I’ve got to be completely honest: I really didn’t expect to do another one of these articles this soon. But after a single game and this catchy title popped into my head, I was determined to come up with another roster of five games to make this article a reality. What’s really surprising is just how quickly I was able to, but inspiration strikes at weird times. The main reason I never felt bad that this series didn’t take off is because for the most part, I can’t really think of many games that deserved to be remade, whether due to their obscurity or how they failed to live up to their potential the first time around. As such, every single Remaking History article could be the very last – so it’s best to enjoy them while I’ve still got ideas.
Of course, this entire series came to fruition simply due to my annoyance with remakes. Much like with film and television, the vast majority of video game remakes are based on games that don’t really them. Typically, they’re handed off to teams that can’t figure out how to improve them or somehow end up producing a product that is somehow worse than the source material. It is a crying shame that for every MegaMan Powered Up or Ys: The Oath in Felghana we see, there is an ocean of pointless remakes out there. As such, Remaking History’s entire purpose is highlighting games that I think deserve to be remade, either because they weren’t so good the first time around or just didn’t age well and could benefit from a modern overhaul.
Last year’s format worked significantly better than that of the first article, so I’ve decided to repeat it for the sake of ease. After listing each game, I’ll be asking three necessary questions that explain each of my decisions. First, what is the game I think needs to be remade? Second, why does it need to be remade and why should the companies that own these games bother with a remake in the first place? And finally, how do I suggest the game be remade? That is, which elements should be changed and which should remain the same from the original version? With that being covered, let’s move on to my first candidate:
Devil May Cry 1 & 2
The pair of games that inspired me to take another crack at this series in the first place.
The original Devil May Cry is the codifier and progenitor of the sub-genre many refer to as “character action games”, inspiring a plethora of titles including God of War, the Ninja Gaiden reboot and Kamiya’s later work, Bayonetta. The brainchild of one Hideki Kamiya, the game’s concept was originally pitched as the fourth Resident Evil game, before it was decided that it was too much of a departure from the series’ status quo… so they just ended up making it into its own franchise instead.
Devil May Cry 2 was the sequel to that game… and that’s really the only nice thing I can say about it. DMC2’s development was so disastrous, that the original director’s identity was never revealed and Hideaki Itsuno was brought in during the final four months of production to salvage the project. Considering the fact that he went on to take a leadership role on all future mainline titles in the series to this day, one can only imagine just how bad the game would’ve ended up without his involvement.
The original Devil May Cry was an impressive game in its day, but as I often say, it has aged like a gallon of milk hidden under a radiator for a decade. The HD Collection managed to fix the game’s control scheme to bring it in line with future games in the series (and the genre in general), but these were not the only issues the game had. There are also several plotholes in the first game’s story that don’t really add up with the majority of lore as we understand it today, so a remake could easily remedy these problems and expand on the events of the game. Besides, it’s been nearly 18 years since the original game came out: the first Resident Evil got a proper remake six years after its original release!
Devil May Cry 2, on the other hand, was never considered good. Yet, despite the fact that it has very little bearing on the franchise’s lore or development – both the detested reboot from Ninja Theory and the eye-roll inducing anime had more of an impact on DMC5 than the second game did – Capcom refuses to just strike the game from its canon. In fact, it got so bad that they ended up reshuffling the timeline of events before DMC5 was released. Capcom will often put unpopular games in a series at the end of their respective franchise’s timeline and DMC2 was no different. But when the fifth game rolled around, the order was shuffled around and DMC4 became the latest game in the timeline – a feat which took very little effort, given how much the third and fourth game just outright ignored DMC2. In fact, the only reference made to the second game in the lead up to DMC5 was in a Japan-only light novel prequel to the game. If Capcom doesn’t have the guts to outright de-canonize the game, they might as well rework it into something worth remembering.
Well, Capcom did recently knock it out of the park with Devil May Cry 5, so recycling the engine from that game seems like a no-brainer. And while the first two Devil May Cry games technically have more missions than DMC5 did, they’re also significantly shorter. So it would probably be easy enough to just consolidate DMC1’s 23 missions and DMC2’s staggering 31 – though that includes both Dante and Lucia’s campaigns – into a game roughly as long as DMC5. Better yet, it would allow the game’s events to be rewritten to bring them more in line with the rest of the series, particularly given DMC3’s status as a prequel to both games. Considering that the first 3 games are already available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – and DMC1 was recently released on Switch – there’s no worry that the original versions of both games would be forgotten, so there’s really nothing to lose. Best of all, a remake of the first two games (or even just the one of them) would provide hardcore DMC fans with something to keep them busy until DMC6 comes out.
The best part is, this isn’t even the most obscure game on this list.
Back in the early to mid ‘90s, as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat struggled for dominance over who would be the true king of fighters in North America – both within the rapidly decaying arcade market and on home consoles – there were a slew of imitators trying to get a piece of that sweet financial action. Ranging from good games that did their own part to help push the fighting game genre forward (SNK’s offerings, Killer Instinct and of course, 3D fighting games like Virtua Fighter and Tekken) to piss-poor knockoffs that only served to bloat the market and accelerate its decline (far too many to list), there were always so many choices that we never had to refer to games in this style as “Street Fighter clones” – an achievement few other genres can boast.
On the lower end of the quality spectrum (but not nearly at the bottom) lied Atari’s best attempt at breaking into the genre: Primal Rage. Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world that greatly resembled prehistory, players took on the role of various deities – that greatly resembled giant apes, dinosaurs and even a snake with legs – as they fought for dominance in this new, broken world. While the game included gory fatalities meant to ape those found in Mortal Kombat and a mechanic involving eating humans to restore one’s health, the game didn’t take itself seriously with Chaos’ moveset relying mostly on toilet humor and one of Vertigo’s secret fatalities involving turning her opponent into a cow. A second game was planned but didn’t see release until several years later in an incomplete state. Its story was, however, used as the basis of a novel called Primal Rage: The Avatars.
Another aspect that I find interesting is the history of the franchise’s ownership. The game was originally released by Atari Games, but when the company went under, it was sold to Williams’ who rechristened the company as “Midway West”. Then once Midway went out of business, the majority of their IPs were purchased by Warner Bros., who as far as I know, currently own the IP.
It’s basically Mortal Kombat with Kaiju.
…what, you want more of an explanation? Honestly, the concept alone warrants a second look, but the original Primal Rage came out at the worst possible time. By 1994, 3D fighters were beginning to emerge and the stop-motion look pioneered by Mortal Kombat was quickly becoming passé. To make matters worse, the home console releases managed to bridge across both fourth and fifth-generation consoles. This left us with a game that 16-bit consoles (and to a greater degree, contemporary handhelds) were woefully unprepared to bring home the arcade experience in any meaningful capacity. However, the 32-bit platforms didn’t fare much better, due to how new and unfamiliar their emerging technology was to developers. Couple that with the fact that the sequel only ended up getting cancelled due to the decline of arcades in North America and it’s clear that Primal Rage wasn’t long for this world.
Worse yet, the concept itself was underserved by the 2D gameplay. After all, SNK’s King of the Monsters franchise handled a similar theme of giant monsters duking it out, but they used contemporary pro-wrestling video games as a basis for their concept.
Well, for starters, a full-on reboot of the original concepts from both games might be a good way to handle the storyline of a new entry in the series. Ideally, it would be a mixture of Mortal Kombat 2011’s take on previous games with Killer Instinct 2013’s reimagination of existing elements from the first two games.
As for gameplay, I saw they should ditch the 2D fighting style and go for arena-style combat akin to my favorite kaiju-themed fighting game of all-time – Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee. While the environments present in the old Primal Rage games wouldn’t be quite as interesting as a variety of cities, it would probably lend itself really well to the follower-eating mechanic and allow the Gods of Urth to showcase their size and strength in inventive ways. Considering the fact that Warner Bros. are likely the owners of the franchise in this day and age, maybe they could even negotiate the King of the Monsters himself to make a guest appearance. Failing that, I’d settle for the cast of Rampage showing up.
Of course I’m going to put a Falcom game on here.
It’s kind of hard to describe just what Popful Mail is. Technically, it was the only game in its series – but it has four iterations with different stage layouts, gameplay mechanics and even tweaks to the story. The original version that was developed internally by Falcom was released on NEC’s PC-88 and PC-98 line of home computers and essentially played like a hodgepodge between Falcom’s Dragon Slayer and early “bump-combat” Ys games. The only version that came to the West was the Sega CD version, which was developed by Sims and was the most radical departure from the original game. It is also considered by many to be the best version of the game. Originally, there were plans to modify this version into “Sister Sonic” for the West, a spinoff based on Sega’s popular Sonic the Hedgehog series, but fan backlash led to Working Designs picking up the game instead and giving it a proper (at least for the time) localization. There was also a version of the game on Super Famicom also developed by Falcom which more closely resembles the Sega CD version and the PC Engine CD released developed by Hunex was the final console port and the one that most resembled the original release.
Players take on the role of Mail, an elven bounty hunter that is terrible at her job, who is hunting down the rogue wizard Material Muttonhead. Along the way, she meets up with Tatto, a meek mage who was once Muttonhead’s pupil, and Gaw, a cute dragon creature. Once the other two characters join the party, players can switch between them from the pause menu and while they each have their own health meter, if any one of them runs out of health, it’s game over.
It’s really hard to gauge Popful Mail’s status within Falcom’s library. While there was technically only one game, Falcom did produce several pieces of merchandise related to the game and even shopped it around to anime production companies in the hopes that one of them would produce an OVA based on the game. While it’s become more obscure with age, there are still fans out there. After all, I even finally managed to sit down and play the game just last year.
Falcom hasn’t been as healthy as it is now in years, to the extent where they’re even expanded their staff to a size that would allow them to work on more than one project simultaneously. On top of that, with the conclusion of the Erobonia arc in their Trails series, the next mainline game in the popular series won’t be coming out for some time. While Falcom is currently working on Ys IX: Monstrum Nox and they have been considering turning the one-off Tokyo Xanadu into a proper series, there are several other old intellectual properties they could revisit as well.
While Popful Mail isn’t exactly the most popular game in Falcom’s library, a revival would fall in line with Falcom’s recent pivot towards prioritizing Western audiences more than they did in the past. After all, the Sega CD version of Popful Mail was one of a handful of Falcom games that actually released in the West back in the 90s. And despite only starring in a single game, Mail was considered among the most recognizable Falcom protagonists back in the ‘90s, receiving several drama CDs based on the universe and heaps of remixes in Falcom’s then-yearly Special Box series of music CDs.
While my itch could easily be scratched with a proper re-release, the problem is that the version I played wasn’t even developed internally by Falcom. And while that’s the only version with an existing English translation, it was handled by Working Designs – so the status of the localization’s ownership is in question (and the English dub itself could be an entirely different matter). Falcom would likely be able to work with the original PC-88/98 or Super Famicom versions, but commissioning translations for those versions and porting them to modern hardware could be a risk few localization companies would be willing to take.
Honestly, I don’t see much of a need to reinvent the wheel on this one. Keep the game a side-scroller – that alone would differentiate it greatly from the vast majority of Falcom’s modern output – and perhaps, lean more into the Metroidvanian aspects of the action-RPG. Perhaps streamline the mechanics to make it more palatable to modern audiences, but no drastic changes. Ideally, this would probably be a budget project, so maintaining the shorter length of the original releases shouldn’t be an issue with this new version. Who knows? Maybe a new version of Popful Mail could prove so successful, we could get a brand-new adventure afterwards and Falcom could finally achieve the prominence they wanted for the series back when it first released.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I got the idea to do this one from an episode of Region Locked.
One of the last games Sega released on the Saturn – and the final game released for the system in Europe – Deep Fear is an odd duck. Clearly reeling from the fact that Capcom’s Resident Evil series dropped the Saturn after the first game, Sega decided to develop their own foray into the burgeoning survival horror genre with Deep Fear. The game was developed with a Western audience in mind and there were even plans to release the game in North America, but this version was likely cancelled due to the impending release of the Dreamcast and the unlikelihood that an American release would recoup the costs associated with it.
Deep Fear and Resident Evil play similarly enough with an emphasis on resource management and fixed camera angles, but their settings couldn’t be any more different. While Resident Evil serves up zombies in derelict mansions and chaotic cities, Deep Fear takes place in an undersea research facility and the monsters are mutated humans and animals that fell victim to an alien parasite. And while the game has plenty of weapons and ammunition, it’s oxygen that’s in scant supply – the mutants detest it. The player is forced to use rebreathers, activate generators and even use oxygen grenades to attack the mutants. And despite the copious amount of weaponry, the player must use it wisely: gunfire reduces the amount of oxygen available in the current area.
But as far as I’m concerned, the controls are the most impressive aspect of the game, especially when compared to Resident Evil 2, which came out the same year. Not only can players move and fire at the same time, but using the Saturn 3D Controller allows the main character to move freely with the analog stick – no more tank controls! Not even Resident Evil 3: Nemesis or Code: Veronica managed to make it past that limitation.
Truth be told, I’m a sucker for obscure Sega games in general. But the concept behind this game seems incredibly interesting. Honestly, if Sega didn’t have issues when it came to emulating Saturn games, I’d just want a straight up port or remaster of the original game. Unfortunately, considering how they had to effectively remake games like Dynamite Deka, Panzer Dragoon and Virtual On back when they were re-released on the PlayStation 2 in the Japan-exclusive Sega Ages 2500 budget line of games, I doubt that Sega would put the resources in to create a proper emulator strictly for an obscure game few people remember.
Just like Popful Mail, I don’t think there’s much of a need for reinvention here. Giving Deep Fear a fresh coat of paint similar to the 2002 remake of Resident Evil seems like the best solution for a re-release. Replace the laughably bad voice acting with something competent – be it in Japanese or English – expand on the game’s setting and Deep Fear could be a moderate success, given the lack of proper survival horror experiences from mainstream publishers these days.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
To be honest, these lists wouldn’t feel complete without at least one trip down memory lane.
The earliest first-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe, at least as far as I can tell. Players take on the role of Kyle Katarn, who joined the Empire after hearing that the Rebel Alliance had murdered his family, only to discover the truth and become a mercenary allied with the Rebels. One year later, he acts as a spy within the Empire, to investigate new developments. In the process, he discovers the “Dark Trooper Project”, leading to the development of advanced battle droids and super soldier Stormtroopers with power armor.
The game originally launched on DOS, Macintosh computers and, to a far lesser extent, the original PlayStation. Nowadays, it’s available on Windows, Mac and Linux through digital storefronts like Steam, GOG and Origin. For the time, the game was considered revolutionary: it ran on the Jedi game engine, which was built specifically by LucasArts for this game. It allowed various gameplay features that weren’t common in FPSes back in 1995, including stage layouts with multiple floors and the ability to look up and down, as well as adding various non-combat items to players to help them navigate various areas. For example, an air mask that protects Kyle from toxic atmospheres, cleats to gain traction in icy areas and a head lamp which both allows Kyle to see in dark areas, but also alerts enemies to his location.
Honestly, I always felt that Dark Forces never got its due, back in the day. The series didn’t really take off until its direct sequel, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, where it’s revealed that Kyle is actually force-sensitive and begins learning either the way of the Jedi or the Sith, depending on the player’s preferences. It’s to the point where the entire series is generally referred to as the “Jedi Knight” franchise. Even I fell victim to the hype here – but could you blame me? Jedi Knight let you wield force powers and pick out which color lightsaber you had. That was a pretty awesome sales pitch for a child at age 9.
And while Limited Run Games appears to be planning a huge slate of Collector’s Editions of classic LucasArts Star Wars games – including the aforementioned Dark Forces – it’s not like the game wouldn’t benefit from a fresh coat of paint. The game’s mechanics and features may have been revolutionary back when its main competition would’ve been Master Levels for Doom II, but it just doesn’t hold up when compared to today’s standards.
I guess a proper remake with modern design sensibilities taken into account would be ideal, but I couldn’t tell you which developer could do the concept justice. There’s also the issue that later games in the series were significantly popular, but if it were pitched in the right way – play up the fact that the game takes place during the original trilogy timeline and involved the Empire at its pinnacle – there might be interest for the game. Ideally, we’d be looking at something akin to 2016’s Doom reboot, but frankly, I’d be willing to settle for something akin to the 2013 version of Rise of the Triad: keep most of the design decisions from the original game, but recontextualize it with fluid controls and other changes to emphasize intentional difficulty as opposed to just maintaining problems that would’ve made the game a chore to slog through back in 1995.
And that makes five more remakes I’d like to see. While last year’s article wasn’t quite as successful as the original Remaking History – in the sense that none of the remakes I suggested were actually made – that’s no longer the point of these articles. At this point, I would say that they’ve become more of a mental exercise than a legitimate wishlist: looking back at classic games that haven’t aged well and determining the best route to bring them to modern audiences just feels cathartic in an age where remakes feel like they’re becoming more and more common, but still tend to focus on beloved games that don’t really need them.