Square Enix's Library Is Full Of Games Worth Remastering 

Image credit: Ryvius Ran

After the success of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age and Square's announcement that Secret of Mana will be getting remade for the PS4 and Vita, it's clear the company wants to see its deep back catalogue live on, but there are a few games in particular Square Enix should think about reviving sooner rather than later.

Beginning with Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix in 2013 and moving later that year to Final Fantasy X and X-2, Square Enix has slowly been giving some of its best games an HD face-lift or, in some cases, full-blown reworks.

While the company has discouraged fans interested in HD remasters of games like Final Fantasy VIII and IX, there are plenty of other games in Square Enix's repertoire that are worth revisiting but aren't currently easy to access on modern platforms.

Vagrant Story

Probably one of the best games on PS1 and quite possibly one of my favourite of all time, Yasumi Matsuno's Bordeaux-inspired dungeon-crawler has some of the best characters and dialogue I've every encountered. Prior to director Christopher Nolan using unreliable narrators to subvert audience expectations in a blockbuster, Matsuno did so in a super grindy JRPG.

The Shakespearean influences in the game are clear, and hold up no matter what, but the game's blurry fusion of pixels and polygons don't. They do, however, look great on high resolution using an emulator, which is why I'm confident Square could do the same in porting it to current day systems or PC.

Vagrant Story might not have seen the financial success of something like Final Fantasy VII, which achieved HD crispness on PS4 in 2015, but it's no less deserving.

Xenogears

Another game that stands out among the PS1 golden era for the genre, Xenogears could stand not only to get a cleaned-up looking port, but also one that slightly recuts the third act to be less text-heavy and nonsensical.

That said, the continued success of the Xeno-brand is a testament to vision laid out in Tetsuya Takahashi's original project. It was colourful but grim, and somehow combined Dragon Ball Z-style turn-based combat with hulking mechs in a convincing way.

I also can't think of a better candidate for the new fast-forward option Square added to its remasters with The Zodiac Age. The stories, characters, and boss fights are worth bringing Xenogears into the modern era, and a couple of small mechanics could help paper over the rest and make it easier to endure.

Parasite Eve

The series only went downhill after the first game, but the middling quality of games like The 3rd Birthday have in many ways masked the expert art direction and body horror of the original Parasite Eve. It turns out that Square Enix could make a pretty mean Resident Evil clone back in the day.

And like Capcom's horror series that it borrowed from, Parasite Eve isn't undone by it's confusing control scheme or questionable shooting mechanics. Each wintery scene and virus-infected lab is still just as chilling as they were in the late 90s, and the game's quasi-turn-based combat is a great example of the heightened tension a game can achieve when it forgoes a strict adherence to bullet realism.

Radiata Stories

The PS2 era didn't spawn as many classic games as previous eras, but the tri-Ace developed Radiata Stories was one of the console's rarer gems and more glorious gems. Navigating a persistent world where all the NPCs have their own personalities and goals, Radiata Stories was something between a classic MMO and Animal Crossing if it were transformed into a quest-driven role-playing game.

If you've ever thought "Majora's Mask is great, but what if there were twice as many townspeople to track down and help," then Radiata Stories is for you. It's also one of the last unreservedly great games tri-Ace had a hand in, as evidenced by the sea of subtle sub-systems that elevate character progression management from a hobby into an art.

Even if the game were simply to receive the Star Ocean: Till the End of Time and pop up on the PlayStation Store with pseudo-HD graphics as PS2 Classic, it would be worth it.

Drakengard

Yoko Taro has blown up from a cult-favourite to a generally revered designer with the success of NieR: Automata. One of the earliest games he had a part in was though Drakengard, an inscrutable precursor to the NieR series with a beautiful mix of art and music that was held back by awkward pacing.

The mix of realism and fantasy, infused with the thematic dissonance of something like Neon Genesis Evangelion, however, is all there, and worth revisiting in light of Taro's latest work.

But unlike some games on this list, it's less clear that Drakengard's muddy textures and desolate grey landscapes could stand the test of time, making it, along with NieR's newfound popularity, a better candidate than most for a complete overhaul.

Front Mission 5: Scars of the War

While Square Enix has a number of B-tier series, few have had such a tumultuous fall from grace than Front Mission. In many ways, Front Mission 5 succeeded as more than the just the sum of its failures, and brought the games' many interconnected and overlapping storylines to a satisfactory conclusion.

Not content to localise the PS2 game and bring it overseas though, Square instead commissioned the makers of Silent Hill: Homecoming, Double Helix, to create Front Mission: Homecoming, one of the saddest fait accomplis the company's fans have ever had to endure.

Forgoing the grid-based tactics gameplay for third-person shooting, Helix managed to transform the gritty, melancholy war games into a laundry list of excesses and called it a day, all while the series true successor sat just out of reach until it could gain an appreciation from Western audiences years later thanks to fan translations.

If Square Enix is ever going to try and rehabilitate the Front Mission name, it could do worse than by starting with remaking Scars of the War for English-speaking audiences.


Comments

    Ha, did you read my comment from the other day - was literally saying the same thing about Vagrant Story & Xenogears!! :D

    I'd also add Chrono Trigger & the much maligned sequel (which you can only seem to buy in English in the states for whatever reason) Chrono Cross. Even Kotaku seem split on the latter;

    https://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/08/chrono-cross-was-a-bad-sequel-but-a-brilliant-game/

    I always feel torn on FF6 too. One of the best FF's, if it were made into fully fledged 3D far more people would play it/get to experience it, but would it ruin it? It's already had many many makeovers. FF8 & 9 (9 is my favourite in the series too), bring them to the latest consoles and add the fast forward/ability to get through some of the tedious parts (galbadia prison in 8 - ugh!!) faster and congratulations, cash money.

    Im loving all the remasters lately, the ps4 pro is the first play station system iv owned so im getting to jump into all these great games I missed when they were first released.

    Since Square let go of Lightweight there's probably no hope of a HD Remaster of Bushido Blade 1&2 and I don't know if any people at SquareEnix know what a side scrolling shooter is so an Einhander remake is probably bust too

    Mentions that the PS2 era didn't spawn as many classics as other eras, and then neglects to have Dragon Quest VIII Journey of the Cursed King in the list.

    We should just go back and remake every game that's ever been made. Like, fuck new games man... how am I supposed to know it's going to be any good unless I've played it before?

      Replace the word "games" with "movie" or "TV series" and you have like the last 5 years of visual media.

    If you've ever thought "Majora's Mask is great, but what if there were twice as many townspeople to track down and help,"

    You have piqued my interest and I wish to know more.

    Also, two Square games from the PS1 era that need to be rescued from the undeserved obscurity in which they dwell are Legend of Mana and Threads of Fate.

    Radiata Stories is my favourite kicking-every-NPC game ever made. It literally has a kick button just so you can annoy the townspeople. Brilliant.

    Does Square still own the rights to Xenogears? None of the original developers involved with that are still there AFAIK, mainly at Monolith doing Xenoblade for Nintendo, or at Namco doing whatever Namco has them doing.

    I'd love to see the Drakengard games get another go, but only if they were re-localized. The original localization work wasn't up to the par of the stuff that 8-4 worked on (Nier onward).

    Really though, HD Remasters are a non-zero amount of work and I think a company like Squenix is only going to bother if they can use them as marketing for newer games or franchises. Otherwise it's cheaper to make new games. Also not sure I'd trust them to remake the greats like Chrono Trigger without ruining it somehow.

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