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When Capcom first announced that Mega Man 9 for Xbox Live, WiiWare and the PlayStation Network would be a throwback game, similar in style to the original NES Mega Man games, old school fans couldn't have been happier. Here was a brand new title that hearkened back to the days of yore, complete with 8-bit graphics, insane difficulty and optional graphical imperfections. Since the retro style has met mostly with critical praise, and sales have been strong as well, one has to wonder what kinds of possibilities exist in this style of game development. Here's our wish-list of franchises we'd love to see go old-school via the current console generation's online download services.
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While most recent games in the series have typically contained RPG elements and have been dubbed "Metroidvania" titles due to their similarities to Super Metroid in gameplay, the very first Castlevania titles were more typical platform style games, with the exception of the adventure-heavy Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Both the original Castlevania and the aforementioned sequel were immensely popular NES games, and a brand new title in the series using the game mechanics from either title would be most welcome. In particular, this writer would love to see Konami, the game's creators, return to the exploration, equipment-purchasing, and day/night cycles found in Simon's Quest, but that's just one person's individual taste.
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Sonic the Hedgehog
While a brand new 8-bit style Castlevania game would be a nice treat, on the whole, fans have been pretty happy with the direction of the vampire-hunting series. The same can't be said for Sonic the Hedgehog. The majority of fans of the one-time Sega Genesis mascot have grown increasingly unhappy with the direction games in this series have been taking lately, and many of them long for a return to his 16-bit glory days. The original Sonic games were simple in concept and had a heavy focus on speed. There was no massive cast, no focus on adventure, and no hide-and-seek levels. It was all about getting from the start of the level to the end as fast as possible, finding the Chaos Emeralds and trouncing a robotic machine controlled by Dr. Robotnik (before he became Dr. Eggman). Why not trim the fat and give the fans what they want, Sega?
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There is nothing wrong with Square-Enix's flagship RPG series. As the thirteenth installment of the Final Fantasy franchise nears release, the series remains one of most critically acclaimed and beloved gaming properties in the world. Still, those fans who have been playing Final Fantasy since the beginning remember the excellent Super NES entries in the series. Imagine what the reaction would be if Square decided to create an all-new Final Fantasy game in the nature and scope of Final Fantasy IV, V or VI, complete with character sprites, the old-school active-time-battle combat system and, with luck, a plot to rival the original SNES titles. It would be a license to print money. Sadly, it'll probably never happen, but that's why we call this a wish-list.
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The most recent entries in Nintendo's Metroid series have all either been first-person shooters or pinball games. That's great and all, as the games have been pretty darn good on the whole, but it’s a far cry from the franchise's side-scrolling adventure roots. Considering that Super Metroid for the Super NES has been fairly consistently hailed as one of the best video games ever made, a similar old-school sci-fi sequel starring everyone's favorite female bounty hunter, Samus, seems like a no-brainer. With luck, Nintendo will make it happen, and we'll eventually see this dream game hit the WiiWare download service.
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Granted, these four series are but the tip of the iceberg. With Konami having recently released Gradius Rebirth in Japan, hopes remain high that more old-school style space shoot-'em-ups will eventually hit download services worldwide. Final Fantasy isn't the throwback RPG that Square Enix could make, either. Why not pop out a new 8-bit Dragon Quest while they're at it? For that matter, once Nintendo is done with their new Metroid adventure, they could create a new title in the vein of Super Mario Bros. 3, another of the most popular games of all time. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Such games would undoubtedly be fairly cheap and easy to develop, given the technology available these days, and while in many cases these are pipe dreams at best, one does have to marvel at the possibilities and hope that one day, perhaps more popular gaming franchises will indeed wind up getting the Mega Man 9 treatment.