Now has never been a better time to be a nostalgic sentimentalist like myself. Publishers are going out of their way to make the classics I grew up on available through the latest platforms, and technology has advanced so far that yesterday’s console hits have transformed into today’s portable masterpieces.
Guys like me are doubly reaping the benefits because not only do I love playing and reevaluating my favorites from a more fun age of gaming, but about 90% of my playtime is spent staring into a Nintendo 3DS screen. A PS Vita is soon to follow once Sony releases the slim model in America.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that between Game Boy Advance, PSP and DS physical ports, PlayStation Network, Remote Play, and Virtual Console, nearly every single one of my favorites has been put on a portable device of some kind. Even iOS knocks out few classics like Secret of Mana and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic being available on the iPad.
It’s enough to make me toss aside console gaming altogether and just stick to handhelds and PCs for the rest of my life.
But alas, there are still too many classics holding me back from doing that. With the notable exception of a few high profile PSOne Classic JRPGs that STILL have yet to be released on the PlayStation Network, a full year to this week after writing that editorial no less, here are a few other console classics that have yet to find their ways onto the handheld market.
Final Fantasy XII
Now that Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 (which may or may not be inspirations for this editorial) are available for the PS Vita, every single game in the series main series up until that point, and including Final Fantasy Tactics, can be stored on a single device that fits snuggly in the recedes of your murse. Where else is there to go but up?
As much as I would love to go frolucking through Vana’Diel in the online only Final Fantasy XI on a Vita, adventure and drama from the realm of Ivalice calls me too much. I got a decent way into Final Fantasy XII back during its release year before finally succumbing to its enormous world and drop dead impossible side bosses. Nothing would please me more than to give it a second go and dig into every last corner of Square Enix’s sorely missed kingdom.
Mobile Improvements: The most obvious improvements would be the inevitable HD upgrade on the Vita and PlayStation 3, fully realizing Ivalice at the height of its power. This game struggles on the PlayStation 2, but wow would it be gorgeous if given just a small overhaul.
Square Enix can also get around to finally localizing Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System, a Japan-only reimagining of the game’s infamous license board system which restricts characters to a single job class. A new approach to the game, tough bosses to grind and plan for, and a huge world at my fingertips would make this one last quite a while on the long commutes through the Japanese countryside.
Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen
Sticking with the theme of Yasumi Matsuno, both a mobile port of Final Fantasy XII and this forgotten gem would make every one of his amazing games playable on the Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita. He’s a genius game designer and taking his entire library on the go would only make him all the better.
Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen is one of those magical games which defy all classifications and genres. Is it an real-time strategy game? Is it a JRPG? Who knows? What we do know is that this game was the result of Matsuno working totally unhinged and let free to create one of the most complex and impenetrable games of all time, let alone the Super Nintendo.
Alignment, morality, tarot cards, character customization, unit customization, army customization, it is a game of nearly infinite possibilities which could literallylast a lifetime if you wanted to see it all.
Mobile Improvements: Which is why a mobile port is so necessary. Without the limitations of the Super Nintendo, Square Enix could go back and create some actual menus, stats, and status bars to display all of these different elements. Yeah, you had to tangle with these systems totally blind back thenwith barely a tangible visual representation. Did Matsuno think we were all savants?
The RTS control scheme of this game would also do well with a touch screen as well as a simplified multiplayer option, making it ideal for the PS VITA or Nintendo 3DS.
I’d go with the Vita because a 3DS release would just be the Virtual Console game, and Square Enix already did justice to remakes of Matsuno’s spiritual follow-ups, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, on the PSP. All three games, along with Final Fantasy XII, on a single device would be the ultimate “desert island” combo from one of gaming’s finest minds.
Would you believe that Nintendo’s seminal masterpiece still hasn’t been released on any Nintendo handheld? We had handful of minor attempts to recreate its magic on the Game Boy Advance with Metroid Fusion and Metroid Zero Mission, but never have we seen Samus at her absolute best from a tiny screen in the palm of our hands.
Perhaps it might be for the best though. Super Metroid’s atmosphere, sound, and graphics might not be able to be appreciated from anything subpar from a full blown TV, and controlling it with anything besides a Super Nintendo controller feels like sacrilege.
Modern day Nintendo would probably also stupefy it with cutscenes, waypoints, and narrated dialogue for the DS generation, nullifying video game’s greatest story ever told through images alone and ruining what made it so unique.
Mobile Improvements: …How do you improve on perfection? You don’t. Next please…
Mega Man Legends and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
Three for the price of one in this section. I’ve been trying to steer away from games available on the PSP and PlayStation Network only in Japan because many are still enjoyable with a firm grasp on the Japanese language. However, that is exactly why I can’t ignore Mega Man Legends, its sequel, Mega Man Legends 2, and fun spin-off of the spin-off series, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. Half the reason to play these wonderful games is the localizations and all the goodness they bring into this cold dark world.
Mega Man Legends was a game so far ahead of its time, it even beat Ocarina of Time out of the gate when it came to creating lock-on targeting, facial animations and voice acting, and a fully realized and connected 3D world to explore. At the time, these weren’t so much games so much as they were living interactive cartoons where you could get acquainted with an entire island of fun faces and save a lot more than just the world from another robot invasion.
Mega Man Legends 2 also tells a deeper story, and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is just straight up cute and fun, perfect for quick fun on the go.
What makes it so heartbreaking is that this side series actually was almost destined to go full blown mobile. Capcom pulled one of the highest profile cancellations in history when development for Mega Man Legends 3 on the Nintendo 3DS got canned, forever leaving creator Keiji Inafune’s wonderful little story unfinished.
Add to the fact that the localization of the three PlayStation classics can’t be redistributed through PlayStation Network because of royalty deals made back in the day with a Canadian voice actors union. It might be possible if Capcom were to ever renegotiate and sink money into a Mega Man game that might actually make fans happy… right, it’s never going to happen.
Hope those fragile PlayStation CDs stay cleaned, kids because that is the only way you’ll ever be enjoying these fun games again. Never on the Nintendo 3DS. Never on the PS Vita. Never on anything except a black coated disc. Hope you kept your copy safe and clean over the years.
Mobile Improvements: No huge improvements can be made to these games through the aid of being on a mobile device outside of a little content that never made it our way, but that’s okay. I’d be happy knowing I could take all the friendly faces with me and lose myself in this game’s world whenever and wherever I wanted.
Nobody said handheld gaming was going to be easy. While the series has taken off in a whole new direction and under a new name to more expansive heights, the original Demon’s Souls is a prime target for the PS Vita.
The winding cumbersome worlds of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II are better suited for a living room and don’t make for the most comfortable of transitions onto a mobile platform with all the backtracking necessary in those games. Demon’s Souls thought made its footing on tight and slightly open level design that is far more suitable for quick bursts of action whenever you need a fix of FromSoftware’s popular series.
Plus, there is a train of thought recently that graphics mean nothing to this series’ success. Well, people who think that are plain wrong, but at least Demon’s Souls is technically the weakest graphically of the three. The PS Vita shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping up and cutting corners to still deliver a beautiful game.
Mobile Improvements: Obvious improvements would be a recreation of the game’s online community and further tweaking social interactions to maybe incorporate some of the better ideas Dark Souls had when it came to PVP.
Resident Evil 4
Here’s another shocking one, although I’m a little wary of putting this one on the list prematurely. You know Capcom is going to leap all over this game the second it is able to Stream this classic onto the PS Vita through remote play. It already has a capable HD Remaster primed and set on the PlayStation Network to make it happen, so what’s keeping you Capcom? Who wouldn’t want to play Resident Evil 4 on the go?
Not only is this on of the greatest games of all time, let alone the series, but its Mercenaries Mode is still one of the best sources for a quick booster shot of high octane action. Resident Evil: Revelations proved that the Nintendo 3DS crowd wanted Resident Evil on the go, and this is the obvious next step for Vita fans who have no alternative.
Mobile Improvements: Not much to tweak left, but if anyone can find a way to milk Resident Evil 4 even further, it’s Capcom. It is already the best game on the Gamecube, Wii, Xbox 360, maybe PlayStation 3, and it could very well be the best game on the Vita. Again, Mercenaries Mode on the go is an instant win, especially with leaderboards and the whole nine yards. Make this happen, Capcom! I have a feeling they will soon.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
I’m a big fan of Alpha Dreams Mario and Luigi RPG series, but there’s just something about the charm of this game that the newer games just can’t replicate. Maybe it’s the goofy prerendered graphics, the delightful set pieces, the self referential tongue-in-cheek humor, or the “lost but not forgotten” characters Geno and Mallow, but Square struck absolute gold when it made Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for Nintendo.
Like Mega Man Legends, this game has a world that is just easy to slip into and lose yourself for hours. It come jam packed with fun Mario references, original minigames, plenty of secrets of uncover, and a fun battle system which all but invented timed hits and dodges.
This game is the ultimate fans-service game for Mario fans as well as Final Fantasy fans, and while it’s available on your Wii U pad, you can’t take it beyond the walls of your house and play it on the Nintendo 3DS yet.
Mobile Improvements: No improvements necessary. Just a port would be fine, thank you.
Closing out our selections in a personal favorite Japanese indie title that has no reason for being stuck on just two platforms any longer. I can see why NIGORO brought the La Mulana remake to the PC, but why Wii Ware? When did the Wii crowd ever demand the hardest game of the last decade, and what is stopping it from being available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop?
Seriously. Cave Story, the game La Mulana can never quite escape the shadow of, even made the jump to the 3DS. Why can’t this game? Restrictions from Nintendo are more relaxed than ever, and NIGORO is kind of becoming a big deal with the sequel in full development.
Well, chances are NIGORO might not have enough money since the team is so busy always eating curry. It might also be considered too hard, but that’s all the reason to make it happen! The Nintendo 3DS is booming with challenging games from Japan, and now more than ever, the country is keeping this handholding notion that all games are supposed to be easy walkthroughs at bay.
La Mulana can sink an extended road trip during your first single playthrough, or it could suck up a quick drive to Grandma’s house if you know what you are doing. Fun for all, but never easy. Experts and newcomers alike have everything to benefit from a Nintendo 3DS port.
Mobile Improvements: Not too many other options. A few added secrets and backstory tablets might be nice to uncover. Perhaps a nice reward for finding them could even be the original game as a bonus option for those who aren’t masochistic enough with the remake.
Any favorites that I missed or any you’d like to see?