 3DS. Featuring ports of GBA titles digitally released for 3DS, this feature was only available for people who owned the initial release of the 3DS. They were not seen again until they were released on the Wii U eShop For 3DS owners who enjoy playing these games on a handheld, this did not help them at all. Also, as many players are aware, Nintendo still refuses to release Mother 3 in the west.

For Nintendo, it’s a mixed bag. They remake classic titles and the upgrades make them even better. The Switch releases of Wii U titles give players hope we could see more classics like Super Mario 3D World embraced by fans who didn’t own a Wii U. But Nintendo also seems finicky, even compared to the aforementioned companies, when it comes to keeping their abandoned series fresh.

Konami

Until recently, Konami seemed to completely neglect digital preservation. In fact, they seem to have completely ignored the console and PC gaming market entirely. After the unceremonious departure of Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima, and Castlevania Producer, Koji Igarashi, their studio had become bereft of classic titles.

During the 2000s, the company released amazing titles like Silent Hill 2, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Contra 4. The 2010s, on the other hand, saw the controversial reboot of Castlevania (Lords of Shadow) and what many deemed to be an unfinished title, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Even P.T. Silent Hills, a horror demo many players looked forward to, was scrapped completely.

The last few years, though, saw the release of Super Bomberman R, a return to form for the classic Bomberman series. Konami later updated the title with several free DLC releases as well as ports to the PS4, Xbox One, PC. In 2018, they also released Castlevania Requiem, which featured Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night (PSP version) for PS4.

But perhaps last year showed the biggest change in tide. Castlevania Anniversary Collection, Contra Anniversary Collection, and Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection included many releases from the 80s and 90s. These titles even featured Japanese versions of their respective games as well as exclusive interviews. Even more impressive was that these were the first official releases of Castlevania Bloodlines and Contra Hard Corps, both initially released for Sega Genesis, in over 25 years.

We don’t know if this means Konami is throwing a bone to their fans or if they’re pushing back into the right direction. We can only hope to see them return to form as the gaming giant they once were.

Final Thoughts

While it’s important for game companies to keep pressing forward, by creating sequels and new IPs, it’s also important for fans to know where they came from. Releasing older games creates praise from players who want to try a new experience or relive their past memories. Furthermore, it establishes a relationship between the developers and the fans by listening to their requests.

As long as video game companies set a precedent, it might encourage other publishers to follow. Let’s hope that we can see the best of old and new from this decade onward. Maybe one day Sony might even release a remake of the PS1 JRPG classic, The Legend of Dragoon. Just maybe.

Which games do you wish to see return one day? Let us know in the comments below!