There's a good chance that many of you reading this have yet to turn 20 years old. And you know what that means? You're younger than PlayStation. As of December 3rd, 2014 (hey, that's today!), Sony's PlayStation brand has been around for two decades, which is pretty incredible to think about. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Sony even unveiled a sleek new grey PS4 modeled after the original PS1's humble color scheme.
Seeing that juxtaposition of old and new in one console hit us with a tidal wave of nostalgia - a barrage of fond PlayStation memories flashing by like some kind of psychedelic Willy Wonka river tunnel. And even though we're happily enjoying the best PS4 games, there's now 20 years' worth of PlayStation franchises that are in dire need of a comeback. This isn't just a list of the best PSX games, either - we legitimately think that these classic series might stand a chance in the modern market. Well, most of them, anyway - but dammit, don't deny us our wildest dreams. Hey Sony: bring these games back for PS4 (or heck, even PS Vita), please!
There was a time when Square saw fit to make a body horror-themed action game set in New York City - and despite having almost nothing in common with the developer's fantasy-centric pedigree, Parasite Eve ended up being completely awesome. Aya Brea may not get the same mainstream recognition as Samus Aran or Lara Croft, but she's a stellar female protagonist, staying cool under extreme pressure where male leads would fear to tread. And hell, the series even aces the Bechdel Test, seeing as the badass villain Eve is constantly elucidating the ins and outs of horrific mutations before her bouts with Aya.
Despite a strong debut and two sequels, time seems to have forgotten Aya's modern-day adventures, and that's a damn shame. Given how slick Final Fantasy 15 is looking with its near-future setting, Square Enix should have no problem switching gears back to Parasite Eve. And can you imagine how gloriously gross those giant rat transformations and fetus-looking monsters would look on the PS4? We'd never be happier to have our stomachs turn inside out.
Level-5 has become one of the biggest developers around thanks to hits like Professor Layton, but the company earned many of its first fans as a contractor dev for Sony. The company’s first full title was Dark Cloud, a Zelda-style adventure that was one of the earliest games of note for the PS2. It’s cartoony graphics stood out, as did a clever weapon-leveling system and world-building mechanic, all of which gained a devoted collection of fans.
Those qualities only improved in to the PS2 sequel Dark Cloud 2 (a.k.a. Dark Chronicle), but then the series ended abruptly. Level-5 likely became too high-profile for a game the size of Dark Cloud, but it’s Sony’s series, so they can continue it without Level-5 on the PS4. You could even hand it to the SCE Japan team. They could make something as good as Ico… or at least something better than Knack.
There was a time where Ape Escape was one of the biggest PlayStation brands due to its wonderful use of the then-new DualShock controller. Time hasn’t been kind to the series, though, and while it had a few neat sequels, the most recent iterations of the monkey-chasing series have been poor minigame compilations and random spinoffs.
Now is the time for Ape Escape to come back and to live up to its full potential. Let the new-gen release be for the PS4's unique mix of inputs what the original was for the first DualShock. Though some releases have shown proper usage of each of the new system's features, we’re yet to see one that uses them all together without it feeling like a series of gimmicks. What better series to finally do it right than Ape Escape?
Before egg-stealing pigs became the villains of Angry Birds, they were running around causing trouble in Tomba! and its sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. With crazy pink hair and tattered, green shorts, protagonist Tomba marched around his island home, defeating the pigs and saving his people. Though it's likely you’ll eventually be able to download Tomba to play on the PS4, getting a full, new release in the series would obviously be preferred.
It has been over ten years since a new Tomba game was seen - probably, in part, due to the closure of its developer after Tomba 2’s release. Most of the people that worked on that game ended up going over to Access Games who, besides developing the criminally underappreciated Deadly Premonition, has also released a fair share of PSP and, more recently, Vita games. Are they close enough with Sony to rekindle this series for next-gen?
PaRappa the Rapper
The games industry is in desperate need of Chop Chop Master Onion’s sagacious guidance. The only rhythm games to successfully make rapping fun, the PaRappa series was like the videogame embodiment of positive, carefree '80s hip-hop. Looking like a Saturday morning cartoon and playing like a musical Simon Says, PaRappa’s world and its lovable denizens have been dearly missed since they last appeared on the PS2 back in 2002.
Given the success of tap-in-time-to-the-beat games like Rhythm Heaven, a PS4 version of PaRappa’s rhyme-spitting antics should make ample use of the touchscreen. Better yet, the controller's touchpad could mimic the finger-swiping motions of Elite Beat Agents or Theatrhythm Final Fantasy - if those relatively obscure games can make it, then there’s no doubt PaRappa’s cult following would flock to an original PSN download for a new jam session. Remember: you gotta believe!
What the? A beloved, cult-classic Capcom franchise that seemingly died a horrible death!? Controlling with the same lovably-clunky maneuvering as Resident Evil, Dino Crisis’ female lead Regina was awesome as the star of gaming's only “survival panic” franchise. This Special Forces agent would be capable of clearing out Jurassic Park single-handedly, thanks to her familiarity with being stalked by vicious raptors and a gigantic Tyrannosaurus (who was much like RE3’s nigh-unkillable Nemesis). Nobody remembers 2003’s Dino Crisis 3, because much like Jason Vorhees, some survival horror elements just don’t work in outer space.
With next-gen's flashy graphics and a focus on sound design (since we just spent all that money upgrading our sound system), a new Dino Crisis could make dinosaurs legitimately scary again. Better yet, Regina could switch her stance to mimic the intense behind-the-shoulder gunplay of RE4. Jeez, the more we think about it, the more depressed we are that this game will probably never happen. Prove us wrong, Capcom.
It might look like the poor man’s Soulcalibur, but Bushido Blade and its 1998 sequel had heart. Though this one-on-one fighting game had similar weapon-centric duels to SC, there was something that made it entirely unique in the world of fighters: the total lack of a health bar. Sword swipes actually worked like real life - get stabbed in the wrong spot, and you’re simply dead. Matches could be tense, lengthy standoffs or over in the blink of an eye, and the stages were ridiculously huge (by PSOne standards) if you were playing in story mode. Let us not speak of the less-than-stellar follow-ups like Kabuki Warriors and Kengo.
Bushido Blade was always best enjoyed when playing with friends, and a PS4 remake would have to take that into account. Perhaps some hectic - but still honorable - 4+ player combat could be implemented over PSN. Or, even better, an open world system where you customize your character and weapon before venturing into an online countryside, filled with player-controlled ronin looking to get their duel on. Get on it, Square Enix!
Jak and Daxter
No matter your stance on Jak’s transformation from mute hero to goatee-sporting vagabond, there’s no denying that the Jak and Daxter series was the source of some of the PS2’s best platforming adventures. The colorful world, tight controls, and pleasantly-placed challenges combined the exciting exploration of Mario 64 with the offbeat cartoon flair of Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot. It’s a wonder, then, that the pairing hasn’t made the jump to modern consoles; the last time we saw this duo in an original game was 2009’s barely-noticeable Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier.
We’d like to see the series resurface on PS4, with a tone akin to the first game. Open world games aren’t the cat’s pajamas anymore, putting more emphasis on focused, reflex-testing platform jumping would be much preferred to the faux-badass styling of Jak II’s “GTA 4 Kidz” setting. With the right approach and accessibility in a PS4 title, Jak and Daxter could regain the same renown as their console cousins Ratchet & Clank.
Besides leaked art from a cancelled rebirth on the PlayStation 2, not much has been said about the Jet Moto series since Jet Moto 3 was released in 1999. This product placement-heavy early-generation racing dropped players onto the seats of futuristic hoverbikes which made use of magnetic grapples to zip around the otherwise unnavigable corners of the game’s levels. It was unorthodox to say the least, but provided plenty of fun to PlayStation owners in the late 90’s, helping them cope with their system’s lack of a Wave Race game.
The PS4 would allow for the Jet Moto series to come back in full force, going after both the niche crowd with fond memories of the series and gamers anxious for new titles. Magnetic grappling could be tied to the controller's touchpad to allow for more accuracy, and the analog sticks (remember, the original PlayStation didn’t have them at first) would make a PS4 Jet Moto the most precise Jet Moto yet.
Arc the Lad
This JRPG franchise is about as niche as they come, but depending on your personal PlayStation history, you might remember it just as fondly as Final Fantasy or Wild Arms. These turn-based strategy games revolved around the heroics of the titular Arc, who ventured through vast worlds filled with gigantic dungeons, FF Tactics-style combat, and fulfilling character development. Though it arrived late in the PS1’s lifecycle, the three-game Arc the Lad collection was a six-disc JRPG extravaganza. Sadly, by the time Arc the Lad: End of Darkness rolled up in 2005, the series had dried up almost completely.
But Arc’s story doesn't have to end that way. Sure, games like Disgaea or Fire Emblem might hold the majority market share for Japanese tactical RPGs, but there’s always room for more on a system like the PS4. We’d actually prefer a return to the PS1-era visuals over the generic graphics in the PS2 Arc the Lads; it's a look that brings us back to the days of 16-bit sprites in a 32-bit era.
Super Mario 64 may have defined what a 3D platformer is, but several developers experimented with the concept before that, including the first-person platformer, Jumping Flash! When FPS games were still having trouble on consoles, Jumping Flash! and its sequel put players into the eyes of a cybernetic rabbit named Robbit as he explored Crater Planet. Though rough around the edges, it took gamers to dizzying heights until Sony dropped the series when the PS2 rolled around.
After games like Portal and Mirror’s Edge spent the last console generation reminding us of the power of first-person jumping, the next-gen should see the return of the originator. Clearly it’d need to be rebooted for today’s audience, but it wouldn’t need much of an update for PS4 - and hey, maybe it could even find a nausea-inducing place on Morpheus VR.
Breath of Fire
In the first few generations of games, every Japanese developer had some sort of RPG it championed. For Capcom, it was Breath of Fire. The series followed shapeshifter Ryu (not to be confused with Capcom's other Ryu), who has the awesome ability to transform into dragons. Though the Breath of Fire games have never been the most ambitious RPGs, they were all solid, and continued to get more experimental over the years.
That is, until Capcom suddenly stopped making them over a decade ago. Since then, the publisher has cited increasing development costs as the rationale behind the series’ absence, but we’re not content with that excuse, particularly when there's a planned, Japan-only mobile sequel coming soon. Sure, creating a Final Fantasy XIII-sized game would cost a huge amount, but a more reasonable PSN downloadable release could be just the thing Breath of Fire needs to come back into the spotlight.
Some might remember Samanosuke and his samurai associates as the tank to Dante’s motorcycle, but we think Capcom needs to give this seemingly-forgotten series some love. The game’s pacing struck a satisfying balance of play - somewhere between the methodical tempo of early Resident Evil games and the speedy sword slashing of Devil May Cry - in a quaint feudal setting filled with hideous demons. The combat instilled discipline in the player: mashing buttons versus the tougher enemies would get you nowhere. Alas, this franchise seems to have faded into the sunset after 2006’s Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams.
A PS4 revival could be as basic as an HD collection, or as involved as a completely new entry. The next-gen system could enhance the PS2-era graphics with ease, and we’d be happy with fixed or free camera angles as long as the swordplay felt solid. Single-player samurai games seem to be on the decline lately; it’s time their glorious grandfather made his return.
The Mark of Kri
The PS2’s lifespan began with cute, would-be mascots, and ended with bloodthirsty stars like Kratos. The Mark of Kri struck an interesting balance: It looked like a Disney cartoon, but protagonist Rau could be just as murderous as Kratos. The vibe may have confused some gamers (likely why the series ended after the unpopular follow-up), but we would have loved to see Kri’s style continue on to the PS3.
Now that the PS4 is here, we’re seeing would-be mascot Knack has a similar mix of cartoony people and real danger. But, it lacks Kri’s heart. The Polynesia-flavored world of Mark of Kri deserves to be remade in next-gen graphics, whether starring Rau or his younger sister Tati. It could even deliver on the online multiplayer promise of its sequel, Rise of Kasai.
When the PS3 was as brand new as the PS4 is now, Heavenly Sword was one of the few promising titles for Sony’s expensive machine. The game was the creation of UK team Ninja Theory and boasted a strong melee combat and gorgeous graphics. But it’s real claim to fame was cutting edge performances from its digital stars, including a tour de force by Gollum himself, Andy Serkis.
After Heavenly Sword launched to good (but not great) reviews, Ninja Theory moved on to new games like Enslaved and the DmC reboot. Sony still owns the series, but hasn’t done much with it beyond a cancelled game from one of its internal studios. But now that the series is getting a CG film (at some point), that means it’s way overdue for a PS4 sequel.
Grand Theft Auto III changed the industry with its open-world approach to crime, while films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels made England’s criminal underworld cool again. That set the stage brilliantly for The Getaway, a gorgeous PS2 game that took place in a carefully reconstructed London. The game prided itself on a filmic look and a realer look than GTA, which people still remember it for years after Sony shelved the series following the lesser-loved sequel.
Getaway is still one of the best-looking PS2 games, so the series would make a fine transition to the PS4 as a graphical showpiece that the system really needs. We’d love to see what Sony’s top devs could make London look like this time around. That said, we also wouldn't mind a trip to other international hotspots, like Paris or Minsk. Let GTA stick with the States while Sony could give us a European vacation on the PS4.
Cool Boarders enjoyed yearly releases from 1996 until 2000, with seven titles releasing in the span of 6 years. Fatigue set in, however, and the nonstop assault of new iterations caused the series’ fans to grow tired of the snowboarding franchise. Now, ten years later, things have changed; SSX’s reboot proved that people are ready for more extreme sports, so it’s obvious everyone is ready for retro sports games to make their comeback.
While EA had current-gen consoles locked down with SSX, Cool Boarders could likely find a good home on the bold new frontier of the PS4. The touchpad could make creating tracks a breeze, and motion controls could be implemented tastefully to create a wholly unique experience that still feels distinctively... cool. Plus, the developers have spent the last few years making HD remakes and PSN games, so it's not like they're too busy.
What else do you want to see revived?
There are, obviously, plenty of other games that would make for great PS4 experiences, and we're sure you have a few dozen of your own that you'd like to see brought back on Sony's latest consoles. Tell us all about it in the comments below!
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