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The PlayStation One games that deserve an HD upgrade [Feature]

9 Jul 2012  by   John Robertson
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Every week there seems to be a new announcement regarding some game from a bygone era getting the HD re-release treatment. Just recently we’ve had releases of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, the Devil May Cry games, the Silent Hill series and Street Fighter Alpha 3.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Final Fantasy VII is the latest of the PlayStation One stable to get the HD rumour mill treatment although, sadly, that looks like a straight re-release rather an visually upgraded one. Seems like these publishers are confused as to which games need the HD treatment. Handy, then, that we’re here to provide them the answer.

Below are nine PlayStation One games that we’d love to see reinvigorated with the help of high definition. Why nine? Because we originally had ten but then decided that one of them shouldn’t make the cut. We’re not easy to please.

Oh, and you before someone comes up with the “developers shouldn’t be lazily rehashing their old games” line, this is an industry which too often sees the next game as the best game. We forget the great examples of this industry too quickly, they deserve to be repackaged for a fresh audience.

Vagrant Story

Square Enix made a lot of RPGS for the original PlayStation. Amongst the Final Fantasy’s, the Chrono Crosses and the Front Missions’s was Vagrant Story, a game criminally overlooked in the west. Seriously, it sold so few copies that that finding a copy on a friend’s shelve is as likely as walking into your local Weight Watchers and seeing Oprah Winfrey in a mankini.

For that reason, it’s unlikely to get an HD upgrade. But it does deserve one.

The complexity of the combat system alone means you’ll have achieved a positive gameplay-to-price ratio before you’ve mastered a quarter of the available strategies. A narrative that unfolds with an unusual patience, some better than expected puzzles and visuals that lay shame to virtually everything else released in the same year only strengthen the argument that Vagrant Story deserves a second chance to capture the audience it was owed the first time around.

 

PaRappa The Rapper

Forget Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the rhythm game genre really kicked itself into the big leagues withPaRappa the Rapper. Not only did PaRappa set the standard for timed inputs, it set the bar at a level that has been drastically lowered in terms of personality and sheer for-the-hell-of-it fun.

Your teacher was a onion, for God’s sake. Beats the hell out of those Aerosmith avatars they tried to flog us in Guitar Hero.

PaRappa was a pioneer, it’s time for comeback tour.

Metal Gear Solid

What the hell!? Konami released the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and refused to include the original game? Top marks for the person who decided that that was acceptable.

Admit it, you might like MGS2 and MGS3 but they’re not as good as the original game. In fact, barely any PS1 games (games on any platform, for that matter) can hold a Codex to Snake’s first adventure.

It wasn’t just the stealth gameplay. It was the way the story was told through a near perfect mix of cut-scenes, lengthy chunks of dialogue and in-game interactions. It was the larger than life characters that fit snugly within their world and in amongst one another. It was the pace of the game, interspersing narrative among the action with a flair that has rarely been equalled.

C’mon Konami, let’s see that original Solid vs. Liquid face-off without the pixelation.

Twisted Metal 2

The new Twisted Metal is good, no arguing that. It captures the spirit of the earlier games while (largely) successfully adding all the mod-cons like online play, full-fledged single player campaigns and bugs that required patches to fix. What it did better than anything else, though, was remind just how beautifully pure Twisted Metal is when it’s done right.

It has never been done any more right than it was in Twisted Metal 2. Think of it like the originalTwisted Metal, only with improved explosions, more diverse weapons and a much, much bigger set of balls. Make that two sets.

If that’s not something you want to see in HD, I don’t know what is.

Driver

Remember when Driver was good? Y’know, before it became caught up with a story about a guy in a coma who can access people’s minds in a script penned by the same people kicked off the Shark vs. Octopus writing team? Y’know before it become Driver: San Francisco.

The original Driver was hard, it was original, it was technically brilliant and it was brilliantly fun. Above all, it was memorable.

Reflections were able to pull off a large open-world on a 32-bit console, a feat that made Driver stand out amongst the crowd and made it (along with Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer) one of the most important vehicular-based games of PlayStation era.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

When most people think of full 3D action adventure games on the original PlayStation, Tomb Raider andMetal Gear Solid spring to mindToo many forget just how brilliant Soul Reaver was, and still is. There are people out there that love it, but those people are too few.

Soul Reaver deserves a place of remembrance at the very top of the PS1 tree, in and amongst its more famous genre brethren. An HD remake is worth the effort if only to see lead character Raziel in a level of detail that matches his brooding, revenge-driven nature.

Of course, unlike the rest of the games of this list (probably), Crystal Dynamics might just have something up its sleeve.

 

Xenogears

Coming a year after Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears stands as the all-conquering proof that Square Enix are capable of creating something that’s at least on par with their more famous series. Featuring a more adult storyline than the vast majority of games released on PS1, a brilliant soundtrack, a fine example of a turn-based battle system and vivid visuals, it’s easy to see why Xenogears is the favoured choice of many a PS1 RPG aficionado.

Nowhere near enough people have taken the plunge with Xenogears, though, and that a crying shame. People are missing out.

However, more so than any of the game’s on this list by some distance, Xenogears is a tough and uncompromising game and one that demands a lot from you while refusing to hold your hand or treat you like anything less than an adult. That means that sales are likely to be low and an HD upgrade is extremely unlikely, unfortunately.

 

Rival Schools

Not quite the undisputed classic that the rest of the games on this list are, perhaps, but Rival Schoolsis no less fun and no less deserving of a visual enhancement. The forgotten black swan of Capcom’s fighting game catalogue, Rival Schools had all the elements of a classic Japanese beat ‘em up; it’s fast, it’s colourful and it’s very over the top.

The cast is outlandish to say the least, exactly the kind of thing that ought to be re-experienced in 1080p. Plus, any excuse to go through the (admittedly basic) story of multiple schools fighting it out in bloody battle is okay by me. As a bonus, it features Street Fighter’s Sakura, so that’s always good for at least a couple of hours of entertainment.

 

Ape Escape

Before HD there was the Dual Analog pad, and for a long while no game took on the challenge of incorporating those two sticks into gameplay as well as Ape Escape did. Pretty much every third-person game out there today uses the right-stick to control the camera, but Ape Escape (a game released 13 years ago) had a much more interesting use for it – controlling items.

Whether it was spinning the stick around to rotate a speed ring around your body, or flicking your net in whichever direction was necessary to catch that damn monkey, Ape Escape remains one of the best examples of how to put a single input device to good, multiple uses.

Ape Escape has appeared as recently as 2010 in PlayStation Move Ape Escape, but that hardly does the series justice. Now, an HD remake… that would come much closer to hitting the spot.

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