Video games came of age during the 90s.
So many different genres, styles, and franchises took root during the decade. It’s hard to keep track of them all. The 1990s saw the transition from 2D games to 3D, the introduction of the analog stick, and an ever growing repertoire of games that wanted to tell big epic stories. Every year a new genre-defining game was released, there are dozens of masterpieces that come from that short ten-year window. Games were growing up.
A lot of the best games of the era have already been remade. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, and Grim Fandango are too good to stay buried. Believe it or not, all of those games were released in 1998 alone. Be it by fans, the original developers, or a new talented team, a lot of seminal works have already been rebuilt for newcomers to enjoy.
We have tried to tackle games that haven’t already been remade.
Remaking a game isn’t just about heightening visuals or recording new audio, it’s about getting all of the baggage out of the way so a title can breathe. The technical nature of games means that there will always be things that become old or dated. A remake can serve to make a defunct game accessible for kids or players who missed the boat at release. Remakes can also help to preserve history, letting us learn from older games' successes and failures. Remakes are important.
25 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
There’s an argument to be made that A Link to the Past is not only the best Zelda game but one of the greatest and most influential video games of all time. It is a game with a legacy worth preserving. Harnessing new technology to bring A Link to the Past to the modern age could be breathtaking.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past established the modern Zelda formula. Kakariko Village, the Master Sword, and dimensional travel all debuted in A Link to the Past. Not just that, but when it released in 1991, it was an unparalleled genre-bending title. It blended action and role-playing styles with high concept adventure game mechanics, and state-of-the-art visuals. It was an absolute triumph.
24 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger set our imaginations ablaze. Released in 1995, Chrono Trigger was a dream project co-developed by industry luminaries Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest), and Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball). These are the creators of world-famous mega series beloved by people of all ages. It’s hard to imagine so much talent coming together —not stepping on each other’s toes— and successfully delivering on everything they set out to achievement.
Chrono Trigger is one of the defining Japanese RPGs of the era. The music, the art, the characters, there is so much life in Chrono Trigger’s time-travelling romp it’s unbelievable that it hasn’t already been remade. Of course, fans of tried, but until Square Enix decides the time is right, I guess we’re stuck with ports and emulation.
“It’s a Zergling, Lester.” Remembering being introduced to Terrain, Zerg, and Protoss for the first time? StarCraft’s universe is so entrenched in gaming culture it’s hard to remember a time before the term “zerg rush” existed. When StarCraft released, it wasn’t just one of the most refined RTS games to-date. StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War brought jaw-dropping cinematic with them, and established Kerrigan and Raynor as major players in the universe.
There needs to be an engaging way to play through the entire StarCraft saga again — the original game needs to be remade. Beginning the StarCraft II campaign without any backstory or context is doing the world Blizzard has built a disservice. Moreover, a lot of us grew up with the quirk and zingers of the original StarCraft — it would be nice to experience all of that with 2017 UI and controls.
22 Silent Hill
Silent Hill is already a bible of style. Someone needs to crack it open and draw out all its inspiration into a proper remake.
The first Silent Hill doesn’t get enough credit. Yes, it’s a horrific and moody game that established the venerable series, but it’s also packed with directorial detail you didn’t see much of in PS1 games. Silent Hill played with camera angles and lighting in fascinating ways, and weaved Akira Yamaoka’s masterful sound into gameplay extraordinarily.
It is devastating that Konami killed the series’ next entry Silent Hills (better known as P.T.), which looked like the best hope of seeing the franchise return to its former glory. With any luck, the wellspring of Kickstarter campaigns trying to capitalize on P.T.’s success will result in some truly terrifying horror games.
21 Super Mario 64
The most cherished magic castle in gaming deserves to be recreated. Nintendo packed Super Mario 64 with so much intrigue, surprise, and detail it was hard to get over. They did this in 1996 — imagine what Nintendo could build today. For a lot of players, Mario 64 was the first 3D game they ever got their hands on and it’s hard to believe it came out twenty years ago.
Super Mario 64 did get an update as a launch game for the original Nintendo DS, but it wasn’t a proper remake. If anything, the DS version was a step down from the original, adding useless features and additional characters that broke some of the game’s design. What we want to see is Princess Peach’s castle, fully restored and sparkling with wonder. We want Nintendo to breath life back into a classic game. Super Mario 64 was a masterpiece, it deserves the star treatment.
It is blasphemous that there is a Hideo Kojima game that isn’t available to play on modern machines. Kojima is one of the industry’s few auteurs —among the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, and Tim Schafer— whose name carries a significant amount of clout. His body of work should be readily available for historical purposes … Or just give us a Snatcher remake so we can enjoy it.
Clearly inspired by Blade Runner, Snatcher is a narrative-heavy cyberpunk adventure game. Snatcher is a textbook example of something that should be re-envisioned. It has a cult following, critical praise for days, and it was only available on the Sega CD in North America. Like any Hideo Kojima game, Snatcher has a unique flair that we would be a thrilled to see recreated in a modern light.
19 Bushido Blade 2
Bushido Blade 2 is from a time when big companies took more risks. Developed by Squaresoft in 1998, Bushido Blade 2 is a one-hit kill fighting game. Fights in Bushido Blade 2 were not won by items or time restrictions; patience and precision won matches. If you never played Bushido Blade 2 or its precursor, you’re missing out — every match was a duel of wits. It also used an a-typical camera, that let your combatants move around a 3D space, making use of platforms and obstacles to their advantage. Landing a non-fatal blow would wound an opponent disabling them in substantial ways. Getting hit, weakened, and still finding a way to deflect your opponent and emerge victoriously was unbelievably satisfying — we need a modern remake of the original.
18 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
We want to play them all again. The Super Nintendo Donkey Kong Country trilogy is a superb set of platformers. If there were only going to be one, though, we would have to choose Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. The pirate-carnival aesthetic of DKC2 is the most defined and flashy of the three. Getting to relive the dazzling lights and foggy decks of DKC2 would be such an amazing treat. Building on the already revolutionary graphics of the first game in the series, Country 2 sketched out a lively world we want to revisit. It was also the first game in the series to feature Dixie’s hovering move, which added a perfect wrinkle to the Kong’s arsenal of abilities. Between new visuals and re-recording the game’s funky soundtrack, a Donkey Kong Country 2 remake would amaze players all over again.
17 Sam & Max Hit the Road
One of the great LucasArts games that needs a revitalization. The anthropomorphic pair, Sam and Max haven’t been seen in awhile, which is a shame. Sam & Max Hit the Road is part of a long line of success. The game was released after LucasArt's acclaimed Day of the Tentacle in 1993. So many other LucasArts games have been revived in the past few years, why not the hilarious crime fighting team?
Sam and Max debuted as comic characters, created by Steve Purcell, and Hit the Road is based on the similarly titled comic: On the Road. The misadventure follows the two chasing after a stolen carnival attraction: a frozen bigfoot. Yes, we need to see this adventure play out again in a remake right away. The time is right, and the license has found its way into the hands of Telltale Games, who are responsible for some of the best video game adaptations around.
The storyline of Xenogears is simply fabulous. Created by Tetsuya Takahashi, Xenogears is a genuinely sophisticated and heady drama about religion, politics, and identity. Its spiritual successors, the three-part Xenosaga series, and ongoing (Nintendo owned) Xenoblade tackle the same themes as the original. Although the “Xeno” games are still being made today, there is nothing quite like the PlayStation 1 original: Xenogears.
Xenogears needs to get redone so that we can see the story fleshed out the way it was meant to be. There’s no denying that a fresh coat of paint could help the world come to life. Gameplay-wise, Xenogears is built on the traditional Active Time Battle system originally found in Final Fantasy IV, which could also use some spit-shine. The 90s was a great time for Japans role-playing games and Xenogears is among the best left behind.
15 GoldenEye 007
Can you even count the number of hours you have spent playing GoldenEye 007? No matter where you played it, in your dorm room, at your friend’s house, practicing alone, GoldenEye was the first phenomenal console shooter. GoldenEye 007 laid the groundwork for console shooter controls and was an introduction —for a lot of players— to shooting their friends in the face. GoldenEye represents the dawn of a new era of consoles games, a torch that would be passed to the original Halo, and eventually to Call of Duty 4.
Memorable levels, iconic music, and being able to paint the walls with bullet holes wowed us in the day. A game of the same name was released for the original Wii —and subsequently PS3 and 360— but it wasn’t the game we know and love. The 1997 game was a legend unto itself.
Our first time in Tristram. Diablo II may be the most popular game in the series, but the original Diablo set the stage for everything that followed. The isometric western role-playing click-a-thon created a universe and introduced us the Blizzard’s Lord of Terror: Diablo.
Blizzard announced that to celebrate Diablo’s 20th anniversary, they would patch a recreated version of Diablo I into Diablo III with low-fi graphics to simulate the original. A fantastic bit of fan service that honors the original game to be sure. What we would love to see, though, is the original game built from scratch to capture its slightly darker mood. Ideally, we would see the whole thing remade and developed into one seamless package. The trilogy is such a force to be reckoned with.
Few mascots deserve the star treatment quite like Banjo and Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie released when Rareware was in the business of out Nintendo-ing Nintendo. Rare built the game in the template of Super Mario 64 and delivered a more interconnected 3D world (not unlike what we praise Dark Souls or Metroid for today). Considering Banjo started out as roster-fodder in Diddy Kong Racing, Rare managed to build his world into a vibrant, character-rich land.
The first Banjo-Kazooie game got an excellent HD re-release to promote the launch of its third major game. That being said, the original title is so chalked full of fun it deserves a full-blown remake. Banjo’s whimsey is palpable — it is the perfect comfort food title to revisit.
12 Fallout 2
There are so many stories to hear from the wasteland. We just need an excuse to keep exploring the ins and outs of the world of Fallout. The first two games —developed by Black Isle— are entirely different from Bethesda’s entries Fallout 3 and 4. That being said, the immensely popular Fallout: New Vegas does take after Fallout 2, which isn’t surprising considering many ex-Black Isle employees developed it. Fallout 2 has a magic quality to it, as there is a sense of mystery you don’t find in many RPGs and that makes it stand out. Sure enough, Fallout 2 is among the most dated games on this list — but that is exactly why it deserves to get remade for modern audiences. There is so much reverence for the series: please, let us explore it with modern design.
11 Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana was way ahead of its time. The sweeping RPG narrative and music took after Final Fantasy, but its combat was real-time and packed with tons of different weapons and fighting styles. What’s more, Secret of Mana featured co-op play. This epic JRPG, with a world map, quaint towns, and a fate of the world plot was fundamentally different from almost every other game in its style because it let you play with a friend. Suddenly combat was about coordinating and fighting against AI instead of watching meters fill-up. It was something else. Secret of Mana was an expertly designed game that deserves to be played again today. So much of the game’s art design is already a cut above. It just needs the love and attention of a remake.
10 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night redefined what we expect from a Castlevania game. Where previous entries were more arcadey, challenging players to finish one lever after another, Symphony of the Night created an enormous interconnected world for players to explore. Having players uncover secrets, savepoints, and build up protagonist Alucard inside of Dracula's castle proved the perfect formula for the series going forward.
Symphony of the Night has been ported to a handful of platforms, including Xbox 360/Xbox One, but it hasn't been giving the love and care of a full remake. Rebuilding Dracula's castle from scratch would let the small details and artwork from the 1997 PS1 classic truly shine. Symphony of the Night gave the venerable Metroid series a run for its money, and that's no small achievement.
9 All the Disney Games Developed by Capcom
When looking at classic Capcom games... PLEASE REMAKE ALL OF THE DISNEY ONES. In some magic cauldron of luck, Capcom ended up being responsible for a slurry of Disney properties. A few of the highlights include Chip ’n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, and The Magical Quest: Starring Micky Mouse. These were some incredibly well-made platformers for the NES, SNES, and Genesis.
All of these games were fantastic on their own terms, even if Capcom had developed them without the brand recognition. The franchises are just nostalgic icing on the cake. We don’t need them all at once, but eventually, it would be great to have all of these remade so we could play them on modern systems.
8 Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire
Wrapping your hands around the totally bizarre Nintendo 64 controller and piloting an Airspeeder in the battle of Hoth for the first time was an incredible moment. The set piece was so popular almost every space combat Star Wars game after it would carve out a level dedicated to tow-cables and AT-STs.
Shadow of the Empire was one of the first publicized Star Wars spin-offs. It was a multimedia endeavor that spanned toys, games, comics, and more. An early 3D action game set in the Star Wars universe, players took control of Dash Rendar and his trusty jet-pack. Simply having the chance to fight relentless Wampa and series mainstays like Boba Fett was exhilarating. Being offered the opportunity to revisit this bizarre off-shoot with the mechanical bells and whistles of modern gaming would be a dream come true.
7 Panzer Dragoon
We just don’t see quality on-rails shooters like Panzer Dragoon anymore. Piloting a soaring dragon through obstacles, defeating bosses, and zooming across the ocean had a profound impact in 1995. A lot of games have tried to capture the joy of the original Panzer Dragoon but there a scant few games that live up to the name. The most recent attempt at a new Panzer Dragoon was Crimson Dragon for the Xbox One, which was a mediocre follow-up at best.
Remaking Panzer Dragoon in all its glory would be tremendous, not only because we could experience the classic game again, but because it could help remind developers what made it so special in the first place. Fixed shooters like Breakout or Space Invaders can still exist — we just need someone to step up to the plate. Bringing back Panzer Dragoon would be a great start.
Earthbound is the best written Nintendo game of all-time — it is priceless. Few games have such glee, whimsey, and deviousness rolled into one. It’s a hilarious adventure that takes four kids across the globe to defeat evil. An incredible showcase for how to fill a quest with charm and heart.
The second game in the series, Earthbound, is named Mother 2 in Japan. Mother 3 still hasn’t received an English translation for North America. With a remake, fans could relive Ness’ quest to save the world and maybe Nintendo could create a few new fans along the way. Earthbound deserved the Fire Emblem treatment — to have the series blown-out to full scale and redistributed for Western audiences. Mega hits like Toby Fox’s Undertale show that there’s still a demand for games with Earthbound’s style.
5 Super Mario All-Stars
It is inexcusable that Nintendo has not properly remade Super Mario All-Stars. That a package from 1993 is still a better value than anything the company offers today is a slap in the face. Super Mario All-Stars packaged the most current, polished versions of all the main series Super Mario games and released them as one. Eventually, Super Mario All-Stars came to include Super Mario World, and would eventually get re-released “as is” on the original Wii.
What we need isn't a nostalgia port of Super Mario All-Stars, we need a remade fully-complete ensemble of all the critical Super Mario games. One of the single most important franchises in gaming history deserves this kind of historical look back. It needs it. Shame on Nintendo for not offering a 21st-century version of Super Mario All-Stars.
4 Final Fantasy VI
For people who played it at the time, Final Fantasy VI might forever be the best Final Fantasy of them all. It was technically the third North American release, so when it launched in the west, Fina Fantasy VI was titled Final Fantasy III. The sixth Final Fantasy took the series to unprecedented heights.
Final Fantasy VI was a tour-de-force in storytelling at the time, with characters whose lives lit up the screen — memorable doesn’t even begin to describe them. Terra, Locke, and the rest of the gang make up one of the best Final Fantasy casts ever put together. The game’s villain —Kefka — was a fully-realized, twisted, villain. Final Fantasy VII gets all the credit, but VI was the game that really set the emotional stage for what was possible in a Final Fantasy game.
3 Planescape: Torment
Planescape: Torment had one of the most remarkable video game scripts of the era. If Final Fantasy VI redefined what you could expect in a JRPG, Planescape: Torment did the same for western-style RPGs like Baldur’s Gate. Set in Planescape —a universe in Dungeons & Dragons— Torment is packed with ethical quandaries and larger-than-life characters. It is a narrative-oriented game that has earned its cult following. A remake could see the story of the immortal protagonist, The Nameless one, reinvigorated with new visuals and audio work. Another in the line of Black Isle Studios classics that deserves to be reimagined for new players and old ones alike. Few games deserve the time and energy more than Planescape: Torment. If nothing else, the spiritual successor Torment: Tides of Numenera shows that passion still burns for the original.
2 Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue
We’re cheating a bit here. The original 1998 Pokemon Red and Blue did get remade for Game Boy Advance in 2004. But when we say we want a remake of the first Pokemon games, we don’t mean new sprites and character models. We imagine a full 3D remake with all the splendor of our childhood vision of the Kanto region.
Imagine a remake that blurs the lines between the Pokemon anime and the Pokemon games. Seeing a Pikachu fight Gym Leader Brock at the Pewter City Gym against all the odds. Pokemon GO made it clear: Pokemon is still a phenomenon. We want a version of Pokemon Red and Blue that holds nothing back, a game that inspires and captures the imagination like the first did at the end of the 20th century.
1 Super Metroid
Super Metroid is one of the most acclaimed games of its time. Modern games still struggle to match the mood and sound design of this classic 2D exploration game. Not only did it start a genre onto itself, but it is every bit as compelling to play today as it was back there. It is mind boggling how well Super Metroid holds up.
Still, Nintendo recreated the first Metroid game for Game Boy Advance, fans did a brilliant job remaking Metroid II, and even Metroid Prime got motion controls added when it released on the Wii. Super Metroid deserves a full-blown remake. You could make the argument that Super Metroid is still good so why bother remaking it? Because remakes aren’t just about spiffy new looks, they’re about making old games accessible to new generations. Super Metroid was an important gam. It deserves to have an audience today. It is truly a classic.