These GameCube titles deserve an upgrade!
Oh Nintendo. Now you've done it.
In announcing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Reborn, a hi-res upgrade of the classic GameCube adventure, Nintendo has set a precedent for Wii U remakes. The gloves are off and everything is on the table. Go, go, go!
The 360 and PS3 have welcomed HD remasters to their libraries, while the Wii offered the New Play Control! series, updating GC faves with welcome Wii Remote improvements. The Wind Waker Reborn looks to be a mash-up of both styles -- the extra gloss of higher-end hardware married with new possibilities thanks to a unique control scheme. Makes you wonder how well other titles would fare with a fresh coat of paint, doesn't it?
A few Destructoid editors have thought hard about which GameCube games would best make use of the Wii U hardware and explained our picks below. I think we made some damn fine choices.
Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2
Watching the latest trailer for The Wonderful 101, I get a sudden urge to replay director Hideki Kamiya's original tokusatsu game, Viewtiful Joe. Ever since Clover Studio was shuttered, Capcom has let this marvelous property go to waste, trotting Joe out only for crossover fighters. It's time to bring the "henshin" hero back with an HD compilation of the two mainline titles!
Viewtiful Joe was every bit as stylish as its titular star, rocking that cel-shading like the world was ending. As two of the most visually striking games on the GameCube, an HD overhaul would only make them look more amazing, with thick bold lines and nary a sharp polygonal corner.
I also see a great opportunity for Capcom to tweak the games for the GamePad in order to incorporate touch abilities from the DS installment, Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble! In that game, Joe could split the screen in half by drawing a line, swap the top and bottom screens, and manipulate objects in the environment. It might sound a bit gimmicky, but I strongly believe that there is potential for some clever puzzles and gameplay across two screens.
But perhaps that's leaning too far into sequel territory. I really just want a Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2 combo pack so that maybe Capcom will wake up and complete the trilogy.
Killer7 is one of the most celebrated games to come out of Japan, but it can be a bit polarizing for some, particularly with the control scheme. That wouldn't be an issue with the Wii U, however, with the ability to customize multiple control options and tweak them into perfection.
Think about it -- changing personas on the GamePad? Viewing all the pertinent information you need without having to pause the game? Those who wish to use IR controls would also have the Wii Remote at the ready thanks to the Wii U's diverse control options. Visually, although the original is still relevant, a nice HD sheen will do wonders in bringing Killer7 to a new generation. Now is a great time to strike while the iron is hot, as Suda has enjoyed immense success since No More Heroes.
Suda, I hope you're listening!
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
You'd be hard-pressed to find a videogame mindfuck as crazy as Eternal Darkness. I mean, it can be done, especially if you dig deep into the PC's recesses of adventure titles, but there was something special about playing Eternal Darkness on a Nintendo console that made it delightfully macabre.
Think of the possibilities with the Wii U GamePad! The insanity effects when your character's sanity bar drops too low, a staple of Eternal Darkness, could be even more absurd as the game plays tricks on your GamePad and TV in tandem.
Given the large number of items and weapons, on-screen equipment capabilities also have the potential to improve combat. The only real Achilles' heel of the original was the graphical limitations of the GameCube and Silicon Knight's development tools, both of which are rectified on the HD Wii U.
Chibi-Robo! Plug into Adventure!
When this game was first released, videogames about "relationships" and "achievements" were a rarity. These days, they're all anyone can talk about.
Chibi-Robo! did all that first, and in this writer's humble opinion, it did it all best. What appears on the surface to be a simple game about a tiny robot making his way through a suburban home quickly evolves into an adventure into family dysfunction. The husband is out of work and obsessed with escapism through watching TV and collecting toys. The wife feels lost and alone, with only little Chibi-Robo to confide in. The daughter thinks they're all awful and spends most of her life pretending to be a frog. Only Chibi-Robo can save them from divorce and despair.
You also get to play a game of Tamagotchi. Think of how amazing that would be in HD! This under-appreciated masterpiece deserves a second chance, in high definition or otherwise.
Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest
Hey, you know that Tokyo Jungle game that's so trendy right now? Back in the day, there was a game just like that, but with added heaven, poops, rainbows, and cubes. That game was called Cubivore.
Can you imagine seeing them cube-faced dicks in HD for the first time with no jaggies?
Mega Man Network Transmission
This game is awesome in theory, but pretty messy in practice. What better time to clean up by changing the character run speed and tweaking the enemy damage threshold / power than during Mega Man's 25th birthday?
For those who haven't played it, Mega Man Network Transmission is a 2D platformer that features a Battle Network-style remix of multiple characters and bosses from the classic Mega Man series. It feels like two or three old-school Mega Man games in one, with the addition of polygon-based graphics and Zero from the Mega Man X series thrown in for good measure. It's a shame that more fans of the series haven't played this one.
It would be hard to imagine an HD remix of this obscure title selling well at retail, but throw that thing down on the Wii U eShop for $10, and the game could finally find the audience that it always deserved.
This quirky combination of pinball and battlefield tactics was one of the last titles published for the GameCube, and it remains one of my favorite titles from that platform. As Yamanouchi Kagetora, a young general in feudal Japan, the player leads a small force of men against a massive army using their secret weapon, a huge stone ball called the Odama. A great combination of action and strategy, the player has to issue commands to their troops (by voice -- Odama made use of the GameCube microphone peripheral) while simultaneously directing the Odama by way of flippers and tilting the landscape.
A remake of Odama on Wii U could be extraordinary. For starters, there's no longer need of any peripheral devices to play, as the GamePad's built-in microphone addresses the need to issue voice commands. Likewise, tilt controls could be managed with the GamePad's accelerometers rather than buttons, and I expect that such action would feel quite satisfying with that broad controller in hand.
Of course it will never, ever happen. Smashing together two niche gameplay genres seems like a good way to make a game with an even more limited audience, and Odama did not fare well either critically or commercially upon release. Still, if we're dreaming, I'd love to see another stab taken at this unique game.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
When the Wii U was first revealed, one of the first games that came to mind was The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. For the fortunate few who could muster all of the necessary hardware to play a four-player game, this was one of the most hectic cooperative-competitive hybrid experiences of its time. The GamePad seemed like it was built for Four Swords Adventures, with action moving between the main screen for outdoor environments and individual screens for indoor areas. That's not even mentioning that the hand-drawn Wind Waker-esque sprites would look incredible in HD.
Sadly, when Nintendo announced that support for four GamePads wouldn't be included in the Wii U's capabilities, the dream of having more people with access to such a unique style of gameplay was dashed. With online capability, it's still technically plausible, although a lot of the charm would be lost without the ability to have four players smashing pots and throwing each other into pits all on the same screen.
Star Fox Adventures
Despite all of the flak that it gets for its departure from on-rails shooting, Star Fox Adventures was actually a pretty great action-adventure game. As Rare's last game for a non-handheld Nintendo system, both its mechanics and its world were expertly crafted. Remade on the Wii U, the aptly, if not unimaginatively, named Dinosaur Planet and all of its scaly inhabitants could look fantastic.
The GamePad wouldn't have to do much more than display a map or function as Fox's inventory screen, and it would be a streamlined experience. However, in the spirit of a true remake, Star Fox Adventures could be revamped to include more uses for Fox's sidekick Tricky, promoting him from a useful tool to a fully controllable cooperative partner. With the GamePad screen, Tricky could explore areas independently, aiding Fox in more meaningful ways.
Combat is often described as a dance, and few games epitomize that rhythmic struggle more so than P.N.03. Vanessa Z. Schneider is a graceful heroine, one who responds to the ebb and flow of combat with acrobatic leaps and stylish moves, dodging and hurtling over gunfire with the elegance of a figure skater. It's just too bad that she handles more like Jill Valentine than Michelle Kwan.
Tank-like controls, a holdover from Shinji Mikami's work on the Resident Evil games, make for a steep learning curve. However, it's mastering P.N.03's systems and working within its constraints that makes the game such an enjoyable experience (and the pulsing techno and synth-rock soundtrack doesn't hurt either). I wouldn't mess this stylish arcade shooter's addictive formula for the world. Save, perhaps, for a fresh lick of paint and change of venue. Vanessa would look mighty pretty in high-definition on the Wii U.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is my second favorite game on the GameCube, falling right behind the near-perfect Resident Evil 4. It was infinitely more charming than I had expected it to be. The art direction is among the best the series has seen, and I think, even in its original form, the game still holds up today. The stylized, impressive visuals are ripe for an HD remake and wouldn't expose any unsightly seams. A lot of the game's personality also comes from Kumi Tanioka's brilliant score, which is earthy, ancient, and incredibly unique.
Still, while I got an uncommon kick out of playing the game solo, cooperative play is where it's at. Crystal Chronicles featured up to four player co-op and used the Game Boy Advance link cables so each player could access their own menus and deal with typical RPG fare without a convoluted system that burdens everyone else. The Wii U essentially offers a more advanced, standardized version of the Game Boy Advance-to-GameCube connection, making the parallel a no-brainer. Allowing for both local and online play also mitigates the hurdle of getting four people together in a room, though I feel the journey might lose a little luster without that inimitable, personal couch co-op feel.
I've been disappointingly unimpressed by what I've played of follow-up entries in the Crystal Chronicles series, so going back to where they got everything right would be a nice way of introducing a more accessible version of the series to a new set of fans ready to caravan across the lands.