"If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This slangy term echoes in my mind each time I see another Pokemon game with such revolutionizing new additions such as having one of the critters' sprite follow your or another Mega Man where the main character looks and acts like Mega Man in every possible way but somehow isn't Mega Man. Obviously, when you come up with a franchise that works it's stupid to change around too much of it, and it's much safer to take baby steps by forcing a very slow evolution which gives the illusion of not letting things get stale. If something works they can keep it around for future games, and if it doesn't they can just avoid that. However, sometimes these small changes to the franchise only lasts for one game, but still happen to be really great in one way or another. This list is meant to pick out these small and temporary yet awesome changes, so sit back and enjoy reading about what your favorite franchises could have been like! Oh yeah, for this to work I have to tangle a bit with the term "series". I mean, I could do a rap about how Mewtwo was the best thing that ever happened the Smash series, but there's only been one game since he went away. Who's to say that he won't become a staple in the series' future? No one, that's who! So in order for a series to apply for this list, it has to contain at least... Four games. Oh, and expect mostly oldies. Go to MyFace or Spacebook if you want to read about Falldown: Sisterhood of SoulSilver or whatever. So, without further ado, let's go to #1... Followed by 0. Yeah, that's right - #10. Let's go!

Here's a Fire Emblem for the SNES, and it's not the one that all the cool kids keep referring to. It's actually a sequel to that one (Or rather a 'gaiden', which means 'side-story', but who cares? I don't and you probably didn't), closer in structure to the more recent Fire Emblems than that other game for the SNES everybody likes. Although predating them all, surprisingly enough this game has quite a few features the new FEs are lacking. Fatigue, for instance - Makes it so that you can't use the same 12 characters throughout the entire game. Mildly annoying, but gives you an excuse to use that lovable yet stat-screwed character every now and then. But the greatest addition was the ability to capture your enemies. As any FE veteran will tell you, your weapons will break A LOT in these game. Cutting through enough people to fill the Grand Canyon with their piled up corpses twice does that. New weapons cost money, money is scarce, yadda yadda. Meanwhile, the enemies always had more than enough weapons, some of them really rare and extremely lethal in the hands of someone even slightly competent, I.E you. But when you kill enemies, you don't get their weapons. You usually can't even use a thief to steal them because you can't steal equipped weapons, and who'd ever NOT equip their weapon? Anyway, in this game there was a way of getting their equipped weapons - Capturing. If you happened to overwhelm your enemy in certain stats (And believe me - usually you do), you could try to capture them, during which a procedure follows where you steal all their weapons, items, cash and dignity. They also get to keep their lives, but who cares about that? MONEY! While a great feature, this is only present in this one game, and it really makes me mad when a battalion of weaklings are carrying around the valuable Killing Edges when they're more likely to impale themselves than my troops on them. Like giving five Megaelixirs to Goofy. Another great addition in this game that is worth mentioning is the enemy's impeccable AI. This game has got one of the most intelligent AIs I've ever seen, far outdoing the ones in the recent FEs. Why it's so hard to just program the AI in the recent games with the one from Thracia 776 I'll never know. Check out the game's board if you want to read horror stories of disarmed enemies running to a store to buy a fancy new sword or teleporting in strong units right next to your Cleric (Who will probably just miss with her healing spells, anyway). All in all, if they decide to ever bring back this AI I shall once more be happy to rise to the challenge!

Although facing some title confusion due to us Westerners only having five fingers on each hand and being unable to count to 6, Final Fantasy III/VI is considered by many to be the highlight of the series. They are being laughed at by the people preferring Final Fantasy VII, that are themselves being laughed at by the people preferring Final Fantasy VIII. Why we all just can't get along is beyond me. Apart from being a good game, FF VI has one of the most acclaimed soundtracks in video game history. With timeless legendary songs such as The Dream Opera and Dancing Mad combined with the typical song on the soundtrack ranging between totally awesome to head-bangingly radical, it redefines the word "achievement". Although Nobou Uematsu, incredible as he is, should be more than awesome enough to create a soundtrack this good, he was actually given some extra leverage this time around. Most RPG musicians are given about a year to whip together a soundtrack (give or take), and Uematsu was no exception. But for this particular game, he was actually given two years to make the music come alive. Twice the usual time. Meaning that he hypothetically made two great soundtracks and then weeded out only the ones capable of revolutionizing the human ear. That, combined with one of the greatest composers ever at his prime working with a soundchip he fully understood gave us classics such as <insert random FFVI song here>. <insert random FFVI song here> is my favorite! And even though this became one of the game's greatest assets, Uematsu was given the typical time for making the soundtrack for the following Final Fantasies. Very hard to notice due to the fact that some of the other ones are as good if not a whole lot better than the one for FF VI, depending on your tastes. Personally, I feel that the likes of Dancing Mad was never heard again...

I remember going nuts over the original when it first came out, what with the "50 games in one!" slogans running everywhere. "50?" I thought, "That's like... Twice as many games as in Ocarina of Time! Wow!". So I ran out and bought it, and learned a valuable lesson - Quality over Quantity... And I am reminded of it every day that I stare at the scars left in the palm of my hands from that horrible Tug-O-War minigame. And while I missed the four player teamwork minigames (Key-pa-way and Running of the Bulb), the sequels were better and in particular Mario Party 3. You see, my main gripes with Mario Party is that a typical game takes too long (even if you lower the game time, because then nothing happens before it's over), too much is left to luck and the AI is just there to ruin the gaming experience if you're playing with friends. A typical game is that you just spend the last 30 minutes getting your butt handed to you by a cheating AI, and that's no fun. There have always been duel modes present, but they're mostly that you walk around in a circle and do minigames until one of you runs out of money. Mario Party 3 introduced a variation of this, however. The duel mode in Mario Party 3 is a surprisingly deep RPG-like battle between you and a friend. Basically, you walk around a board while building up a team of allies that will either attack the other player at contact or defend you. There are many different allies with their own specialties and such, and they cost money each turn to keep around. The better they are the more they cost, and when you run out of money they leave you defenseless. To get money you have to play 1 vs 1 minigames in the classic Mario Party fashion, but luckily not after each turn. Anyway, while it's still mostly up to luck, there is an amazing amount of strategies you can employ in order to win in this game. You can get a strong ally and rush your opponent, you can wait your opponent out until they run out of money or just get the right ally to counter your opponent's strategy. A lot more fun than the actually game, one might say. Sadly not according to Nintendo, because this mode disappeared completely from the series and I am forced to turn to the N64 for my Mario Party fix instead of making obscene gestures with the Wiimote.

Kirby Super Star Ultra is a very interesting game for this Top 10 list, seeing how it contains several games that all follow the classic Kirby formula with small variations. After much consideration, listening to the catchy ending song and comparing my awesome/incredible ratio, I have decided on one particular feature that stands out from the rest. The Kirby series has always been about the many forms Kirby takes on. From freezing enemies into pushable blocks to smashing things with a hammer, everyone finds their own favorite ability to play with. The problem is that you really have no control over which move you get to use. You have to find a special enemy in a particular place in a certain level that you can copy. And even after that, every time you take a hit there's a chance that you lose your ability, and if you die once it's completely gone! Your only options at that point is to use the extremely boring "Normal" Kirby until you find some other menial ability to copy, or return to that one place you know the enemy with your favorite ability lingers. Tedious, annoying and completely unacceptable! Things took a ride to the stars in Milky Way Wishes (one of the many games in Kirby Super Star) when they finally changed the basis of taking on different forms. Instead of copying enemies, you found the copy ability as a statue hidden like a typical treasure, and once you got it it was added to a library and you would be able to choose it at any time, anywhere and as much as you'd like to. When you later found more of these abilities, you could interchange between them without worrying about losing one and having to backtrack in order to find it again. If you encountered an area where your current ability was useless and you wanted another, you could just switch to that one (if you had found the statue). No matter what, you kept the ability. In other words, for me I just found what I was looking for and proceeded to Suplex the crap out of everything not pink and fluffy (quickly followed by everything pink and fluffy). And when I got sick of it, I just picked another copy ability and force fed everyone green Plasma. That's the way these games were meant to be played! Like a few other Kirby innovations (such as the ability-combination thing from the 64), this went away and didn't return until the remake that they released for the DS recently, which this list will link you to. Why? Eh, it looks more active than the old SNES one. My two dots in front of a doorless building rejoice at this :D

Pronounced 'Base' for some reason. English is not my first language, but that just seems wrong for some reason. Like every other Mega Man character he got his name changed outside of Japan for no good reason but to break up the "Rock 'n Roll" combo. "Mega 'n Roll" just doesn't have the same ring to it... Anyway, as a mentioned earlier the Mega Man series rarely lets go of the minimal changes they make to the formula... Which is a good thing, since they keep improving on the gameplay that way. Several of the small changes that had great meta-value but were in the end kind of lame (Protoman's Shield in 7, Tango the robotic furball in V...) were done away with, and probably for the better. There was one pretty interesting thing that is only present in one Mega Man game though, and that is Bass as a playable character in Megaman & Bass (Mistakenly known as Mega Man 9 in the past). This is one of the last of the Mega Man games from the original series, and it came out after the X series had been introduced. So Bass, unlike Mega Man has a few of X's and Zero's abilities, such as being able to dash instead of slide and jumping once in mid-air. What really made him shine was his own abilities, though. He could fire in any direction, this being a 2-D game meaning that he could fire Up/Down/Left/Right and in all diagonals. What's more is that instead of being able to charge his buster it had an awesome rapid fire function, that easily took care of just about any enemy. While not as effective on bosses, you're supposed to be using the special weapons on those, right? Not only that, but he had the ability to combine with his robotic best friend Treble for about 20 seconds, letting him shoot powerful shots and allowing free flight not seen since the Rush Jet of Mega Man III. The only problem with all this is that the good ol' Mega Man looks pretty useless in comparison! Sure, he can charge his buster and shoot through walls, but that doesn't come in as handy as one might think. The game itself was pretty bad if you ask me, borrowing heavily from Mega Man 8 (which wasn't all that good to begin with). But the inclusion of Bass makes it worth playing, especially seeing how he hasn't made his glorious return since.

Ahh, the Contra series. As a man that has beaten Battletoads fair 'n square, yawned through Boss Rush Insane in SSBB and only died three times on the first enemy in Order of Ecclesia's Hard, I can safely say that these games are TOO DIFFICULT! You die from one hit of everything, and there's a whole lot of everything everywhere. If you are not currently being assaulted by at least five different enemies, three bullets and a giant robot, the game has frozen and/or glitched out. Seriously, my friend and I used to punch in the 30 life code after playing through the original maybe twenty times, and we still BARELY made it each time with the last credit. Without the code, you only have 4 lives! The only Contra game I ever beat fairly was Contra III for the SNES, and although it was a nightmare it is still considered easy by Contra standards. Well, fine, those two to the PS2 I also beat, but that was all thanks to my one true Player 2 (I owe you one, man). So, what is so great about Contra: Hard Cops? Well, apart from being the best in the series in my opinion, the Japanese version actually made it so that you do NOT die from one hit. You die from three. This might not sound like a lot to those of you that have never played Contra, but it is. Three hits means that you get to keep your weapons and bombs after being hit, giving you a fighting chance to down whatever the game throws at you and generally creating a more enjoyable gaming experience. But as you can see, I used the J-word up there. What did we get? Well, being European I got Probotector, but the US got something even worse - Contra Hard Cops WITHOUT three hits 'til death. Yes, they took an already difficult game, cut your lives by a THIRD and called it a day. Why!? What on earth happened? Why would they change that!? Are you seriously telling me that someone played this game and went "Ah, it's far too easy. Let's ramp up the difficulty threefold". Amazingly enough, even after this blunder of a lifetime they decided to never remove the "one hit and you're dead" aspect in the future games, making playing these games feel like strangling an entire herd of elephants made out of fire while you're slowly transforming into an ant made out of ice. With asthma. Thanks, Konami!

With the overflow of Mega Man: Battle Network and Star Force sequels and different version out there, it's pretty amazing to see that someone actually had the guts to name one of them "4.5". It should actually be more like "1.7", since it's pretty much the same thing as the first one. Well, not entirely - Unlike the other games of the network saga where you exercise full control over your character in battle, in this game you actually give directions to your Navi instead. This is actually more engaging than you might think, since ordering them to do the wrong thing at the wrong time is definitively going to get them hit. You still need timing, strategy and reflexes! Plus, you're Navi has pretty amazing dodging skills on its own, keeping the bother of that stuff away from you. But what really makes this game a hidden gem is the fact that you get to choose which Navi to use, with a massive selection of almost 20 characters. They all battle very differently, too - Gutsman.EXE is strong and sturdy but slow, while Thunderman.EXE is adapt with electric chips and has automatic clouds assist him in battles. They interact with the environments differently, and have different ways of leveling up. Fireman.EXE for instance can absorb Fire element chips in order to increase his HP, while Shadowman.EXE gets to do assassinations for rewards. Being a bit of a Shadowman myself, I enjoyed being able to turn invisible and tossing homing shurikens a lot more than shooting a silly megabuster. While you can temporarily use different Navis in 5 and 6, it didn't really compare to the interaction and depths you had in this game. Oh, and to compare Bass and Mega Man once again, Bass has a constant 200 HP aura around him, lots of HP and a charged attack that completely obliterates his opponents. Meanwhile, Mega Man can call Lan for moral support! "Hang in there, Mega Man! He can't be that stro-" *BOOOOOOOM* <Deleted>

As Castlevania, Mega Man and several Top 10s have shown us from time to time, a 2-D franchise going 3-D usually ends up in disaster. I mean, whatever worked in 2-D won't necessarily work in 3-D, you have to reinvent the franchise properly like Mario or Metroid did. The Mystical Ninja series is a brand seen mostly in Japan, featuring several 2-D and semi 3-D games for the SNES. When the N64 was released, they decided to put Mystical Ninja onto the bandwagon of the future and tried their hand in making a 3-D game. The results were incredible. The original Mystical Ninja was mostly an action/adventure type of game where you walked around and hit enemies with a pipe. Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon took this to the next level. With a massive and atmospheric world to explore, absolutely brilliant comedic writing, fun and engaging action sequences, four playable character with their own specialties, several hours of nonstop enjoyability and great soundtrack, this game is ranked just behind Final Fantasy VIII and Ocarina of Time as my favorite game of all time. It rekindled my love for gaming all over again, and when I heard that a sequel was being made I literally cried out of joy. There was only one problem with it... It was 2-D. It also had most of the things listed above, but what was once a brilliant adventure through a great world quickly became a plethora of tedious jumps and uninteresting gameplay. The game was shorter, had less of a storyline and was harder. I mean, I cleared it, but that was purely out of my love for the first game. Although I was heartbroken, the series never returned to their 3-D glory. There was one more 3-D adventure being made for the PS2 once, but it was canceled because apparently it was lacking in the graphics department. So I curse the shallow world we live in, and remember the happiness the first game gave me that no one can ever take away.

Castlevania is a funny series. Between emulating Metroid, Devil May Cry and what I am presuming is God of War in the upcoming Lords of Shadow, the only truly innovative thing about it is the classic walk 'n whip formula. But let's not forget the many aspects that this part of the series stands for! Terrible controls, very tiny and fast enemies somehow killing you and ludicrous difficulty comes off the top of my head. Annoying enemies like Fleamen, Medusa Heads and Spear Guards are put to shame only by the even more annoying bosses such as Frankenstein's Monster, Death and Dracula. Needless to say, the formula contains quite a few things we could have done without, but didn't really bother with back in the gay nineties. However, steps were taken in order to make this basis into something less of a torture session, such as allowing more characters and more powerful weapons to be used. One of the greatest additions was for Super Castlevania IV, where they FINALLY allowed you to aim with your whip. Instead of dealing with the classic rheumatism Mega Man also seems to be afflicted by that disallows raising ones arm above ones shoulder, Simon Belmont had the ability to use his whip in 8 different directions both in mid-air and on the ground. It is amazing just how many issues this series had that was fixed by this simple addition - Those Medusa heads and bats were no longer an incredible pain since you could aim for them, each landing after a jump wasn't like dancing mad on a razor's edge since you could whip downwards and take care of whatever was out to get you and every boss wasn't impossible to hit 85% of the time. In this game, if you saw a bat sitting in the ceiling you didn't go "Oh no! That thing's going to hit me if I climb those stairs!", you whipped at it until it caught fire and died a peon's death! Now that's how it's done! Not to mention all the new enemies and bosses that were designed with this in mind and didn't all have to be grounded while moving very slowly back and forth. Sadly, with the arrival of Dracula X and Symphony of the Night they forgot completely about this innovation since it wasn't "true to the roots" of the series... Poisonous roots that they should try to stay far, far away from! In Portrait of Ruin you could actually use a whip diagonally downwards in a jump which was a small pat on the back, but a bitter reminder of the time when you were jump-whipping fleamen to the left and right without ever having to stop.

When I was a kid, there was a lot of rumors about afflictions watching the TV would cause children. Things such as squared eyes and cramps, while all it really did cause was a distinct lack of chlamydia and gonorrhea. Well, that, and red marks or skin peeled off from ones left hand (the controllers of the past were MURDER!) due to always using the control pad. But that didn't really matter since your left hand was always fine and could be used for other tasks. That was, until Mario came. In one of the least sensible ideas since Lincoln decided to take in to the theater one night, they decided to make it so that you walked naturally and had to hold down a button in order to run. Now, maybe it's just me, but who's walking? Wouldn't it have made more sense to run naturally and walk when you (very rarely) want to? It's not like you have a stamina meter or might miss something, you just want to reach the end of the level! You're jumping gaps, dodging bullet(bill)s and they expect us to walk!? You let go of that B button once, and you're dead! "Look! A gigantic monster on that bridge is spraying fire everywhere and throwing hammers at us! Let's WALK VERY SLOWLY past him and destroy the bridge!" You might think that this is nitpicking, but then you've never felt the sharp and cold plastic of an NES controller. The mind is strong, but the flesh is weak... Those things would tear your poor thumbs to shreds! So the inventive thing to do was of course to put a piece of tape over that run button... But that doesn't work either, because actions such as shooting fireballs and using the spin needed a tap from the button you were already holding down in order to run! I could have been so much easier! However, about 5 years later, one of my favorite games of all time was released - Namely Yoshi's Island. And in a stroke of pure genius, guess what? Yoshi runs at full speed, whether you hold in a stinkin' button or not. The SNES controller was more comfortable, but it sure felt like the sensible thing to do. I rejoiced. Then the joystick's sensibility took over and holding down buttons was a thing of the past... Until three years ago, when Yoshi's Island DS, Super Mario DS and New Super Mario Bros. came out. And once again, a button had to be pressed down in order to run. NSMB I get, but Super Mario DS and Yoshi's Island DS too? Grr! I'd write some more about this, but I'm getting sick of holding down the Shift button so much... So all in all - We don't need a button to run. We want to run. If you absolutely have to, give us a button to walk. Unless you are the original Prince of Persia, where anything BUT walking equals certain death. Actually, walking usually does to - That was a hard game.

The point of this list was to lift forward a couple of "What if..." scenarios, as well as some game recommendations. Bear in mind that no matter what was said, every game in the list above is a great game in my opinion and deserves to be played. As for the "What if", maybe the running button removal in Mario wouldn't make too much of a difference, but imagine a new classic Castlevania with 360 degree attacking range? A Kirby where you get to choose your abilities? A Contra that is actually beatable without months of grueling work? It could have been that way. And who knows what the future has in store... Except for me, that is. I know. You will now stop reading this list - 'Cause it's over. This is SS, hoping that you enjoyed this list of trivia and subtle comedy!

List by SuperShadowman (09/04/2009)

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