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With the recent release, and subsequent purchase on my part, of Beyond Good and Evil HD (XBLA), the notion of other games deserving the high-def treatment sprang to mind.  We’ve seen games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and TMNT: Turtles in Time receive their updates, as well as Super Street Fighter II, but those games were very popular in their own time.  BG&E was the forgotten title, critically acclaimed and left for dead.  The HD redux was not only a way of promoting the series in hopes of getting the sequel off the ground, but it allowed the public to get its hands on a great under-the-radar game.

Following is a list of games that I think deserve their own HD remake.  Most of these games I could see as XBLA/PSN/WiiWare titles, but some (like Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy VI) could easily warrant a retail repackaging, a la Super Mario All-Stars.  Some of the titles just deserve to see a new day, perhaps their brilliance forgotten or never known to begin with.  What better way to do so than an HD remake, just like Beyond Good and Evil?

Secret of Mana

This SquareSoft gem for the SNES has already been re-released for the Virtual Console and iOS, though featuring the same native graphics from its 1993 release.  One of my favorite games ever, I have played this one to death, loving the artistic style of the game.  The Seiken Densetsu series has always been noted for its artistic style, and SoM (Seiken Densetsu 2) is no exception, with impressive sprites and wonderful coloring providing a terrific atmosphere for the game.  However, as you might imagine, 18 years of time gone by reveals a pixelated, blocky game that could use smoother textures and even more vibrance.

This game, already released on multiple platforms by SquareEnix in the last couple of years, would be perfect on XBLA and PSN.  The game’s story isn’t overly long, but it is lengthy enough, and rewarding.  The wheel menu system and real time battles provide for great gameplay, and the music is terrific.

Tons of vibrant colors, made for HD. The texturing is rough 18 years later, though.

Chrono Cross

The sequel to arguably the greatest game of all time, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross had its share of publicity and hype and sold fairly well when it was released for the Playstation in 1999.  The game was beautiful in its own right, and still stands up well to today’s standards.  But this game needs to be re-released, so why not go ahead and give it a makeover at the same time.  Chrono Trigger was re-released on the DS with improved regional translation and additional content, but the graphics were left alone.  Beautiful graphics they were and still are, I’d like to see CC receive a little more.

Beautiful game, but definitely room for improvement.

Despite a convoluted story, the game featured a terrific battle system, similar to Dragon Quest VIII’s (with the ‘psych up’ ability for a stronger attack) along with the elemental map affecting spell strength depending on the color.  The game also boasts 45 characters, all accessible by accomplishing different goals in the game, similar to the way the alternate endings worked in CT.  And the music for CC remains one of the best soundtracks ever compiled for a video game.

Other than the HD facelift, I request only one other addition:  incorporate more double-techs and triple-techs.  Certainly one of the more innovative parts of the first game, the sequel really missed the fun of finding new combos to pull off.  I realize that with 45 characters this is a tall order, but I certainly think it is worthwhile.

Forever Zero was Lynx's strongest move. Would make for a sweet double-tech.

Metroid II: Return of Samus

The Game Boy’s sequel to Metroid is largely forgotten these days.  A massive hit upon release, Nintendo has yet to re-release this game, despite a re-release AND remake of the original NES title.  It is the one game in the series that suffers visually because it was relegated to the GB’s black and white (no-) color scheme.  The Super Game Boy made the visuals slightly more palatable, but this game is good enough on its own merits that it deserves a remake.  A 480p WiiWare release would be ideal (actually, a TRUE high def release would be ideal, but since the Wii can’t handle that…).

The story is great, featuring Samus Aran going to the Metroid homeworld of SR-388 to completely eradicate the species (which is kind of an asshole move, when you think about it).  The ending leads to her finding a single Metroid hatchling, which sets up the story for Super Metroid and Other M.  Because it was on the Game Boy, the length of the game left more to be desired, opening the door for a remake in the vain of Metroid: Zero Mission, which not only revamped the NES Metroid’s graphics, but also added story and map area to the game.

Of course, were this title ever released, a digital-only version is highly unlikely.  In that case, I would definitely accept a 3DS port/remake.  You can skip on the “3D”, though, Nintendo.   Metroid doesn’t need to be saddled with any other stupid gimmicks (like motion controls).

Final Fantasy VI

Widely considered one of the greatest J-RPGs of all time, and rightfully so, Final Fantasy III (VI) has been remade before, released with some CG cutscenes as part of Final Fantasy Anthology (PS1) and on the Game Boy Advance with some additional content and slightly upgraded visuals.  The game is also about to be released on the Japanese VC, if rumors hold true.

A remake of this game seems like a no-brainer as Square-Enix has been going through the FF catalog and revamping previous iterations, releasing them on the DS and PSP.  On the other side of the coin, I can definitely see Square Enix  NEVER remaking this game because they know they can keep milking dollars and yen out of it just with a port to a new console.  The game’s popularity is so great that it drives sales alone, with or without enhanced visuals.  One can’t help but think, though, an HD remake would certainly draw in a new generation of gamers who may discount the greatness of the game due to its 17-year-old visuals.

Younger gamers would be wise not to misjudge the strength of FFVI based on its visuals.

And as a purist, please, if you do update the visuals, keep this game 2D.  People love the second dimension more than the video game industry gives them credit for.

Kefka: "Behold! I am evil AND two-dimensional!"

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

This list shows the apparent greatness of Square in the 90s, visually and in terms of gaming greatness.  This time we discuss the Square/Nintendo mash-up, Super Mario RPG.  Released near the end of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan, this game really showcased the graphical excellence that was capable of the greatest gaming console ever created.  The game was one of only seven games to utilize the Nintendo SA-1 chip, featuring faster RAM, bitmap-to-bitplane transfer, faster clock speed, and memory-mapping.  The results can be seen with screens like this:

Super Mario RPG, featuring the Nintendo SA-1 chip.

The likelihood of this game ever seeing anything more than its recent release on the Virtual Console is almost nonexistent.  Square and Nintendo are not exactly chummy anymore, only recently coming together to release subpar games like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.  Their relationship is strengthening though with releases on the DS, titles like Dragon Quest IX and the Chrono Trigger remake.  Between SquEnix’s support of Nintendo handhelds along with the two companies’ penchant for re-releasing old best-sellers there is hope yet.  And while the graphics certainly hold up, an HD remake of Super Mario: RPG would be a beautiful thing.  Less of a remake and more of a remaster for this classic.

Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is one of the quirkier action games of the 16-bit era.  Heavily-Japanese, which is certainly not a bad thing, the game was graphically very strong upon its release, enhanced by its art style.  It’s a game that embraces humor and features basic beat-em-up action, a clear inspiration to games like Castle Crashers.  That makes it perfect for XBLA and PSN.  High-def cel shading to emphasize the cartoon-style of the game, a $10 price point, and online co-op for two- or four-player action (which would require the addition of two more characters) is a recipe that would cook up quite nicely for Konami’s classic.  Not to mention the Ganbare Goemon series is HUGE in Japan.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but is Goemon fighting with a hash pipe?  A ninja with a hash pipe AND yo-yo inn his arsenal is not someone to take lightly.

It's not a hash pipe, it's a kiseru...which is a Japanese smoking pipe--possibly for hash.

Earthbound

I never played Earthbound, which is bad of me.  The game was always too expensive to buy and rarely available to rent, but I should have tried harder!  Now the game is even more expensive because it is rare, and despite the fact that Nintendo keeps using its characters in the Super Smash Bros. series, they refuse to re-release it.  Why isn’t this game on the Virtual Console?  Perhaps its because they are cooking up something special, perhaps a revamped version of Earthbound for the 3DS???

Like Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Earthbound epitomizes quirkiness, judging from everything I’ve seen and read.  The art is equal parts goofy and campy, but the graphics of the game are primitive at best.  The sprites are too small and the textures are plain.

But the game exudes visual potential, and why wouldn’t Nintendo release an updated version of Earthbound?  With the rumors of a sequel since the Nintendo 64 days, why not at least give the SNES title a shot of modernity and allow exposure to those who never had the chance or those who were just too young?

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

"Uh, excuse me, I ordered a Zima. Not emphysema."

Eternal Darkness was the most original survival-horror game I ever played.  The story was terrific and the gameplay focused more on staying sane in the face of insanity while shifting through time than it did battling the undead–though that was involved, too.  Before Silicon Knights crapped out Too Human, this was their legacy, but because it was released on the Gamecube during the days of PS2 supremacy it didn’t receive the hype it deserved.

Eternal Darkness also featured limb targeting, a crude version of Fallout's V.A.T.S.

Do the visuals really need HD?  Not really; the graphics still hold up OK.  But so did the graphics of BG&E, and its visual enhancements was the icing on the cake in terms of its remake.  Eternal Darkness deserves another shot at life, and quite honestly, a sequel of some sort.  Because before Scarecrow was messing with your mind and causing panic with a fake game glitch in Arkham Asylum, Eternal Darkness was throwing fake reset screens and phantom volume control of your TV.  Classic, mind-bending shit.

"If I don't light the candle, who will?!"

Star Fox Adventures

Another GC game that may have fallen by the wayside, largely because it was such a jump from the series’ strength, was Star Fox Adventures, made by Rare.  Originally designed as Dinosaur Planet, Rare and Nintendo decided to rebrand the game using Fox McCloud as the main protagonist instead of the originally-planned Sabre. This game also has the dubious honor of being Rare’s last game with Nintendo, having been bought by Microsoft shortly thereafter.

"I'm not even supposed to be here today."

SFA features classic Rare goodness: a solid platform adventure with good voice acting and production value.  Plus, like Rare games in the olden days, it was just fun.  It was disappointing that the game featured no Arwing action, but considering it wasn’t built as a Star Fox game to begin with, it makes sense.

Fox McCloud: pilot.

Star Fox Adventures sold its copies, largely because it was a shortly-after-launch title for the Gamecube.  It received criticisms, though, due to the fact that it was essentially a partial palette-swap, super-imposing Fox McCloud into a game featuring nothing to do with Star Fox.  Perhaps this kept the game from getting a fair shake.  I know!  Rare could remake it and Microsoft could release on XBLA!

"That fox doesn't even belong here! Come on!"

Donkey Kong (GB)

Donkey Kong was redux’d, if you will, on the Game Boy Original back in ’94.  It featured the first four levels of the arcade classic, then added on a whole shit-ton more.  It should also be noted that this is the most addictive puzzle/platform game I’ve ever played.  Period.

More colors needed. MORE!

The game controlled perfectly, and somehow, managed to look great despite the Game Boy’s colorless, powerless shackles.  The game was released amidst the hoopla of the Donkey Kong Country craze, and I can assure you this title far exceeds any Donkey Kong iteration EVER produced.  It deserves to be played on a 52″ LED TV at 480p.

Crystalis

Played Crystalis for the NES?  Why not?  This game was considered a cult hit in its hey-day, an action-RPG that blended both elements together quite seamlessly.  It was remade for the Game Boy Color ten years after its release, and since its been ten(plus) more years, why not remake it again.  This one I could see being remade as a 3D, full-fledged retail seller, a 3DS title much like Square-Enix did with Final Fantasy III for the DS.  It’s got a story steeped in post-apocalyptic, nuclear war, an evil empire trying to hamper the progression of the human race, elemental swords, and amnesia.  What more are you looking for?  Remake this, then make a sequel.

Obviously...

Maniac Mansion

One of my favorite things springing up in this generation?  Why, its the renaissance of the point-and-click adventure, of course.  Thank you, Secret of Monkey Island!  What better game to continue the trend than one that helped fuel the fire of so many great LucasArts games:  Maniac Mansion.

I don’t know how I ended up with it, but I had Maniac Mansion for the NES growing up and LOVED IT.  You might think an 8-year-old wouldn’t have the attention span or give-a-shit attitude to play a point-and-click, especially using a D-pad instead of a mouse, but it happened.

I’ve got to think this game is on its way with a full HD makeover.  What with the aforementioned Isla de Mono, the fabulous Sam & Max series, the recent releases of Back to the Future, and the future releases of Jurrasic Park,  Maniac Mansion and its sequel, Day of the Tentacle, should almost certainly be just over the horizon.  The genius of Ron Gilbert will once again be proven…

The Goonies II

So apparently The Goonies is staring down a Hollywood reboot.  Beyond the general onslaught of promotionals that are sure to come with this atrocious idea, why not re-release a true NES gem: The Goonies II?

'Welcome here', he says.

The Goonies II–a sequel to a game North Americans never saw–was excellent, and no one knows why.  That’s just how games used to roll on the NES; they could be licensed and still be good.  Ever play Gremlins 2? I rest my case.  Anyway, The Goonies II was part platformer, part dungeon-crawling point-and-click.  It featured a sprawling world that used doors and tunnels to lead towards other areas of the game where the Goonies are imprisoned.  It’s then your job, as Mikey, to free Annie, who is a mermaid incarcerated within a tank of water.  I still don’t know why.

Two games on this list featuring the yo-yo as a weapon. The Smothers Brothers would be unstoppable.

This is also the game that introduced to the world: “Ouch!  What do you do?”  Just another example of hilarious translation in video games.  So upon the HD re-release of this game, Konami would be most wise to leave the translation ALONE.  It’s perfect already, because laughter is funny.

Classic.

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6 Comments

  1. avatar James says:

    I can’t argue with a single thing on this list especially SoM and Eternal Darkness. Hell, with Mana, an HD re-release would be a perfect excuse to include Seiken Densetsu 3 and silence my 12 year old self’s eternal screams of torture when he was told we’d be getting Secret of Evermore instead.

    The only things I could think to add to this would be HD re releases of every top down Zelda game ever made. Link’s Awakening in full color and HD? My windfish just woke up.

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  2. avatar Dave says:

    I was **this** close to including The Legend of Zelda from the NES on my list. Funny, though, that Link’s Awakening didn’t even occur to me. It was a most-excellent game and would have totally made my list had I remembered.

    Good call on SD3, by the way. I was always jonesing for that one myself. Secret of Evermore is OK, but it definitely lacks the SoM charm I was looking for.

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  3. avatar Wes says:

    I agree with everything on the list with the exception of Earthbound. Though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see it re-made in HD and potentially grab a new audience, it is perfect the way it is. There is something comforting about those blocky, pixelated sprites. Feels like home.

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  4. […] the recent trend of remakes, all in the name of HD, cropping up.  Firstly, to make myself clear, I like the idea of HD remakes on certain games–those that never saw the appropriate amount of attention over the years or […]

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