At long last, Nintendo’s classic RPG EarthBound is getting a North American re-release via Virtual Console. You’d think that would be enough to make gamers content for a while, but let’s be serious–we’re always eager for more.
If anything, this just proves that games like EarthBound still have a chance of getting re-released, no matter how dire the situation might seem at times. There are still numerous lost classics out there that remain unplayable for one reason or another, whether they’re trapped overseas or have just never been re-released on modern hardware. Here are the top games that we want to see escape from lost-classics limbo.
Fire Emblem (series)
If you’re like us, you’ve recently spent hours upon hours slicing and strategizing your way through Fire Emblem: Awakening. But while Awakening is the latest (and arguably greatest) game that the series has to offer, it certainly isn’t the first. And the GBA title released in North America in 2003 (simply titled Fire Emblem) wasn’t the first, either–it was the seventh.
The series dates all the way back to the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the NES), then continued on the Super Famicom. Although some of those titles have been rebuilt on other systems (the story of the original Fire Emblem was retold as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on DS), many of them remain lost to English-speaking players. Even a few of the more recent releases on GBA and DS didn’t make it stateside. Some of the Fire Emblem titles are playable on Japanese Virtual Console; would it be too much to ask for an English localization? Considering that Fire Emblem fandom is at an all-time high, it seems like there’s never been a better opportunity.
Famicom Wars / Super Famicom Wars
Like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars is a strategy series that got its start long before it came to North America on the GBA. As you can surmise from the title, the cartoony military sim was born on the Famicom, then was followed up a few years later with a fairly obscure 16-bit sequel.
Sure, the games aren’t as (ahem) advanced as their GBA or DS counterparts, but we’d still love a chance to get access to Virtual Console versions of the vintage entries and experience firsthand how this series began–especially since we haven’t had a new Advanced Wars in some time.
Soul Blazer / Illusion of Gaia / Terranigma
The loose trilogy of action-RPGs composed of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma is something of a hidden treat from the SNES era. Each game stood fully on its own, but the titles shared similar approaches to gameplay, and they all effectively explored heavy themes of destruction and rebirth. They were also very well written and remarkably good at making you form emotional attachments to the characters and game worlds.
Sadly, these spellbinding classics have been all but forgotten; Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia haven’t been released in any format beyond the original 16-bit cartridges, and the fate of Terranigma is even more tragic–the game never even made it to North America at all (although it was localized for Europe, meaning most of the work is already done). The Wii Virtual Console service didn’t provide these games with a second chance to shine, but maybe the Wii U will finally offer the opportunity.
Everyone knows Star Fox. Not only is it one of the games that helped usher in the age of polygonal visuals, but it introduced players to a fascinating world of intergalactic shooting action, wacky talking animals, and, of course, barrel rolls. So many barrel rolls.
Star Fox 64 is rightfully considered the best game in the series, and it’s done pretty well for itself recently, having appeared on Virtual Console as well as in enhanced form on 3DS. But where is the Super NES original? Why has it not been revived on a modern system? The game celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year, but Nintendo didn’t even give it a nod. Hopefully that can be corrected in the near future, maybe even with some of the content from the cancelled Star Fox 2–but beggars can’t be choosers.
Ganbare Goemon 2 / Ganbare Goemon 3 / Goemon New Age Shutsuduo!
If you ever played Konami’s The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Ganbare Goemon in Japan) on the Super NES, you were in for a wild ride–intense action, awesome music, challenging platforming, sweet RPG elements, and a heaping dose of pure weirdness (such as riding on a deadly cow or defeating foes with a tutu attack). Those who played Mystical Ninja tended to love it; those who didn’t just stood there baffled by it all.
But for every Goemon game released in North America, there have been several that remained overseas. We’d especially like to see the game’s direct 16-bit sequels, Ganbare Goemon 2 and 3, find their way over here via some sort of re-release; even if they remain untranslated, it’d be simple enough to figure out what to do. The GBA follow-up, Goemon: New Age Shutsudou!, also deserves to be played by a Western audience. Instead, players have been subjected to a Virtual Console version of the atrocious Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for Game Boy. C’mon Konami; you totally owe us after that one.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars
The Blue Bomber has had it rough recently, and few games in the franchise have had it rougher than Mega Man: The Wily Wars for the Sega Genesis. Containing visually and aurally enhanced versions of Mega Man, Mega Man 2, and Mega Man 3, plus a handful of new stages, The Wily Wars seemed like a dream come true for Mega Man fans. Unfortunately, those dreams were shattered when the domestic retail release was scrapped, and the game arrived in North America only via the short-lived Sega Channel. (It did hit retail in Japan and Europe, however.)
Considering that Capcom is currently in the midst of celebrating Mega Man’s 25th anniversary, it sure would be nice to see this compilation finally get a proper release, one way or another. No need for HD-ification, either–we’d prefer a simple, pixel-perfect port.
Snatcher / Policenauts
Before he set the gaming world on fire with Metal Gear Solid (but after releasing the original Metal Gear), Hideo Kojima created the highly acclaimed graphic-text adventure games Snatcher and Policenauts. Boasting gripping plots, compelling characters, and mature themes, both titles pushed the envelope for what interactive entertainment could be.
In North America, Snatcher was released for the ill-fated Sega CD but failed to find an audience (not surprising considering that the hardware wasn’t exactly a hit), while Policenauts was announced, then subsequently cancelled, for the Sega Saturn. Both games were available on multiple platforms in Japan, but North American gamers really deserve another chance to play these amazing adventures. Sadly, Kojima himself has gone on record saying he wants nothing to do with any sort of re-release–but we can always hope he’ll change his mind.
Panzer Dragoon Saga / Shining Force III
It’s no secret that the Sega Saturn got whooped pretty bad by the PlayStation, but the system still played host to a number of fantastic, hotly demanded games. Look no further than eBay for proof, where you’ll see astronomical prices for games like Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III–which puts them well out of reach for most gamers, even if they still own a functioning Sega Saturn.
Luckily, Sega has started digging into its Saturn back catalog,delivering digital versions of games such as NiGHTS Into Dreams and Guardian Heroes in recent years. Could Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III be revived as well? While they’re at it, we’d want Sega to bring out the entire Shining Force III trilogy; only the first part was ever released in North America, and we’ve been waiting more than a decade to see the second and third chapters over here.
Mother 1 / Mother 3
Somehow, it always comes back to Mother. We’ll get to play EarthBound (Mother 2) on Wii U later this year–but that’s only part of the story. What about the original Mother (often referred to as EarthBound Zero), which was reportedly localized by Nintendo way back in the day? What about the critically acclaimed Mother 3 for Game Boy Advance? Until these two games see the light of day, will EarthBound fans truly be satisfied?
Maybe if EarthBound on Wii U Virtual Console is the smashing success that it should be, then Nintendo will consider finally delivering the other installments to North American audiences. Hey, the series’ 25th anniversary is coming up next year–what better time for Nintendo to pull out all the stops and release collector’s edition of all three games? (Or maybe fans will spend another 15 years begging. Hard to say.)
Just do it
Are there any games you’re interested in playing again that, for some reason, is impossible to find? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll totally ignore what you said, instead complaining more about Mother 3′s lack of translation.
And if you’re looking for more, check out top 7 saddest games and top 7 weirdest games to ever get localized.
By Chris Hoffman
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