Later this week, Metroid: Zero Mission turns 20. This GBA reimagining transforms the original, iconic 8-bit Metroid — a game that can be hard to return to these days — into a stunning retelling of Samus’ first adventure with a graphical overhaul, various Super Metroid-inspired tweaks, and a fun Zero Suit epilogue to boot. It’s so good, in fact, that it rivals the SNES entry in the affections of several Nintendo Life writers.
As we reflected on Zero Mission’s excellence ahead of its anniversary, it got us wondering: Which is the best remake from Nintendo’s roster of reimaginings? We’re not talking remasters or HD ports — we mean full-on reworkings that switch out models and rebuild the game from the ground up.
In this article, NL staff ponder that question, and at the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of every Nintendo-published remake on our database — take a look through and feel free to rate any of the games included if you haven’t done so already. On Friday, we’ll publish the results and find out which Nintendo game takes the gong for Best Nintendo Remake ever.
First, let’s hear from the team…
Gavin Lane, editor:
For me, the best remakes recontextualise the original game for a new audience, rejuvenating the experience and offering a glimpse of the OG magic that might have worn off over the years thanks to decades of design iteration, improved technology, evolved sensibilities, or any other reason a piece of media feels less than fresh many years on. Just rendering the same game in HD and slapping it on the current console is all well and good (easier access to great games is never a bad thing!), but it’s the classics that modern gamers might struggle to stick with that, I feel, benefit most from revisiting.
For that reason, it’s Zero Mission that ticks all the boxes. It’s tough to choose but if I had to, I’d take it over Super Metroid. That dinky GBA cart holds a sublime little piece of software that feels ageless. Maybe in a couple of decades, the series will have evolved to the point where this feels archaic too…but I don’t think so.
Jim Norman, staff writer:
Gosh, there are some absolute belters out there, huh? Being the predictable bean that I am, however, I’m going to have to go for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. The N64 original is one of my all-time favs (hot take, I know) and while the 3DS version does stick to the script in a lot of respects, I can’t shake the feeling that Grezzo’s remake is the best way to play.
Yes, a lot of the changes are small — easily accessible menus, a sign-posted Water Temple, moving the Iron Boots from ‘Equipment’ to ‘Item’ — but they tweak just about every tiny crack in the original’s otherwise sturdy armour. It also helps that the updated visuals blew my socks off at the time. We must be due an OOT re-remake about now, right?
Alana Hagues, deputy editor:
Zero Mission is such a good pick, but I absolutely have to hand this one to Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver. I love Gold & Silver, but the Game Boy games aren’t exactly easy to go back to nowadays. But rebuilding my favourite Pokémon Gen in the Diamond & Pearl engine was a dream come true. With Special Attacks, Pokémon that actually follow you on-screen, and a real understanding of what makes Pokémon magic, this is the first game I think of when anyone mentioned Pokémon.
The thing is, HeartGold & SoulSilver don’t change much from the original release — it just has all of the modernised tweaks that TPC has picked up and implemented into other games over the years. While FireRed & LeafGreen may have paved the way for its sequel’s remake, HeartGold & SoulSilver have arguably set a new standard not just for remakes, but for the entire Pokémon series, that it has yet to reattain.
Ollie Reynolds, staff writer:
I’m going to stick with Metroid here and say Metroid: Samus Returns. While I think the Game Boy original is well worth experiencing in its own right (especially now that it’s available on Nintendo Switch Online), I would say that this was probably the entry that was in most dire need of a refresh.
MercurySteam admirably stepped up to the plate and not only presented an experience that was much more in line with the franchise stylistically but also augmented the original game with brand-new mechanics like the parry ability. Naturally, it sits in the shadow of MercurySteam’s superior Metroid Dread these days, but as a remake, Samus Returns ticks all the right boxes while successfully laying down the foundation of future 2D Metroid games.
Those are our thoughts, but now it’s your turn. Take a look at the games below and feel free to get rating your favorites — we’ll publish the resulting ranked list of Best Nintendo Remakes at the end of the week.
Note. The games listed below were all developed and/or published by Nintendo in the West. Obviously, the line between remake and remaster can get a little fuzzy. Think Skyward Sword HD, for example — a game which adds an HD sheen and reworks the controls and the UI of the original, but isn’t a fundamental ground-up rebuild of the Wii game.
Obviously, everyone will have different criteria, so let us know in the comments if you think there’s something missing that truly deserves the title ‘remake’ (rather than ‘remaster’ or ‘port’ or ‘Deluxe re-release’) and we can see about adding it before the end of the week.