These days it seems like the big creators of every form of visual media would rather reach back into the past and drag a classic kicking and screaming into the future for an update than take a risk on something new. The Spiderman film franchise, which kicked off in 2002, is getting a full reboot this summer. Television networks have tried to bring back everything from Fantasy Island to The Bionic Woman. Halo: Combat Evolved recently received a graphics upgrade and a rerelease. Sometimes this works; usually it doesn’t. For every Earthworm Jim or True Grit you find three dozen Leisure Suit Larrys or Lost in Spaces. Some titles should just be left in the past where they belong, even if it means some poor producer or studio head will have to do more than dig through old TV Guides or Nintendo Powers to come up with his next big project.
It’s too late to save the Three Stooges, but maybe I can help maintain the dignity of these five games before it’s too late:
- Milon’s Secret Castle (NES, 1986) – Giant poop monsters that live in wells and can only be defeated with bubbles probably won’t translate well to modern game systems. A modern remake would certainly give Milon swoopy hair and an annoying voice with which he can bitch about a bunch of emo bullshit, like how the princess didn’t buy him a birthday present and she forgot to whistle like he taught her or some shit. Milon’s Secret Castle doesn’t need a story; there’s a castle to navigate and music boxes to find and notes to collect and a princess to rescue. Apparently it had a story that I never knew about until today. I wish I were still in the dark. And that box art! It’s like Eureka’s Castle pulled double duty that day.
- Clash at Demonhead (NES, 1990) – The stereotypical 8-bit classic: you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know who your character is, you don’t know why the girl was kidnapped, and you don’t care because there’s some strange thing hopping at you so you’re going to shoot it and all of its googly-eyed friends. And there’s a rocket pack that’s pretty sweet and everybody knows that 2D rocket packs are much more fun than 3D rocket packs.
- Bubble Bobble (NES, 1986) – If there’s one thing modern gaming hasn’t improved it’s bubbles. Adding another dimension or prettier graphics does nothing to make a bubble better. And I know my damn bubbles. Also, I would probably shit myself if that ghost whale suddenly showed up in high def with modernly tuned ominous music. Sometimes I still have flashbacks about that fucker.
- E. T. The Extraterrestrial (Atari 2600, 1982) – I know what you’re saying: if any game could benefit from a facelift and a tune up it’s this steaming piece of crap considered by many to be the absolute worst video game ever. And that’s exactly why I want it left alone. E.T. is a yardstick, an abortion of a game by which all others can be judged. Leave it that way.
- Metroid 2: The Return of Samus (Nintendo Game Boy, 1991)- People often hold Super Metroid up as the penultimate entry in the series. Personally, I prefer Samus’s outing for the original Game Boy. The atmosphere. The pacing. That “OH SHIT FUCK HO SON OF A BITCH!!!” moment when you stumble upon a Metroid and the game momentarily freezes and the music goes nuts and you pause the game so you can change into a dry pair of pants. It doesn’t need color. It doesn’t need more buttons, or a fancy targeting system, or unlockable skins. It’s just you, a barren environment, and a bunch of creepy ass monsters you have to eliminate before you can progress. It’s beautiful in its simplicity.