This week we're asking you to imagine you're a top games producer who's been charged with giving a full HD makeover to any game you see fit. It could be a classic 8-bit game, or even something a little more recent. Whatever it is, it'd be lovingly crafted by a top team of game makers to be a nigh on perfect remaster of the original - with spiffy new graphics, polished gameplay and awesome sound.
So with that in mind, which game would you choose for this deluxe treatment? While you think about it, here are the titles the USgamer team would love to see fully remastered in this fashion.
Besides the obvious fact that Final Fantasy XII is the only numbered chapter of the long-running RPG series that has yet to be released for HD systems or current handhelds, there's also the fact that its late arrival on PlayStation 2 caused it to go somewhat overlooked. Not only that, but FFXII is by far the most contemporary-feeling of Final Fantasy games; its free-roaming, open-world, semi-automated combat design went over poorly a decade ago, but these days it's exactly what everyone is doing with their blockbuster games. Final Fantasy XV has spanned a decade, two names, two directors, and two consoles trying to reinvent the wheel that FFXII built so adeptly as a matter of course.
To top it off, an HD conversion of the game would be relatively painless to enact, as such things go. The game's art director delivered a postmortem presentation at Game Developers Conference in which he revealed that most of FFXII's assets, such as textures, were all created at ultra-high resolutions and resampled to standard definition. In other words, the data for HD versions of the game already exists! I mentioned this to series overlord Yoshinori Kitase a couple of years ago and he looked a bit sheepish, like I'd called his bluff or something.
Anyway, I would love to see an overhaul of FFXII for the current generation of consoles. They wouldn't have to change much (maybe the end game sequence could use some tweaking…), and even so the game would feel incredibly fresh and contemporary. That's the thing about creating something so far ahead of its time… sometimes you need to let time catch up with it. I figure a decade is plenty of time.
My pick probably seems like a really weird one considering I can choose pretty much any game in history, but hear me out. What I particularly love about EA's golf games from the early to mid 90's is their deceptively simple gameplay: They're incredibly easy to pick up and play, but challenging to truly master. PGA European Tour's controls are beautifully tuned, so that despite there only being three button presses to drive the ball, the timing required to pull off a perfect shot is challenging enough to make them quite a rarity - but isn't so difficult that you constantly shank the ball. Instead, you end up with shots that have a very natural feel about them, which makes the game really enjoyable and rewarding to play, and delivers par scores that feel very close to the real thing.
Of course, the obvious question is - why don't I just play one of the more modern PGA Golf games? To be blunt, that's the issue here. I don't really enjoy them that much: They feel complex and over-engineered to me, and that's the reason why I'd love to remaster PGA European Tour. Being able to play a brilliant-looking golf game with the sort of easy-to-use, but finely-tuned arcade-type controls, and the kind of fun courses that PGA European Tour packs is exactly what I want from a golf game. Especially if it also featured online play.
For me, playing multiplayer was one of the main draws of the early PGA games, and they became a regular weekend fixture for the group of friends that used to gather together to play at my house. After we'd finished with the likes of Super Mario Kart, and we wanted something a little more sedate, we'd boot up a PGA golf game. Thanks to those great controls, games were always close, and that made competition really fierce. Indeed, some of my fondest multiplayer gaming memories stem from the mid 90's, playing games like PGA Tour Golf. I'd love the chance to recapture that with a modern version of the classic game.
I searched my soul and ultimately decided on Phantom Dust, since it doesn't seem like we're getting a sequel or reboot anytime soon. Back in 2005, Microsoft was taking chances with the first Xbox and one of those chances was this unique little puzzle game.
Imagine a competitive card game, but played out in an action game. Players put together random decks of abilities and they draw "cards" by touching certain orbs on the battlefields. It's not just your deck that matters, it's also your ability to use cover, and psych out your enemy. It's one of the most unique games I've ever played and it still has not seen a sequel. Hell, it hasn't even seen a spiritual successor, which is a damn shame.
I'd prefer a title that updates the basic conceit for modern consoles and online play; Phantom Dust was rather early in the whole "Xbox Live" thing and it's far easier to jump into online play now. A full graphical upgrade with full environmental destruction and improved netcode, would be swell. Hell, as I've said before, Phantom Dust would fit well with the current free-to-play trend, given that the point of the game is building decks from random ability packs.
Either way, Microsoft needs to bring this gem back.
My first thought was, "Valkyrie Profile!" Those sprites would look so good in high-definition. But I have a game that I'd like to see remastered even more: Persona 3.
Persona 3 is a great game, but it's been overshadowed by Persona 4 in part because it doesn't have a truly definitive version. Persona 3 FES - an update featuring a new postgame quest - is great, but it's hampered by the fact that you can't control your party; and of course, it's in standard definition. Persona 3 Portable, meanwhile, is hurt by the limitations of the PSP, forcing it down to static menus and making it seem more like a visual novel than a full-blooded RPG.
It's a shame because both of these versions have merit. FES has its aforementioned postgame quest, and Portable lets you play as a female character. I would love to see these extras come together in one, big ultimate high-definition release for the PlayStation 4 and Vita. With Persona 5 on the way and interest in the series at an all-time high, now is the perfect time.
Until that happens, though, Persona 3 FES is going to continue to be overshadowed by its more modern successors. Hopefully that will be rectified eventually; but in the meantime, you can at least download it from PSN for your PS3 and Vita. It's not a perfect solution; but right now, it's all we've got.
While a whole lot of other games would really benefit from a visual overhaul and improved performance, I landed on my choice almost entirely to make it playable on modern consoles. Want to play Katamari Damacy? Hope you held onto your PlayStation 3. And what about its great sequel, We Love Katamari? Well, you may want to start digging through your closet for a PlayStation 2, because Bandai-Namco never released a digital version in the nearly five years they could have. It's an outright tragedy that these two fantastic and wholly unique games are locked behind old technology, so all I ask for is a simple Katamari 1 and 2 bundle. And don't worry about special features: Just make it widescreen and 60 FPS, but preserve the lo-fi, low-poly charm. I just want to be able to play these things without the accompaniment of an ancient console buzzing and whirring away the final hours of its life.
Super Mario 64 is inarguably one of the most influential video games of all time -- and yet we’ve not seen any kind of remake, barring the ambitious (if a little clumsy) Nintendo DS launch title that many of us skipped on because of the handheld’s lack of an analogue stick.
I wouldn’t mind if Super Mario 64 DS was upgraded into HD, but I’d also be fine with the basic game alone getting the treatment. This is hard to explain, but it feels like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time received a significant upgrade with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. A bigger, denser adventure was built around Ocarina’s core mechanics, and as a consequence I rarely feel the need to go back to Ocarina of Time.
But Mario 64 lacks that kind of immediate successor. Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube gave it a try, but the lack of variety in its environments kept it from feeling like a true upgrade. And Super Mario Galaxy, while brilliant, is a universe away from Mario’s first 3D adventure.
That’s not to say Super Mario 64 doesn’t hold up anymore. It’s still hugely satisfying to explore the game’s lofty clouds and darkest caves. Super Mario 64 is a borderline miracle of game engineering, but great feats become even greater when the story is dusted off, shined up, and told to another generation.
Of course, if Nintendo wants to give us an HD collection of the Super Mario Galaxy games too, I ain’t gonna complain.