Ladies and gentlemen of gaming, we’re facing something of a crisis. An entire generation of standout games is becoming more and more lost to time. They’re drifting away partly because they’re old and haven’t had a moment in the spotlight for years, but more importantly, they’re aging like fine vintage vomit, and are probably so confusingly ugly they’re preventing a whole heap o’ first timers from even giving them a try. In other words, 3D games from the ‘90s are suffering from rudimentary, lethally sharp polygons.
Above: As you can see, Tekken 2 has aged gracefully
Plenty of sprite-based classics are getting proper revivals these days (Mega Man, Rocket Knight, Bonk etc), though in our opinion most sprite games will look acceptable forever. The first passes at 3D environments and characters, however, desperately need upgrades from their underpowered first attempts in the 1990s. Consider the aging Metal Gear Solid and its spectacular 2004 update, Twin Snakes:
Above: Razor-sharp collars and pointy ears were all the rage in 1998
Above: Even GameCube-era graphics are vastly superior
The N64, Saturn and original PlayStation were technically capable of creating 3D worlds that passed the test in 1997, but even by 2000 they were relics. That’s why we’ve crafted this fine list of seven remarkable games that you really should play… once they’ve been properly touched up. (And no, we’re not touching Final Fantasy VII, cos we’re tired of asking for it.)
7 – Bushido Blade (1997)
No game from the 32-bit era reinvented – or at least, deserved to reinvent – its genre quite like Bushido Blade did. A weapons-based fighter from Square(which has always had a spotty track record with these things), Bushido Blade was simple, elegant and had a special twist: unlike in every other “simulation” of samurai weaponcraft, a single hit could easily kill you, or at least cripple you for the remainder of the fight. If your opponent’s sword (or spear, or hammer) connected with an arm, it dangled uselessly at your side. If you took a slash to the legs, you’d hobble around on one knee. And if you got stabbed in the body or head, the fight ended, instantly, in a spray of your own blood.
Blocking was unheard of, parrying was tricky and simply charging in and swinging wildly was an excellent way to die. The ease with which you could be killed made every fight a slow, cautious affair, as you desperately tried to outmaneuver your opponent and search for an opening. It was about as close to a real samurai duel as a PSone-era game could get, and the diverse characters, weapons, fighting styles and interactive environments offered endless ways to get creative during two-player duels.
A current-gen remake of Bushido Blade would represent more than just an update for nostalgic fans; it’d be the only game of its type to come along in years. As beloved as it was, Bushido Blade’s realism never really caught on, producing only one middling sequel that added a slew of new characters, story elements and fighting techniques, but lost some of the simplicity that made the original so appealing. And the series disappeared entirely during the PS2 era; instead, its team moved on to the disappointing Kengo, which did away with one-hit kills and interesting characters in favor of a fairly dull re-creation of life on the medieval dueling-tournament circuit.
Above: One misstep and you’re dead
Meanwhile, the original’s gameplay still holds up extremely well, even though its visuals don’t. Relatively short and simple even by fighting-game standards, a remastered Bushido Blade would make for an ideal XBLA/PSN release, and would doubtless be a lot easier on the eyes than the original’s harsh polygons and rough textures. It’d also be totally unique – unless of course some indie developer beats it to the punch with a smart-looking clone.
6 – Blast Corps (1996)
We’ve gone on record many times stating Blast Corps never got its fair shake. To Rare’s credit, it’s probable that it just got lost in their stellar streak of Nintendo 64 titles, like GoldenEye, Perfect Dark and Banjo-Kazooie. But with nary a litigious licensee attached to bar a rerelease, there’s never been a better time for an explosive polygonal renaissance!
To let you in on the wonderful little premise, a truck carrying a payload of nuclear missiles has gone haywire and it’s your job to clear a path using various vehicles, construction equipment and giant battle mechs. Bulldozing houses, rescuing survivors, and flattening skyscrapers against the clock… How can that not appeal to today’s gamer? Hell, if you think about it, Banjo-Kazooie should’ve been a way harder sell for this generation.
Believe it: Blast Corps rocks the fat ass in a manner most timeless. The only thing remotely dated about the gameplay is that the textures and destruction effects look pathetic by current-gen standards. An HD upgrade for Xbox Live could widen the field of view for larger levels, add online leaderboards, and demolition co-op would make our dreams come true. Plus, the compartmentalized mission structure creates ample opportunity for Achievements galore. Now, will somebody just do us a favor and remind Microsoft that they own it?