10 Remakes I Want To Happen
This week, we got a closer look at Mass Effect Legendary Edition. For years, BioWare’s amazing trilogy has been at the top of my list of games I want to see retouched with modern technology. Granted, it is more of a remaster, but the enhancements and adjustments seem like enough to make a new playthrough feel fresh regardless. But that got me thinking: If I assume that a full Mass Effect remake is completely off the table now, what are the other games that I want to see get rebuilt from top to bottom?
It’s a tricky question to answer, because everyone has a different idea of what makes a good remake. In some ways, it’s about recreating a classic experience – but remakes should also be free to veer off the previous path and explore some new directions (like Final Fantasy VII Remake did). The original game should also be old enough to see a clear benefit from new technology. With those ground rules in mind, here are my picks for the 10 remakes I want to happen.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
You can’t improve on perfection, and A Link to the Past is basically a perfect game. In fact, in Game Informer’s 300th issue, it took the number one slot in our list of the top 300 games of all time. If you want to let this 16-bit treasure remain untouched in your memory, I get it. But I’d also love to see this classic vision of Hyrule brought to life in a full open world (not Link’s Awakening-style), complete with light and dark realms, pink-bunny Link, and plenty of dungeons to explore. At the same time, one of fun things about Link to the Past is how approachable it is; it isn’t a daunting 70-hour epic that takes weeks or months to finish. Keeping the dungeons and puzzles compact and streamlined would call back to the old-school Zelda experience, but with gameplay and visuals that make it feel modern.
Knights of the Old Republic
Rumors of this happening seem to rise and fall like Skywalkers, but that doesn’t make me want it any less. Knights of the Old Republic has some of my favorite characters in the Star Wars universe (and also Carth), and it would be amazing to see them – and the worlds they inhabit – brought up to the visual standard for contemporary Star Wars tales like The Mandalorian. But I think BioWare’s original work needs more than just a graphical pass; when KOTOR first released, I loved its pause-and-play combat, but that system feels antiquated now. I’m not saying a remake should go fully action-based, but some sort of hybrid that leans on tactical thinking without being strictly bound by turn-based rules is what I’d like to play.
Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Putting two games in one entry may be cheating, but the case for a remake here applies to both of these games. Though I played through both of these early Metal Gears (thanks to their inclusion in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence), I have no particular attachment to them in terms of their mechanics. After all, the main reason people are interested in them is more about how they fit into the larger Metal Gear saga. I think Konami would be smart to let players get the full story of these games without making them endure the ancient stealth and obtuse puzzles; I want to experience these events with modern graphics (like we had in The Phantom Pain) and have the gameplay them blend more seamlessly with the gameplay of the 3D Metal Gear titles. Yeah, I know the odds are low. Let me dream.
Simple, arcade-style racing is fun – especially when you’re driving cool hovercars. Even so, Nintendo is obviously reluctant to resurrect this dormant franchise. That’s okay, because I don’t want an actual sequel; sequels usually add new things and try to innovate, but that isn’t what F-Zero needs. I replayed it recently on the SNES Classic Edition, and there’s a beautiful simplicity to the size and scope of the original SNES game that stands on its own. Instead of worrying about how a new F-Zero can push the formula forward, just take what’s already there and remake it. The same tracks, the same cars, but rebuilt to convey the sense of acceleration and speed that Mode-7 couldn’t provide. I want that Golden Fox looking amazing as it pulls out in front of me at the starting line, and I want to see Captain Falcon’s shocked face as I sideswipe him in my Fire Stingray. No need to reinvent the wheel here – just make that wheel look very good and go very fast.
Dragon Age II
I know I am in the minority here, but I thought Dragon Age II was pretty good. I didn’t like it as much as Origins or Inquisition, and I won’t say it was a great game, but it had some cool ideas. However, due to BioWare’s accelerated development timeline compared to previous games, the interesting parts of Dragon Age II were never quite as refined or noticeable as they could have been. That’s why we need a remake: to give Hawke, Varric, Isabela, and the rest of the crew the chance to shine that they deserved. Take the time to build out new, varied environments to solve the problem of repeated areas. Use Dragon Age Inquisition’s combat system (which I think is a more successful blend of action and strategy). Smooth out some of those narrative wrinkles. The idea here is to make a version of Dragon Age II that fulfills the potential at its core, without the compromises of the original.
Much of what people love about Persona games actually started with this installment, including the whole social link system. Persona 3 deserves a lot of credit for starting this series down that path that Persona 4 and 5 continued walking, but after replaying the game couple years ago, I think Persona 3 would also benefit from some quality-of-life changes, additional voicework, and combat innovations introduced in later games. Also, I spent some time with Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, and the best part of that experience for me was imagining how those slick new character models would look in a full-on RPG compared to the blockier counterparts of the PS2 original. That isn’t to say Persona 3 doesn’t hold up, but turning it into the best possible version of itself would need a remake versus a typical remaster.
If two Metal Gear games as one entry was maybe cheating, then three Yakuza games in one is definitely cheating. But in terms of the whole franchise, these entries are in a weird place. Yakuza 1 and 2 were already remade with Kiwami and Kiwami 2. And Yakuza 0 (a prequel to those originals), Yakuza 6, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon are all on recent hardware. But right in the middle of this series we have 3, 4, and 5; they are PlayStation 3 games that are old enough to look and feel dated, but new enough to throw the value of a remake into question. Seemingly as a compromise, Sega released a remastered collection of these games, but I’d rather see them get the Kiwami 2 treatment: an amazing full overhaul with a new engine, tweaks, and other additions to create one consistent tale for protagonist Kazuma Kiryu from start to finish.
CD Projekt Red’s RPG series contains one of the absolute best games of the generation in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Witcher 2 is also very good, and brought Geralt’s exploits to the attention of many who had never heard of him before. However, the first Witcher game didn’t quite have the same momentum. It was more of a traditional CRPG, complete with tactical combat and isometric exploration. I enjoy that kind of game myself, but within the context of the broader Witcher series, it feels like an anomaly now. With no new Witcher game in the foreseeable future, remaking the original in the style of The Witcher 3 would be fun way to go on adventures with Geralt again. It would be full of the same tough choices and complex characters that the franchise is known for … but it would look and feel better. That would be enough of an excuse for me to replay it, and it would give people who never played the original a more approachable entry point.
The Xenosaga Trilogy
Here’s the big problem with Xenosaga: The first game was great, the second was a disappointment, and (because of that disappointment) the third went largely ignored. Another problem is that these games aren’t on digital storefronts and haven’t been re-released, so the only legal way to play them is by tracking down the discs and PS2 hardware. But I personally love these sci-fi RPGs from developer Monolith Soft; they are fascinating and strange and intricate, and they deserve another chance as a remake. The visual style, combat mechanics, and progression system should be unified across the trilogy, making them more like one giant game than three separate entries. That would mean cherry-picking the best parts of Xenosaga I and III, and just eliminating most of the stuff that dragged down the middle entry. The overall narrative is bold and ambitious, and it’s a shame that a misstep kept many people from seeing how it all wrapped up.
Chrono Trigger has achieved a legendary status within the RPG genre and beyond; fans love the cast, the combat, and the world, and the story. If Final Fantasy VII can get a remake for those reasons, then Chrono Trigger is certainly no less deserving. It’s a beloved time-travelling adventure full of heart, clever writing, and innovative design. However, for the generation of gamers who weren’t around in the 16-bit era, it may be difficult to appreciate everything that made this game so special. It may feel more like a history lesson these days, but it doesn’t need to be; just look at Dragon Ball FighterZ to see how wonderful Akira Toriyama’s art can be on more recent hardware, then imagine all of characters and locations (past, present, and future) from this classic being similarly presented. I want the turn-based battle system, the lack of random encounters, and the team-based attacks to stay intact, but with some fresh elements that add extra depth. Getting the whole A-list development team back together again seems impossible, but I also live in a world in which I have actually played Final Fantasy VII Remake, so I don’t want to count anything out.