The PlayStation games that need a modern remaster
2018 once again looks to be a year when the gaming classics of old get a makeover for a new generation. The likes of Crash Bandicoot and even PaRappa the Rapper got their HD renditions last year, and even the smallest of digs through the PS1’s deep library reveals there’s plenty more that deserve revivals too. Here’s a list of ten PlayStation games that could still cut it on today’s current-gen consoles.
Bust a Groove
A bit of a left-field first entry, considering the more ‘grown-up’ titles in this list – but a worthy one nonetheless.
As a genre, the dance-rhythm game continues to be a money-maker among teenyboppers and Hatsune Miku nuts everywhere. But it’s a corner of the market that continues to overlook one of the franchises that started it all: Enix’s Bust a Groove. Bust a Groove pitched its pulsating rhythm action gameplay as a fighting game, with characters representing all styles of dance music going head-to-head in dance-offs to determine the greatest mover of them all. With this being a Japanese game and all, naturally these characters — and their attacks — were pretty off-the-wall. From fast-food workers who could fling giant hamburgers at their opponents to Capoeira-grooving aliens, Bust a Groove‘s cast was colorful, hilarious and memorable for their daft personalities and songs.
A modern-day return would surely be welcomed by fans. Plus, with Enix now a part of Square, it also opens up the possibility for characters from Square’s own franchises to make an appearance too. Imagine if Cloud and Sephiroth could resolve their differences through breakdance? Actually, maybe not — that’s kinda weird.
Every moviegoer knows that Jurassic Park is officially a big franchise once again. Why then, has the same not happened for Dino Crisis? Capcom’s own send-up of dinosaurs run amok on a remote island may have borrowed most of its ideas from a certain accompanying title of theirs called Resident Evil. But thanks to a relentless sense of tension and some excellent jump scares, Dino Crisis was able to escape the shadow of its main inspiration and become a raptor-riffic survival horror in its own right. If Chris Pratt and company can make dinosaurs cool again for film, surely Capcom can do the same for video games and give us a full remaster. One condition stands though — they have to keep the 1999 version’s goofy voice acting intact.
Another long-overlooked classic. Destruction Derby from UK outfit Reflections Interactive was one of the PlayStation’s early launch titles. As its name suggests, it blended racing with fender-busting demolition derby action — and anyone who was lucky enough to play it would agree that it could be an insanely fun ride.
Despite some groundbreaking physics and a whole range of modes, its lack of universal critical acclaim, plus the sands of time itself, have likely contributed to its fade into obscurity. But if our modern age can bring us off-the-wall motorsport games like Rocket League, then there’s no better time for the return of this wreck n’ racing classic. Same goes for its signature track, The Bowl — a giant open arena designed purely for a last-driver-standing battle royale. Did someone mention online play?
Square Enix’s rampant success in the PlayStation era may have largely been down to the Final Fantasy franchise. But that doesn’t mean that the legendary RPG developers didn’t have room for a few other gems. Parasite Eve was a prime example of such. Focusing on the exploits of NYPD cop Aya Brea as she investigates — and then confronts – the emergence of a monster intent on destroying humanity via mass spontaneous combustion, Parasite Eve was an intriguing game even without the bonkers plot. This enduringly creepy survival body-horror stood out in the gameplay stakes as well, combining gun action with a solid RPG battle system. Couple all of that with a great soundtrack and a great lead heroine, and you have a prime candidate for a remaster. Maybe when Square is done flogging its Final Fantasy VII remake, they’ll get around to doing one.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Boxing games that last the test of time are as rare as hens’ teeth, as proven by the fact that Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! — a game from 1987 — is still talked about as a genre definer. But anyone who remembers the name Afro Thunder will know that the PlayStation had its own heavyweight capable of delivering a knockout punch — and a few laughs, too.
Midway’s Ready 2 Rumble Boxing had practically no licensing to speak of (aside from a cameo for legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer, who delivered the pre-fight introductions). But what it did have was tons of memorably goofy characters who brought their own outlandish style of pugilism to each and every bout. Thanks to its abundant sense of humor and furious combo-based gameplay, Ready 2 Rumble was the perfect solution for any bragging rights in need of settling — at least if a copy of Tekken 3 wasn’t on hand.
Silent Hill 1
No list of this kind would be complete without the first Silent Hill — a title that gave Konami a smash hit survival horror franchise and which, aside from the Shattered Memories semi-reboot in 2009, hasn’t been touched since. The lasting praise surrounding this first chapter is still prevalent today, and that’s no surprise. As a lasting masterpiece of psychological horror, its oppressive atmosphere, solid writing and unforgettable monster design made it as close as video games could get to movie art in the late ’90s.
Besides its enduring quality, a remaster could also be marked as a hopeful return to form for the series. Recent years have seen the series dedicate itself to mediocre follow-ups, and even Silent Hill 2 and 3 suffered poorly-received resurrections as part of the Silent Hill HD Collection. If that wasn’t bad enough, Konami have gone on to alienate the games’ fanbase further with the cancellation of Silent Hills in 2015. At this point, something drastic is needed to return the franchise to credibility. A well-made remaster for the game that started it all could certainly do just that.
There are two types of gamer in the world: those who regard Suikoden II as one of the greatest JRPGs ever made, and those who haven’t played it. Konami’s flagship series was defined by its main gimmick of requiring players to find and recruit a colossal 108 characters to fully complete each entry’s main story. But that wasn’t the only thing that made these games special. Gripping storylines packed full of political intrigue, an engaging magic system and tremendous world-building (each new installment added a new realm to the franchise’s world and timeline) are also good reasons why this long-forgotten franchise gained such a cult following. The second entry, focusing on two former best friends set on opposing sides of a bloody military invasion, is generally regarded as the pick of the bunch. And as a personal fan of this series, I can tell you — it’s absolutely criminal Konami haven’t even considered bringing it a modern audience.
While Konami’s sprawling Metal Gear franchise wasn’t the first to introduce modern stealth-based gameplay (save that for our next entry), it did turn it into an art form. Even so, in 1999 another challenger emerged that almost gave Solid Snake a run for his money (not to mention his cardboard box).
Syphon Filter didn’t feature the kind of plot histrionics that Metal Gear seemingly prides itself on. Nor did it ever get the sneaking part down perfectly. But its mix of frenetic third-person shooter play, pulp spy thriller-styled global espionage and memorable weapons (including a taser that could set hapless enemies on fire) made it a critically-acclaimed hit franchise. Its winning formula spawned three titles on the PS1, before subsequent, more mediocre entries on both Playstation 2 and PSP stalled the franchise to a halt. Time for a revival? Why not — especially when current global affairs are even more sensational than anything this saga used to conjure up.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Moody, bloody and as fun to play as it was challenging, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins was an absolute game changer. Acquire’s ninja action classic didn’t just bring great level design and brooding feudal Japanese atmospherics to the table; it can also be credited as being the first 3D stealth game. Such was the legacy of this milestone sneak ’em up that it would go on to spawn eight more titles — and not a single one of them could hold a candle to its genre-defining brilliance.
Revisiting Tenchu in the current day reveals that the fundamentals of its gameplay have definitely stood the test of time. But no good remaster should come without the mission editor featured in its sequel, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins. User-generated maps and mods would certainly be a welcome and essential feature for any worthwhile return.
Chances are if you picked up PlayStation demo discs back in the day, there was a good chance you played Tomba!. With its gaudy 2.5-D graphics and a deranged, pink-haired caveman for a main hero, it looked pretty much like every other platformer that saturated the PlayStation market at the time. But Tomba! was different. Instead of relying on the usual level-by-level side scrolling, it offered itself as a full open world which was there to just go out into and explore. As you discovered new areas, you could then perform new missions and find paths to other locations that were previously unreachable. How you went about your platforming business was entirely up to you. It was a fresh take on an overly-done genre, and with its madcap sense of humor and charm, it was an incredibly fun one too.
Sadly, because it had to compete with so many similar titles, Tomba! never got the sales or the recognition that it deserved, despite strong reviews from the gaming press. Even in an age when the indie game has revitalized the side scrolling platformer, a remaster is still unlikely — its lack of financial success even put its developer, Whoopee Camp, out of business. But we can still dream. After all, what kind of world is this if even Bubsy can get a modern remake?