Eurogamer Q&A: Dream remasters
- April 1, 2019
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Some game franchises die. When a game isn’t popular enough to warrant a sequel, or a studio doesn’t love the core concept enough to bother with a reboot, that’s when a franchise dies. Sometimes it’ll come back, in twenty years maybe, but oftentimes it’s just done. Finished. And we get new consoles and throw out our old ones, and we forget about those games we loved at the time.
But what if commercial success wasn’t a consideration? What if we could wish forth remakes or remasters of our favourite titles?
I asked the Eurogamer team what they’d bring back:
Christian Donlan, Features Editor
Spy vs. Spy
Spy vs Spy back on the C64 was the first multiplayer game I ever really loved. And back then I had no idea how special it was. In all the years since I’ve never played anything quite like it.
It was a multiplayer game, but it wasn’t a death match. You could kill each other – that’s what black spy and white spy did in MAD Magazine – but that was somehow incidental to the main event. Rather than open conflict, this was a far sneakier affair. Spy vs Spy was a game about two spies in a single location, each trying to achieve the same objective.
The objective, I think, was to pack your diplomatic bag with a handful of items – passports, hahmoney, secret plans perhaps? And then make it to the airport and escape. The game played out in a sprawl of small rooms, and while there were two spies there was only one diplomatic bag and only one of each of the things you had to put in it.
So you had to be tactical. If you found the bag you could store other things in it, but otherwise you could only hold one of your escape items at once. So if you got something, you generally had to store it in a piece of furniture in one of the rooms. And because the other spy was almost certainly searching through all the furniture they came across, you should probably booby trap it too.
Man, those traps: springs hidden in a chest of drawers, a pistol rigged up to a door hinge, a bomb in a bed. Each item delivered the kind of comic violence the cartoon strip was known for, and each one had a counter, which means that your rival could side-step your booby trap if they knew what kind of booby trap it was.
And they might because in this local co-op game, you could watch your rival’s actions play out on their own screen, while they could watch what you were up to you on yours. God, it was funny – funny and violent and maddening and intricate. It made you feel guilty and it made you feel gleeful.
There have been remakes over the years, but it’s never really struck. But the thing is, I think the world is ready for this kind of game again now – now that the best multiplayer games are either Battle Royale or deeply quirky in their own specific ways. SpyParty, Splatoon, Arms: this is the kind of strange, surprising knockabout world that Spy vs Spy would slip into very easily. And once there it would place a spring inside a closet and send you spinning backwards to your doom.
Paul Watson, Social Media Manager
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
This is kind of cheating, because it’s not really a request for a remake or a remaster. It’s really more of a suggestion that Ubisoft pull their collective fingers out and invest some time in a game that they’ve seemingly left to die.
Scott Pilgrim, in case you weren’t aware, is a series of comic books written by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s a funny and occasionally bittersweet love story which expertly blends video game and pop-culture inspiration into the tale in a way that doesn’t feel jaded and forced (looking at you, Ready Player One).
Around the time that Edgar Wright dropped his (also fantastic) movie adaptation of the books, Capcom released Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Drawing more from the comic books than the movie, the game is a River City Ransom-inspired side-scrolling beat-em-up (I’ve already used up my hyphen quota for this article) which takes place across seven levels and follows the tituar Scott as he attempts to defeat love interest Ramona’s “seven evil exes”, in a bid to prove his worth.
Ubisoft worked closely with O’Malley on the look and feel of the game, and the result was a gorgeous pixel art jaunt through Toronto, backed by the truly excellent sounds of chiptune punk band Anamanaguchi. To this day, it’s one of the most convincing love-letters to old-school beat-em-ups that I’ve played.
Tragically though, the game was only released digitally on last-gen platforms, and more recently was delisted on those storefronts altogether – so if you don’t own it already, you never will.
I imagine the game’s disappearance has more to do with licensing issues than anything else, but I’d give a body part to be able to play it on current-gen consoles. Not a major one, mind. Maybe a pinkie finger or something. Or a kidney. I think I’d give a kidney for Scott Pilgrim – I don’t need both.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a brilliant game. And it deserves better than to lie forgotten on a relative handful of last-gen console hard drives.
Robert “Bertie” Purchese, Senior Staff Writer
It’s got John Cleese in it! Why has no one played Jade Empire? It’s like BioWare’s shady little secret, shut up in a wardrobe, chained and padlocked. I almost lost my potatoes recently when Mike Laidlaw (Mr Dragon Age) told Wesley BioWare was perilously close to doing Jade Empire 2.
I really enjoyed Jade Empire. OK the combat was half-baked but what if BioWare fluffed it up now? What if BioWare took a few sheets out of Sleeping Dogs’ book? That would be great! And what about that story? OK it was telegraphed a million miles off but what a twist, what an end battle! In many ways, Empire is like the naive little brother of big BioWare now – one with all the traits but showing them in cute, not-quite-self-aware ways.
Also, I miss everyone’s obsession with Kung Fu films brought on by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001. There’s a natural mysticism to them, and a peaceful, rural charm. It wasn’t long before Jade Empire (2005) the world went potty for Ghibli’s Spirited Away (2003), remember – it also wasn’t long after Kung Fu Panda took off (2008), and the Kung Fu Panda films are brilliant I don’t care what you say.
So a remake of Jade Empire please, BioWare, or just a sequel – you choose.
Tom Phillips, News Editor
After years upon years of gritty shooters which were not allowed to have a colour palette, Overwatch, Fortnite and even Splatoon have taken us back to a place where being a shooter can also mean being colourful, characterful and over the top. Shooters absolutely can but also absolutely do not have to be about stabbing someone in the neck while calling in a nuke. They can, instead, be like TimeSplitters, which is in drastic need of a return.
TimeSplitters 2 was my university FPS game, the way people a year or five older than me played GoldenEye inbetween ignoring essays and downing cans of Carling. Its cast of characters – monkeys, historical caricatures, alien hybrids – got everyone playing, and while matches would get tense, there wasn’t much you could do but laugh at being knobbled by someone playing as a school of fish using a homing launcher while miniaturised and running super fast. Perhaps it’s no surprise that TS2’s best modes were essentially reskinned playground games – Virus was British Bulldog with flames, while Flame Tag was It with a timer. And then there was the campaign mode, whose levels I’m now running through in my head as I type this. Out of the Siberian cave, left of the security cameras, timed mines fired onto the top of the satellite dish…
Despite the recent return to more colourful shooters, there’s still nothing quite like TimeSplitters. It is inherently silly, in a way you could never see working for very long back at EA in the brown shooter days of the early 2000s. Now, though, I really think it could have a shot – and there have been times when it seemed possible: when Crytek bought the license and gauged fan interest, when the whole of TimeSplitters 2 was hidden in the code of Homefront: The Resistance. The memory of TimeSplitters, TS2 and TS Future Perfect remains, long after the days of its developer Free Radical Design, dormant but not forgotten.
Matt Reynolds, Guides Editor
What happened to Grandia? I don’t know the ins-and-outs of what happened to the series or its developer, Game Arts, but it’s a decade since Grandia III on PS2 – and even then that didn’t reach European shores.
Grandia felt like it was on the verge of becoming one of the next Japanese role-playing greats, adopting Final Fantasy’s penchant of resetting its cast and universe with every installment, while keeping a cracking turn-based battle system, which used time and distance in how attacks played out, and one that’s arguably never been bettered (it was so good that Ubisoft’s own take on the JRPG, Child of Light, was inspired by it.)
The original Grandia would be the one I’d like to see return most, I think, with lengthy crawls through long-forgotten ruins, dense jungles and run-ins with a mysterious corporation hot on your heels, all in the spirit of adventure. It was a long, long game, though, and not one you would commit to lightly – stick in a fast-forward option like Final Fantasy 12, though, and I’m all in.
I’d also happily settle for the (probably better) sequel, with its tighter pacing, superb soundtrack and flurry of plot twists, and one that’s probably ‘easier’ to properly remaster with a recent PC re-release.
But whatever form a comeback takes, Grandia’s return feels long overdue, and a remaster with even the most simple of quality-of-life additions would be most welcome. And with its 20th anniversary on the original’s release PlayStation next July – ahead of a quiet few summer months, perfectly suited for a lengthy JRPG – the timing would be none better.