The Final Fantasy VII Remake is currently wowing fans around the world. Before this remake from Square-Enix, several Dragon Quest and Legend of Zelda titles have either been remade or remastered to help satisfy Role-Playing Game cravings. Although 2020 started off to a scary beat, it has generally been wonderful for Role-playing Game (RPG) fans who want their favourites redone for modern systems. The issue, however, is that not all RPGs seem to be getting the same love, which is why I decided to curate my own list of 10 Role-playing Game remakes we desperately need.
Remakes and remasters are double-edged swords. They offer wonderful opportunities for gamers to replay their favourite titles and for new generations of gamers to discover titles they would otherwise have missed. In the case of remakes, this may mean classics being changed in ways that alter the original game completely. Final Fantasy VII Remake is one such game, where Square Enix took the first five hours of the original and rewrote vast sections of the game to make it all feel fresh for the 30 – 50 hour long campaign in the new release.
The Internet consensus seems to be that it has been done masterfully, which is great considering the massive gamble the developers undertook. However, what if some of our other favourites received the same love and attention? In this collection of 10 Role-playing Game remakes, I go through a variety of RPG games that I think deserve the remake treatment equally as much – if not more – than Final Fantasy VII.
Vagrant Story was one of the most unusual action-RPGs I played in my youth. In a way, it is the equivalent of the PlayStation 2-era Final Fantasy XII. It introduced a whole new tactical facet to the standard JRPG formula and interweaved it with the cinematic narrative that was unlike anything the console had seen.
In the game, you play as Ashley Riot, a skilled warrior known as a Riskbreaker. It is your mission to delve into the city of Leá Monde to hunt down a cult leader. In retrospect, the game’s deep battle system, focus on customisable weapons and gear, and challenging but fair combat; essentially made it way more Dark Souls than Final Fantasy – a worthy candidate for a remake, wouldn’t you say?
Microsoft Studios has a long line of games that showed extreme promise, but never really caught the eye of the general populace. One of these games is Lost Odyssey. It, alongside Blue Dragon, was a JRPG Microsoft had hoped would become a “console seller” for the Xbox 360. Strange, considering it was designed by none other than Hironu Sakaguchi himself! You know, the guy who created Final Fantasy?
In Lost Odyssey, you take on the role of Kaim, one of the immortals who have lost their memories. It is Kaim’s mission to confront threats generated by the world’s approaching “magical industrial revolution” while facing the pain brought on by his returning memories. Despite being licensed and published by a western company, Microsoft vowed to let developers Mistwalker make the game as faithful to the Japanese Role-playing Game genre as possible. The result was an underrated gem – the kind that might legitimately be a console seller when the Xbox Series X drops!
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Okay so hear me out. With the sequel almost here and various incredible spin-offs making the rounds, the first Bloodlines may not be the title everyone is looking forward to. However, there is a massive fanbase of players the developers have not tapped into, and that is a right shame!
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines released in 2004 to critical acclaim. Since then, however, the video game franchise has largely fallen to the wayside as its board game predecessor entered its fourth iteration, and licensing became more expensive. The game was phenomenal for its time, and thrives on the complex decisions it forces onto the player as they try to navigate a brand-new world of intrigue and politics as a fledgeling vampire. The game features incredible organic narrative decisions and an admittedly clunky combat system — all things that made it so dang charming to millions of players worldwide. Why not remake it in light of the sequel, and introduce it to millions more?
Final Fantasy Tactics
While pretty much every numbered entry in the Final Fantasy franchise is unrelated, Final Fantasy Tactics takes it one step further by doing away with numbers (and pretty much all other usual mechanics) completely. The only thing it does retain is the setting of Ivalice (as seen in Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII). What is wildly different, however, is the isometric and hardcore tactical approach Final Fantasy Tactics brings to the franchise. Weirdly enough, Tactics is also the most faithful to the actual meaning of the words “Role-playing Game” largely because of how deep all of its mechanics go.
In the game you follow Ramza Beoulve, a highborn cadet who finds themself thrust into the middle of a military conflict known as The Lion War. Admittedly, Final Fantasy Tactics has enjoyed multiple ports and re-releases over the years. The newest version, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, released in 2007. It brought enhanced graphics and a whole lot of scenes and localisation fixes to the game. This version also recently found itself on platforms like iOS and Nintendo Switch. This means the fanbase is there, now Square just needs to release a promising remake that properly brings the game into the 20th century!
Skies of Arcadia
Sega published a bunch of Role-playing games back in the day and Skies of Arcadia was one of the few I genuinely loved. It was also one of the largest I had ever played at the time – in terms of collectables and exploration (the main focus for the game). Naturally, the game received critical acclaim, but essentially became a one-hit-wonder that ended up quickly fading away and becoming forgotten.
This is strange since Skies of Arcadia was a promising and ambitious title. From a development team with staff who worked on Panzer Dragoon, Sakura Wars, and Phantasy Star, through to traditional RPG elements that mix beautifully with one of the coolest dang airships I have ever seen, I cannot fathom how the game performed as poorly as it did. Of course, it did not help when Sega exited the hardware industry, effectively killing the one reason to buy the Dreamcast. Perhaps the emerging era of consoles is the perfect opportunity for Sega to partner up with one of the established brands and release a timed-exclusive remake?
Legend of Dragoon
While Final Fantasy VII essentially became the one singular PlayStation 1 RPG everyone would forever look up to, Legend of Dragoon acted as a close second. To some (myself included), it is the far superior title between the two. Regardless, there is no denying how Legend of Dragoon ultimately performed way worse in terms of sales, and as such, became just one more of Sony’s proverbial cold cases.
Legend of Dragoon was way ahead of its time. It features incredibly cinematic battles, mixed with a combat system that requires precision input – something hardly ever seen in RPGs of the time. It also features a four-disc narrative and beautifully rendered cutscenes similar to the last Final Fantasy title to come to the original PlayStation 1: Final Fantasy IX. In Legend of Dragoon, you join up with a troupe of elemental warriors who can transform into flying warriors with magical abilities. Eight-year-old me has never seen anything cooler in a game, and you know what? I am still flabbergasted every time I see it today. Sony will make a lot of gamers happy if this game gets remade.
1999 was a busy year for RPG fans. Not only was it the year my personal favourite RPG, Final Fantasy VIII, released; but it was also the year Legend of Dragoon and Valkyrie Profile debuted. While I would desperately like to see remakes of all aforementioned RPGS, Valkyrie Profile deserves one just as much for one reason alone: its impeccable narrative.
While there is no denying RPGs are generally incredibly narrative-focused, having a female protagonist at the centre of the narrative was largely unprecedented at the time. Valkyrie Profile follows Lenneth, a valkyrie warrior as she travels through Midgard and collects the souls of slain heroes. The story focuses largely on how she collects these heroes either for revived warriors or as her companions whom she trains for the upcoming wars in Ragnarok. Not only is Valkyrie Profile based heavily on Norse Mythology, but it also faithfully tells many of its admittedly confusing tales with aplomb. Valkyrie Profile introduced me to Norse Mythology in the best way possible. Perhaps it can do the same for an entirely new generation of gamers?
While most gamers these days would think that Xenogears sounds similar to Xenoblade, and assume that they are some kind of spin-offs to one another, the truth of the matter is that Xenoblade is a spiritual successor to the former. Xenogears is arguably the most technologically-themed game on this list, with its armour-plated knights and huge mechanical suits.
While it may not look like it now, Xenogears featured some of the most advanced mechs in any game at the time (save maybe for Mechwarrior). It also featured an exceptional battle system called the Active Time Battle system – one which many more RPGs would adopt in the years after. In the game, you follow Fei Fong Wong as he and his friends journey across the world to overthrow Solaris, an all-powerful force ruling over the world. The game also featured extremely provocative themes of Jungian Psychology, Freudian Thought and Religious Symbolism – all facets of games you would only see come to fruition today. Perfect for a 2021 release, am I right?
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Like Legend of Dragoon, I have lobbied for a Knights of the Old Republic Remake since I first finished it in 2003. It was not only one of Bioware’s best and most well-written video games, but it also inspired Mass Effect. The main reason why it deserves a remake, however, is simply because the Star Wars canon has been scrubbed clean of most games released before 2018, yet the mainline films in the franchise still reference back to the very plot points featured in both Knights of the Old Republic, its sequel and its still-active Massively Multiplayer prequel.
Knight of the Old Republic is an incredible game where players take on the role of an amnesiac character who they find out is, ultimately, extremely gifted in the force. It tells the story of two dark lords of the force, Darth Revan and Malak, who usurped the republic and initiated an all-out war between the republic and Sith fleets. The game features an incredible narrative-driven story structure where branching paths and dialogue options prevail. Combat may be dated by now, but slap Mass Effect Andromeda or Dragon Age: Inquisition’s combat on it, and the game should already be more than perfect. This remake needs to happen if only to retain the awesome story of Darth Revan in Star Wars canon.
I would be loathed to make this list and not add Chrono Trigger. Time Travel, awesome characters and an extremely capable combo system that rivals combat systems modern RPG have put into place – you simply cannot go wrong with Chrono Trigger. The most amazing part of it all, however, is how the game has stood up to the tests of time in pretty much every single category.
Chrono Trigger is a love child between three legendary developers: Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy; Yuji Horii, the father of Dragon Quest; and Akira Toriyama, famed manga artist known for his work on both Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball. It revolves around a boy called Chrono who travels with his friends across time and space to prevent a global catastrophe or deal with the futures where the catastrophe has already taken place. It is honestly quite strange that Chrono Trigger has not yet received a remake. It was both critically and commercially successful with all of its releases across various platforms. A Chrono Trigger Remake is, quite literally, a cash cow waiting to happen.
Whether you like mecha, want to explore Norse Mythology or jump through time and space, there is no denying that at least one of the titles on this list would make you want to spend countless hours in its proverbial remake. While it is much easier to ask for 4K remasters of these titles, history has shown us that remasters often come with the bad business that is the original game’s various problems. Possible game-breaking bug right before the final boss? Those often stick around. Save Game loss after the second disc? Count that in as well. Naturally, good remasters do exist. The exemplary Shadow of the Colossus proves as much.
I also recognise that asking for a remaster is asking for a huge gamble. Should a game be remastered where it loses a lot of its original charm in favour of creating a new story, based on the old one, so it fits better with modern audiences and times? Should a remake truly just copy over what has been done before, only with brand-new assets and animations — what is the point in a remake like this? Naturally, Square Enix figured it would be best to look at the entire Final Fantasy VII Compilation (including titles such as Before Crisis, Dirge of Cerberus, the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie and more) and decided to recreate the original title to fall more in line with that. The result is an extraordinary title many critics have claimed is the best Final Fantasy yet. In this case, the gamble paid off.
With that said, I would personally like to see remakes of either Knights of the Old Republic, Chrono Trigger, or Legend of Dragoon (my top three). Of course, I would love to see all three of these titles come to life in a brand-new light. Heck, I would gladly take all ten of the games listed above, time and money be damned! Unfortunately, I am but one man.
A man can dream…