So after a bit of a hiatus, I feel like it’s time to bring back this old chestnut. On the plus side, since the last time I wrote one of these articles, I managed to score a victory: back in April, we saw the re-release of MegaMan Legends 2 on PSN as a PS1 classic. That means that the entire trilogy is now available to modern audiences. The first and second games in the series even managed to make the sales charts that month. Of course, that doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, like it would with PC ports, but who knows? Maybe more companies will raid their forgotten IPs in a way that will be beneficial to me and anyone else who wants to see the same missing games of yesteryear resurface.
Fourth verse, same as the first. Let’s go over the rules I’m using to make this series happen. I’m going to be looking at games from the 6th generation (you know, the one that consisted of Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox) and earlier. I’ve decided to focus on one company for each article, and because I live in North America, I’m not counting any international re-releases, so if anyone decides to be a smartass and tells me I can buy some of this stuff on Japan or Europe’s services, well, that just doesn’t cut it for me. If I can’t buy it legitimately from America, I’m not counting it. I’ll also be discussing any potential improvements that could be made to these games, in cases where the games themselves would receive an HD re-release. To make things reasonable, I’ll also be avoiding games that saw re-releases on 7th generation and later consoles, via PlayStation Classics, Virtual Console or anything like that. Sure, more substantial re-releases than Sony’s and Nintendo’s emulations would be preferred, but they’re better than nothing.
This time, we’ll be looking at a company I generally love, but wouldn’t count among my favorites – Bandai Namco. Or is it Namco Bandai? Regardless, even when both companies were separate entities, they were both responsible for some great games, and unlike another merger that quickly comes to mind, they still manage to churn out many games I love. I must admit, Bandai Namco is actually fairly good when it comes to re-releasing games, so coming up with this list was a little difficult. Nevertheless, I’ve still got 10 games here that I’d love to see resurface in one form or another.
Soul Calibur III: Arcade Edition (Arcade)
I’m probably in a minority, because I personally believe that the last good game in the Soul series was Soul Calibur III. Unfortunately, the original PS2 release had some glitches and some balance issues. For some bizarre reason, the original version of the game hit PS2 and a later iteration was released in Arcade, with some additional content.
Potential Improvements: Obviously add in online multiplayer, as was done with the Online Edition of Soulcalibur II. Upgrade the graphics, so the game doesn’t look like a blurry pixelated mess on high-definition displays. I’d also try to include all of the content from both versions of the game.
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (FC)
I’m a big fan of the Splatterhouse series, and while 2010’s reboot of the franchise included the other main entries in the series, this curiosity was left out of the mix. Wanpaku Graffiti was a self-aware parody of the Splatterhouse game with a cutesier super-deformed artstyle and the games’ infamous gore replaced with violence of a more slapstick variety.
Potential Improvements: Considering the game’s already in English, I’ve really got nothing to add. Maybe just make sure if it hits Virtual Console, it hits both platforms, instead of just one of them.
Fighting Layer (Arcade)
Has anyone ever wondered what happened to Allen Snider and Blair Dame after the first Street Fighter EX? Wonder no more, because many of them resurfaced in Fighting Layer, a 3D fighting game developed by Arika, the same company behind the SFEX games. A game strictly exclusive to the arcades, Fighting Layer was not so much a unique game, as it was simply quirky. In addition to the standard roster of 12 characters, some more original that others, the game’s single-player arcade ladder pitted players against several unique computer-only opponents, including a giant knight and a menagerie of deadly animals.
Potential Improvements: Same as I usually ask for with fighting games – a solid netcode and some way of improving graphical fidelity due to higher resolutions. The former’s obviously more important than the latter, though.
Soul Blade (PS1)
I know I don’t usually like to add more than one game from a single series to these lists, but I definitely think the forgotten first chapter of the Soul series deserves way more love. Known as “Soul Edge” in Arcades and the Japanese version, Soul Blade was a perfect blueprint for the series to come in a way that most first iterations of fighting games fail to be. It was also the first game in the series I played and what made me fall in love with the series in the first place.
Potential Improvements: Honestly, I’d be willing to take this one as-is if it shows up as a PS1 classic. Otherwise, same as usual – competent netcode, proper upscaling so the game doesn’t look worse than it always did. If they decide to go with the upgrade route, however, I would have to insist on keeping all of the extra goodies from the PS1 version.
The Outfoxies (Arcade)
Probably the most obscure game on my list, The Outfoxies is a unique game, which I actually encountered for the first time at my local arcade, Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL. The Outfoxies is a 2D arena-style combat game that has been compared more frequently to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. than traditional 2D fighting games. Players take on the role of 1 of 7 possible assassins, hired by the mysterious but talkative Mr. Acme. The characters include a wheelchair-bound professor, a pair of once-conjoined twins and even a chimpanzee in a top hat.
Potential Improvements: Online multiplayer is a must. The standard filters and an image gallery would be nice too.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2)
I have something of a weird relationship with the Klonoa series. My first actual exposure to it was playing the remake of the original game on the Wii, which I personally wasn’t a fan of. Seeing footage of the original version on PS1 made me interested again, so I decided to pick it up on PSN. Surprisingly, I liked that version way more than its “superior” remake, don’t ask me why. Having said that, I was perplexed to hear that the second game hadn’t been re-released as a PS2 classic, either on the PS3 or PS4. Clearly, if the first game warranted a re-release, then why not the second?
Potential Improvements: A straight PS2 classic re-release would be perfectly fine, though I guess with the PS4 version, that would require trophies. Nothing too ornate.
Starblade Alpha (PS1)
I’ll be honest, the only reason I’m remotely familiar with this game is because Namco used it as the loading screen mini-game in the PS2 version of Tekken 5. Regardless, it was a fun game and I was surprised to find that it was also released as its own individual game for the original PlayStation. An on-rails space shooter not unlike Star Wars Trilogy, Starblade may not have been the longest game but it’s still a pretty fun time-killer.
Potential Improvements: Again, I’d probably just make this a PS1 classic. If you were to do an enhanced port, I’d probably include both the original arcade version and the home conversion, for the sake of completion. It might be interesting to compare the two head-to-head.
Tail Concerto (PS1)
Another fairly obscure choice, Tail Concerto is generally best described as a MegaMan Legends-clone starring anthropomorphic animals. CyberConnect2’s premiere title, Tail Concerto was the first iteration of the Little Tail Bronx series, which even earned a spiritual successor/spin-off for the Nintendo DS, Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. The Little Tail Bronx series has a small cult following and a re-release of the game that started it all might spark more interest in the series. Unfortunately, the original North American release of this game was handled by Atlus USA, so it may be a hard sell. Then again, we did recently see a re-release of the original SNES version of Breath of Fire, a game developed by Capcom but translated and released in America by Squaresoft. So there may be a possibility.
Potential Improvements: A straight re-release as a PS1 classic seems like the best option. If Bandai Namco decides to port it to a new platform, I’d just upgrade the textures and provide a new translation – because I’m sure Atlus owns the rights to the original.
We Love Katamari (PS2)
I always found the Katamari Damacy games somewhat interesting. The minimalistic artstyle, the unique end-goal of collecting a giant ball of junk in order to create a star, the catchy soundtrack, it’s all good. Of course, the original Katamari Damacy is already available as a PS2 classic on PlayStation 3. Not so much for its direct sequel, We ♥ Katamari. Considering it was the last game with any involvement from the series’ creator Keita Takahashi, it seems like an important game to preserve.
Potential Improvements: Again, I’d probably just keep this a standard PS2 classic. If it got a proper re-release, I’d probably just want enhanced graphics to fit with the larger resolution and online options for the game’s multiplayer modes.
Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 1 & 2 (GBA)
These were the games that actually got me interested in the SRW series. A crossover mainstay in Japan, combining many giant robots from various pieces of Japanese media, the Super Robot Wars series has been active since the days of the original Famicom, across several platforms. The West got its first taste of the franchise in 2006, with the back-to-back releases of Banpresto’s first non-copyright laden attempt at the franchise, focusing entirely on Banpresto’s original characters from various games in the franchise, christened the “Banpresto Originals”. I picked up these games on the Game Boy Advance way back when and still own them. To this day, I’d still probably consider Super Robot Wars to be my favorite turn-based strategy series of all-time. Since then, we in the West haven’t been able to get any more releases in the series, but we have still managed to see cameos in the Project X Zone games that have made it westward.
Obviously, I’d prefer a full-on English release of the PS2 remake, Super Robot Wars: Original Generations, but considering the amount of legwork that would likely take, I wouldn’t mind just seeing the Game Boy Advance games we already saw released in English hit Virtual Console instead. Granted, this is another game in the hands of Atlus USA, so as with Tail Concerto (and on an unrelated topic, the original Guilty Gear), I’m sure this one has many hurdles to cross before any re-release could be obtained.
Potential Improvements: A straight re-release would probably be the best. Like, I said, an actual English release of the games’ extended remake would be amazing, but likely also prohibitively expensive.
This time, the honorable mentions are a bit unusual, since I had to use all of my more obvious choices on the list itself. I-Ninja, a 3D platformer for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube; the Rolling Thunder games, which appeared both in the Arcade and on the Sega Genesis; and both Ridge Racer Revolution and Rage Racer – two PS1 racers. Obviously, the real gems were on the list itself, but I think even these honorable mentions deserve a chance at new life. Hopefully, even more games will re-emerge from their slumber and find new life via digital distribution.