Even the most beloved gaming franchises show their age in just a few years, thanks to rapidly advancing technology, but a well-done remaster can bring breathe new life into an old classic. Publishers are definitely cashing in on fans' desire to replay their nostalgic favorites, but con-sarnit, they aren't milking that cow fast enough. There are still tons of games that could use the HD remake treatment, and we've listed a few ideas below.
As many players discovered when it was added to Xbox One backwards compatibility, Red Dead Redemption still looks great. But with the long-rumored sequel on the horizon, it's the perfect time to revisit one of the last generation's best games. Rockstar did an excellent job upgrading Grand Theft Auto V for the next generation, and there's no reason to think that they couldn't do the same thing with RDR. Except for the part where working on the original version of the game was hell. But that's nothing that can't be solved with efficient management and employee-friendly policies... right?
You can play the first few Mario games on almost any Nintendo platform you own, but it gets a little trickier when it comes to the 3D entries. The Virtual Console has made it easier to access these classic games, but Nintendo's recent HD rereleases of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess have shown enormous potential for remasters of the most storied catalog in gaming. You don't have to change a lick of Super Mario 64's virtually perfect gameplay (okay, maybe the camera controls can be tweaked) -- but imagine if it had the same visual polish as Super Mario 3D World. Heck, it would be even easier to upgrade the stellar Super Mario Galaxy games. After we get through those, maybe Nintendo could pack in Mario's most underrated adventure, the unfairly-maligned GameCube title that fans know all too well: Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix.
There's a reason Nintendo chose The Wind Waker for an HD upgrade; the cel-shaded visuals simply hold up better than traditional art styles when you crank up the resolution. So it only makes sense that Viewtiful Joe could and should get the same treatment. Capcom's bombastic, combo-heavy, time-manipulating brawler was a delight on GameCube and PS2, and it would be fantastic to see its comicy art style brought to a new generation of hardware. Its classic hardcore difficulty would probably be a great fit for the PC crowd as well, if the tastes of Steam users are anything to go by.
If we're being honest, what we really want here is a Mercenaries 3. But oftentimes these HD remasters are designed to test interest for a full-fledged sequel in the same series. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction isn't perfect, but it had its own special brand of open-world carnage. The hole left by Mercenaries has been somewhat filled by the Just Cause series, but it's still not really the same. Since Pandemic shut down years ago, bringing the series back is probably up to presumed rights-holder EA. And sadly, they've probably got several other remasters on the docket before this one.
There are plenty of GTA games deserving of a high-quality redux, but Vice City hits a special sweet spot. It's not as expansive as San Andreas nor is it as historical as GTA III -- but it does have a special vibe that other games in the series haven't touched. The 80s Miami aesthetic, the groundbreaking soundtrack and the satisfying Scarface-like buildup of the main character makes this a fine candidate for remastering. That being said, there isn't a level of visual fidelity that could ever let me trust Lance Vance again.
Though Skyrim fans have their own official remaster to look forward to, diehards who have been with the franchise for much longer have unfortunately been left in the lurch. The Elder Scrolls on the whole owes a lot to the third entry in the series, Morrowind, which won the hearts of role-players on PC and the original Xbox back in 2002. Those who insist Morrowind to be the best Elder Scrolls often point to its trippy, unique world and dense customization options. Mods have helped this game stay relevant over the last 15 years, but a proper remake could make converts of casual fans who just want "Skyrim 2."
There have been several Katamari games since the original blew minds back on the PS2, but the original remains the most memorable. The charming visuals are designed around simplicity, but a bump in resolution (and a more steady framerate) would enhance the sense of scale as you roll a ball of junk around the Earth collecting household appliances, human beings and eventually entire continents before you incinerate them all to create a new star. Man, this game is even better than I remember.
There aren't too many 2D games on this list, and for good reason. In general, games with pixel art have just plain aged better than polygonal games, mostly because the latter fruitlessly chase realism and suffer when the next crop of tech comes around. But the Mother games (known as Earthbound in the States) could use a nice special edition package for a couple of reasons. First, it should probably be said that Mother 1's NES visuals aren't as sharp as the SNES/GBA aesthetic in Mother 2 and 3. Second, as anyone remotely familiar with the series probably knows, Mother 3 hasn't received an official English translation. That alone warrants a digital release at the very least, even though Nintendo knows deep down that its hardcore base would pay out the nose for a physical special edition trilogy. I don't want to say Nintendo hates money, it would also explain what happened with the Wii U.
Red Faction: Guerilla is for the most part an above-average open world game that does one thing very well. Specifically, RFG does destruction better than just about any game ever made. The feeling of systematically bringing down giant structures with well-placed explosive charges, disintegrator guns or a sledgehammer shaped like an ostrich has never been matched in any game. This includes the incredibly disappointing cave-alien shooter sequel Red Faction: Armageddon. Any reason to replay this fantastic game (along with its underrated multiplayer mode) would be welcome in an age of samey open-world games.
I don't know if you've busted out your Nintendo 64 lately to play Goldeneye, but it probably looks worse than you remember. Nobody smeared vaseline in your cartridge slot -- that's just how all N64 games looked. Going back to one of the canonized Greatest Games of All Time would be a lot easier if we had an HD remake. It's such a great idea that this very thing WAS in the works from Rare, before Nintendo's anti-fun squad put the kibosh on the whole thing. I don't want to say that Nintendo hates money, but it would explain what happened with the Virtual Boy.
There are plenty of Simpsons games out there, but next to no good ones. The seething frustration and bewilderment of kids who rented Bart vs. the Space Mutants on the NES has manifested as a malevolent psychic haze that has coalesced over the city of Detroit. But The Simpsons Hit and Run is kind of incredible in comparison, giving players GTA-like freedom to roam around Springfield and attempt vehicular homicide on annoying neighboreenos. Really, anything is better at this point than yet another free-to-play idle game for phones.
Though it sounded like EA might give in for a hot minute, recently an executive crushed everyone's dreams by confirming that a Mass Effect Trilogy remaster is not in the works. The exec in question explained that the company wanted to move forward, that they were focusing on the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda. But the fact that another game in the series is actually the exact reason for a remaster to exist, especially given the replayable nature of a series built around choices. Mass Effect 1 could benefit the most from the HD treatment; the story is still rock-solid, but everything else is still pretty rough.
They're still making Paper Mario games, but everyone pretty much agrees that the series peaked with The Thousand-Year Door. The GameCube entry in the franchise hit the exact right balance of humor, exploration and a fun battle sytem. Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Color Splash have been a bit lacking in comparison, so it might be fun to go back and revisit what made this strange offshoot so wonderful. The original Paper Mario on Nintendo 64 could actually use a remaster a bit more than TTYD, since those N64 textures have aged like they drank from the wrong grail.
Modern Lego games all use more or less the same template, and they're usually fun enough. But before Lego Star Wars kicked off huge multi-franchise series, we had Lego Island. Only released for the PC, LI was an open-world, first-person action adventure game with crafting, multiple playable characters and tons of side missions. In 1997. If it sounds like it was ahead of its time, it kind of was. Today's kids might be a little more inclined to give the game a chance if it didn't look like it was designed after the Great Depression, so that's where a potential remaster would come in.
This is the second BioWare game on this list, but it might deserve mention even more than Mass Effect. As it was, KOTOR II was rushed out the door in 2005. No doubt Lucasarts didn't want to waste time on a last-gen game just as the Xbox 360 was to see release. And so the game notoriously was published with tons of content left on the cutting room floor. Fans have since banded together to restore what was lost, and with a little help from developer Obsidian, they've made a lot of progress. But by far the best way to do the game justice would be a beautiful HD remaster that featured the old content along with updated visuals and other flourishes. EA does have the Star Wars license, but they don't exactly have a lot of incentive to go back and update their old game when they'd rather push their current MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. For now, we'll have to depend on fans to bring out the best in Star Wars. As usual.Which games do you think should get remasters? Are there any big ones that we missed? Let us know how terrible our judgment is in the comments below!