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Stone Age Countdown: Top 5 8 to 16-bit Remakes

Stone Age Countdown: Top 5 8 to 16-bit Remakes

Kris Randazzo
7 minute read

Remakes are all the rage these days, but they've actually been doing these things for a very long time. Even back in the days of the SNES and Genesis. Here are our Top 5 8 to 16-bit remakes!

Transcript of the video:

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Stone Age Countdown. Remakes! Everybody loves remakes, right? They’re pretty common practice these days thanks to the miracle of modern technology, and some are certainly better than others. But they’ve been cranking out remakes for longer than you might think. Even as far back as 16-bit systems like Super NES and Genesis. Here are our Top 5 8 to 16-bit remakes.

Now before we get started let’s lay down a couple of ground rules. What I’m talking about specifically today is direct ports from NES to a 16-bit system. Where they took the NES game and made it 16-bit without changing it on any kind of deep level. That means something like the Excitebike: BunBun Mario Battle and BS Zelda for Satelliview are disqualified because they’re pretty different experiences overall from their NES counterparts. Ninja Gaiden Trilogy for SNES is also off the list because we’re talking about good games here and that thing is, well, if you don’t have anything nice to say and all that. Anyway, let’s get started.

#5 Snake Rattle n RollSnake Rattle n Roll for NES is a spectacular game, and the wizards at Rare did a fantastic job of bending the NES to their will in ways that delivered some really impressive graphics. Naturally, when the game was ported to the Mega Drive, the state of the source material meant that in theory, the new version wouldn’t really need much in terms of a visual boost. Fortunately, that turned out to be correct as the Mega Drive version largely just uses more colorful versions of the original NES sprites, animations and all. There are a few cleaner edges in terms of colors too which make the game look especially nice. The one thing that holds this version back though is the music. For some reason, David Wise was commissioned to come up with a completely different soundtrack for this port, and while this game still sounds great, the tunes he came up with here are at least to my ears, vastly inferior to the NES tracks. Still, this is a great, albeit barebones, port of an NES classic.

#4 Championship Pro-Am 

Speaking of Rare NES games on Sega’s 16-bit hardware, here we have Championship Pro-Am, a direct port of RC Pro-Am for NES. The NES original looked and sounded great for its time, and still holds up remarkably well today in terms of just being an incredibly fun and engaging racing game. The Genesis version doesn’t change all that much, which works much better here than it did in Snake Rattle n Roll actually. The visuals are super clean and the game even seems to run a bit smoother. The one thing they did change was adding 2 more cars to the races, which adds a nice extra layer of intensity to the gameplay. RC Pro-Am is great, and this is about as good a port as could have been done on the Genesis.

#3 Mega Man: The Wily wars 

The first 3 Mega Man games are masterpieces, especially 2 and 3. They helped define what NES gaming was all about, and they play pitch perfect, again, especially 2 and 3. The one area where Mega Man’s NES outings could stand to improve, especially 1 and 2, is in the visuals department. So when Mega Man: The Wily Wars materialized on Sega Genesis, it looked like an absolute home run.

Visually speaking, Wily Wars is super weird. Most of the enemy sprites are just recolored or cleaned up versions of the original NES sprites, but the robot masters and Mega Man himself have all been redrawn, some better than others. The backgrounds are all really neat too, giving a fascinating sense of context to the stages that was missing in the NES releases. Where this compilation falters though is in terms of both music and the basic gameplay. Mega Man shoots too slowly, and the whole thing’s speed seems really off.

With these flaws, why does it make #3? Because of Wily Tower. This bit of the game allows players to choose a weapon loadout from the first three games and tackle 3 all new robot masters. It’s no masterpiece, but it makes up for its flaws by having a heck of an interesting personality.

#2 Tetris & Dr. Mario 

Tetris on the NES was a revelation. Not quite as big as the Game Boy version, but a massive success in its own right. Dr. Mario was Nintendo’s own take on the falling block formula and found its own massive success as well. These two puzzlers were some of the best on the NES, so combining them in one single cart for Super NES was something of a dream come true for fans.

While not taking a ton of liberties with the visuals of the NES game, what they did here really looks spectacular. Especially Dr. Mario. This background tile bit is really cool. The music came out particularly well in this collection too, including the Nutcracker tune from the NES game being replaced by the Game Boy Tetris theme we all know and love.

It is missing that super cool NES ending screen with all the Nintendo characters playing music and dancing, but it makes up for it by adding not just a 2-player mode to tetris, but also throwing in Mixed Match where players have to compete in both Tetris and Dr. Mario against one another. It’s incredibly fun, and one of the best puzzle collections out there.

#1 Super Mario All-Stars 

The three Super Mario bros. Games on NES are about as close to video game royalty as you can get. They’re all absolute icons, and have stood the test of time in their original formats thanks to Nintendo being particularly good at pushing their own hardware to its limits. However, there’s always room for improvement, right? Especially in terms of 8-bit games when stacked up next to 16-bit masterpieces. And thus Super Mario All-Stars was born.

This one really set the gold standard as far as how remakes should be handled, especially for its time. Taking these three NES classics and not just adding a 16-bit coat of paint, but thoughtful redoing their visuals in ways that make them feel like genuine SNES-worthy games, was no small feat. It can be argued that in some ways Super Mario Bros. 3 actually looks worse, but even with the weird physics changes in Mario 1, the first two games in this collection look and sound incredibly cool. Like everything else on this list, All-Stars isn’t perfect, but as an alternate take on these three games, it’s far more successful than Mega Man: The Wily Wars was. Plus, as far as I’m concerned this is the only way to play The Lost Levels, as it not only makes the continue system more fair, but it allows you to play the hidden extra worlds without having to go through quite such an absurd gauntlet. Super Mario All-Stars is great, and definitely earns its #1 spot. 

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