Gamers sure do have trouble letting go of the past. It seems like the video game market is flooded with remakes of classic games and ports of others to newer consoles. Even though plenty of gamers complain about video game companies releasing the same game over and over again without creating something new, we still seem to fork over our hard earned cash when the words “Remastered” or “HD” get plastered on video game boxes for our favorite video games of the past.
And what’s wrong with that? Plenty of our favorite games benefit from getting a fresh coat of paint, especially when they were released during a time when graphics weren’t as advanced and high definition wasn’t really a thing. And while I certainly don’t need any more HD remasters from the PlayStation 2 era, it’s pretty clear that most gamers are happy to have these classics on modern consoles.
But forget the flashy graphics of the modern era for a minute. What was so bad about the earlier years of gaming? While we yearn for some of our favorite games of the past to get remastered with modern day graphics, it might be interesting to look at our favorite games of today if they had been released on earlier consoles. Even though not all games might work as well with limited hardware, these modern day games still look like they’d be plenty of fun if they had been released decades prior. With that said, here are some of the best video games of recent years reimagined in a retro style.
25 Xenoblade Chronicles
Let's be honest. We kind of already got a "demake" version of Xenoblade Chronicles when the game was rereleased on the New Nintendo 3DS. While it was impressive to see a game of that scale on a handheld, it really didn't do the look of the original Wii version justice. This 16-bit version of the game might not be as flashy as the original, but it still looks surprisingly beautiful and it just goes to show that not all big games need to look epic in scale.
Art by AbyssWolf.
24 Resident Evil 2
That Resident Evil 2 trailer that was revealed at E3 sure was something. Even though we've waited decades for a remake of arguably the best game in the series, we'll finally have our hands on it next year. Forget the remake for a minute, though.
This is the rerelease of the classic zombie game we never knew we needed.
Sure, it looks a bit cluttered, but you have to admit that it would be interesting to see how the game might play out in this retro style.
Art by Albertov.
Even though Halo's popularity has waned in recent years due to Bungie's departure from the series, it seems like Microsoft is still banking from continuing the company's former legacy. While Halo might be best known as the game that defined first person shooters on consoles, we all know that the genre never worked too well in the 16-bit era. If Halo were released in the early 90s, you could probably count on it being a run and gun shooter similar to Contra. But it would probably still be loads of fun, minus the PvP factor.
22 The Binding Of Isaac
Most indie games tend to have a retro look regardless of the hardware they are released on and The Binding of Isaac is no exception. While the art style fits great for the series, it is a game that could easily play just as well on older systems, including the original Game Boy.
I'm pretty sure a younger version of me would have been obsessed with this game on the go.
The gameplay and animation probably wouldn't be quite as fluid,, but I'm pretty sure I'd be going through AA batteries on the fly with this in hand.
Art by RupeeChan.
21 Final Fantasy XIII
RPGs tend to work pretty well regardless of the generation they are released in, and that goes especially for the classic JRPG formula. Final Fantasy XIII wasn't many people's favorite Final Fantasy title, but I can't help but wonder how it would have been perceived if it didn't stray too far away from the series' roots. Maybe if the game took for familiar cues from the 16-bit era of the series' golden years, people would have appreciated the underdog cast a little bit more.
The Bayonetta series didn't exactly get the love it deserved when it first released ten years ago and when its console exclusive sequel hit the Wii U which few people had.
Luckily, the series was able to breathe new life on the Nintendo Switch.
Even though this gave a chance to let everyone play the sequel almost no one played, we probably wouldn't have been against this arcade style "bullet-heck" game as a downloadable title on the eShop either... because an actual arcade cabinet would have us pumping quarters until we were broke.
Souldcalibur may have never reached the level of fandom achieved by the Street Fighter or the Mortal Kombat series, but it still has a pretty strong fanbase and is still getting the sequel treatment with the upcoming sixth game in the series. It would be interesting to see how the series would fare against other fighting games, however, if it were released back in the 16-bit era. You can't deny that the art style looks beautiful and it would definitely get plenty of love if it were released back on the Super Nintendo.
18 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
We already know that games in The Legend of Zelda series work extremely well with the overhead viewpoint as we've been traversing the land of Hyrule ever since the 8-bit era. Even though this style wouldn't really do justice to the scope of Breath of the Wild, it's still fun to take a look at what the game might look like if it were made in Nintendo's earlier days. While I'd certainly play it, I'm not sure if I really want to see Breath of the Wild's version of Hyrule in a pint-sized realm.
Art by Loweak.
The indie platformer Owlboy is probably best known for its use of 16-bit pixel art and retro style. While the game is great on its own merit, it is the art style that really shines.
It might seem silly to make a 16-bit style game look more retro, but why not?
It certainly doesn't look as pretty as an 8-bit game and it sure does lack the beautiful color of the original, but it would probably work just as well on the original Nintendo. Despite that, just because a game can be given the retro treatment doesn't mean it should.
Art by Sceptordpinoy.
16 Metroid Prime
Probably one of the biggest blunders of this past E3 was Nintendo not giving us any new info on Metroid Prime 4. Despite being announced over a year ago, we still haven't seen anything from the game. While we doubt that it will look anything like this retro version of the Prime series, we can probably count on it still being in the first person perspective. Even though Prime probably wouldn't really work in the SNES era, I can't help but think it might be fun to play with a Super Scope 6 in hand.
15 Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy is a video game that fans would go wild for if Nintendo would actually release a high definition remake for the Nintendo Switch.
This is definitely not the remake we were looking for.
While the game still manages to look gorgeous, even in a 16-bit retro style "demake," we can't help but feel like the mechanics of Galaxy would transition over poorly to a side scrolling game. Now hurry up and give us the remake that fans actually deserve!
14 Crash Bandicoot
I never actually played a Crash Bandicoot game until last years remaster of the original trilogy was released, but I was surprised how well PlayStation's original mascot has aged over the years as the games were still surprisingly fun. The gameplay itself would probably still work surprisingly well if it were made in the style of a retro platformer, even if it doesn't have all of the pizazz of a high definition remaster. Hopefully, the success of the trilogy's remaster shows that there is still room for the bandicoot in the gaming world.
Art by Albertov.
Leave it to Nintendo to somehow make a family friendly shooter with a unique concept that we fail to see in most modern shooters. While Splatoon probably wouldn't work too well on retro consoles, this 8-bit style version of the game shows how the game might play out in a side scrolling fashion. Inking up your enemy's territory definitely doesn't look quite as fun as its Nintendo Switch's brother and we can't help but think the series would have easily fizzled out if it were released in the 80s.
Art by Cyberguy64.
12 Resident Evil 5
Retro versions of everyone's favorite survival horror game probably wouldn't work as well as their modern counterparts considering that these old style graphics wouldn't really contribute much to the fear factor.
Though Resident Evil's recent transition toward the action genre proves that the series might just work in a retro setting.
While this variation of Resident Evil 5 probably lacks the tension of the original, it might still be a pretty fun action game to pick up and play on the go.
11 PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
Battle Royale games have become quite the gaming trend in recent years and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been a huge contributor to that. Even though this retro style remake of the first person shooter might lack the stealth factor of the original, it would be interesting to see how pitting a hundred players against one another in an isometric battle royale game would play out, even if it does lack the flair and a lot of the original concepts of the original's gameplay in the process.
Art by Gas13.
10 Left 4 Dead
Even though there have been rumors of a new sequel for the Left 4 Dead series circulating the internet for quite some time now, we still know next to nothing as what might come next for this series.
Hopefully, it is nothing like this.
Look, I'm not against the light-gun genre of shooters, put it probably wouldn't work too well for the Left 4 Dead series. Fans would probably be quite disappointed if Valve took this direction after the series' long absence.
9 Rayman Origins
Most games reimagined in a retro style typically get turned into side scrolling games as they were quite the staple in gaming's earlier years. While Rayman Origins would probably have worked just as well on earlier generations of consoles, we're not sure if the game would really have much benefit from a "demake." While this captures the spirit of the game in a 16-bit style, the original's art style is just too beautiful to be tampered with... though I guess a Game Boy Advance version of the game in the early 2000s would have been pretty sweet.
8 Super Mario Kart
Over 25 years later and Super Mario Kart is still the racing game to play with friends. Despite having its origin on the SNES, this retro version of the series completely disregards the game's Mode 7 engine and pictures what the game might have looked like if it were a racing game taking place from a bird's eye perspective. As long as the Mario themed power ups are still intact, this retro version of the popular kart racer would probably still be a blast to play.
7 Pokémon X And Y
It doesn’t matter how advanced Nintendo’s handhelds become, Pokémon is a game that has been working well ever since its debut on the original Game Boy. Despite big shifts in the core gameplay, it would probably still work pretty well if we were playing on the original handheld.
Though it might be hard to fit over 800 critters on one cartridge.
Still, it would be cool to see all these new Pokémon redesigned to fit the older pixel art, even if it lacks the flair of the newer titles in the series.
6 Night In The Woods
Night in the Woods is another indie game that doesn't necessarily depend on high quality graphics to get its point across.
Night in the Woods is a game that depends more on its storytelling rather than its gameplay.
With that said, I don't think there is any reason to dismiss the possibility of the game working just as well with this retro style as long as the game kept its fantastic storytelling and its team of colorful characters. Just don't ditch the Guitar Hero style minigames!
Art by Albertov.
5 Kingdom Hearts
While we wait patiently for what seems to have been several decades since the last Kingdom Hearts game, we can find solace that the third title finally has a release date. As long as it doesn't get pushed back again, of course. Kingdom Hearts already got some retro style love with the Game Boy Advance spinoff Chain of Memories and even though a retro variation of the series probably would lack that Disney cinematic quality, the iconic Disney characters being reworked into a pixel art style is still all too endearing to ignore.
4 Gone Home
Gone Home is an indie game that focuses more on its storytelling rather than gameplay as you play a character from a first person point of view as you explore a seemingly abandoned house to find out the story behind your sister. Exploring the house and finding different items help you uncover clues and it's a formula that would probably work pretty well if it were redone in RPG Maker. Sure, it lacks the dark and eerie atmosphere of the original, but the story would probably be able to stay pretty intact, even if some of the immersion is lost.
3 Super Smash Bros.
I somewhat doubt that we would ever get to see all the characters and stages from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on a much more limited 16-bit era cartridge, but it is still fun to think about what the Smash series might have been like if it were released a console generation earlier.
Certainly, flashy 3D graphics aren't necessary to make the game a blast.
While it would probably be more limited in scope, I can't help but think that Smash would work surprisingly well in a retro style, even if it lacks the pizazz of the modern games.
2 Persona 5
Even though I think that Persona 5 could be pulled off as a retro style game, especially considering the series got its debut way back on the original PlayStation, that doesn't mean I would necessarily want to play it. Sure, all the RPG elements might be able to stick in place, but you'd probably have to ditch the fantastic voice acting and the flashy anime cinematics that helped make the story so memorable. Though it might be fun to listen to those groovy tracks in an 8-bit style!
1 Shadow Of The Colossus
How do you recreate a game that is known for having the biggest boss battles in video games and stuff it on a portable gaming device with limited hardware? While Shadow of the Colossus couldn't benefit much from being on less powerful hardware, this GameBoy version of the title is interesting at the very least.
How did such huge beasts get stuffed in such a tiny package?
Sure, the core gameplay would be different, but it would be interesting to see how each colossus fight would go down on a handheld system.