Remasters We Really Need
I’ve written a lot about remakes and remasters lately, but by and large they have been for games that are already easily available. Where’s access to the titles we really need?
Like, sure, it’s fantastic I can play Grand Theft Auto 3 on my Xbox Series X. But Liberty City Stories is forever trapped on PSP (or PS2 if you want the inferior version). Same goes for Vice City Stories.
There are two entries in one of the most major franchises of all time that are just not playable in any sensible way. Wikipedia tells me they’re available on mobile stores, but it doesn’t appear for me when I search.
They could have been DLC for the GTA Trilogy collection. Lord knows they sold enough copies to make that profitable. But no. They remain, to me, trapped on PSP or PS2.
And that’s really what this article is about. There are so many fantastic games that have never been re-released and yet hold an important place in gaming history. For the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to talk about games in major franchises in this article, because by default they deserve a release. I could write endlessly about Mad World, the Resistance trilogy, Jet Set Radio Future, Timesplitters, Eternal Darkness and so on. And they should be released. But they don’t have the benefit of the doubt that major franchises have, and that’s a story for a different day.
I’m also not going to touch on games that have already been remastered. It’s a tragedy that Sly Cooper got an HD Collection on the PS3 and remained trapped there forever (today via cloud). But again, if there were value in re-releasing it, it would be re-released.
Remasters We Really, Really Need
Already mentioned are the two GTA games that are completely in limbo, and I’m going to mention Metal Gear Solid 4 in the first line too. It’s so obvious, and is the only mainline game in that franchise that cannot be officially played today. You can add in Portable Ops and the two Ac!d games, because obviously the franchise needs freeing. Luckily that might happen. The new collection naming format implies more is on the way. And there’s only so much Vol 2 can hold that isn’t already available.
Licenced games are always going to be more difficult to re-release, but it happening so rarely is a shame. Star Wars is a great starting point, especially if you don’t include PC. All three Rogue Squadron games are sorely missing from modern devices, as are the Knights of the Old Republic games from PlayStation. The remake probably won’t ever happen. Add in some of the old Marvel games, the Transformers games and more. These names have only gotten bigger since their original release – porting should be a matter of duty at this point.
Sonic Frontiers was fantastic, and the films are taking the franchise to new heights too. But Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 06 and many more older titles are unavailable. A collection of the Rush and Advance games alone would be worth its weight in gold.
Hell, if we’re talking mascots, you don’t have to look very far. Crash’s entire PS2 catalogue is locked away, despite the successful PS1 remakes. Mario Galaxy 2 is still locked on the Wii, not to mention the host of spin-offs that you cannot play legally today.
Sometimes it feels like every game has been remastered or remade, and we’re just cycling through them. The GTA Trilogy has been done twice now. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 were released for the PS2, the PS3, made better for Xbox One X and then released again on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Final Fantasy 7 has had remakes and remasters and is officially available everywhere. Final Fantasy 9 has a remaster and a rumoured remake.
Here we’ve taken the briefest look at games in major franchises still locked away. There’s no excuse for most of these not to be available in some form today. Yes, licensing is often an issue, and that no doubt accounts for some of them. But, equally, not being blockbuster must-haves in 2023 probably accounts for as much.
I don’t think they’re evilly holding back. I just don’t think there’s the demand to re-release some of these that there needs to be. Outside of Simpsons Hit and Run, I guess, which could have easily sat above.
They’re forgotten because they’re forgotten. But as entries in major franchises, that isn’t good enough. They deserve to be playable today.
In the future we’ll revisit this topic with less viable titles, including remasters already released and important games that just don’t have the brand appeal today that they once did.