When was the last time we had an original 2D Super Mario Bros. platformer? I ask myself this quite often, as I see Nintendo jamming a FIFTH Mario rehash down our throats. Rather than using the Game Boy Advance as a springboard for a the second coming of Mario platforming action (and NO, Wario Land 4 doesn’t count), we get the same damn games we played 10 or more years ago. But don’t get me wrong…Nintendo’s not the only offender here; we’re just going to start there, and work our way up.
First, there was Super Mario Deluxe on the Game Boy Color. Here we had the original Super Mario Bros. from 1985, packed in with a whole mess of unlockables, a vs. mode, a challenge mode, and Game Boy Printer support. Not too bad, I suppose. But once the GBA came on the scene, we had Super Mario Advance…which ended up being nothing but Super Mario Bros. 2, albeit with new graphics, and an updated Mario Bros. arcade game thrown in. From there, it only got worse: Super Mario Advance 2, 3, and 4. Each time, ports of games we’ve already played, with a few extras thrown in for suckers. Not ONCE have we had an original Mario platformer; the upcoming Mario & Luigi doesn’t even fit the bill, as it’s more of an action-RPG. So line up, and shell out $30 for a game you already played through in the early 90s. It doesn’t stop there. Other GBA ports include The Lost Vikings, Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing, Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Doom, and Doom II. And most of those don’t even have any extras! Gimme a f*cking break.
Now let’s look at the Gamecube, and one of my favorite companies, Sega. Sega cranked out Skies of Arcadia Legends, Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II, Sonic Mega Collection, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, and Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut. Were any of those games really necessary?! Especially since the first Sonic Adventure title (originally on the Dreamcast) was riddled with bugs, and none of them were fixed! Sega’s finally getting around to making a new Sonic console game (Sonic Heroes), but until such time, we’re getting charged $40 or so to play games that came out years ago? Adding an extra scenario or two doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the same damn game, with some icing on the top. And it doesn’t stop there. Other Dreamcast games that have been ported to the GC include and Evolution Worlds. On the PS2, they did a horrible port of Grandia II.
Now we can yell at Capcom. They long ago announced that Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 4 would be GC-exclusive. In the meantime, we’re fed ports of Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, and RE: Code Veronica. The first RE was rebuilt with all new graphics, sound, etc., but the others were essentially unchanged! Same PSX-quality graphics, sound, and glitches (with the exception of RE:CV, which was on the DC). That’s the biggest ripoff of all.
Luckily, there’s a positive side to all of this mess. One example is Mega Man & Bass for GBA. Originally released in Japan for the Super Famicom (SNES) in 1998, this game never made it to the States. The good news? Now people can play it in English. The bad news? It’s not exactly a well-done port; a huge chunk of the screen is cut off, and there’s a few bugs. Another Japanese-to-US import is Rez on the PS2 (originally for the Japanese Dreamcast), which I very highly recommend.
Are there any other ports that are worth your hard-earned money? Off the top of my head, I can recommend Activision Anthology for PS2. This disc contains around 50 classic Atari 2600 games. See, that’s a port that makes sense, because these games were released well over TWENTY years ago, not 2-5 years ago. And $20 for that many games isn’t bad. The same applies to Namco Museum and Pac-Man Collection (the former on PSX, PS2 and GBA, the latter on GBA only); these are maybe $20 a pop, and contain plenty of arcade classics. The price is the sticking point; paying $20 for a slew of ported classic games is a hell of a lot better than paying $40-50 for ONE ported recent game. (I won’t even get into how insulting it is when companies port classic arcade games poorly. *cough*Midway*cough*)
Once the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the next generation Game Boy come out, we’re due to see even more ports of games we played through over and over again. Well, at least Nintendo’s bound to run out of Mario games to rehash eventually…