Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Ced's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.
It is said that nostalgia makes any memory sweeter, but if you’ve ever played any of the following retro games and game series, I’m sure you’d agree they were masterpieces back in their days.
If you were a fan of any, I’m sure you’d also agree that these titles deserve to be remade. Simply put, wouldn’t you want to re-experience the stories, the gameplays, the characters, etc, but with the added benefits of today’s gaming technologies?
I most certainly do.
1. "Fudō Myōō Den"
Fudō Myōō Den (不動明王伝) has a rather dour reputation in western markets, because the English version, Demon Sword, was utterly terrible.
In fact, Demon Sword was so awful, it couldn’t even be considered an American port. The original Japanese premise was reworked into some sort of barbarian wasteland saga. Even the structure of the game was meaninglessly re-arranged.
The original Fudō Myōō Den, on the other hand, was an exotic immersion in Japanese mythology and culture. A parade of Japanese folkloric archetypes too, with many bosses drawn straight from Noh drama and stages correspondingly designed to befit these characters.
At the same time, there was also a pretty kick-ass soundtrack, particularly the intense boss fight theme. Together with Getsu Fūma Den, this retro NES game established my lifelong love for Japanese and Shinto mysticism. I would truly love to see the bosses and stages remade with today's superior tech.
Actually, I even still hum the boss theme when euphoric. I also unconsciously do so when exploring the actual temples and shrines of Japan.
2. The Laura Bow Series
A big fan of whodunit stories since age 11, I’ve played many murder mystery games since the late 80s. None, however, left as deep an impression on me as The Colonel’s Bequest and The Dagger of Amon Ra, i.e., twin titles of the Laura Bow Series.
There are several reasons for this, foremost of which being the soundtracks and developer Sierra On-Line’s masterful storytelling. Complex characterizations, loads of macabre deaths, and the need for some degree of real sleuthing further saw me obsessing over both games for weeks back then. To share, both titles are substantially tough, particularly for the careless. I had to replay both a couple of times before I could get the good endings.
Add to which, there’s the Jazz Age backdrop, an era regarded as one of the most dazzling periods in American history. Can you imagine how that would look and feel with modern graphics technology?
To be clear, I’m not asking for an exact remake here; there’s no point since the killers for the two retro titles are long well-known. I’m instead hoping for new Laura Bow mysteries to solve. The intrepid reporter she is, surely these two cases aren’t the only ones Miss Bow has ever cracked? There has to be more. Many more.
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3. “8 Eyes”
Thinking Rabbit’s 8 Eyes was a rather obscure platformer released for the NES in 1988. Though it featured an unusual combat system involving a falconer attacking with his pet, reviews for the game were mixed too.
I myself rather regret buying the game back then. In all, I found the ambient music too gloomy, the gameplay too difficult, and the graphics too much of a Castlevania clone.
As a much older and more experienced gamer now, I began to appreciate the potential of this retro game as far as cultural showcasing is concerned. To highlight, the stages of the 8 Eyes are set in different parts of the world, and despite my complaints about the graphics back then, there was still some joy in jumping between the stages. As in, in a sort of “traveling the world” way.
With modern graphics capabilities, and perhaps a respectful dash of the Metroidvania formula, would a remake be a wholly different playing experience? It’s anybody’s guess.
I should highlight too that while I hated the BGMs back then, they grew on me in recent years. As an adult, I finally appreciated the musical intricacies involved.
4. The Space Quest Series
I am biased in my preferences when it comes to retro games. However, I doubt any player will debate with me when I say Sierra On-line was one of the top and most successful developers in the 80s and 90s.
Legendary for its highly successful Quest series, Sierra is today, also widely recognized as a pioneer in open-world gaming development. As for which Quest series I’m most fond of, I would say it’s the Quest for Glory series. But when it comes to which Sierra retro game series I would love most to see a modern version of, I will immediately put it as the hilarious Space Quest series.
Space Quest. The intergalactic adventures of Roger Wilco. One of the most bumbling, most adorable, most ridiculous space explorers throughout gaming history.
If you’ve ever played any of the Space Quest games, I think you can understand my choice. Always hilarious from start to end, each Space Quest episode is a loving homage to science fiction and pop culture. All the bizarre and ludicrous locations poor Roger inevitably finds himself sent to or trapped in also ensures there is always something to look forward to.
The summary, a new Space Quest adventure built on today’s gaming technologies will be a galaxy of laughs. With the potential for even more outrageous humor and more devilishly diabolical traps.
And after playing The Odd Gentleman’s remake of King’s Quest in 2016, I’m more convinced than ever that my predictions will be right. Oh Roger, how I long for you to once again bring me to the Spinal Frontier!
I played Sorcerian on the PC in 1989, and I fondly remember it for three things.
- The unique blend of platforming and RPG elements.
- The extremely catchy soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro, one of the top names in 80s video game music.
- The weird kick of seeing a line of characters bounce all over the screen while firing torrents of projectiles. It’s like a human dragon spewing magic everywhere!
Jump forth to modern times, developer Falcom did release some sequels for Sorcerian; there was even one for the iOs system. However, most if not all of these felt like rehashes of the original title.
To be honest too, I'm not quite sure how a remake of this retro gem would be. There’s a certain chance of any remake being no more than an insipid mirror of other JRPG titles like the Tales series.
Still, I have such great memories of this retro game and its music, I would be happy for anything. I dare say just the name of it alone would be enough to convince me to buy the early release. Probably, the deluxe version too.
6. Hiryū no Ken Series
Hiryū no Ken (飛龍の拳) was a retro fighting game series developed by Culture Brain in the 80s, with releases right up to the Nintendo 64 era.
For me, the franchise was especially memorable because starting from Hiryu no Ken II, Culture Brain started incorporating platforming and RPG elements. As well as basing many enemies, weapons, and skills, on Asian mythological characters.
Admittedly, the results weren’t always admirable as far as gameplay was concerned. For example, platforming stages were hopelessly clunky. In some parts, monotonous too.
Nonetheless, it was in all, a bold attempt to create an enthralling Anime-like world. One rich with mythos and in which an MMA fighter could be the avatar of a Tibetan demon or the shape-shifted form of a Hindu god.
With today's gaming technology, do you think a truly unforgettable open-world experience could be possible given a remake?
Needless to say, Hiryū no Ken has the potential for an awesome MMORPG too. Just imagine, you could play as different classes of martial artists. You could also wander all over East Asia during your quests, occasionally popping over to spiritual realms. The only word to describe such a saga is, wow.
7. "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark"
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a notorious and naughty retro game from the early 90s. One glimpse at the box art and you'd understand why.
A mixture of survival horror, exploration, and crafting, this macabre classic has you wandering around a spooky castle in the effort to save Cassandra Peterson's famous witchy persona from ghastly death. Truth be told, though, while the game was showered with accolades, I remember the controls being frustratingly stiff. After a while, the horror elements felt predictable too.
But, this was still a homage to Elvira. A gorgeous B-movie icon that has unfortunately been somewhat forgotten. The sorceress that 90s teenage boys like me longed to worship too.
Please, bring our mistress back in full 3D glory! Yes, 3D. Hair and spiders and all. While at it, increase the spells and potions available for crafting too.
I promise I will place an order for the collectors’ version, the moment any remake is announced.
9. "Altered Destiny"
Back then, almost every gaming shop I patronized promoted this adventuring title by Accolade as a copy of Sierra On-line's many Quests titles.
In many ways, it was, although it was also nowhere near as polished as Sierra’s flagship series or other similar retro titles.
At the same time, Altered Destiny was also incredibly difficult, with the gaming logic and pathway often impossible to figure out. (I never did complete it)
Over time, though, my hazy memories of the bizarre locations and characters morphed into nostalgic fascination. To the extent, I nowadays often think of the game whenever seeing a weird new gaming location.
The short of it, I'd seriously love to have another go at this retro title if only to determine whether age had made me wiser, or should I say, quirky enough to finally understand the logic needed to beat the game.
This time, I'd have the whole online world of hints and FAQs to help me too. aRRaRRa, you wouldn't be able to squash me so easily this time! I’ll finally figure out the way to defeat you!
9. The Phantasie Series
The oldest retro game series on this list, Phantasie I was the very first RPG that I played on the PC in 1988. After which I obsessed over Phantasie III for several months in 1989.
By today's standards, this retro game series by the long-defunct Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) is also a rather run-of-the-mill western medieval RPG. But again, who knows what modern touches a remake would bring?
With modern RPG series like Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls mostly opting for action-based fighting, it would also be interesting, refreshing even, to revert to turn-based gameplay.
Plus, I do long to be reacquainted with the main villain, Nikademus. That name has stuck in my head since the mid-80s. Come on, how could anyone not be fascinated, for life, by a name like that?
10. "Dragon Wars"
Interplay's Dragon Wars, released in 1989, was the PC RPG I moved onto after completing Phantasie III. In all honesty, my first impressions of the game weren't at all positive too.
The graphics didn't impress, especially when compared to what I was then seeing on the NES. The dungeon crawling was also repetitive and at times, confusing.
Worse, the game had a tough first chapter that required substantial grinding. If I remember correctly, I needed over a fortnight just to get out of that "Purgatory" and into the main story proper.
As I pressed on, though, the game's inventive mix of classic fantasy, corny humor, and social satire began to grow on me. The game's troubled world of Dilmun also became increasingly fascinating with every new spot I found. We’re talking about a whole realm full of lore, tragedies, and political conflicts the likes of Bethesda’s Skyrim.
Jump forth 30 years, I’ve played many other fantasy RPG titles but yet I still think about Dilmun. I also cannot forget Dragon Wars’ endgame weapon, the emphatically named Sword of Freedom.
Would I ever get to wield this legendary weapon again? In a remake? I’m keeping my hopes high. Very high.
Wonderful Retro Games That Have Been Remade I.E. Removed From This List
Since writing the first edition of this list in 2016, I’m pleased to announce that two of my original entries have been “remade.” These being:
- Getsu Fūma Den: In May 2021, Konami finally released a hack-and-slash remake named Getsu Fūma Den: Undying Moon.
- Leisure Suit Larry: Developer CrazyBunch released two direct Larry sequels in 2018 and 2020 respectively. These sequels saw the return of protagonist Larry Laffer and him tackling modern insensibilities.
In the case of the Larry games, I am happy to share that though the stories are new, CrazyBunch fully paid homage to the original Sierra On-Line titles. Down to the choice of art style, music, and gameplay.
Getsu Fūma Den: Undying Moon, on the other hand, is a pretty different playing experience compared to the original NES/Famicom title. Nonetheless, the game’s visually striking Ukiyo art style coheres to the spirit of the 80s title. Many gameplay elements are also loving homages.
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© 2016 Ced Yong