Over the years Nintendo has been making games, there have been quite a few times they’ve released remakes of their older titles to bring them to younger audiences. Some of these remakes have turned out to be fantastic works that can live up to or even outdo the original, others have failed miserably and ended up seen as a stain on the reputation of a classic.
But which are the best of them all? That’s what this article aims to find out. Here are the best Nintendo remakes.
9. Kirby’s Nightmare in Dream Land
The next and last Kirby game on the list, Kirby’s Nightmare in Dream Land is a GBA remake of Kirby’s Adventure with fantastically redone graphics and music. Here’s some screenshots that should absolutely blow you away:
Above: One of the best looking 2D platformers to use traditional sprites
It’s also improved many of the songs significantly, such as this remix of the Rainbow Resort theme:
However, while it is a good game and does redo the graphics and music from the NES classic really well, it doesn’t really add as much as many of the other remakes on the list, and some game designers actually consider it an inferior game due to it losing some of the logic and coherency in world design/level design that people liked in the original.
For those reasons, Kirby’s Nightmare in Dream Land reaches the ninth spot on this list.
8. Super Mario Bros Deluxe
Back in the days of the Game Boy Color, Super Mario Bros 1 wasn’t really available to play on a handheld console. With no virtual console and no NES classics, all we had instead were the Super Mario Land spinoff games of sometimes debatable quality and whatever other Game Boy exclusives Nintendo released.
But then Nintendo came and made this awesome game. Not only was it a nice copy of Super Mario Bros 1 that could be played on the go, but it was a remade version which had a whole ton of interesting features and additions to boot. Like a world map inspired by those in Super Mario Bros 3 and World to replace the original Super Mario Bros’ linear level progression:
Above: One of the few times Nintendo gave a remake a new world map.
And while it didn’t improve the in game level graphics to any significant extent like Super Mario All Stars or the Kirby remakes on the list did, it did make up for it with a whole bunch of actually interesting gameplay related additions. Like having most of Super Mario Bros the Lost Levels accessible by beating the main adventure…
Or a brand new challenge mode where Mario had to collect red coins and Yoshi eggs:
Above: Predates Super Mario Advance by years!
It even had a mode called You vs Boo where you had to race a Boo to the end of each level. It was an interesting little racing mini game of sorts, a bit like a non collection based version of Kirby Super Star’s Gourmet Race. Here’s a video showing it in action:
Above: Why isn’t this kind of stuff in more remakes nowadays?
There was also a ton of random little additions and options like the ‘Toy Room’ (with WarioWare type toys you could mess around with), awards you could unlock by beating certain missions, artwork you could print with the Game Boy Printer, two player vs mode and even high score leaderboards for levels (offline of course)!
The game was an absolutely fantastic Mario remake, and it really is a bit of a shame the title is nowhere to be seen on the 3DS Virtual Console.
7. Kirby Super Star Ultra
A great remake of Kirby Super Star released for the DS a while back, Kirby Super Star Ultra is a fantastic example of a Nintendo game remake. It’s got excellently updated graphics and music that improve even on the original game’s:
Top is new, bottom original
As you can see, the graphics are a significant improvement over those in the original game, and ramp up the already high level of detail even further.
There’s also some brand new bosses, mostly found in the new True Arena. Marx Soul has to be the most impressive (and scariest) of them all:
Above: Marx Soul’s death is outright terrifying
With the game having even more mini games and options (including a revamped version of Spring Breeze with more difficult stages and bosses), Kirby Super Star Ultra is definitely one of the best Nintendo remakes and comes in seventh on the list.
6. Super Mario All Stars
It may not have as much new content as some of the other remakes on this list had (at least not in the sense of new levels or bosses), but Super Mario All Stars was arguably one of the most impressive such games of all time, and stands that way now.
Why? Well for one thing, each and every game got a full graphics and music overhaul to bring it up to SNES standards. It’s even better when you consider that despite all the graphics being 16 bit, Nintendo never got lazy and ending up reusing the same tiles and sprites.
No, instead we got an entirely seperate graphics style for every single game on the cartridge bar the Lost Levels. How many other compilations of games or remakes with multiple games included can boast that?
Above: Three games, three graphics styles. Impressive for a collection of remakes.
There’s also the absolute ton of minor edits and changes Nintendo made to the games other than this. Like fixing bugs, redesigning easily broken levels and about a billion other things you can read about here:
It’s a difficult game to even rank because of how much care and effort was put into it, but Super Mario All Stars is definitely one of the best Nintendo remakes of all time.
5. Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green
And here’s the other Pokemon remakes that came before Heart Gold and Soul Silver.
Now admittedly, they were pretty impressive. You had this brand new area called the Sevii Islands complete with new storylines, new ‘dungeon’s (so to speak) and the chance to catch all those interesting legendary Pokemon like Ho-oh and Lugia with event tickets.
Not to mention how the graphics and music were updated to modern standards (or at least gen 3 standards).
But I just don’t think these remakes were as well done as Heart Gold and Soul Silver, at least from what I can tell. Yeah the new stuff is decent, but it’s not that well integrated into the original game, with you taking a random detour into said new territory about three quarters of the way through with no explanation then having all the additional stuff being shoved away on islands kept entirely seperate from the main world map.
Above: The Sevii Islands, where everything new in Fire Red and Leaf Green takes place.
Contrast with how the gen 2 remakes managed to integrate the new stuff directly into the world without bolting new bits of scenery on. They brought back things which were cut out for space reasons, then added in areas with all the legendaries from later games and various side quests. I just think that feels more like a ‘true’ remake than just adding additional content on in a blatantly visible way.
But Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green are still great games, they just pale in comparison to Heart Gold and Soul Silver.
4. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D
Well, we couldn’t have a list of great remakes without one 3DS game, right?
And the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D is a fantastic one. Not only have the graphics been improved to quite a considerable degree (characters like Link actually look recognisable now and places like Castle Town look less drab), but the inclusion of an all new boss rush and the entire Master Quest mode from the Gamecube bonus disc makes it an absolutely fantastic reimagining of the Nintendo 64 version that’s well worth playing.
Not to mention it has this awesome song…
For all that and more, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D makes it to the number four spot on the list.
3. Super Mario 64 DS
At first glance, it seems a bit strange to rank Super Mario 64 DS so highly on this list. After all, some of the other titles add quite a bit more content, right?
Well not really. Yes, the best additions are definitely the three new playable characters with all their unique abilities, but that’s not the only major change or addition in this title.
Above: None of this is in the original
For one thing, they improved in this game to at least the degree that Ocarina of Time 3D improved Ocarina of Time’s graphics, with all those familiar enemies and areas looking far more realistic than ever before. Gone was the Lego Mario look, in its place a main character that would fit right in Mario Sunshine or Galaxy stylistically. And Bowser? Well, he certainly had a big change in appearance:
Above: Mario 64 Bowser looked terrifying. Mario 64 DS Bowser actually looks like the official art.
Did I forget to mention the thirty new stars that were added in this title? Or how about the thirty or so mini games you could unlock, some of which had multiplayer modes? Or even the multiplayer star battle mode?
But there were also a lot of less noticeable tweaks to the level and game design in general. Whomp’s Fortress had a whole new around the back part of the level with bricks, Super Mushrooms and Bullet Bill Blasters, and various levels had the owl from the Nintendo 64 added in where he wasn’t before.
Or how about the new missions? Like Big Bob-omb’s Revenge in Bob-omb Battlefield? The new Silver Star and Switch Star levels? The complete redesign given to the Igloo in Snowman’s Land?
Heck, even the old missions were significantly changed with the addition of three new characters and multiple new power up abilities like Balloon Mario and Yoshi’s Fire Breath.
Oh, and want some potentially interesting trivia? How about that Metal Mario can’t walk in lava but Metal Wario can? Yes, the behaviour of lava was completely overhauled in the DS title. Bet no one knew that.
It really is quite surprising how massively Super Mario 64 got overhauled for the DS remake, and as a result of this, it reaches number three on the list.
2. Donkey Kong 94
Is there a point where a possible remake stops even being a remake and starts being its own game? If there is, Donkey Kong 94 (or just Donkey Kong GB) definitely borders on that point.
In general, the game is meant as a sort of Donkey Kong arcade… successor. Or remake. Or something.
Basically, you’ve got all the original Donkey Kong levels. Fair enough. That wouldn’t be impressive on its own, but…
Above: The remake part
Then you’ve got another NINETY SEVEN stages. Yes, a game which was originally just a four level arcade title has become a TEN world adventure title that has you travelling all over the world and finding Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr in all kinds of clever puzzle based boss battles. There are new enemies, new moves, new items, new graphics and music… it takes the usual definition of a remake and ups it ten fold.
It really does have some of the most content ever found in a video game remake, making Donkey Kong 94 the second best Nintendo remake ever made.
1. Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver
Likely the best Pokemon remakes around, the remakes of Pokemon Gold and Silver for DS were excellent titles. So why did they top the list of the remakes?
Well for one thing, there’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of new content in here. Remember how in the original game Kanto was toned down and a whole bunch of areas removed to save space?
Not any more! Now the Unknown Dungeon/Cerulean Cave, Seafoam Islands, Safari Zone (albeit a new and moved one) and Viridian Forest are back how they were in gen 1!
Heck, even less important places like the Pewter Museum and the Cerulean City Bike Shop are open again!
But it’s not just removed areas in Kanto that were they only additions. Nope, now Mt Silver has been redesigned and has Moltres obtainable there. The other legendary birds and Pokemon from Kanto are now also catchable in roughly their original locations.
Blaine’s now got a proper gym in the Seafoam Islands to make up for the one destroyed when Cinnebar Island’s volcano erupted, complete with additional trainers.
And now a whole bunch of legendary Pokemon from later generations can be encountered. Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza can be fought and captured in the Embedded Tower. Latias and Latios roam Kanto later in the game. And the cover legendaries from gen 4 can be literally created by Arceus in a mind screw level event in the Sinjoh Ruins. Here’s a video:
Above: Is the universe literally being destroyed and recreated all for the sake of an event?
That’s still not everything new this remake added. There were new mini games. A new Battle Frontier like the one in Pokemon Platinum. You could even refight trainers at higher levels and refight gym leaders from both regions in Saffron City’s Fighting Dojo.
And in a final neat twist, an item called the Game Boy Player let you switch to the original Game Boy version’s soundtrack, so you could choose whether you wanted to hear the old or new versions of each theme at any time. I wish more remakes let you do that!
Above: A comparison between remixed old and new themes
I really do think these games had just about everything a good remake should have (and implemented it into the game in a not at all jarring way), so I consider them Nintendo’s best examples of video game remakes.
Well, that’s the list of games which made it. But there are a few more Nintendo remakes I considered but dropped from the list, and here they are:
1. Super Mario Advance series
I was about to count this series, but then I realised that 90% of all changes to the first two games were things that were added by Super Mario All Stars instead.
And it’s kind of up in the air to whether all the games in the series really go far enough that you can class them as remakes. Do the new voices and couple of new features like the Yoshi hunt make Super Mario Advance 1 a remake? How about Super Mario Advance 2, the least changed title in the series?
Above: Do cheesy boss voices count as good remake material?
But I guess you could count Super Mario Advance 3 as an improved remake of Yoshi’s Island thanks to the 6 new secret levels, and Super Mario Advance 4’s e-Reader content is worth an entire article to itself.
Above: Admittedly this is an impressive new level. But not quite list worthy
It’s just I wasn’t sure whether the whole series was changed to a great enough degree to be counted.
2. Donkey Kong Country series (GBA versions)
This series might count as technically impressive remakes, since they redo many of the graphics from the SNES versions of each game, completely overhaul every map screen and add new content like worlds and bosses.
But it’s debatable whether these changes are for the best. Donkey Kong Country 2 on GBA got completely killed by the lame edits to levels like Haunted Hall, Toxic Tower and Target Terror, while some of the new boss designs like Kroctopus are of very debatable quality.
And Donkey Kong Country 3 was… changed. For the better? Not sure, there was a whole new soundtrack and a new world added, but quite a few people prefer the music in the SNES version. This theme was pretty cool though:
But basically, because the changes weren’t ‘proven’ to improve the games, I thought it wouldn’t be right to count them as among the best Nintendo remakes since ‘best’ implies the remake is at least as good as the original or at least has a generally similar critical and popular reception.
That’s the honourable mentions then. Did I miss any games that should have been on the list? Do you disagree with the list placements and reasoning? If so, comment below or in the Nintendo 3DS Community topic!