Video games are a multi-billion-dollar industry with no end in sight. Looking back, the purported video game crash of the early ’80s feels like ancient history. Gamers are found in all ages, from the OG arcade player that has remained faithful for decades, to the young gamers just discovering the original Super Mario Brothers. Regardless of your introduction to gaming, the industry has remained strong for so long that it has reached a unique point: video games have been around long enough to have classics. But unlike Hollywood remakes, fans are receptive to taking the classics out of the vault. Whether we get a remake, remaster, or full-fledged sequel, we welcome the opportunity to revisit the classics.
Mario 3-D all-stars, the Final Fantasy 7 remake, and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time are proof that a franchise is never genuinely dead or forgotten, merely waiting in the wings for a strong come back. Adult fans are joyous to relive their gaming moments from yesteryear, and younger audiences are introduced to some of gaming’s best series. With that in mind, here are 10 video games in desperate need of a remake.
In the early 2000s, gladiators were all the rage in Hollywood following the colossal success of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Game developers weren’t immune to this love affair either, and that’s how we got Gladius. Other titles were looking to profit off the surging trend (*cough* Shadow of Rome). To our surprise, Gladius stood out, not for its massive hack and slash combat, but for approaching gladiatorial battle as a tactical role-playing game. If you’ve played Mutant Year Zero or Gears Tactics, you get the gist.
As outside of the box as the decision may seem, the tactical style works. The various combatants in a coliseum or arena would serve as class types, including animals. The arena’s tone and feel remained intact, while the stratagem of battle would require genuine consideration. A few slight tweaks to the tactics side of things, buffed graphics, and a potentially more nuanced camera, and we have a fresh new Gladius on our hands.
Nintendo rarely lets its most beloved games remain dormant for years, but Kid Icarus feels like an afterthought for the gaming giant. Dating back to the days of the original NES, several versions have reached consoles and handhelds throughout the years, but each new iteration rarely has the original’s effect. Kid Icarus Uprising’s on the 3DS awkward controls left something to be desired.
Despite some unpleasant outings, if anyone can refresh a franchise for a new generation, it’s Nintendo. Just look at what they did with the Metroid series. Imagine an open world like Breath of the Wild, with floating dungeons and both grounded and aerial combat; Kid Icarus could become a Nintendo staple along the lines of Mario and Zelda.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Frankly speaking, it is difficult to gauge the reception a new Conker’s Bad Fur Day might get with a new release. The game pulled out all the stops in terms of unpolitical correctness or accounting for delicate sensibilities. A new iteration, if faithful to the spirit of the original, would unquestionably be divisive. But it would, without a doubt, make a huge splash in the pop culture zeitgeist. I, for one, want to see what happens.
Bad Fur Day follows the titular Conker, an anthropomorphic squirrel with more in common with Frank Gallagher from Shameless than Super Mario. Bad Fur Day is a platformer featuring the tactless Conker on a quest to return home to Berri, his girlfriend, after an indulgent night of drinking. The story and missions are set within a hub world that grants access to various 3D open worlds. Missions are fairly linear in nature, but the simple yet engrossing gameplay combined with a tone and story that eschews platformer expectations, works quite well.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day has reached cult-like status. Nintendo released the title towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s console life cycle with minimal advertising and even less fanfare. Still, there was enough critical praise to appeal to gamers looking for something…outside the box, and that’s what they got. Slowly but surely, the title garnered praise and a fanbase all its own. Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s profanity-laden dialogue, pop culture satire, and boundary-pushing humor found its way into gamer’s hearts.
Jade Empire was a rare feather in Xbox’s cap. Developed by BioWare, Jade Empire can be likened to the Knights of the Old Republic series. However, rather than being tied down to a universe with a rabid fanbase, Jade Empire is set in an ancient China-like setting, drawing heavily from Chinese mythology.
Players took control of a Spirit Monk set on a journey to save your master – the aptly titled Master Li – from a corrupt emperor. As paint by numbers as it seems, the game was a breath of fresh air and a revelation upon release. Dialogue options were morality-based, and your choices influenced the story itself and subsequent gameplay.
A greater focus was placed on real-time combat, presenting a stark contrast from KOTR. A variety of combat styles could be used, each with timing and a range of motion that provided a welcome variety to taking out foes. For its time, the physics and character animations were a joy to experience.
Despite critical acclaim and mostly positive reviews, Jade Empire failed to move units. It’s unfortunate to see that considering the combat system, story, world building, and a standout musical score, makes Jade Empire a gem of a title. With western fans more receptive to RPGs than ever, I have little doubt that if done right Jade Empire can come back stronger than ever.
It boggles my mind to think about how long Nintendo has allowed this franchise to sit on the shelf. Every time I see Captain Falcon in Smash Brothers, it serves as a harsh reminder of the game we once knew all too well but seems awkwardly distant today. It’s like seeing an ex-girlfriend every time I want a Smash Bros. fix.
Debuting on the Super Nintendo System in 1990, the futuristic racer garnered praise from critics and fans alike. The series bolstered unique characters, settings, original music and pushed the SNES to its 16-bit limits. As wonderful as the aesthetic and ambiance were, the pure sense of speed and adrenaline appealed to racing fans. Saying F-Zero was challenging is an understatement, but that was simply part of the appeal. Sometimes, it’s entertaining to take punishment, Dark Souls fans can relate.
Many sequels were produced up to 2004, with multiple developers taking a crack at the formula. But 16 years is far too long to wait for a follow up.
1997 saw the original release of Bushido Blade on the PlayStation. The 3D fighter focused on 1-on-1 armed combat, but rather than rely on the tried-and-true mechanics of a life bar and time limit, Bushido Blade concentrated on a body damage system. Strike an enemy through the heart, and they can die immediately. However, not every blow is fatal. You can cripple opponents incrementally, damaging limbs and limiting their movement and agility. Attack an opponent’s leg and watch in glee as your enemy hobbles in pain. Bushido Blade touted a motion shift system that focused on high, neutral, and low attacks. Today, many titles have iterated the mechanic, ratcheting up the complexity with welcome results. Give For Honor a run, and Bushido Blade’s influence is immediately felt.
The word “Bushido” refers to the Japanese warrior code of honor. In a genuinely inventive take on the warrior creed, Bushido Blade allows cheating but penalizes players. Although limited in scope, players can lose their progress in single-player mode for dishonorable acts such as throwing dust in a foe’s eyes or striking from behind, which admittedly, I did all too often during versus mode. Every battle is seeping with tension, forcing players to calculate their every move and navigate the environment to manipulate the fight.
The current resurgence of fighting games aligned with the continued success of esports makes this a no-brainer. With the power of the current generation of consoles and PCs, developers can work wonders with the base game design Bushido Blade has to offer.
The elevator pitch for Dino Crisis is simple; Resident Evil meets Jurassic Park. Instead of sluggish, plodding zombies, and the confined hallways of Resident Evil, you got nimble dinosaurs with predatory hunting skills and 3D environments.
The horror was still there, but the jump scares and the eerie tone are replaced with knowing low position on the food chain. Marketed as “panic horror” by Capcom, director Shinji Mikami sought to create complex A.I. for the dinosaurs. If we’re honest, the hardware at the time limited what the dinosaurs were capable of, but the enemies posed huge threats that still had your heart in your throat as you played.
It’s fair to think that with all the remake love Capcom has been giving the Resident Evil franchise over the past few years, Dino Crisis is sure to get the same treatment. Right? Well…not so fast. Early in 2020, reports suggest that Capcom canceled a new Dino Crisis game they had in the works, but never say never. After all, this is Capcom, the studio known for making 15 versions of the same game, with shiny new additions and costumes to match. But hope remains. If the recent success of the Resident Evil revivals is any indication, Dino Crisis could be back in production with a little luck and fan nudging.
Power Stone would be just as much of a success today as it was back in 1999, if not more. Power Stone is a 3D arena fighter beat-em-up that features fast paced action combined with the environmental strategy and well, Power Stones. Think of Power Stone as having Super Smash Brothers‘ frenetic pace but with two players and a three-quarters top-down view. The joy of Power Stone is its top notch fighting components in conjunction with a diverse roster and wholly unique setting.
Set in a steampunk inspired Victorian world, Power Stone featured detailed backstories for its characters. Not only were the characters inspired, but the environments — a character unto itself — took from the Edwardian universe as well. The roster was funny, weird, and each power-up was distinct enough to incentivize players to try every character. But at its core, Power Stone’s unpredictable match style was its standout element.
Instead of specialist knowledge of button combos and attacks, each character had relatively simple base moves: punch, kick, and jump. The strategy came into play with the environments. Each level was littered with objects (guns, chairs, lampposts, etc.) that would break after some use. Then there are the ostensible Power Stones. The first player to collect three stones would be granted special abilities for a limited time, transforming them into powered-up versions of themselves.
Essentially, Power Stone was simple enough for new players to have a fighting chance but detailed enough to provide deep strategy into each round. Every fight was a battle of wits and calculated use of one’s surroundings. Super Smash Bros has a dominant place in the pro-gaming sector for its indelible game style. It only makes sense for a new Power Stone to cozy up in a similar position. Add an eight-player option, allow today’s new generation of machines to bolster the frame rate and graphics, and you have a sure-fire hit on your hands. Who’s down for a crowdsource on this one?
Mark of Kri
When lush animation, a fresh approach to gameplay, and a unique intellectual property come together, you get The Mark of Kri. Sony is known for creating first-party titles that take chances; luring gamers to the console like moths to a flame. In the early 2000s the Mark of Kri resonated with fans willing to give a nascent game a chance.
The Mark of Kri’s plot was heavy on the tropes but set the stage for a game that shines through brilliant gameplay. Its innovative mechanics would fit right at home in the modern era. Mark of Kri follows Rau Utu on his mission to take vengeance upon the The Dark One, an evil mage thought long dead. When a cult seeks to resurrect the Dark One, Rau is set on a path to stop the resurrection and save his village. Along the way is Kuzo, Rau’s raven companion that equally served both the plot and the games mechanics.
Rather than your typical hack and slash, each level is overcome with a diverse approach to combat, stealth, and situational awareness. Each stage presented new scenarios to tackle with a variety of methodologies. Before Batman Arkham series popularized the ability to brawl multiple characters, there was the Mark of Kri. With a flick of the right joystick, enemies would be mapped to a face button, allowing Rau to attack a particular foe at a whim. The title’s novelty came from Sony’s thoughtful approach to its control system, the left stick controlled Rau, while the right stick was used to map enemies. Even while concealed, the careful mapping could allow Rau to pounce a group of unaware opponents, taking out the entire squad in a fluid motion of graceful assassination. Attacks can range from pummels and throws to chokes and slashing depending on Rau’s proximity to a foe. Kuzo would provide a bird’s eye view, literally and metaphorically, providing insightful intel to Rau like a modern-day drone.
With so much going for the franchise, it’s hard to determine precisely what went wrong for the Mark of Kri. But, the best guess is the lack luster sequel that failed to resonate with gamers. It boggles the mind to think of all the games that have inundated fans with copy and paste sequels in the past, yet somehow, a game worthy of another shot at glory remains untapped. It would be a shame for the Mark of Kri to remain in the recesses of gaming history.
Dark Cloud 2
Looking back, PS2 has almost as many titles tied to fond gaming memories as Nintendo, and that’s saying something. Among them is 2003’s action role-playing game, Dark Cloud 2, the spiritual successor to the original, with new characters and an original story. What remained were the basic gameplay mechanics that are the series biggest draw.
Max, a young inventor from a small town and his companion Monica must stop the malevolent Emperor Griffin from destroying the world. Together, Max and Monica must alter the past to change a desolate future. The most compelling aspect of Dark Cloud 2 is its ability to blend a multitude of mechanics to form a complex, yet satisfyingly cohesive experience. Battles in Dark Cloud 2 are done in real-time with hack and slash techniques, including a lock-on system familiar to Zelda fans. But at its core, Dark Cloud 2 is an RPG through and through. The best way to summarize Dark Cloud 2 is as an action-adventure world-builder.
A good portion of Dark Cloud 2 is spent traversing procedural generated dungeons, but everything you collect in the dungeons serves a purpose. As fun as all that proves to be, It’s the town building feature and the unique invention system that defines the series. Intuitive, yet intricate, Dark Cloud 2 allows players to build towns from materials picked up in dungeons. Players would spend hours designing and obtaining materials to rebuild the world destroyed by Emperor Griffin.
Yet, the most innovative feature is how ideas are generated to build almost everything. After taking pictures of various objects, you can then use the images to create a new idea card for an invention. Nearly everything in the world can be used as an element for an idea. For example, a picture of a book, fountain, and work crane forms the idea/design for a steel gun.
Take the best elements from an action-adventure game, a pinch of The Sims, combined with a dose of intricate weapon systems and a touch of anime-style cell shading, and you get Dark Cloud 2. Am I gushing? I think I am gushing, but I can’t help but miss my time with Dark Cloud 2. Japanese game developer Level-5 has a lot on their plate for pending titles, but I cannot help but wonder why a new Dark Cloud isn’t one of them.