The later part of the prior console generation, up to and including now, has been marked by a load of games remade from prior generations to fit today’s high definition standards. This has been a positive trend, bringing back games that have left the mainstream since their heyday in previous generations, while in some cases making games that had become prohibitively expensive available on new hardware.
In fact, this trend has been so positive that I don’t think we should stop at Final Fantasy X, Devil May Cry or Tales of Symphonia. There are so many games and series that need an HD makeover that I had difficulty stopping at give. What follows are games that, for various reasons, should make the jump to a modern system as quickly as possible, under some simple ground rules: namely, the games must be officially released in English (sorry, Sakura Taisen), and must be within the realm of reasonable possibility (this eliminated the Rainfall RPGs for the Wii). I’m also sticking to consoles, where fan-made mods can’t extend the life of the cult classics the way they can on the PC.
Primary Reason: Graphics Update
Bushido Blade was a wonderful, unique concept when it came out: instead of being like every other fighter – both two-dimensional, like Street Fighter, or three, like Battle Arena Toshinden and Tekken – where players beat each other up until someone’s life gauge was gone, fights in Bushido Blade could end in one hit if someone was skilled, or lucky enough. It was not only possible to cut someone up in one shot, it was possible to wound them. It was even possible, if put into an impossible position, to submit to your opponent to be given a clean death. This was highly unique stuff in 1997.
An HD version of even the original Bushido Blade would be great, as the old game has not aged well. Even better would be to add on features such as online play and leaderboard support – all staples of every Xbox Live Arcade game since 2006 – which would make for some tremendously interesting matches. Not much beyond that has to be cleaned up; the gameplay is what people will go for, and that still stands up well in 2014.
Primary reason: Graphics update
The Grandia series is a rough one to gauge for the purposes of this exercise. The first game, while arguably the best, would require enough work to become a reboot. Grandia 3 wasn’t very good. Grandia Xtreme might as well not even exist.
That leaves Grandia 2, one of the best games from the Dreamcast era, and one that I’ve talked about in great detail. It had a great story, along with lovable characters and the tried-and-tested battle system that made Grandia stand out in the ATB era. An HD remake would add a new veneer to a game that saw a lot of ports, almost all of which were wholly subpar to the original Dreamcast game.
The Tales of Symphonia port showed that even a dated game such as this can be made to look very good. Change a few of the voice actors – an issue that stood out a lot more with the first game, in fairness – and there’s the chance for a proper remake to remind people why Grandia used to be so good in the first place.
Primary reason: Rarity
Dragon Force was one of those games that had everything going for it; great gameplay, a lot of reasons to replay the game, and every game session was different than the last. It’s still an amazing strategy game 18 years later, and it was put out with loving care by Working Designs, only the most fan-centric publisher in history.
Naturally, we haven’t seen hide nor hair of this series since. They made a sequel in Japan that was never translated. They remade it for the Sega Ages line in Japan; it never made it to America1. We have Sonic the Hedgehog on every damn system known to man, and the gas station I go to makes the Sonic “rings” sound whenever I buy something, but we still can’t get Dragon Force. Oh, but they can cease and desist fan-made Streets of Rage projects. Other than possibly Capcom, Sega might be the most tone-deaf Japanese company when it comes to dealing with the West.
The sad thing is, the work is already largely done. Bring over the Sega Ages compilation, shoehorn in the original translation, clean up a few textures, and sell it for $15 on the PSN, XBLA and Steam. Easy-peasy. The closest we’ve seen to a Dragon Force game was the DS’s Spectral Force Genesis, and… yeah.
What’s really sad is that this isn’t even the biggest Sega-related travesty on the list…
Primary Reason: Rarity
This is another series where picking one game is tough, but at least some games have seen improvements, even if those improvements are themselves a bit long in the tooth, seeing as how the last we saw of the first game was when it was packed into Panzer Dragoon Orta as an unlockable when the latter game was released all the way back in 2003 on the XBox One. Really, the whole series could use a coat of paint.
But it’s Saga, a game released on a dying system by a company gearing up for the Dreamcast, which needs special attention. The rarity of the game is no secret; one glimpse at eBay shows that the game is still commanding prices averaging out at about $200 a pop. The game itself is one of the most inspired takes on what was becoming a tired JRPG genre at the time. In an era where Final Fantasy ruled the land and you either went ATB or went home, PDS was a gem, expanding on a world that we barely saw with the rail shooters, and featuring a unique battle system that didn’t stray so far from the norm that it alienated people.
Panzer Dragoon Saga’s only fault was that it was released late in the life of the Saturn, with a very small print run. Ebay prices reflect this; the cheapest I can find the game for right now, complete, is $300, and some unscrupulous sellers are trying to sell incomplete sets for almost as much. It costs more to take home this one game than it does to take home a Wii U; in most cases, more than it does to take home that system plus a top-rated game. Most infuriating is that Sega knows this, and yet refuses to budge, not even to release a port of the game. It’s inexcusable that we’ve seen HD remakes for NiGHTS and other Sega games, and they keep whoring out their Genesis games to any system that will take them – I could play Flicky on a toaster at this point – and yet we haven’t seen Panzer Dragoon Saga. It would feel like Sega were taunting us if they were more competent.
Primary Reason: Graphics Update
Really, most Square titles could have made this list from the PS1 era – Chrono Cross almost did, and who remembers Tobal No. 1?2 – but Parasite Eve stands out as a game that needs the most coat of paint. The core gameplay, style, everything about the game still stands out as being wonderful, and well ahead of its time when it came out in 1998. A mature story – it was the first SquareSoft game to receive an “M” rating – combined with the typical SquareSoft approach to JRPG making in the late 90s – throw a bunch of tweaks to the standard formula at the wall and watch most of them stick – gave gamers a fresh take on the genre less than a year after Final Fantasy VII blew up in North America, and gave Square Enix another sterling franchise in their arsenal.
Granted, a HD version of the game would be handled by the same people who made The 3rd Birthday and royally screwed it up, and the entire franchise in the process. And there is going to be the temptation to change a lot of things around to please a new generation of gamers who are used to having things spelled out for them far more. But if done right, Parasite Eve would have the potential to simultaneously provide an outstanding experience to people who weren’t around for the first one, and resurrect the franchise by showing everyone how it’s done.
1 – Though some games did make it over to America in the Sega Classics Collection, the ones everyone wanted – Dragon Force, both Phantasy Stars – didn’t.
2 – No, “that thing that came with the Final Fantasy VII demo” doesn’t count as “remembrance”.