Time for an upgrade
The internet got hit with a heavy dose of Final Fantasy fever coming out of E3 2015. Against all odds, Square Enix finally announced a Final Fantasy 7 remake. And it's not just going to be a one-to-one remake. Speaking to Wired, game director Tetsuya Nomura stated "I don't want to change it so much that it's unrecognisable, but make sure that it's something fresh and new." We've already shared our thoughts on what we'd like to see changed - and not changed - in this new Final Fantasy 7, but we're not stopping there.
Let's not forget that the Square half of Square Enix still has an extensive back catalog of fantastic games that are just as worthy of the remake treatment as Final Fantasy 7. Some of them were great ideas that just weren't properly executed at the time, while others are timeless gems that have proven themselves worthy of another go-around. Which one gets your vote? Which game from Square's collection would you like to see get a modern-day makeover? Let us know in the comments below, and read on to see our picks.
Bushido Blade - Maxwell McGee
What's striking about Bushido Blade are the things you don't see. Here's a 3D fighting game without a health bar, timer, energy meter, or brightly-colored combo counter cluttering up the action. Instead, all you have are two fighters slowly, cautiously circling one another, each awaiting their chance to deliver the killing blow. There are no double-digit combos here. One clean hit is all it takes to win a fight. When you hear people talk about Bushido Blade, one word always comes up: tension. It's one big game of chicken with razor-sharp swords.
Sadly, Bushido Blade never lived up to its full potential. Instead, it spawned the Kengo: Master of Bushido series, which ended up playing like an awkward and stilted Soulcalibur (complete with all those meters and mechanics the original omitted). A modern Bushido Blade could correct the series stiltedness while remaining true to the minimalist design that makes it so unique. If you've been even a little bit interested in the player-versus-player combat of the Souls series, then you're ready for a new Bushido Blade.
Brave Fencer Musashi - Dave Roberts
At first glance, Brave Fencer Musashi looks like a low-rent Legend of Zelda clone, and OK, yeah, in some ways it kind of is. Combat's a little clumsy, and its 3D graphics are blocky and primitive, even compared to other PlayStation games at the time. Luckily, that's the kind of stuff that can get fixed in a remake, because Brave Fencer Musashi's world is filled with interesting secrets, loads of charm, and far too many food puns - and it deserves another chance.
Japan's greatest swordsman has been transported to an alternate dimension by Princess Fillet of the Allucaneet Kingdom in order to put an end to the Thirstquencher Empire's reign of terror (I told you there were food puns). Rescuing its citizens opens up new shops in the city, and finding hidden items to access new areas to save more people quickly turns into a completionist's paradise. You can even purchase action figures and either take them out of the packaging to play with them, or keep them mint to sell back later at a markup. There's a day/night cycle, a ton of abilities, and inventive puzzles - all the pieces are already there for this cult classic to become a modern hit.
The Bouncer - Justin Towell
The Bouncer is a 3D brawler. Think Streets of Rage, but in 3D and with floppier hair. When it was released near PS2's launch, it was graphically exceptional, with in-game graphics that were almost as good as the standard of pre-rendered cut-scenes at the time (unsurprising as that's been a common theme for Square-Enix's output ever since). But that was likely where most of the development time went, as it was too short and the fighting too simplistic to become a true classic.
It did, however, have a certain something. And the roster of playable characters and gradual unlocking of story scenes made for plenty of replay value. If that were expanded now, and the graphics given the same attention to detail using the might of PS4, The Bouncer 2 could be a modern classic. We haven't had a decent brawler like this in ages, and it's about time we did.
Parasite Eve - Lucas Sullivan
I defy you to name a better game involving opera houses, spontaneous combustion, and grenade launchers. This gem of an action RPG is so unlike Square's usual fare: it's set in modern-day Manhattan, revolves around themes of mutation and body horror, features quasi-real-time combat that prioritizes guns, and earns an M rating. But it also exhibits many of Square's greatest strengths, with gorgeous cinematics (which, for my money, still hold up), a stellar lead in the form of tenacious NYPD officer Aya Brea, and an engrossing narrative (albeit one of sci-fi rather than fantasy).
The original Parasite Eve could go a long way with some spruced-up visuals and full voice-acting, and you can be sure that those cutscenes of grotesque rat transformations would look even more horrifying in HD. But for the love of all that is holy, Square Enix, add the ability to skip cinematics you've already seen. Without spoiling anything, I had to watch the extremely creepy (and lengthy) cutscene before the final boss probably 18 times, because that fight is damn difficult. Oh, and it might be worth unlocking the roguelike-esque Chrysler Building challenge tower right from the get-go.
Final Fantasy 8 - Ashley Reed
Final Fantasy 8 is a hot mess, and I say that with all the love in the world. The follow-up to one of Square's most gargantuan commercial successes, Square took the risky step of making it wildly different from the game that came before, and some really interesting ideas surfaced as a result. Sadly, surface is all some of them ever did, and trying to balance too many left FF8 a clutter of half-realized thoughts that swings at greatness and just misses the mark. It would take a complete rebuild to help FF8 reach its potential, but it needs to happen.
As opposed to a port or remaster that would bring along all the unfortunate plot problems of the original, a full remake could focus on making FF8's most pivotal elements work effectively. They could beef up the fascinating sorceress lore, focus on how growing up in a post-war society has affected the main characters, strengthen the Laguna segments to make them a fuller part of the game, and finally, finally develop the main romance into something that approaches believability. Square-Enix would have to completely tear it apart, but it'd be worth it, because then FF8 could finally become the game it was meant to be.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 - Sam Prell
"Hey, didn't Square Enix just remake Final Fantasy X and X-2?"
Thank you for asking, disembodied voice. But no, Square Enix did not remake FFX/X-2 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, it merely remastered them with upscaled textures and slightly better looking models. The game's voice acting remained as simultaneously charming and weird as before - sidenote: AH HA HA HA HA - and overall the experience was roughly 95 percent identical to what players experienced in 2001 (and 2003 for the sequel).
What we're talking about wanting for Final Fantasy X/X-2 is a full-blown remake. That means an entirely new graphics engine, new voice acting, new everything. Tidus and friends are some of the series' most fondly-remembered ragtag group of heroes ever assembled, and for good reason. They're distinct, memorable, have interesting relationships with one another, and they live in a unique, post-apocalyptic-but-still-futuristic setting. It's true that the HD remasters looked good, and we appreciate the work that went into them. But imagine Yuna summoning Ifrit, Shiva, Bahamut or any other number of strange creatures with today's graphical capabilities at the developer's fingertips. Plus glorious, glorious Blitzball.
What about you?
So there are our picks for the Square games most deserving of a FF7-esque remake. However, I just can't shake the feeling that we forgot something. It's almost like there's a game out there everyone loves that seems like an obvious pick that just somehow didn't make it on this list. Oh well. Let us know which game gets your vote, either from the list or from your heart. State your case in the comments below. Hey, if a FF7 remake can happen, anything is possible.