Video game anniversaries are all over in 2021
2021 has been a heck of a year for a number of reasons, but in the world of video games, it marks a stunning number of anniversaries. From Zelda to Donkey Kong, some of the biggest names in video games are bound for major anniversary milestones this year. So, what can we expect? Let’s take a look.
The Dragon Quest franchise turned 35 last week, and Square-Enix announced some super cool things to celebrate the occasion. One of those was the title of the next game in the long celebrated franchise, Dragon Quest XII. They didn’t really reveal much outside of a logo, but they did mention that the game’s going to be more “adult.” Not entirely sure what that means in terms of Dragon Quest, but I guess we’ll find out.
Perhaps more exciting to the retro game crowd is a full remake of Dragon Quest III for current gen consoles using the Octopath Traveler engine. There’s a trailer out there and it looks absolutely gorgeous. The Octopath Engine has been the topic of conversation a whole lot since the game’s release in terms of which old RPGs Square should remake with its visual style, but Dragon Quest is absolutely a perfect fit. It’s so much more colorful than Octopath Traveler, and the locations and characters we’ve seen so far really pop in this style.
It’s still bummer that there isn’t a way to play the NES original Dragon Warrior anywhere outside of the original NES, so for the time being the hideous mobile port on the Switch will have to do, but we can always hold out hope that Square will see fit to re-release the original in all its 8-bit glory.
NiGHTS into Dreams
Sega’s high-flying franchise celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and while logic would dictate we won’t see much in the way of celebrations surrounding the game (it’s never exactly been a gigantic mainstream success), Sega’s a hard company to predict sometimes.
In the wake of the utter disaster that was Balan Wonderworld, it sure would be nice to see some sunlight shine down on some of Yuji Naka’s creations, and NiGHTS is the kind of brand that Sega knows has a fanbase. The trouble is, there’s not a whole lot of NiGHTS in the world to celebrate.
Which is why now is the perfect time to rectify that issue. A proper remaster would be outstanding for the original game, but to be perfectly honest, a simple HD remaster of the PS2 port and the Wii-exclusive sequel would probably do the trick just fine.
NiGHTS is a brand that has potential to be a bit larger than it is. Not by a crazy amount, mind you. It’s a weird game so its appeal is always going to be somewhat limited, but the time just seems right to give this property another shot at success, and the current slate of platforms seems like a perfect fit.
Can you believe Donkey Kong turns 40 this year? Bananas.
Bad jokes aside, this is sort of a tough one to celebrate because the Donkey Kong franchise is very clearly split into two factions. There’s the Donkey Kong Country games, and then there’s the classic Donkey Kong games, like the arcade original, which just so happens to be the game that’s actually turning 40.
It would be cool to see a new entry in the Country series because those games are outstanding, but it would be more fitting to see something from the original DK style make an appearance. It’s also hard to say what Nintendo will do about this particular anniversary, if anything, considering how the franchise has been playing second banana to Mario since the advent of Super Mario Bros. in general.
If you ask me, the best case scenario is some sort of full remake of the utterly brilliant Donkey Kong for Game Boy. That game is an absolute masterpiece, and well worth revisiting with the same level of care as Link’s Awakening. The game’s huge, and hasn’t been played by nearly enough people. Something with a crazy hand drawn animation sort of look would be perfect.
A proper fix to the Arcade Archives release of the arcade game that properly emulates the Mario walking sound would be swell too, but that seems like a lost cause at this point.
Sonic the Hedgehog
We just got a breakdown of a bunch of Sega’s plans for Sonic’s 30th anniversary, foremost among them is a remake of Sonic Colors, the previously Wii-exclusive action adventure platformer that’s actually pretty good. 3D Sonic games have a terrible reputation, but Colors seems to have stood the test of time, so getting that ported to all current gen platforms is a great plan.
They also announced a new Sonic project that has a logo and, well that’s about it. There’s a new retro collection in the works too, and that’s actually very interesting because it isn't just straight ROM dumps. These games have all been remastered in widescreen, and even though it didn’t show that way in the trailer, Sonic 3 and Knuckles is getting the same treatment, which is nuts. The question of whether or not the game will reappear with its original music intact remains to be seen, but even if we get the PC version’s tracks, Sonic 3 is a stellar game and it’s only a good thing to have it back in the world to be played by the masses.
Of course there’s also all that weird stuff with Sonic making all manner of cameos in random other games, many of which aren’t Sonic at all and are in fact just a guy in a Sonic suit, so that’s appropriately weird for the brand. Good job, Sega.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHHHah. Oh man, F-Zero. The franchise is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and there’s pretty much a 0% chance we’ll see anything at all related to it. Which is a huge bummer because I love F-Zero, and it deserves to have a new entry. Oh well.
Now this is an interesting one to look at because there have been LOTS of rumors floating around, and a new game in the franchise has been in active development for about 485 years. Jokes aside, Metroid turns 35 this August, and if the rumors are to be believed, there may be a new 2D entry coming at us sometime this year. Metroid: Samus Returns was a great game that nobody played, and an HD port to the Switch would make an unbelievable amount of sense. As would the long-rumored Switch port of the Metroid Prime Trilogy. And whoo boy, if there ever was a set of games that would benefit from being ported to a system with standardized controls, it’s the Metroid Prime games.
I personally think getting the trilogy isn’t going to happen. Nintendo just isn’t going to sell those three games bundled together again. Not when they can remaster each one individually and sell them at $60 a pop, and you know what? I’d buy them. A Metroid Prime game that’s been properly remastered in widescreen with dual analog controls added would be WELL worth $60, and I’d happily pay the same for its two numbered sequels.
As for what else could possibly come of it, who knows? Metroid is already available on Switch in both its NES and Famicom Disk System iterations, so there isn’t much to do there. Actually, if you’ve ever played 3D Classics: Kid Icarus on 3DS, you know EXACTLY what Nintendo should be doing with the original Metroid release. Can you imagine playing through NES Metroid with backgrounds added and a functional built-in map? I’d flip.
But the realistic scenario is Metroid getting the F-Zero treatment. Nothing at all.
The Legend of Zelda
We already know Nintendo is releasing Skyward Sword in HD this year, and Nintendo fans seem physically incapable of shutting up about how terrible it is (even though those are the same fans that have been begging for this exact thing since Wind Waker HD was announced for Wii U, but whatever). The question is, what else are they planning?
Mario got a whole giant to do around his 35th birthday, and Zelda is just as celebrated in terms of how Nintendo treats the franchise, especially since Breath of the Wild put it back on the map in terms of sales. So what else could they do? I really don’t know. The series has been pretty well ported over the years, so it seems likely we’ll get those HD Wind Waker and Twilight Princess games that have been languishing on Wii U for years. Maybe HD ports of the 3DS remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask?
Dream scenario though? The BSX Satellaview stuff. That and an online version of Four Swords Adventures. That that game isn’t playable online with voice chat is downright criminal.
Oh boy, if you thought F-Zero’s chances of celebration were low, Pit has some sacred words for you. Kid Icarus turns 35 this year, and as much as I’d love, and I mean LOVE, to see the 3D Classics version of the first game ported to Switch alongside a proper HD port of Uprising with dual analog control, it ain’t happening. Not in a million years.
There are plenty more important ones that I didn't even touch on. Will Master Chief compete in Smash Bros for his 20th anniversary? Will Crash Bandicoot celebrate 25 years the same way? Will Outrun see a new entry to celebrate its 35th anniversary? Time will tell. Either way, it’s been a heck of a year for video game history, and I can’t wait to see what the next 20, 35, and even 40 years have to offer.