PS2 RPG HD Collections We'd Like To See
The PS2 era was a blast for role-playing game fans. We were inundated with RPGs, making it nigh impossible to keep up with every release. Unfortunately, the console RPG market hasn't been the same due to the high development costs on newer, more powerful consoles. Not all is lost, though. In the past year or so, some HD RPG remakes have hit the market, giving fans a chance to experience some of their old favorites, like the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster and Tales of Symphonia Chronicles. That got us thinking about other franchises that would benefit from the treatment of enhanced graphics, extra content, and other bonuses in a collection. Sometimes going back to your favorites is just what you need to remind you why you fell in love with the games in the first place.
These are our picks for PS2 games ripe for HD treatment.
Monolith Soft's Xenosaga took us on a turbulent, sci-fi journey that dealt with much larger issues than just an outbreak of a deadly force called Gnosis. The story held plenty of surprises, but the real draw was its unique cast, especially the bond between engineer Shion Uzuki and her creation KOS-MOS, an armored gynoid. All three games explored plenty of religious and philosophical concepts, such as the fear of death and what our existence means. All these thought-provoking premises come together wonderfully in one stellar arc with a satisfying conclusion. Reliving it all in an HD upgrade would be exciting...plus, HD is the only way to watch those hours and hours of cutscenes.
Shadow Hearts introduced us to the brash, yet charismatic Yuri Hyuga and his quest to protect exorcist Alice Elliot. The series has kooky characters, plenty of Lovecraftian-inspired horror, and a unique take on historical figures and events. Each game gets progressively more outlandish and comical, but still pulls at the heartstrings with some intense character relationships and sacrifices. The Shadow Hearts games aren't easy to find, and being able to play all three entries in an HD collection would be a treat. If the licensing weren't so strange (Shadow Hearts is owned by a company that now produces Pachinko machines), this one would probably already be a reality. This is a shame considering we just want to see drunk cats, pro-wrestling vampires, and an old man convinced he's the ultimate ninja all over again.
The Dark Cloud games stand as some of Level-5's best work. An early PS2 title, Dark Cloud captured gamers with its unique city-building elements tied to its RPG gameplay. Dark Cloud 2 made a similar mark by changing up some of the rules: Players don't level up; weapons do. Building up weapons, recruiting non-playable characters that lend special abilities, and rebuilding the world made the sequel stand out just as much as its predecessor. We'd love the chance to experiment with all these gameplay systems that blended so well together again. Plus, people have been begging for another Dark Cloud 3. Maybe a collection would test the waters to see if interest is still there.
Persona 3 and 4
Yes, we've had a lot of Persona 3 and 4 editions, but we haven't had them all tied in a neat package. The mature RPGs have gained a dedicated following, putting the series at the top of the JRPG pack. Just think how much could be packaged into an HD collection. Persona 4 Golden featured a ton of extra scenes, Persona 3 Portable (P3P) let you play as a girl, and both portable releases introduced new social links and gameplay tweaks. Not to mention the collection could also include Persona FES, a dungeon-crawling epilogue to Persona 3. Getting all the additional content along with some enhancements in a nice HD collection would offer a definitive complete version. Also, I'm sure there's some social links you haven't maxed out yet...although, do you really need an excuse to play through these stellar games again?
Final Fantasy XII
As soon as the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster was announced, fans were vocal about wanting to see the same treatment for another PS2 entry, Final Fantasy XII. Just like Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster was the first time North Americans fans experienced the international versions of the games, the same could be done for Final Fantasy XII. In the international version, the "zodiac job system" dictated abilities and equipment by job class, a departure from the original character development system. Also, while Final Fantasy XII doesn't have a PS2 sequel, it could be paired with the DS's Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, an RTS/RPG hybrid set a year after the events of Final Fantasy XII.
Up next: Building up a headquarters, a simulated MMO trilogy, and learning the ropes of alchemy...
You can never go wrong with more Suikoden right? Although a localized collection featuring the first two games is at the top of my wish list, those were before the PS2 era this list encompasses. However, having a collection featuring III, IV, and V isn't something I'd turn down. Suikoden III changed things up by letting you experience events from different characters' perspectives. Suikoden IV still mastered Suikoden's art of intrigue, but its frustrating ship navigation turned many off. Actually, if a collection could remedy the ship travel, it would be all the better. Suikoden V struggled with a slow start, but then put you on a rollercoaster of betrayal. Either way, having reasons to collect 108 Stars of Destiny all over is something we would welcome.
Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2
While current Shin Megami Tensei fans might be more familiar with the strategy-based battles of Devil Survivor, the dungeon crawling in Soul Hackers and Shin Megami Tensei IV, or the life-sim elements of Persona, it hasn't been a great deal of time since the last archetypal traditional RPG in the series, Digital Devil Saga. Digital Devil Saga has everything the PS2-era RPG needed: copious cutscenes, customizable characters, and a fantastic turn-based battle system. Of course, it's important to note what it has that's not run-of-the-mill - like the fact that combatants transform into demons and consume those they have defeated to absorb their power. Digital Devil Saga's structure and gameplay aren't seriously divergent from the norm, but it still has a unique concept that would appeal to most RPG fans.
The G.U. trilogy was the .hack's franchise finest outing, featuring Haseo's journey to figure out the strange happenings in an MMO entitled, "The World." All the .hack games simulate an MMO, but this isn't an ordinary one. Players are ending up in a coma from playing it. Something is askew and computer viruses, hacks, and anomalies start showing themselves. It gets even more startling as Haseo loses his power, getting knocked back to level one, and watches his own friend, Shino, fall into a coma. From then on, he's a man on a mission. All of the games continue the story about Haseo meeting interesting faces on his journey to expose the root of the mystery. You're technically just playing a simulated MMO, but something about the story and characters makes you feel like it's worth the trip. What would also be cool? The collection including the hack//G.U. trilogy movie.
A new generation of alchemists have made their way on the scene throughout the past few years. We've completed the Arland arc with Rorona, Totori, and Meruru, and we're now on the Dusk storyline with Ayesha, Escha & Logy, and the upcoming Shallie. But before all of those tales, came Atelier Iris, which spanned three PS2 games and exposed North American gamers to the series. The games in the Iris arc aren't easy to find and seeing how the series got off the ground would be fun in its own right. Plus, you would finally see how early the "barrel!" joke got going.
Knights of the Old Republic 1 + 2
It's hard to believe it's been over a decade since BioWare first released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox and PC. While it may never have been released on Sony's monolithic console, it's one of the top-tier RPG series of the era. An HD remaster would also give Obsidian the ability to add in the content that was stripped from the second game due to time and budget constraints. Even without that particular addition, though, the memorable characters, like "Protocol" droid HK-47, and the breathtaking reveals are certainly worth another play-through.
Which PS2 games would you like to see made into an HD collection? Let us know in the comments below.