Love it or hate it, but the trend of HD remastered games will probably continue for the foreseeable future. This practice by developers and publishers has polarized the gaming community, with one camp supporting the trend, and the other demonizing it as a cash grab and lack of innovation. Quite frankly this practice is an attempt to squeeze new life and profits out of a popular franchise, but it’s not entirely evil.
There are many fantastic games from the pre-HD era that younger gamers, or those who were busy at the time, never got to play. Why shouldn’t they get the chance to take these types of titles for a spin on a new system with improved graphics? For the most part games from the 8 and 16-bit eras are no longer available for the systems they were made for, and you also have to factor in that gamers who want to play them still have to own the right console to do so. Shady gamers could obviously steal a ROM and play these titles, but where’s the fun in being a dick? Some old school RPGs have been released for mobile devices, but the lack of a controller just doesn’t offer the same type of experience that can be had on a console setup.
One of the more popular genres during the 90’s was the Japanese RPG. That decade was a golden age for killer JRPGs, and many gamer’s all-time favorites are rooted in this timeframe. Personally, I’ve yet to truly enjoy a modern JRPG, so I sat down to think about which games from my youth I’d love to play again, but in HD on a new console. Four games in particular really stood out as being my most memorable JRPG experiences from the 16-bit era, and ones deserving of an HD makeover. Without further adieu here are the four (rank has no value) 16-bit RPGs that would kick some most righteous ass in HD.
4. Shining Force 2
Sega had a run of awesome RPGs in its time, and Shining Force 2 is one of the better titles to grace the Genesis. The tactical RPG nature of the game made it very addicting, and quite possibly introduced many first time RPG players to the concept of grinding. Earning enough XP to promote your forces to see their new looks was worth the price of admission. Arranging your forces and strategically placing them on each battle map made you feel like a General, and the story of good versus evil is as time honored as it gets. The more open approach to the story was a change from the original, but it made the game feel a bit less structured. There’s no doubt that Bowie and the Shining Force would look stellar in 1080p.
3. Shining Force
If you haven’t figured it out by now I am a huge fan of Sega’s Shining Force franchise that debuted on the genesis. This 1992 gem is the very first RPG game I ever played and truly enjoyed. In fact, it’s the first JRPG I ever completed. At this point in my life I’ve beaten Shining Force at least 15 different times, and each playthrough is just as enjoyable as the last. Like the sequel, the true joy of this tactical game is leveling up your heroes to promotion rank and then asking the local priest to raise their station in life. Just seeing new costumes and attack animations was worth all of the grinding to level up Max’s entire Shining Force. Again, just like SF2, there’s no doubt that this game would shine on a next-gen system, or just with a new coat of HD paint.
2. Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana was a trend setter for its era. Rather than offering the traditional turn-based battle system featured in nearly every JRPG before it, Mana employed a real-time battle system that allowed you to switch between three different characters at will. It was similar to playing Zelda, but with a three person team. It still packed in some heavy RPG elements with a leveling system, magic, and crafting, but somehow Mana felt like a different genre. The game’s music is unforgettable, and the story takes you on a journey from outcast to hero. Secret of Mana looked fantastic on the SNES, so just imagine what it’d look like on a modern system with more bits than a computer program?
1. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is considered by many JRPG fans as one of the best ever to grace the genre. It was developed by the JRPG “Dream Team” consisting of : Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy creator), Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest creator), and Akira Toriyama (manga artist for Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball.) There’s no denying the level of talent between these Japanese developers, and it showed in the finished product. Chrono Trigger offered character driven side quests, visible enemies on the map, an engaging battle system, and more endings than today’s most ambitious titles. For its time it sported some of the slickest visuals ever present on the SNES, so there’s no denying that an HD makeover would only revitalize the rabid fan base of this 16-bit JRPG classic.
Feel free to list your own 16-bit RPG HD makeover candidates by using the comment system down below.
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