Editorial: FINAL FANTASY VII, GOLDENEYE 007, NHL ’94 and Other Video Games That Should Get HD Remakes

     October 1, 2012

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From the PlayStation One on down, consoles were not made for the modern era.  HDTVs have overtaken the market, and if you try hooking your Super Nintendo up to your HDTV, it’s not going to look great.  It will still be playable, but there will be crappy lines running across the picture.  Sure, Nintendo has been re-releasing every single game they’ve ever made (not with an HD upgrade, but you can still get plenty of their games on the Virtual Console; I’ve been tempted to buy a Wii simply so I could play Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars again), but there are plenty of third-party titles that will likely never find their way onto the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.  These games will gather dust, and that’s a damn shame.

Hit the jump for the games I think deserve an HD remake.

xbmc-games-screenshotBefore I begin, a couple notes:

1.) I am aware that a solution would simply be to buy a big CRT television.  But I don’t have a huge apartment, and even if I did, it seems odd to cordon off some space just so I can have one TV devoted solely to playing old games.

2.) I know I could also emulate these games, but I like paying money for things I support.  Just because someone isn’t giving me the thing I want right this very moment, it doesn’t give me the right to simply take it for free.  Also, I don’t know how to do it short of putting $200 into building an XBMC.

I am a fan of ports and remakes.  I like having new games with a nice HD upgrade, achievements, saved to a hard drive, and maybe a new feature or two.  For instance, Jet Set Radio, NiGHTS into Dreams, and Beyond Good and Evil have gotten a next-gen re-release, and Okami HD is on the way next month.  But plenty of games will never see this kind of love.  You almost have to be a cult game to really get this kind of attention, although we’ve recently seen HD collections for Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid (although there’s no HD remake for the first Metal Gear Solid, which is unfortunate since it’s easily the best one in the franchise*).  Still, fans continue to clamor for a couple games that were among the best their respective consoles had to offer:

GoldenEye 007 and Final Fantasy VII

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It doesn’t matter how many times fans complain: there’s no GoldenEye 007 or Final Fantasy VII HD re-release on the way.  GoldenEye makes some sense since it’s tied up with the Bond license, so it’s more complicated.  If you want to feel really sad about not getting an HD GoldenEye 007, look at a copy of Perfect Dark Zero and then sigh loudly.  It’s even more depressing when game designers attempt to pray on that nostalgia with weak substitutes like the one released for the Wii back in 2010, and PS3/360 last year.

But the fact that there’s no Final Fantasy VII HD on the way is staggering.  Square-Enix has responded to the demand saying that they would basically have to build the game from scratch due to the difficulty of rendering elements like locations in HD.  To which I and many other fans would respond: THEN BUILD IT FROM SCRATCH.  Or to put it another way:

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Maybe instead of making crappy new Final Fantasy games, go back to the best one you ever made (I will entertain arguments that Final Fantasy VI is the best in the series, but I will not agree with it).  There’s an HD remake of Final Fantasy X on the way, so that’s not too bad.

I continue to keep hope alive that Square-Enix will one day realize that they could print money by remaking Final Fantasy VII.  Then again, Square-Enix CEO Yoichi Wada recently said they’ll only make Final Fantasy VII HD when they’ve made a game better than Final Fantasy VII.  In other words, they will never make Final Fantasy VII HD.  I’ve also read that doing so would “kill the franchise” as if crappy new Final Fantasy games weren’t doing that already.

I also have to come to peace with the fact that the following games will probably never receive some update love.  Yes, there’s nostalgia on my part, but I don’t care.  I loved these games, but they were somewhat obscure, partially due to the fact that they were licensed games and licensed games are almost always terrible (they’re rushed tie-ins designed to coincide with a film’s release).  But here’s a list of games I wish would be remade so I could play them on my HDTV:

007: Agent Under Fire

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[Yes, I know this is from PlayStation 2/Xbox/Gamecube era; it could still use an HD remake] Keep your GoldenEye 007 (mostly because I’m terrible at it).  This game was amazing if you knew how to tweak the multiplayer settings.  Getting through the single-player campaign was a grind, but it was necessary if you wanted to unlock the cool stuff for multiplayer.  And the multiplayer was amazing because of what it offered.

There was something called the “Q-Claw”, which allowed you to fire out a grappling hook to latch on to just about any surface.  So basically, you became Spider-Man.  Then, you could tweak movement speed.  You could make it so you could run incredibly fast, but then you could tweak air born speed to move super slowly.

So imagine you’re running towards your opponent.  You’re both moving ridiculous fast.  You jump up to get the edge because then everything will slow down.  Of course, your opponent is thinking the same thing.  So you’re rushing towards your opponent, firing your guns like crazy, you jump in the air, and then everything goes slow-mo.  Remind you anything?

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There’s also an awesome level where the goal is to protect a diplomat.  You’re dueling snipers: one player is trying to gun down the diplomat before he boards a train, and the other is trying to protect the diplomat by looking at the building across the train tracks to find the enemy.  It’s really tense.  Of course, you could always say screw it, jump the train tracks, rush into the other building, and try to kill your opponent at short range.  Does Call of Duty: Black Ops have this gameplay mode?  No, Call of Duty: Black Ops does not have this mode.  It has zombies.  Whoop-di-fucking-doo.

The Lion King and Aladdin for Super Nintendo

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Again, the licenses will make sure HD remakes never happen even though Disney has its own video game studio now.  But these games were really fun and ridiculously tough.  Do you remember when games were difficult?  When health bars didn’t recharge, and you couldn’t save any time you wanted?  Remember when you thought you were making progress and a level absolutely destroyed you?  If you ever beat Battletoads, you are a champion whose deed is deserving of songs to be sung from here until the end of time.  I don’t know what the game looks like past Level 3.  (Battletoads isn’t on this list because you probably played it, and I can see it getting remade one day).

The Lion King and Aladdin weren’t quite as difficult as Battletoads, but they were definitely a challenge.  Still, they had nice level diversity, they looked terrific for the time when they were released, and I can only imagine what animators could do with them today.  I’m not just talking about cel-shading.  Look at the incredible animation for the indie game Dust: An Elysian Tail:

If Disney wants to do 3D re-releases for their movies, then they should do HD remakes for those respective games.  Clearly, I have no problem telling studios how to spend lots of money to make things I want.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run and Super Nintendo/Genesis NHL Games

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No single athlete in a team sport gets their own licensed game anymore.  I like to imagine Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run takes place in some alternate universe.  Like one day Ken Griffey Jr. was strolling down the street on the way to buy some ice cream, and then a portal opens up, and he’s sucked inside.  When he wakes up, he realizes he’s the only baseball superstar in the world, and now he plays on teams where players have names like Motor Martino and Big Magoo.   As a baseball game, I’ll admit it’s not extraordinary, but it’s a solid entry.  It’s also very simple to play as opposed to something like MLB: The Show which requires a series of carefully timed button presses to effectively swing the bat.

Then there are EA’s NHL games.  The current crop of NHL games might be great.  I’ve never played them.  But the 16-bit games are classics where we can argue about which system and which year was the best.  Can you make little Gretzky’s head bleed in the current generation NHL games?  No, you cannot.

Game designers want us to fall in love with a bazillion features, but there’s something to be said for simplicity.  I suppose it’s nice that we can have a hundred different plays and rosters at our disposal, or if we want to live the dream of being a general manager, we can do that too**.  Sports games used be pick-up-and-play, and now they’ve become exclusive to the real game’s die-hard fans who also played the last iteration.  But isn’t it more important that we can get together with some friends, pick up a couple controllers, and everyone knows how to play within the first five minutes?  Keep it simple, make it pretty, and let’s bash open little Gretzky’s head.

So what games do you think deserve HD remakes so they can be brought into current generation gaming?  Sound off in the comments section.

*Please tell me how Snake Eater is awesome.  I know I sure loved spending half the game inside the menu system changing my outfits.

**All owner/general manager modes should force the player to watch every game from a box seat perspective.  You can then answer calls in the middle of the game, impress people, and order food.  If we’re going to be realistic, then don’t half-ass it.

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