A departure from the traditional Legend of Zelda games, Breath of the Wild breathes new life to the ever expansive franchise. First introduced in 1986 with The Legend of Zelda and released for the Famicom and NES home consoles, The Legend of Zelda series transports you to fantasy kingdom of Hyrule populated by unique and distinctive races such as the plant-like Deku creatures, the ethereal fairies, the Gerudo tribe, and the mountain-dwelling Gorons. Breath of the Wild is the latest entry in this series’ library – an expansive open world that allows you, the player, the complete freedom to explore, discover and find adventure at every turn.
Unlike previous games in the series such as Ocarina of Time, which featured an open world concept, Breath of the Wild takes it to the next level and breaks through the stratosphere with its amazingly detailed and experimental world more reminiscent of Skyrim than Ocarina. Fancy climbing the property ladder in the Hylian society? You’re more than free to do so. Pottery your favourite pastime? Please indulge. Crave adventure? The world is your oyster. There’s a narrative to be found for each gameplay style and all are welcomed in Breath of the Wild.
The success of Breath of the Wild showcases the demand for fan favourite vintage games to evolve to experimental levels. Below is our list of 15 vintage franchises ready for its first complete open-world installation.
A world of exploration is waiting!
With a premise built primarily around the run and gun-style shoot-’em-up genre, Contra first debuted to our delight in 1987 as a coin-operated arcade game (who remembers those...). As the franchise’s popularity grew, Konami created several sequels for various home consoles – from the NES to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Saving the world from alien threat has never been more fierce, as players begin with a limited set of lives. Contra deploys the one-hit kill property, providing players finite opportunities before being forced to start all over again. This even includes when the player would implement the Konami Code – though this feature was only accessible in the original NES version.
Its intense side-scrolling gameplay and distinct "3D view" makes it the perfect start to the list and the ideal transplant for the same expansive realm as Breath of the Wild.
Konami code need not apply.
In the history of video games, few characters can rival the lovable and cuteness factor of Kirby. Kirby’s simplistic ball-like shape and appearance was originally only meant to be used as a place holder by video game designer Masahiro Sakurai. In the end though, Sakurai stuck with the early development design, creating a true fan-favourite character that transcends even his own titular games, making appearances as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Hailing from Planet Pop Star, Kirby has a voracious appetite and a trademark ability that allows him to inhale his opponents and take on the power or ability of the creatures or objects consumed, which serves him well as the action-platform levels often featured puzzle-solving elements.
With over 20 games in its 25-year run, Kirby is due for his first open world chapter. Especially when you consider there’s a whole planet and kingdom to digest.
The recent success and cult following of Dark Souls and Bloodborne showed the video game industry that there is still room within the dark fantasy-themed genre for hordes of games to make an appearance.
Centring on the vampire hunting Belmont clan and their fight against Dracula, each Castlevania game employs a member of the Belmont’s as a one-man wrecking crew facing the swarms of darkness. Setting the tone for each game is Castlevania’s rich and deep soundtracks, scores that orchestrate the gameplay and adds a depth of immersiveness to the already deeply engaging gameplay. Akin to Dark Souls, Castlevania features a backstory so well-fleshed out that the franchise has spawned over 30 games.
Think the beauty of Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash hordes gameplay with a character that cleverly employs an Indiana Jones-esque whip, and you have an open world platform worth sinking your teeth into.
Before the car curated phenomenons of Gran Turismo and Forza, or even the well-oiled machine that is Need for Speed, graced us with their presence, there was F-Zero, a high-speed, adrenaline pumping futuristic racing game with a bright future just beyond the horizon.
Featuring an impressive roster of characters, bolstered by the mysterious bounty hunter Captain Falcon, F-Zero conducts its races in a myriad of fantasy worlds displaying the rich variety of climates and geographical terrains. Despite the diverse worlds inhabiting each race, the formula remains structurally similar – each stage is pitted with course obstacles and slip zones adding a further layer of depth to an already immersive racing world.
Original music, memorable characters, and challenging levels with difficult AI made F-Zero an immersive platform that players willingly picked up and played again and again.
11 Final Fight
Following the success of the original Street Fighter, Final Fight started as a sequel to the classic fighting game. Capcom soon scrapped this idea due to the success of the Double Dragon franchise, transforming Final Fight from a fighting game to the side scrolling beat ‘em up we’ve all come to love.
Final Fight is a classic beat ‘em up series that transcended its very own genre. The main protaganists, Mike Haggar, Guy, and Cody would go on to make appearances in other Capcom games. Even some of the enemy characters from Final Fight would emerge as playable characters in other competitive fighting games – Poison (Street Fighter X Tekken), Rolento (Street Fighter Alpha 2), and Sodom (Street Fighter Alpha).
Against the backdrop of crime-ridden Metro City, Final Fight is a franchise with simple but refined story plot, engaging gameplay, and an original score immersing the player into the fast-paced action.
What do you get when you mix Lovecraftian lore, acid trip-worthy score, psychedelic 16-bit graphics, and enduring characters? EarthBound.
An entertaining JRPG, EarthBound puts you directly in control of Ness and his party of friends as you battle it out against surrealist creatures and monsters such as barf monsters, abstract art paintings, and even Ent-like creatures, all hell bent on Armageddon. EarthBound is set in the absurd and bizarre, where surrealistic juxtaposition plays a massive role in the gameplay – you call your dad from payphones to save your game’s progress, you withdraw money through ATMs to buy potions and new weapons/gear, and you experience psychedelic trips in the desert.
Still beloved today as it was when it was released in ‘95, EarthBound takes the innocence of children and their determination to succeed and crafts a story and lore that remains to this day, one of the most unique RPGs out in the market.
In his prime, Mike Tyson was unbeatable. A former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, Mike Tyson won every Heavyweight title achievable, two junior Olympic gold medals, and remains the current record holder of fastest knockout in boxing of just 8 seconds. He also joined the ranks of elite athletes who had a video game named after him with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
With boxing regulations comically ignored, Punch-Out!! and its subsequent sequels puts you in the shoes of Little Mac, a sprightly up-and-coming boxer who dreams of moving up the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association. To reach the pinnacle of the WVB Association, he must face the gauntlet of quirky opponents, each with their own signature moves and unique fighting styles.
With the successes of franchises like WWE and UFC, Punch-Out!! is poised to sting like a butterfly and float like a bee, primed and ready for its debut appearance on the open world stage.
8 Earthworm Jim
Everyone knows he’s such a groovy guy and that he rockets through the sky, but what makes Earthworm Jim such a beloved character is how unique he is. Jim is your everyday earthworm that just happens to have a special super suit fall on top of him, transforming him from a common earthworm to a worm armed with a gun. The ‘90s sure were a weird time for video games.
Original antagonists, unique gameplay, bizarre world settings, and an arsenal that includes a futuristic gun, a rocket to traverse certain racing levels, and his ability to use his worm body as a whip to defeat his enemies or as a tool to contest certain areas of platforming gameplay, makes this is a franchise ready to expand further.
Preferably to an open world platform just as bizarre.
Everyone’s favourite antihero from the ‘90s, Spawn rose through the comic book rankings before appearing in numerous video game titles, including an appearance as a playable character for the Xbox’s release of Soulcalibur II.
Al Simmons was once a highly trained government assassin before being betrayed by his partner Bruce Stinton. A deal with a demonic being, Malebolgia, allowed Al Simmons to return to Earth in exchange for his soul, thus Spawn was born. With powers such as superhuman strength, immortality, increased healing factor, teleportation, and demonic powers to name a few, Spawn is a tour de force, battling the hordes of hell with an assemblage of allies to protect Earth from the army of hellspawn.
With a roster of antagonists and a multi-layered world to build upon, from the depths of Hell to Gotham-esque environments, Spawn is ready to re-emerge from the ashes, reborn and kickin’ ass.
6 Star Fox
Everyone’s favourite anthromorphic mercenary unit, Star Fox follows the story of the aerial fire team led by the charismatic Fox McCloud and included the appropriately named team members Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi.
Adventuring through the Lylat System, the traditional gameplay of Star Fox’s library put you in the hot seat of Fox McCloud as you battle through levels fighting the evil Andross with the assistance of your fellow teammates and squad. One of the finest aerial shooters to ever be produced for any console, Star Fox showcases that story doesn’t always play a pivotal role in creating a truly memorable game – jam it with enough action, intense gameplay, and memorable characters and you have a recipe people will enjoy replaying time and time again.
And with a whole star system to explore, Star Fox could easily borrow concepts of Eve Online or Homeworld to create a game that’s truly out of the this world.
5 Sonic The Hedgehog
With various iterations to this titular character, everyone’s favourite blue-haired hedgehog has gone from a simple 3D rendered side-scrolling platformer to other video game genres including racing games such as Sonic Drift, a pinball game, sports games (Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games), and even some educational games (Sonic’s Schoolhouse).
The main premises of the games is Sonic’s ability to run and jump at high-speeds to beat the game levels utilising various tools in his disposal including springs, power-ups, and loops. With over a quarter-century of games in the franchise’s library, Sonic’s abilities and gameplay mechanics have changed and evolved with the franchise.
While some of the most recent games have been criticized as sub-par offerings of the series, an open world game may just be what the doctor ordered.
4 Crash Bandicoot
Everyone’s favourite marsupial, Crash Bandicoot has been on a seven-year hiatus, but is now ready to make a comeback with a new release slated later this year titled Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. A remastered collection of the first three games in the franchise’s library, N. Sane Trilogy is the perfect revival for us gamers with nostalgic hearts, putting players again in the shoes of PlayStation’s zaniest character complete with updated visuals and a remastered soundtrack.
We really can’t fault game studio Naughty Dog for Crash Bandicoot’s hiatus though. The company has been quite busy churning out epic games critics and players all rave about, The Last of Us and the Uncharted series to name a few. But with the last game of Crash Bandicoot’s nearly 20 gaming story being released in 2010, it’s time for this zany franchise to experience a revival in the truest sense of the word.
3 Mega Man
Whether you call him Mega Man or his Japanese iteration, Rockman, Mega Man has stood the test of time as both a character and franchise. With almost 30 years of gameplay, The Blue Bomber has evolved to become one of the world’s most beloved boy heroes, sorry Astro Boy.
Built by Dr. Light, the robotic Blue Bomber is equipped with a Mega Buster arm cannon that fires projectiles and an ability to harness the special powers of the bosses he defeats. His main antagonist is Dr. Light’s former colleague, the mad scientist Dr. Wily, who’s hell bent on taking over the fictional planet inhabited by Mega Man and his allies with his ever-growing army of robots.
With a series consisting of over 50 games spanning over four different timelines and numerous appearances in various video games franchises, Mega Man is one of the most iconic characters to ever grace our video game consoles.
Shock waves reverberated through the video game industry when Samus Aran was revealed to be a female protagonist at the end of 1986’s Metroid in all her 8-bit glory, but only if you were able to complete the game fast enough. As one of the earliest female protagonist of a major video game franchise, Samus Aran trailblazed the way in a male dominated role and industry.
Equipped with her Chozo Power Suit and vast arsenal, Samus battles through space protecting the galaxy from the series’ main antagonists, the eponymous Metroids and hostile group known as the Space Pirates. Originally a platforming action-adventure shooter game, the franchise has evolved throughout the years, as new releases of the series features non-linear and more open exploration properties.
With twelve games in its library, there is more than enough lore built within the chapters of the franchise to really establish an immersive open world to explore.
1 Chrono Trigger
Considered by many to be the finest game, let alone RPG, ever to be released on the Super NES, Chrono Trigger captures the story of Chrono as he travels through time and traverses through seven different eras with a diverse cast of allies and equally memorable cast of villains.
Another unique feature about Chrono Trigger was its employment of New Game +, an innovative concept that allowed the player subsequent playthroughs while keeping the player’s core achievements in the previous playthrough. New Game + revolutionized the gameplay of Chrono Trigger, as it allowed the player to experience a variety of endings according to the choices made throughout playing.
A heartwarming story that tugs at the heartstrings and innovative gameplay features including time travel and New Game +, both firsts in the video game industry, are parts of what makes Chrono Trigger a truly cherished and universally loved role playing game.