The walls have come down here in 2017. The biggest video games may have varied levels of performance or quality depending on what machine you’re playing them on, but you can rest assured that they’ll almost certainly be available for PC (opens in new tab) and at least one console. The bad old days of PC (opens in new tab) gamers staring longingly at Super Mario Sunshine and console players cursing their crappy ports of Doom are long gone. Thing is, PC gamers have had the ability to play console exclusive games (albeit illegally) for years now through emulators. Console players have, at best, had to settle for imperfect ports or alternate versions that (opens in new tab).
The golden gaming age we’re living in doesn’t have to be restricted to getting new games on your machine of choice, though. We’ve already seen storied PC-only classics like (opens in new tab) make it to PS4. These five games need to make that leap.
Is there another video game in history that went on to become not just a genre-defining work but a bonafide national pastime? When StarCraft 2 was announced last decade in South Korea, it was the equivalent of announcing Football 2 in the United States. People wigged out, the game came out, was by and large excellent and that was that. Now for play on 4K monitors using Blizzard’s robust modern Battle.net, and the original PC version is going to be free for everyone. Console owners, meanwhile, have never gotten any StarCraft save for the wonky spinoff for Nintendo 64 twenty years ago. While Blizzard’s already at it, why not convert the remastered edition to PS4, Xbox One or even Switch to finally unshackle the most famous sci-fi RTS ever made?
X-Wing vs TIE Fighter
Even though there have always been plenty of Star Wars games out there in the world, they’ve never been in truly ample supply. Most Star Wars games are bad. Do not come at us with that whole, “No, seriously, Star Wars Episode 1: Super Bombad Racing is the best kart racer ever!” nonsense. Back in the ‘90s, most of the only good Star Wars games were on the PC and though some favored entries like Dark Forces and Jedi Knight made it to consoles, the excellent star fighter simulators did not. This year marks the 20th anniversary of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, the pinnacle of LucasArts’ Star Wars fighter sims. Eight-player matches, co-op modes, a well written story expansion, and joystick-based play make this one an ideal candidate for consolization. There’s nothing a joystick did in 1997 that a Dualshock 4 or Xbox One controller can’t do today. Pretty it up, and put it back out there.
No One Lives Forever 2
Monolith Productions started out as a storied PC developer, but ever since its horror shooter FEAR made it to Xbox 360 in 2005, its games have found their biggest audience on Sony and Microsoft’s machines. These days, they’re banging out open world Lord of the Rings games like the very promising (opens in new tab) but one of Monolith’s greatest works remains trapped in PC limbo. No One Lives Forever 2, a ‘60s inflected spy adventure, was born ahead of its time. When it came out on PC in 2002, first-person games were about to enter a protracted period of focus on linear explosion fests thanks to a shift towards Halo-style console FPS design. Today, as unique and varied first-person adventures like (opens in new tab)are in vogue on console, the humor of Cate Archer’s clandestine adventure in No One Lives Forever 2 would fit right in. We wouldn’t mind a console remaster of the original No One Lives Forever either. That PS2 version is mighty musty these days.
After the famously huge Kickstarter funding of (opens in new tab), it looked like point-and-click adventures might have a renaissance. Not so much. Even as new games from storied creators like (opens in new tab) trickle out, it turns out the the small following for these sorts of puzzle-rich stories was as big as it was going to get as the genre started to fade out in the late ‘90s. Which is a damn shame, because that means mainstream players have been missing out on Westwood Studios’ brilliant Blade Runner game for decades. Distinct from but based on the world in Ridley Scott’s movie about android slaves run amok, Harrison Ford looking rad in a trenchcoat and what it means to be alive, the Blade Runner point-and-click adventure artfully explored those themes through intricate detection. Focussing less on puzzles and more on actual detective work examining crime scenes and interviewing people, certain parts of the game were randomized to encourage replays. There is even a replicant (Blade Runner’s androids) interview process where you have to determine if someone is human or not. Rather than hope someone makes a halfway decent game to tie in to Blade Runner 2049, this game should be remastered and put on every machine under the sun, from Switch to iPhone.
The CD Projekt Red that made the universally adored Witcher 3 is not the same studio that made the original Witcher for PC ten years ago. It is an older, wiser, more adept team of creators that has learned the importance of making sure your deep medieval role-playing game can be played with a controller. The Witcher’s reliance on a keyboard and mouse isn’t the only thing anachronistic at this point, though. The overly complicated alchemy system, the cumbersome combat; all of it feels awkward at best today. With Geralt’s story of magic, monsters, political intrigue and surprisingly tasteful sex wrapped up, though, there’s no better time than to bring the original home and to polish it up for the modern Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo player. The action might be antiquated but the story and character work is still top notch, and the whole trilogy deserves to have a home on living room gaming machines.