If you enjoy games refurbished for a new generation, there’s never been a better time than the present. With the development cost of big-budget major releases growing steadily, publishers have taken to padding out their release schedule with HD remakes. Rest assured, if you played a popular game within the past decade and want to dive into it again without digging out old hardware, odds are, it’ll show up in a shiny, new package someday soon.
But even though the industry has done a fine job of giving a wide range of games the remake treatment, many others have been left in limbo. Even with so many great re-releases on the shelves, we’ve still managed to pin down five games that desperately need an HD remake.
The fact that we haven’t even heard rumors of a Dark Souls HD remake feels like a downright shocker. This multi-platform sequel to a cult PlayStation 3 RPG released in fall of 2011 and took the world by surprise with its harsh-yet-rewarding gameplay and mysterious world, creating a fanbase that’s helped developer From produce three more massive RPGs. Yet, every version released is compromised in some way. Dark Souls on consoles features some pretty bad frame rate issues in certain areas, while the PC port needs a fan-made patch to take full advantage of more powerful hardware.
More importantly, Dark Souls ditched the single-server multiplayer action of Demon’s Souls, instead opting for a system that makes online interactivity pretty rare—especially more than five years later. A modern-day port could easy make the world of Dark Souls look absolutely stunning, and bring the multiplayer functionality up to the same standard of From Software’s later RPGs. (Plus, a re-release would undoubtedly make the community much more active.) And while we’re at it, how about a HD remake of Dark Souls’ predecessor, Demon’s Souls? Currently, you can only play it on a PlayStation 3, and that thing only has so many years left of hogging space in the entertainment center.
Left 4 Dead 2
Ever since Dota 2 started printing money for Valve, they’ve kinda been out of the business of making games. But those of us who followed Valve throughout their Golden Age—which began roughly a decade ago—remember how much they pushed game design forward with releases like Portal, Portal 2, and Team Fortress 2. And their great, competitive zombie FPS Left 4 Dead offered a brand of online action that hadn’t been seen before, paired with Valve’s typically likable characters and smart, subtle storytelling.
Granted, Left 4 Dead 2 has a pretty strong user base on the PC—it really doesn’t take more than a minute to find a game. But its state of being on last-gen consoles paints a much unhappier picture. Simply put, it’s a game that doesn’t deserve to be trapped in the past for anyone without a gaming PC; though some games age poorly, Left 4 Dead 2’s online action remains timeless and wholly unique. And Left 4 Dead 2’s visuals could certainly use a bit of touching up, as they focus on throwing a lot of things on the screen at once, but not necessarily on making them pretty. Valve doesn’t seem particularly interested in their old brands anymore, but they should still take another look at Left 4 Dead 2, despite their new business plan. I’m guessing one day’s Dota 2 profits could fund a remake, and then some.
With the PlayStation 2 console being the highest-selling gaming hardware of all time, publishers weren’t as conservative as they are today. That generation brought us plenty of off-the-wall games, seeing as the sheer immensity of the PlayStation 2 user base could justify basically any release. And this mentality brought us Katamari Damacy, a bizarre game with an untranslatable name that nonetheless stole our hearts in the mid ’00s. Nothing before or since has ever played like Katamari, a game that tasks the player with rolling up everything in the world into a giant, sticky ball.
Unfortunately, Katamari creator Keita Takahashi left developer/publisher Bandai-Namco after its first sequel, leaving the company to produce a few more games without him before letting the series die entirely. It goes without saying that an uncompromised bit of brilliance like Katamari shouldn’t be confined to a single game console, so why not find a way to shove the first two Takahashi-directed games onto new hardware? Frankly, our modern generation of gamers needs to experience the joys of rolling up everything in sight with a whimsical, colorful orb of death. (And while accompanied by a great, eclectic soundtrack, too.)
Panzer Dragoon Orta
When Sega’s hardware efforts bit the dust in 2002, fans of their games found salvation in the original Xbox. For a hot second, this platform became the place for Sega exclusives, ranging from sequels like Jet Set Radio Future to original releases like Gunvalkyrie. Out of all Sega Xbox exclusives that never found a new home, Panzer Dragoon Orta ranks up there as one of the best. After taking the form of two solid shooters and one great (and incredibly rare) RPG on the Sega Saturn, Panzer Dragoon moved to the Xbox with the most ambitious and prettiest take on the series to date.
Since then, we haven’t seen Panzer Dragoon in any other form—unless you count the disappointing spiritual sequel, Crimson Dragon, which you shouldn’t. True, Microsoft did do Panzer Dragoon Orta a favor by eventually making it compatible with the Xbox 360, but even this successor to the original Xbox is more than 10 years old. As with a few of the other selections on this list, Panzer Dragoon Orta’s status as a single-console release makes for an incredibly unfair situation. And since this game has been out of circulation for nearly 15 years, it’s likely those who missed it would welcome an HD remake with open arms.
When it comes to Japanese RPGs, the PlayStation 2 stands as the last console where they truly had a home. Even though we’re awash with plenty of amazing portable JRPGs, series like Shadow Hearts really made the PS2 special. Not quite as pretty as your Final Fantasies, but still very presentable, this great trilogy used its identity as an RPG newcomer to try some unique and odd ideas. While most games of the genre dabble in swords and sorcery, Shadow Hearts sticks to the early decades of the 20th century, often drawing upon real-world events and people. By the third game in the series, you’re taking on quests given by notable American figures like Al Capone and H.P. Lovecraft.
Every game in the Shadow Hearts series made it to the West—albeit from a different publisher each time—meaning it had some degree of popularity here in America. Yet, in the more than 10 years since the last game launched, Shadow Hearts has only become more obscure. Sure, it doesn’t help that the developer has since been dissolved, but if someone dusted off this great trilogy, they’d surely find an audience who wants to revisit this prolific era of RPGs. And if they need more convincing, just tell them the third game lets you control a flamenco guitarist whose instrument doubles as a makeshift machine gun and rocket launcher.