9 Games We'd Like to See Kiwami'd
In the current videogame generation, we have no shortage of re-releases, remakes, and reboots. Few have done so well to garner the kind of acclaim like SEGA’s 2017 release of Yakuza Kiwami, an HD remake of the first game repurposing assets from the more recent Yakuza 0.
Too often, remakes can stray too far from the source and lose the original’s magic, like SEGA’s own PS2 Altered Beast, or they adhere to close to the original making the remake mostly useless, like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VI remake. Yakuza Kiwami straddles a fine line between complete remake and high definition re-release by upgrading everything visually, keeping the same story and concepts intact, while adding some fantastic new elements which flesh out not just its gameplay but its characters as well.
I think more games deserve that Kiwami treatment. Here are just a few titles that would really benefit from an update.
With the release and popularity of Nier Automata, another crack at Yoko Taro’s Drakengard series is due. It not only introduces Yoko’s signature use of multiple interconnected endings, it also ties in narratively with the Nier games. When the original was released onto the PlayStation 2 in 2003, it was praised for its unique twists on the fantasy formula, but was maligned for its repetitive hack-and-slash gameplay. Adding a little depth to the combat while updating the graphics could open up the series to a whole new audience interested in more of Yoko Taro’s work.
Dark Cloud (series)
Offering an interesting blend of action-RPG dungeon crawler and city-builder, Level-5’s Dark Cloud games were exclusive for the PlayStation 2. You started off the game playing as one character and eventually unlocked five others, opening up gameplay for new ways to approach combat and puzzle solving -- all the while learning about these characters’ backstories and the story of the world and why it fell apart. While emulated versions of both games are available for PlayStation 4 via its online store, fixing the originals’ bland environments and overly complicated inventory system while updating it for modern consoles could turn the games from a cult favorite into a widely loved series.
In recent years, due to the release of Persona 4, Persona 5, and their numerous spin-offs, Atlus’s dark fantasy RPGs starring high school students have gained a massive international following. Unfortunately, the original Persona is lesser known. The original American release, known as Revelations: Persona, changed so much of the game’s contents it was barely recognizable. Outside of that and some less than legal means, the only other way to play the original game is the Playstation Portable port with its reworked English localization -- but requires having a PSP or a PS Vita. It would be great to see the original Persona played out using a modern 3D game engine with all the improvements to the battle system and social links of Persona 4 and 5.
Jet Set Radio (series)
Both Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future feature some of the best soundtracks ever found in a videogame. An eclectic mix of hip-hop, J-pop, rock, and many other genres, it was a game out of its time. The series was also one of the first to use cel-shaded graphics, and they still hold up well today. But once again, much like other games from this era, the controls do not hold up – especially in later levels where the awkward, floaty joystick movements make you a sitting duck for the game’s relentless pursuing cops. Tightening up controls and putting the series on modern consoles would make these an instant classic.
A series unseen since the release of Shadow Assassins on the Wii and PSP, Tenchu was one of the first major stealth action series to hit consoles. Though the first entry was well-received, the sequels were unfortunately less so. Even more unfortunately, unless you’re willing to track down a physical copy on their native consoles, most of them remain painfully out of reach. Coming across a traditional stealth game in this day and age is becoming tougher than ever, seeing as there hasn’t even been a Splinter Cell in many a year; it’s an time for a return to the original Tenchu, which could really use a graphical upgrade and some touch-ups to its controls. We need a return to the good ol’ days of stealth games where you put poisoned rice on the floor for random guards to stumble across and eat, and Tenchu is the way to do that.
Grand Theft Auto (PS2 series)
The Grand Theft Auto series is one of the most popular and best-selling series of all time, but it only really entered the mainstream consciousness starting with Rockstar’s three PlayStation 2 entries: Grand Theft 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. The games mostly still hold to this day, but even when they were first released, they had some terrible vehicle controls (everyone remembers the RC plane missions from San Andreas). While later games have revisited these cities, but it would be interesting getting a renewed look at Grand Theft Auto’s series-defining moments. The neon landscape of Vice City in particular would be fantastic on modern hardware.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (series)
We’ve seen two well-received Star Wars movies in recent years but only two major Star Wars games. Back in the early 2000’s, in the heyday of the infamous prequels, there were so many Star Wars tie-ins – good and bad -- across a multitude of consoles that you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a podracing game. Maybe Disney is worried about damaging the brand since acquiring the franchise, but if it can survive the prequels, Super Bombad Racing, and Jedi Power Battles, it can survive a few remakes of its classier entries. That’s why I would like to see a shinier version of the original Knights of the Old Republic games. Yes, we still have The Old Republic MMO, but it’s not the same. KOTOR has seen re-release on mobile devices, but being able to play the games again on a high-definition screen with polished visuals and perhaps new story content would be a delight. While Disney is apparently trying to distance itself from the “Expanded Universe” Star Wars has accumulated over the decades, and EA doesn’t seem too keen on making single-player games anymore, the fandom surrounding KOTOR in particular would ensure any remakes would be well-received.
Silent Hill 2
Out of all the games on this list, this is one that will never happen. Silent Hill 2 is a moody, atmospheric, distressing horror game that no other game in the 16 years since its release has ever come close to replicating. What’s most upsetting is that this game did see a re-release as part of the Silent Hill HD Collection in 2012, but it was so thoroughly botched with the removal of the series’ signature fog and the introduction of new bugs and technical problems that it isn’t remembered fondly by fans. Unfortunately, it’s also currently the only version that looks good on modern televisions. This game is a treasure and deserves a high definition version worthy of what made the original so memorable.
As I sit here writing this entry, my brain is repeating the “Oh No You Didn’t” song from the Mercenaries 2 commercial. The Mercenaries games did open-world destruction before the Just Cause series got to it and they had an interesting ‘Deck of 52’ way of hunting down targets that combined missions with collectibles. A version of this now would do well with modern co-op missions and online leaderboards… On the other hand, it takes place in North Korea, so that might discourage any ideas for a remake.