Games That Need an HD Remaster: Neutopia, “the Off Brand Zelda”

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Since beating the HD remaster of Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap, I’ve been hankering for similar updates of forgotten classics. In particular Zelda and Metroid-likes, which I have an enduring appreciation for.

Some years ago I sought out all the games I found find in that genre. Neutopia was one of the more memorable ones. This isn’t to say I don’t also want an HD remaster of Golden Axe Warrior, for instance. Just that it would be lower on my wishlist.

Neutopia chronicles the adventures of the hero Jazeta, on his quest to vanquish an ancient sea monster. Neutopia II then follows the quest of his son, who sets out to avenge the death of his father (minor spoilers). II is in all ways a better game, but also non-trivially different from the first game.

The first game is not confined to a single map. Rather once you complete every quest on the first map, Earth Sphere, you’re transported to an entirely different map. There are several other ‘spheres’ to explore like Sea Sphere, and an entire hollow earth portion of the game which takes place underground.

Sufficed to say it’s a truly massive game which gave Turbo GrafX owners something meaty to sink their teeth into back in the day. It also vindicated their choice of console even after Link to the Past dropped on SNES. Neither of the Neutopia games manages to outshine LttP, but both are larger overall, with more variety.

It makes no efforts to hide what it’s based on. You’ll be bombing cracked walls to reveal hidden caves, fighting through dungeons to get new items and fight boss monsters, it’s all very familiar. It takes the classic NES Zelda formula and expands on it dramatically, but in a way that’s more of an evolution than the revolution that ALttP represented.

Who is Neutopia “for”? Someone who wants more classic Zelda, but can’t stomach shitty NES graphics. Someone curious to play an off-brand oddity that not many in the US were exposed to. If you’re looking for an expansion on the Zelda NES formula with a couple of neat twists of its own, I can recommend you give this a shot on Retroarch or Virtual Console.

Which begs the question of whether or not we’ll ever see a remaster of this. Golden Axe Warrior is actually the more likely candidate given the Wonder Boy remaster team’s love of the Sega Master System. However this is a game which imo deserves new life, and a wider audience.

A remaster like Wonder Boy where you can swap between the old and new graphic/music whenever you want would, in my mind, be the perfect way to achieve that. Hear me, gaming gods! I beseech thee, and offer a sacrificial chicken nugget! …Now all there is left to do is wait.

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