Ah, the Sony PlayStation. For nearly 15 years, it’s been synonymous in the global videogaming landscape as the de facto console of choice, whose success owes as much to its voluminous library of software as it did to its chief competitors completely fucking up. Sega’s Saturn was the console equivalent of a hobo duct-taping two discarded cigar butts together, and the Nintendo 64’s expensive cartridges meant that games were so few and far between, sad and deprived children turned to the likes of Banjo Kazooie for entertainment.
Yet amongst the throng of quality PS1 software, there are, as always, a few overlooked gems that are desperately in need of some well-deserved love. And, as we nerds are all well aware, the best way to show your love for an obscure piece of pop-culture lore is a well-polished, high-gloss remake. Here’s the 7 obscure PS1 Games that are most in need of some next-generation console remakin’:
7) Tobal No. 2
Once upon a time, long long ago, you couldn’t just download demos for upcoming games. They came on discs, which are like really thin pancakes that you cannot eat that have shiny bottoms. These discs were then packaged in a variety of ways; most of them came bundled in big magazines that were polybagged, requiring either $14.95 plus tax or at least a secluded corner out of the line of sight of the possibly stoned cashier. Others came packaged inside of other games, a clever ruse to lure nerds into an unwanted purchase in order to enjoy ten minutes or less of Sequel To Big Franchise Game —thus, Tobal No. 1. Or, more accurately, “the chunky-looking, weird fighting game that came with the Final Fantasy VII demo.”
Tobal was interesting because, besides an incredibly intuitive and cool counter system, it seemed to solve that most elusive of all problems with fighting games: What if, possibly, you’re a big loser with no friends that plays video games and nobody wants to play fighting games with you? So you take one part chunky-looking, weird fighting game and graft an incredibly long yet strangely addicting Dungeon-Crawl RPG onto it, and voila! A fighting game for those of us bereft of human companionship. The sequel, Tobal No. 2, was actually a really good game that fixed nearly every problem in the first one, and could’ve easily stood on its own without any tacked-on glimpses of future Final Fantasies. Therefore, it was never released in the U.S. Square Enix seemingly has no problem with re-re-re-releasing old Final Fantasy games at full price on every viable gaming platform imaginable, so why not show some old Tobal love? Akira Toriyama, Tobal‘s character designer, is gonna need the work — he’ll be desperate to rebuild his sense of purpose to the world once the live-action Dragonball movie destroys all that is good in the universe.
6) Incredible Crisis
Incredible Crisis was released for the PS1 during a wonderful, magical time; to us, Japan still seemed like a magical, wonderful place of silliness and wackiness, a land where the sun set every evening as floating Hello Kitty heads barfed rainbows across the sky while breakdancing robots yelled “BOOGIE DANCE! LOVE,” and we would say “Oh, Japan!” in a lighthearted manner. Now, we’ve become so inundated with Japan’s craziness that we see it for what it really is: a thinly-veiled mask for increasingly freakish and bizarre sexual proclivities, and we say “Oh. Japan.” Mostly in horror.
Incredible Crisis is a loose concoction of mini-games and madness, as you guide four members of an archetypal Japanese family — salaryman Taneo, housewife Etsuko, teen girl Ririrka, and young boy Tsuyoshi — trying to celebrate elderly and passive-aggressive grandma’s Haruko’s birthday. But to get there, they all have to survive a gauntlet of absurd trials and travails, such as escaping a rampaging boulder through an office building, racing on a gurney through the streets of Tokyo, trying to survive a bank robbery, shooting down UFOs, fighting a giant teddy bear rampaging through Tokyo, and, ahem, “massaging” a woman in a ferris wheel. It really ends up as a bunch of rhythm and dodging mini-games, which is the sort of thing that the Wii was made for. Although it’s probably best not to envision how the Wii-mote might be used in the mini-game where Taneo “massages” a woman in a ferris wheel.
There was once a time when “music games” meant more than an excuse for hipsters to feel okay about liking Boston by tapping buttons and levers on multi-colored Fisher-Price instruments. Certain upstanding designers, like Masaya Matsura (creator of the wonderfully ludicrous PaRappa the Rapper), utilized the fertile grounds of music to make interesting, rich, and creative videogames. Vib-Ribbon is completely unique; by using extremely simplistic vector graphics, you play as a gaunt, wiry rabbit character that must dodge pits and do loop-de-loops that are randomly generated by whatever music CD you load into the PlayStation’s gray, coffin-like CD drive. Basically, you’re playing a trippy game made from your favorite music, and that’s incredibly awesome.
Again, the innate coolness and uniqueness of Vib-Ribbon means that it was never released in America, so your only option to play it is to import a copy from Europe. But isn’t this the sort of quirky, oddball thing that defines most downloadable games? Since it doesn’t have ONLINE MULTIPLAYER and PIXER-SHADING-DYNAMIC-POLY-LIGHT GRAPHICS you couldn’t really sell it as a full-price boxed game, unless you were colossally retarded, but as a PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade game? Sweetness.
4) UmJammer Lammy
Also from the mind of Masaya Matsura’s delightfully saccharine NaNaOn-Sha studio, UmJammer Lammy is perhaps the most underrated sequel to a cult hit game ever. Exactly how do you improve upon a game where you’re a hip-hoppin’ puppy trying to get your freak on with an anthropomorphized flower with the power of rap? You turn the reins of rock to a cute-as-a-button lamb with some serious guitar skills. The result being one of the cutest and most fun music games ever, with arguably better music than PaRappa.
An updated UmJammer Lammy would be perfect for all of those discarded, dust-gathering Rock Band peripherals stashed away in your closet after your friends have decided that getting fucked up on Pabst Blue Ribbon and songs by Garbage have since lost their luster. The thought of strumming a plastic guitar along with Chop Chop Master Onion (who, awesomely, was clearly homeless for no reason whatsoever in Lammy) is one that gets me through these dark, troubled times.
3) Jumping Flash
Now, there’s a reason that most people (important distinction: “most”) who write about videogames for video game websites are terrible, terrible people. And not just because they t
ry to validate their nerd-obsession by making up fucking ridiculous statements like “shared 3-D gamespace.” It’s because they do things like, say, call last year’s game Mirror’s Edge a “visionary” and “revolutionary” experience. EXCEPT THAT JUMPING FLASH CAME OUT OVER TEN YEARS AGO. And did the whole “first-person adventure” thing better. Mostly by virtue of not having strange controls and annoying combat and cheap, frustrating deaths. And also you play as a cute li’l robot bunny instead of a personality-deprived Asian teenage raver from a shitty Luc Besson movie.
Personally, though, if Electronic Arts just swapped out the aforementioned Asian raver character with Robbit, the jumping robot rabbit from Jumping Flash, I’d eat that up with little to no reservation. Nevermind the annoying “parkour” elements and lame “1984”-esque story, jumping around on things in a rabbit robot never ceases to plaster a giant, retarded grin on my face.
2) Bushido Blade
Yet another Squaresoft-published 3-D fighter makes the list, but in place of Tobal‘s strange, yellow-y charm, Bushido Blade is all class. With its strict rules rewarding players for fighting honorably and with dignity (i.e. no stabbing someone in the back, no hitting below the belt, no forward fighting motions to be taken until both fighters sign a contract invoking the ghosts of their fallen ancestors that they will not bring shame to their family name, et cetera), it was still most notable for having no life bar. Oh, did your character get stabbed in the stomach with a sword? Well, HE’S DEAD NOW. Did he get hit in the head with a sledgehammer? DEAD. The fights in Bushido Blade were often short, but they could be incredibly tense and thoughtful, just like actual samurai duels. Plus, if enough of your limbs were cut and rendered useless, you could hit the select button to surrender, sit down, and let your opponent kill you but die with honor.
For no reason at all, Bushido Blade 2 added a life bar, thus ruining the thing that made the series unique, and turning it basically into a shitty, generic fighter. With today’s modern 3D graphics, decapitations and disembowelments have reached a peak of technical skill and grace that were, sadly, missing in the early PlayStation era. What we need, nay, MUST HAVE, in today’s culture, is a super-high-def, 1080p Bushido Blade, with an equally huge fighting arena. This is the year of Hope and Change, people. Let’s make this happen.
Policenauts is a game that needs a remake not simply out of desire or sheer, childish want – no, it needs a remake out of necessity. Metal Gear Solid mastermind Video Kolyma Hideo Kojima’s futuristic graphical adventure has, so far, been completely unavailable to any western audience. Which is not just a simple shame, but a true travesty. If Policenauts is even half as good as Kojima’s Snatcher, his earlier graphical adventure for the Mega CD, then it’s probably the best goddamn game never played by anyone.
Haven’t there lately been a spate of remakes of obscure PS1 games for the Nintendo DS? Jesus Christ, they’re doing a port of fucking Rhapsody, the Musical RPG for the thing. Or Hotel Dusk, the gritty Nintendo-published adventure game starring a gruff, alcoholic detective? That’s a pretty solid lead-in for a Kojima-esque adventure game. Your only option thus far to play the game in English is a still-ongoing translation project by a group of dedicated but overworked fans, hoping precariously that that Konrad won’t shut them down at a moment’s notice.
But, hey, if Konami wants to port it or remake it for a game system that is currently on the market? I’m sure they’d understand if they got served. A cease and desist notice, I mean. Although if Konrad challenges them to a hip-hop dance-off in the streets, I’d be okay with that too.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.