Nostalgia is rife in 2018. People go crazy about Nintendo's Virtual Console games and about "new" games being added to Xbox One's compatibility program. Recently, Sony has been focusing in on taking its most iconic PS1 properties and finding ways to remake or remaster them.
Whether it's the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, or MediEvil, or the recently announced Spyro Reignited Trilogy, old games are being given proverbial new licks of paint at every turn. And this got us thinking: which old PS1 games would we want ported to current-gen with all the online bells and anti-aliasing whistles that new technology brings?
Many of our choices include some of the most iconic franchises from the era, while the others are more obscure or long-forgotten. When we compiled this list, it surprised us remembering just how many fantastic games came out on PlayStation's inaugural console; it was tough to narrow it all down.
Read on for our personal choices of favorite games from our respective childhoods that we want. What we highlight here is but a handful of the many fantastic games available on the console, so be sure to leave your suggestions and wishes of games you don't see here in the comments below!
Crash Bandicoot's N. Sane Trilogy gave the original three games in the series a much-deserved makeover and modernized them for the current generation. In doing so, developer Vicarious Visions proved it could be trusted with one of gaming's most beloved mascots. It would make perfect sense, then, to let the company have free reign with the remaining Crash Bandicoot PlayStation games, Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash.
Crash Team Racing was what made me fall in love with kart racers. The PlayStation was my first console, and so CTR was my first exposure to the genre--Mario Kart would have to wait. But what a first racer to pick. It had my favorite characters from the first three Crash Bandicoot games--complete with an engaging story and fun hub worlds--and combined them with satisfying racing and a selection of inventive power-ups.
Crash Bash, meanwhile, was a party game that featured a number of different mini-game types: Crate Crush, Polar Push, Tank Wars, Ballisrix, Pogo Pandemonium, Crash Dash, and Medieval Mayhem. You could play each level of these types in isolation, but the game's Adventure mode set them up in the Crash canon as a four-way battle between Aku Aku and Uka Uka to decide whether good or evil would prevail. One of Crash Bash's best features, however, were the tweaked versions of each level you'd have to complete in order to earn Crystals, in addition to the more standard Trophies and Gems.
Together, Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash were my first exposures to multiplayer gaming, and in addition to making them look nicer, current-gen remasters have extra potential. I'd love to be able to play the games with friends online, because where did anyone ever get a multitap?
You know what's missing from the AAA gaming landscape of 2018? Vehicular combat. Some games let you fight in cars, but it's almost never the core gameplay mechanic anymore. Certainly no game focuses on hunting down opponents and blowing them to smithereens like Twisted Metal did back in 1995.
This was a grungy game filled with demented characters who drove vehicles with guns and rocket launchers bolted onto them. You cruised around, collecting power-ups and pumping lead and heavy firepower into your opponents until they exploded. That's about all there was to it.
The single-player mode was enjoyable, but the real fun began when you could convince a friend or sibling to hop in for some head-to-head mayhem. Then it got personal. The whole thing was cheap-looking and trashy and drenched in delightful nihilism. What other game would make its mascot an insane clown who drives an ice cream truck? There's nothing else like Twisted Metal.
Bushido Blade, the 3D, one-on-one sword-fighting game for PlayStation, was a uniquely unforgiving game that hasn't really been replicated since--its nearest neighbour today would probably be Nidhogg. It had no health bars, and landing a clean hit on your opponent meant a crippled limb, if not instant bloody death.
Tension was the name of the game; every standoff was a strenuous task of reading your opponent, playing mind games and exercising quick reflexes. It was also a game concerned with maintaining honorable disposition and respecting your opponent. Bowing formally before a match, fighting fair, and never stabbing your opponent in the back was encouraged, and enhanced the game's zen-like appeal.
But, you could also do the exact opposite: throw dirt in someone's face, kick them when they're down, and run frantically through the game's large, open arenas to search for an environment that could put your opponent and their choice of weapon at a disadvantage--a bamboo thicket could restrict naginata slashing maneuvers, while a deep river could mask the movements of your katana, for example.
Bushido Blade and its sequel in 1998 were fantastic, accessible fighting games that you could play with a friend. It was one of my earliest memories of yelling at the TV and a buddy who had managed to win the game despite his character's inability to walk. In an era where players celebrate pure, unforgiving game experiences, Bushido Blade is the kind of game that deserves a revitalized and more readily accessible version, if not a sequel.
Silent Hill was my very first PlayStation game (I was a late adopter), and its take on survival horror had such an impressive impact on me that other horror titles like Resident Evil just couldn't cut it for me for the longest time. It was the first encounter with the fog that made it so memorable--the fact that you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you as you explored the mysteriously abandoned town (a technical limitation that was twisted into a series narrative device). It instilled such strong sense of anxiety and dread that made moving from one place to another a mentally taxing hurdle, even if there was likely no danger at all.
Silent Hill 2 is more commonly perceived as the best in the series. But the original’s more straightforward, Steven King- and David Lynch-inspired tones, the "search for your missing daughter" plot, and the demonic turns it takes (which were then unexpected) personally had a more lasting impression on me. Silent Hill did get a reimagining in 2009 in the form of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and I really enjoyed it the liberties it took with the narrative, mechanics, and the inventive use of the Wii remote. But it sure would be fantastic if the original Silent Hill got a Spyro-style remake or remaster so I can remember one of the formative games in in my life in a not-so-dated light.
We got HD remasters of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 in 2012, but they were technically terrible overhauls, and the re-recorded voice acting copped a lot of flak from fans. Even though both games remained classics and shone through regardless, it's time for Konami to make it up to us.
The moment I heard what Driver is--a game where you play as an undercover wheelman where you can drive anywhere in the game's world--I was instantly won over. At the time of its release in 1999, we had games like Grand Theft Auto, where you could freely explore a world, but at the time the series still had the classic top-down perspective. Driver offered the twist on Need for Speed I always wanted, letting me drive down the side streets and feel like I was actually exploring a world (comprised of loosely modeled recreations of real-world cities) freely.
That concept obviously isn't as novel today as it once was, but there remains a simplicity and single-mindedness of Driver that I think would be appealing. It doesn't task you with getting out of your car, shooting, or any of the other elements of, say, GTA V. Instead, your goal is entirely about navigating the world, evading police, and pulling off sweet 180s.
A remaster would afford us the opportunity to return to those simple pleasures of Driver without having to deal with the game's technical problems and shortcomings. It suffered from severe pop-in, and it wasn't until Driver 2 that cities introduced curved roads. An updated version could present a better-looking version of the game and revamp road layouts where they make sense. Do that with a budget-priced release, and I think a Driver remaster could be a real hit.
It was no Metal Gear Solid, but Syphon Filter offered its own blend of stealth and third-person action that was extremely enjoyable. I loved how many different places around the world the game takes you, and it boasted a wide array of weapons and gadgets to use. Anyone who played the original likely has fond memories of rolling their way through glass and making use of its ranged taser, which let you literally set enemies on fire if deployed for long enough. As I found, being 12 years old at the time, few games offered a mechanic more hilarious.
I won't sit here and tell you that replaying Syphon Filter in the modern day would be a life-changing experience, though I do think an improved version of its stealth-action would fill the hole left by Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. Regardless, the opportunity to employ that taser again would make a remaster worth every penny.
Most people would consider Metal Gear Solid to be the most "cinematic" PlayStation game. It definitely fits the mold, with striking camera angles that enhance the spirit of pivotal scenes. Though as much as I respect Metal Gear Solid, the game that I feel most deserves special mention for its use of composition and lighting has to be Vagrant Story. It's an unusual Squaresoft RPG from Yasumi Matsuno, the principle creative behind Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy XII, to name a few. It was both visually striking and ahead of its time--excellent reasons for it to be redressed with modern techniques.
Though Vagrant Story's visuals can be evocative, they are hindered by low-resolution PlayStation textures, and the worst examples can be very off-putting. They weren't so bad when viewed on scanline-based CRT TVs, but a modern progressive display can't mask those old digital skidmarks. New HD textures, a higher native resolution, and some light antialiasing would go a long way to make Vagrant Story palatable in 2018, and give it a second lease on life for those who missed out on it years ago.
One of the most distinct exclusives to ever release on PS1 was Ape Escape. Its premise was bizarre: you played as Spike, a boy tasked with capturing an ape named Specter who gains enhanced intelligence through the use of an experimental helmet, allowing him to produce an ape army that he sends through time in an attempt to rewrite history. Not only was Ape Escape's monkey-capturing premise unusual, the game also sported a control scheme quite unlike anything at the time. Utilizing the analog sticks of the recently released Dualshock controller, you could use weapons and gadgets by moving the right stick in the direction you wanted to swing.
On paper, Ape Escape sounds bananas (no pun intended), but it somehow managed to be one of the most captivating and memorable adventures on PS1. There's a lot to love about Ape Escape, which is why it's a perfect candidate for the HD remaster treatment. Sure, you can say it was technically remastered on PSP, but I don't think that counts since it completely removed the original's distinct analog control scheme.
Revamped visuals could breathe new life into its varied stage roster; imagine exploring HD versions of the snow-covered landscapes of the Ice Age or the Great Wall of China during the Middle Ages. Heck, what about the innards of Dexter the sick dinosaur? It would be stunning.
If Sony continues down this road of remastering more classic PS1 games, then it should look no further. Ape Escape is well past due for some love and recognition.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is a long-forgotten gem from the PS1-era. An early example of a 3D metroidvania done right, the game won my young heart with its haunting gothic style, clever combat mechanics, and distinct premise. I'll always remember the impact the game's intro cinematic and opening areas had on me. Its grim narrative and intriguing characters are some of the most memorable I've experienced in gaming.
The game puts you in control of Raziel, a vampire lieutenant turned soul-sucking wraith after being betrayed by the tyrannical vampire lord Kain. Brought back to life by a mysterious benefactor known as The Elder God, Raziel must embark on a journey to exact vengeance against his former king.
Soul Reaver is well-deserving of an HD remaster. If anything, it's long overdue. The world of Nosgoth, a desolate and broken kingdom populated by all manner of mutated vampires, remains haunting and atmospheric. The vampire weakness-focused combat is still a creative and entertaining system to dispatch foes. In addition, the game is rich with fascinating locations to explore and secrets to unearth. There's so much to enjoy about the original Soul Reaver; it would be amazing to experience it all over again with revamped textures, lighting effects, and updated mechanics.
There's still nothing else quite like Soul Reaver. While it has been 15 years since we've seen a new Legacy of Kain game, an HD remaster of its most iconic entry would be a brilliant way to revitalize interest. After all, its 20th anniversary is fast approaching, so what better time than now?
Thanks to 2017's Persona 5, the Persona games have become more popular than ever. With that, there's a distinct opportunity to revisit the earlier years of the amazing series. A few elements that make the modern Personas weren't present in the PS1 era games, like social links and leisurely activities outside of fighting, but character development and a dark supernatural story in a high school setting were still at the heart of Persona 2.
The complete arc of Persona 2 was split between two games (Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment) that act as separate chapters. Eternal Punishment puts you in the shoes of Maya Amano, a major character and party member from Innocent Sin. She's a magazine writer who's investigating the evil New World Order that aims to cleanse the world of sin. You band together with fellow persona users to prevent them from achieving their sinister goal; the tone and setup are closer to mainline Shin Megami Tensei than modern Persona.
Innocent Sin already has a remaster of sorts, which was made for the PSP back in 2011. Eternal Punishment received the same treatment of refined mechanics and a visual upgrade for Japan, but it was never localized for any other region. Currently, the original PS1 version of Eternal Punishment is playable in the west on PS3, PSP, and Vita, but an 18-year-old game left untouched might be hard to go back to. As someone who has absolutely fallen in love with this franchise and made it a mission to go back and play every single one of these games, I would drop everything I'm currently playing to revisit a few of the early stories in a more palatable form.
Parasite Eve acts as a sequel to the novel of the same name by author Hideaki Sena, but this first entry for the game series felt truly unique in its time. Squaresoft (now Square Enix) hadn't gone down the M-rated route before, but it didn't waste time showing you what this game was about; the opening scene depicts an opera crowd bursting into flames, which was absolutely horrifying considering I was a kid at the time. Everyone burns to death except Aya Brea (you, a green NYPD cop) and the performer, who transforms into a supernatural monster, kicking off this paranormal thriller. This is also where you jump into the unique blend of action and turn-based RPG.
Aya resorts to traditional firearms to take down terrifying creatures, and you control her from an isometric angle as you inspect environments. Combat is turn-based with magical Parasite Energy capabilities thrown into the mix, and world exploration taps into a traditional RPG structure. Think of it as Resident Evil meets Final Fantasy. As an early fan of both franchises, it was an incredible feeling to see those two styles collide.
Parasite Eve's dark, dingy version of New York City always gave me chills, but the game's phenomenal presentation and hybrid RPG gameplay pushed me to overcome the intimidation. I loved Parasite Eve so much that I actually battled through the 77 floors of the Chrysler Building in the new game plus mode and fought the secret boss, so I'd definitely love to do it all over again on current-gen.
Within the incredibly strong roster of JRPGs within the PS1's lineup, Xenogears stands near the top of the bunch. Originally planned as a sequel to Chrono Trigger, director Tetsuya Takahashi took his project in a different direction with a mecha-science fiction story that made for a more active and intricate battle system. Xenogears featured Active Time Battle, which was an up-tempo turn-based combat system, but also integrated button combos for the different abilities of its characters. Throw in Gears (giant robots) into the mix and you had one of the more dynamic RPGs of its time.
In addition to its unique take on the RPG genre, Xenogears hit some heavy notes in its story by using religious and philosophical themes. Ultimately, as the amnesiac Fei Fong Wong, you collaborate with other party members and set out to destroy the all-powerful gear called Deus, revived by evildoers in an attempt to wipe the existence of humanity. Because of its religious references and takes on human existence, there was trouble localizing for the west without seeming blasphemous. Thankfully, a localized version did happen eventually, but overall the game felt incomplete. The game's second disc opted for more narrative exposition and rushed through an otherwise great story.
That's why Xenogears deserves a remaster; there's so much more that the game could have been, yet it's still one of the best RPGs of the era. Other than being able to play it on a modern platform with upgraded visuals, it could theoretically be an opportunity to rework the second half of the game. Who knows if revisiting and adding content for a remaster of a 20 year old game is even viable, but here's to wishful thinking!
The future of Metal Gear Solid is uncertain. With creator Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami going their separate ways, developing a new entry in the series without the involvement of the superstar auteur would be like throwing everyone involved into a lion's den--especially after the reaction to Metal Gear Survive. Konami needs to build some goodwill with fans, and perhaps the way to do that is to remaster Metal Gear Solid.
For fans, this will still be a difficult pill to swallow, but at the very least it gives Konami an established framework and blueprint to follow. The dream is that Metal Gear Solid is given the same treatment as the recent Shadow of the Colossus remake. This means sticking very closely to the original and making some small, smart tweaks to improve the gameplay experience. Despite the negative sentiment around Konami, specifically towards its treatment of Metal Gear, fans will find it difficult to pass up an opportunity to relive iconic moments from the franchise with all the trimmings of a modern game.
Of course, some may argue that Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes has already covered this ground but, for me--as a lifelong Metal Gear obsessive--that game took a few too many liberties with some of the cinematic moments, which in turn changed the tone of the game quite drastically. Give me classic Metal Gear Solid in the Fox Engine and we'll be happy. Do it right and maybe we'll soften to the idea of a non-Kojima Metal Gear.