Originally released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, this remake of Rare's answer to Mario Kart is faithful to the original in many ways, and marred by the unfortunate reality of the business side of video games. After being bought out by Microsoft in 2002, Rare's continued to make handheld games for Nintendo due to a lack of interest in the market by their owners. However, as a result of licensing issues, two of Rare's most popular characters, Banjo and Conker, were taken out of the game. To compensate for this loss, Rare added 4 new characters to the game. Other additions to the remake include new stages, music, and an enhanced multiplayer mode. The base game is largely the same and plays well, and the new features are almost enough to compensate for what is missing. Fans of the classic Rare platformers may be a little disappointed that their favorite characters are missing from the racer that spawned them, but otherwise it is a solid remake for the DS.
With the recent success of the newest entry in the series, Awakening, this remake of the original Fire Emblem has come back in the spotlight alongside the rest of the games in the series. The original NES version never came out in North America, so this is the only english language release of the game. Fans of Super Smash Bros. will recognize the protagonist Marth, who must recruit a group of soldiers to help take back his kingdom. The game features many of the series standards, like high difficulty and permanent deaths for any character who dies in battle. Nineteen years passed between the release of the original game and Shadow Dragon's release, and while the visuals received an upgrade, the game is still really old school in its mechanics. New features in the remake include a series of prologue chapters, online multiplayer, and the ability to reclass your units. If you liked Awakening's gameplay, you'll enjoy Shadow Dragon.
Super Mario 64 was a launch title for the N64. Eight years later, its remake was a launch title for the DS. This version added a few changes to the story, most notably adding three new playable characters, Wario, Luigi, and Yoshi. In fact, you actually start the game as Yoshi now, and unlock the other three as you go along. It also added an admittedly boring multiplayer. This is a rare example of a game that was improved with backwards compatibility. On an original DS, the game is controlled with the d-pad or touchscreen, which can lead to some spotty controls. However, when you play the game on a 3DS, the analog stick makes for a significant improvement. Mario 64 DS is a great remake of one of the most beloved games in history, and is worth a spot in any DS/3DS owners library.
Between 1990 and 1995, Enix released 3 games in the Dragon Quest series, known at the time as Dragon Warrior in North America. The games, Dragon Warrior IV, V and VI, are three of the best JRPGs ever made. Of the three, only IV was released in North America originally. I chose DQV to represent the trilogy on this list as it is usually considered the best of the three. IV and V are actually based off of the PS2 Japan-only remakes. The DS version of VI was the first remake since the SNES version, and was built in the same vein as the other two. The DS games all feature 2D sprites navigating beautiful 3D environments. Other changes include slight story changes in translation, new or altered side missions, and alterations to certain gameplay elements. These games are a must-play for any JRPG fan, and in the cases of V and VI, the DS versions are the only releases available in English.
Twelve years after its original 1996 release, Nintendo released an enhanced version of Kirby Super Star. Considered the best two-dimensional Kirby game, Super Star had Kirby jump and swallow his way through seven unique game modes. Super Star Ultra added four all new modes and a bunch of extra mini-games. The remake also includes slight graphical and audio upgrades, as well as new cutscenes for each mode. The new modes are upgraded versions of similar ones from the original game. These modes add a little challenge to the game, but overall it is still one of the easier and kid-friendly platformers out there. Still, if you are a fan on Nintendo's pink puff ball in 2D, there is no better package. Also note that the version of Super Star in Kirby's Dream Collection on the Wii is the original version, and does not contain any of Ultra's enhancements.
A version that was both drastically different from and remarkably faithful to the original game it is based off of, the Final Fantasy IV 3D remake for the DS is an interesting phenomenon. Following the rather lukewarm critical reception to the 3D remake of Final Fantasy III, Matrix Software went ahead and tried again with the next game in the series. This time the response was much better, and many consider the DS version to be the best version of FFIV available. The biggest gameplay change is the addition of an augment system, that overhauled how temp party members were handled. The most notable change however is in the completely revamped visuals. Everything in the game has been modeled in 3D, and new FMV cutscenes in the style of the PS2-era Final Fantasys were added. Other new features include mini-games, a New Game+ mode that allows you to carry equipment and rare items over to a new playthrough, and new hidden missions. This version of the game was later released on IOS and Android stores, but the two screens of the DS eliminate a lot of the menu clutter, so it is still the superior version. Any fan of old school JRPGs will love this game.
Following in the footsteps of the Game Boy Advance remakes of the first generation games, Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver feature an insane number of enhancements and upgrades to the original Game Boy Color games. The ability to acquire all fourth generation Pokemon anchor a slew of changes, including a complete visual overhaul, remixed music, and a huge number of new events. Some features cut from the original game, such as a special Celebi event in the Ilex Forest involving Team Rocket leader Giovanni. If you can still find a new version of the game, it should come with a PokeWalker, a pedometer that encourages walking around to acquire new Pokemon and items, while also granting experience to any Pokemon loaded into it. If you played and enjoyed the original games, or love either a solid RPG or Pokemon in general, this game will definitely cater to you.
The first game in one of the best TRPG series finally made it to North America in 2007, twelve years after its initial Japanese release on the SNES. The DS version is actually a port of the PS1 remake of the game that only came out in Japan. The game stars two military factions warring over an island in the year 2090. Combat takes place in walking tanks, or 'wanzers' and features a system where each part of the mech(body, arms, and legs) has its own status bar, adding a strategy where you can cripple an enemy as opposed to outright destroying them if needed. There is also a vast customization system, so each member of your party can serve a different purpose based of what strategy you choose to use. While the story is nothing special, the missions are both fun and challenging enough to keep you engaged throughout. The game actually features 2 campaigns, the second coming from the perspective of the enemy army from the main story, and is about 3/4ths the length of the first story. The game also features some beautiful art from the artist behind Final Fantasy, Yoshitaka Amano. Unfortunately, due to poor commercial performance of this version, this is probably the hardest game on this list to find a copy of, and subsequent support for the series was dropped after a crummy action spin-off. Still, if you can get over the old school visuals and design, you'll find one of the most satisfying strategy games on the DS in Front Mission.
The original Ace Attorney trilogy actually debuted in Japan on the Game Boy Advance in the early 2000s. The DS versions that came out in North America were ports. The DS versions added touchscreen and microphone support, and the first game added an extra mission that utilized the touchscreen features of the DS, something that the series wouldn't see again until the Apollo Justice spin-off. I chose Trials and Tribulations to represent the original GBA trilogy since it is the most popular of the three games, and ends a great adventure game trilogy gracefully. With a well written story that mixes humor and drama featuring a large cast of memorable characters throughout all three games, the original Ace Attorney trilogy is the best bet for anyone looking for a good adventure game on the DS. Like Final Fantasy IV, the games were eventually released on IOS devices, this time with crisper visuals and sound, making that version the best one on the market.
Widely considered one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, Chrono Trigger came out a critical and commercial darling for Square in 1995. Six years later, a PS1 port arrived, packaged with Final Fantasy IV, adding in animated cutscenes by legendary artist Akira Toriyama alongside a few extra features. In 2008, a new port of the game arrived on the Nintendo DS, including all of the PS1 version's additions as well as a lot of new content. The dual-screen mode cleans up the menus of all clutter, the visuals are crisper, and most importantly, the game added two new large areas. Reception for the new areas has been mixed, as some find them not to the standards of the main game's content, while others appreciate more Chrono Trigger in any capacity. The game also added a new ending that helps tie the game to its spiritual successor, Chrono Cross. Chrono Trigger is a must play game for anyone, and the DS version is one of the best ways to play it.
The Nintendo DS has a great library even without all these old games making a comeback, and to have many of these games come to North America for the first time via the console makes it even more special. There are other games remade or ported that didn't make the cut, such as the Legacy of Ys Collection, Disgaea DS, Broken Sword, and Resident Evil Deadly Silence. These DS remakes have allowed people to access some amazing works that hadn't been seen in years, usually with some great additions. So here's to you Nintendo, for keeping the past alive.
List by LEGOslayer (08/23/2013)
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