Battletoads - 1991
What It Was: You know Battletoads. That smirking, sneering game that you bought because you thought it was a knock-off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But no. The truth, as you came to find, was much darker. Kind of like when Uncle Craig dressed up as a clown for your seventh birthday and – wait a second! You don’t even have an Uncle Craig! Then who the hell…. Anyway. Battletoads was the thing of nightmares. The game taunted you by telling you that there were three ‘toads: Zits, Pimple, and Rash. And of course, Pimple, who was by far the biggest and strongest of the three (think, like, Haggar from Final Fight, but a toad) was kidnapped. So you can’t play as him. Instead, green-toad and yellow-toad (equally powerless) – who can accidentally kill each other – must fight their way through impossible level after impossible level of one-hit enemies, pixelated energy thieves, and the bike level. Oh, the fucking bike level. We hate the bike level more than the American public hates challenging themselves. It is the worst.
Why We’d Like to See a Remake:Because, we need to crush Battletoads. We want to see it bloodied and bruised. We want to stand over it, like Ivan Drago over Apollo Creed, and say “If it dies, it dies.” We want Battletoads to be humiliated, beaten, and defeated by every fanboy and n00b who’s ever picked up an Xbox controller. In an era where we have saved games, check points, hint systems, hacks, patches, cheats, and online tutorials, Battletoads wouldn’t stand a chance. Set in the modern gaming world, we would rain hot, repressed justice all over our consoles, just for a chance to hate-fight the foxy, infuriating Dark Queen. That said, despite our hopes, there’s still the chance they’ll follow the Ninja Gaiden formula, where they take the decades-old nightmare and refresh it with a whole new level of psychological torture. Just like the Olsen twins.
Mad Dog McCree - 1990
What It Was: Mad Dog McCree takes the Duck Hunt formula of shooting your screen with a light gun. Except, instead of pixelated ducks, you’re shooting at real live actors who stooped to performing in a 1990 title produced by - seriously - American Laser Games. The fact that it’s 2013 and “American Laser Games” isn’t this generation’s American Gladiators means we’re already in a broken, dystopian future. Thanks, Congress. The premise of the game is that you’re “The Stranger” - a man who wanders into an Old West town, only to immediately be tasked with killing several dozen members of a murderous gang and their leader, Mad Dog McCree. They hit you with all this without even asking to see your gunslinging resume (also know as your “mortfolio”). The acting is roughly on par with a tackier pornographic film, which makes sense considering that the entire game is essentially a POV Old West shootout. What? Oh. Our friend told us what that phrase meant. You know Paul. Mind is always in the gutter.
Why We’d Like to See a Remake: We imagine that casting actors for a video game in 1990 was roughly akin to going to the nearest bus stop and finding the most Midwestern-looking person. But in 2013, things are different. Today, games have a whole new level of prestige. Patrick Stewart played a key role in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. James Woods completely stole the show in GTA: San Andreas. Chloë Grace Moretz and John Slattery loaned their voices to Dishonored. Hell, the majority of the cast of Mad Men was in L.A. Noire. You’re telling me that a live-action, gun-based shooter wouldn’t get at least some major actor to sign on? Ron Perlman? Anyone from The Expendables? Hell, EVERYONE from The Expendables? In fact, let’s just call up American Laser Games and get them to produce Expendables 4.
Spycraft: The Great Game - 1996
What It Was: Another live action game, Spycraft: The Great Game puts you in control of Thorn, a CIA operative tasked with safely neutralizing a rocky situation between the United States and Russia (d’aww. Remember the Russians? They were such fun bad guys! Like the nWo, but poor and cold). The plot is surprisingly dense, but this is probably thanks to the cooperation from former CIA director William Colby and former KGB Major-General Oleg Kalugin. In Spycraft, you’re not just running and gunning - you’re assessing clues, Photoshopping newspapers, studying the KAT (Kennedy Assassination Tools, which help you find the trajectory of a recent sniping), and you can even torture somebody. In addition to being intriguing, this game was a perfect blend of puzzles and good old American shooting-things-with-a-gun. It was neat.
Why We’d Like to See a Remake: Something to understand, here: Spycraft was made in 1996. This was around the time that two of your best options for going online - then the “Information Superhighway” - were Prodigy and CompuServe. A remake, with today’s technology, would be a completely different experience. Your agent would use smart phones to scan a baddie on the go. Hell, you could even use social media to catfish a mole. Or, whatever the secret agent equivalent of catfishing is. Sharktopusing? Anyway, think about all the ways DLC could help color this game’s world. New characters, new adventures for the protagonist - the sky's the limit.
Contra - 1987
What It Was: We don’t have to tell you about Contra, right? It’s the game where whomever was the fictional President in the 1980s said, “Aliens are attacking an island somewhere? Send two shirtless lepers with single-shot rifles in. They’re our only hope!” Unless you cheated, the results were probably typically bad for you. The point is, the difficulty of Contra is legendary. Music is pretty cool, too.
Why We’d Like to See a Remake:Because, let’s not pretend that gamers in 2013 don’t like sadistic video games. Otherwise, Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Super Meat Boy,The Binding of Isaac, and Puberty Simulator 2013 wouldn’t have the appeal that they do. The truth is, you like games hard, don’t you? We don’t care how that sounded. You would play a remake of Contra. And you’d want it just as difficult. Picture it: It would be either first person or third person over-the-shoulder, and be set in a world not dissimilar to Halo or Gears of War. The difference? Just like the original, one hit kills, three lives, a handful of continues, and THAT’S IT. And this time, no Konami code. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t like it. Oh, sure, you’d bitch about it on message boards and rage-quit and take your grievances to Reddit. But you’d still come back and play it again and again and again.
Déjà Vu - 1985
What It Was: In Déjà Vu, your character awakes in a bathroom with no memory of who he is. After discovering a dead body nearby, it becomes very clear that you’re being framed for the murder. Over the course of the game, you need to discover who you are, who is setting you up, and most importantly, you need to do away with all the evidence before going to the police with your story. It’s kind of like The Hangover, except you get to punch a bum right in his stupid face, and there’s less Ken Jeong wiener.
Why We’d Like to See a Remake: The original Déjà Vu demanded thoughtfulness. But, graphically, it also demanded a bit of imagination, since there was no animation. It simply moved from locked image to locked image. Since then, not only have graphics been overhauled, but so has the concept of stealth. Now, think about if we combined the intrigue of Déjà Vu’s plot with all the sneaky elements of a Metal Gear Solid or a Splinter Cell or a Don’t Wake Daddy! The premise would be similar to the original game - you’d be trying to clear your name and restore your memory. The only difference is, to do so, you’d have to sneak your way into buildings, through vent shafts, etc. Plus, they could have all sorts of nifty wiretapping mini-games, eavesdropping side missions, etc. You could even keep the noir elements in, because we almost certainly need more noir games out there.