At E3, Nintendo showcased numerous 3D versions of games we’ve played and sometimes loved before. Star Fox 64 in 3D. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time in 3D. A bunch of 8-bit classic Nintendo Entertainment System games.
They all appeared on the 3DS. Some, like Star Fox 64 3D were playable, with updated graphics. Others, like Pilotwings Resort, seemed like more of a sequel. Others, like Ocarina of Time, were presented as non-interactive videos made of better game graphics than the original.
And then there was a curious reel of more than a dozen old-school games, including Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Urban Champion, Kid Icarus, Yoshi’s Island, Smash Ping Pong, Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros, Tennis, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Mystery of Murasame Castle. The games in this batch were never made with polygons. They were built with flat sprites, many of them dependent on scrolling backgrounds to provide any illusion of depth. The non-interactive reel running on the 3DS that showed these games in 3D demonstrated how Nintendo’s next handheld system can give them a little more of a pop-up book feel. It is a nice trick, though not as magical as the fish-tank-style depth seen in games such as Star Fox 64 which use polygon graphics. The most impressive 3D effect in that old-school batch on 3DS was Punch-Out. Bald Bull’s fist really popped as it freight-trained toward Little Mac’s face.
I asked Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime what to make of all these old-school remakes. Were they all going to be games on the 3DS? Yes, he said, but he cautioned me not to think of them as remakes. Echoing comments by Nintendo’s head developer, Shigeru Miyamoto from a roundtable earlier in the week, Fils-Aime said these games were potentially getting more than just ported over. Miyamoto had talked about trying new features in the games that would take advantage of the 3DS’ capabilities.
Details are scant on all of these sorta-remakes Nintendo has in the works for its new handheld. But this opening showcase of software does suggest that the company wants to make the old new again. They certainly do have a way to keep the classics on the market.