There has never been a better time to be a retro gamer than right now. Old games are continually being re-released on download services like Steam and PSN, Amazons opened a retro-gaming store, emulators have allowed thousands of old-school games to be (illegally) circulated online, and bargain bins are jam-packed with the best games of the last console generation. Of course, there are some drawbacks, especially with that last thing. With a few exceptions, last-gen games tend to look terrible on HD TVs, and for those of us whove gotten hooked on Achievements or Trophies, finding the motivation to pick up some overlooked classic or old favorite without the promise of meaningless awards can be difficult.
Thats why HD collections are such a godsend they make older games look amazing (or at least as good as we remember them), bundle them together for cheap, and entice us back in with potentially easy Trophies and/or Achievements. Theyve been on a roll lately, too and in fact, since we last ran an article like this, six of the 13 HD remakes we daydreamed about have become a reality. Seeing as one of those was the Devil May Cry HD Collection, which shipped last week, now seems like a good time to renew our pleas for the ones that havent been made yet and to throw in a few more wed like to see come true, along with mocked-up cover art for good measure.
Silent Hill and Resident Evil are widely regarded as the two best and most important horror franchises of the past decade and hey, look at that, both series recently got the HD treatment. But theres another horror series from the PS2/Xbox era that doesnt come up in conversation quite as often. One thats given us some of the most frightening moments weve ever experienced in any game, ever.
Fatal Frames concept use a magic camera to fight off ghosts sounds silly on paper. However, the series dark, cramped interiors and slow-moving first-person fight sequences seamlessly combined to create a sense of claustrophobic tension, which was only worsened when pale, disfigured specters slowly crawled out of dark spaces and floated forward to menace you close up. The games and their scares still hold up alarmingly well, but as much as their blurriness adds to the ethereal feel of the game, wed still like to see them get a fresh coat of paint and a second chance at life.
Legacy of Kain
From about 1999 to 2003, the Legacy of Kain series became a widespread obsession with gamers. Known for nuanced storytelling, unconventional protagonists, amazing boss fights and rich Shakespearean baritones, the series raised the bar for writing and acting in games, and pulled players along an increasingly complicated narrative that involved vampires, altered timestreams, soul-eating and a centuries-long war between two ancient, alien races. And then it just sort of went away.
Now that thereve been rumors of a possible reboot, however, interest in the series has picked up a little, and what better way to reacquaint ourselves with the series than to play through versions of its latter four chapters that dont look muddy (and reward us for our dedication with fatter gamerscores)? Better still, we could go through the whole story in one fell swoop; any cliffhanger endings would just be an incentive to start up the next game.
And yeah, realistically, we probably wouldnt get the original PSOne/Dreamcast Soul Reaver (as depicted in our mockup box art above) if this actually happened which would be a shame, because it was arguably the best game in the series, as well as a much better entry point than Soul Reaver 2. But hey, this isnt about what we think well see, its about what we want to see. (And while were on the topic, we wouldnt say no to an HD-optimized version of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, either.)
Another example of a series that once captured our imaginations but hasnt been heard from in years, Onimusha is overdue for a comeback. Blending Resident Evil-style exploration and horror elements with Devil May Cry-esque hack-and-slash and leveling up, Onimusha followed multiple samurai protagonists through demon-fighting adventures in feudal Japan (with a quick, lavish-looking detour through modern-day Paris thrown in toward the end).
Ideally, an HD edition would bring together at least the original trilogy (preferably with the Genma Onimusha version of the first game, which featured added content, greater difficulty and a creepy doll that chased you relentlessly through the game), but because this is a wish list, wed love to see it bring in Dawn of Dreams as well. The fourth Onimusha game, it took place about 15 years after the events of Onimusha 3, featured a new protagonist and had the misfortune to ship in March 2006, when everyones attention was focused on the just-released Xbox 360 and the impending PlayStation 3 and Wii. Tossing it into an HD collection would give it a second chance at life and more importantly, give those who ignored it the first time around an excuse to play through it.
Oh, and as long as were dreaming? Hearing Jean Reno record his own English lines in Onimusha 3, instead of stand-in Paul Mercier, would be fantastic.
Back before all shooters had to be ultra-serious and ultra-realistic, TimeSplitters carved out a niche for itself with a blend of overt silliness, wildly varied action, excellent multiplayer and three games that didnt really have much to do with each other aside from a habit of jumping around through different time periods. The series was with the last generation from its start (the first game launched alongside the PlayStation 2), making it seem especially worthy of HD preservation.
There is some hope on this front, though. In a 2008 interview about Timesplitters 4, David Doak, head of developer Free Radical, mentioned that hed be interested in remaking TimeSplitters 2 widely considered the best game in the series with HD visuals and online multiplayer. That sounds great, and now that Free Radicals been bought out of bankruptcy by Crytek, it could become a reality sometime in the future. But if theyre going to remake one, why not all three? Or at least, you know, throw Future Perfect in there as well?
Hey! We're halfway there. Okami has been revealed to be getting a digital release on the PlayStation 3 with Move support, but we don't want it to stop there. We want it bundled with Clovers first two Viewtiful Joe games, too - and we want it on the Xbox 360 as well.
For the many who ignored it when it appeared on the PS2 Viewtiful Joe 1 and 2, were goofy, side-scrolling brawlers that continually broke the fourth wall, and gave their hero time-manipulation powers that made for some satisfyingly dramatic punching and kicking. Alone, HD remakes of these games would be a curiosity for fans to track down online. Together, theyd be damn near unstoppable. (And while their cel-shaded graphics still hold up fairly well, an HD cleanup couldnt hurt.)
Dark Cloud/Rogue Galaxy
Before Professor Layton became its signature franchise, developer Level-5 did a lot of close work with Sony, creating two noteworthy, PS2-exclusive role-playing franchises: Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy. The first two Dark Cloud games (the second of which was released as Dark Chronicle in Japan and Europe) mixed randomly generated dungeon-delving with a unique city-building mechanic, letting players find pieces of villages inside dungeons and place them in the game world. Rogue Galaxy, meanwhile, was more of a traditional Japanese RPG, albeit one with insanely fun real-time battles, bug-raising minigames and space pirates.
Both franchises were fantastic experiences in their own rights, and both have been more or less cast aside since 2007 (although Dark Cloud-esque gameplay resurfaced in the underwhelming White Knight Chronicles series). Wed love to see a sequel to either, but a chance to buy them all again as a set would be the next best thing.
Shin Megami Tensei
The Shin Megami Tensei series saw its most prolific period during the PS2 years, with no fewer than eight games released on the platform between 2004 and 2008. A few stood out above the others, though, most notably SMT Nocturne, Persona 3 and Persona 4.
Set in modern-day Japan, the Persona series' occult themes and high-school trappings set them well apart from other RPGs, and their presence on the PS2 helped the dying system go out with a bang. And while a pair of Persona HD remakes seems a lot likelier than what we're suggesting, it'd be a shame to see SMT: Nocturne, with its post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo and party-bulding through demon recruitment, be ignored. Throw all three together, and you've got an irresistible package for RPG fans. Especially nostalgic ones.
Jedi Knight II/Star Wars Battlefront II/Republic Commando
Given the insane number of Star Wars games released during the last console generation, it's kind of tough to nail down just three that deserve a new life as HD remakes of themselves. If the choice were up to us, though, we'd pick these three games from disparate series as the best of early-2000s Star Wars gaming. (Not counting Knights of the Old Republic, of course, but did that ever really need an HD revamp?)
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast was arguably the pinnacle of the Jedi Knight/Dark Forces series, with players unleashing devastating lightsaber attacks and fire from assorted blasters alongside light and dark Force powers. (Also it had optional lightsaber dismemberment, which is always a plus.) Republic Commando was a sadly overlooked squad-combat game from the days before that was common practice, and Star Wars Battlefront II offered some of the best online-shooter action to grace the last generation of consoles. In the absence of a true sequel, an online-enabled HD version would go a long way toward mollifying the fans who've been crying out for a new Battlefront for years.
Square Enix has plainly stated that creating a PS2-style Final Fantasy game (i.e., not an ongoing tunnel like XIII) is both challenging and expensive. We could be facing a sad reality in which a full-blown Final Fantasy VII remake is technically improbable, so while we all sit here waiting to see what happens with FFXV, Square might as well gussy up the PS2 offerings and give us a slight taste of how beautiful and engrossing a 90s and 00s FF could be.
Since we last pined for HD versions of these games, Final Fantasy X was confirmed for an impending HD remastering and thats a good start. What wed really like to see is for it to be bundled alongside HD versions of series outcast X-2 (which was, in all honesty, a pretty fun departure from the usual so serious Final Fantasy fare) and FFXII (which should have just waited a year and helped launch the PS3 in the first place). If you missed XII thanks to its dogged determination to get buried under PS3/Wii launch hype back in late 2006, getting it as part of a new bundle would bring you up to speed.
And no, we dont want FFXI in there. Not even for free.