Editorial: Recipe for a Lane Post: Mix One Part Ginia with One Part Bup, Serve Chilled

Ginia and NATE LILES!!! both raise interesting points. However, attempting to respond to them separately is not the way to go about it. Nay, brave adventurers, we must combine them together in some bizarre alchemy to create a post of truly sublime majesty. How can we combine the desire to replay classic experiences with the glamour and glitz of the latest and greatest technology, while avoiding the undesirable experience that is the shelf space filler churned out in secret labs far below the chintzy, plastic-encrusted sanctums of Game Stops everywhere?

The answer, of course, is to turn to a sage whose wisdom is so profound, whose judgment cannot be questioned… me. I have carefully consulted my auguries, and determined that there are exactly five games that could safely be remade into things bigger… better… flashier… online-ier. We have the technology.

5. Secret of Mana

Squareenix, Squeenix, SEwhatever… they make great games. Sometimes. It seems like a Square title is either a rousing success or a flop of rather epic proportions. There is no middle ground. This has been the story of the Seiken Densetsu series, known in the Western world as the “Mana” series, with such imaginative titles as “______ of Mana” and the ever-challenging “Blankity-Blank of Mana.”

Seiken Densetsu II, or Secret of Mana, is one of my favorite games. But it suffers from a few notable flaws, such as the fact that it appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and not the Playstation Six, which will actually take a your soul from your body and imbue your in-game avatar with your vital essence.

Imagine, if you will, an updated Secret of Mana, where you are paired up with two of your friends in the greatest online co-operative game of the decade (2026 is going to be awesome). The graphics positively crackle with bright colors, making the game world seem like a fantasy jungle conjured from the mind of Lord Dunsany. Action is fast-paced and button-mashy, with an innovative real-time combat system that lets users execute deadly combo moves, testing their coordination and capability for cooperation.

4. Act Raiser

Once upon a time, back at the dawn of the SNES era, there was a game created that combined side-scrolling, platforming action with the sort of resource management found in simulation games. It was Sim City plus Ninja Gaiden, all dressed up in the fancy little veneer of smarmy religious do-gooderism. Slaying demons as a bow-wielding angel, and moonlighting as a holy statute-cum-sword-slinging warrior? Yes, please.

But Act Raiser, as good as it was, never took off as a concept. The second game ditched the simulation elements, and the game lost its charm. Graphically and in regards to gameplay mechanics, the action sequence was not thrilling or challenging. It was just the cool treat at the end of a level before you got a chance to raise a new civilization up from dust.

Hi.  I'm a centaur.  Stab.
Centaurs are always trying to stab me. I don't get it.

Now, we are nearly two decades beyond the genesis of Act Raiser, and it is time for an update, in terms of both presentation and gameplay. Instead of 2D side-scrolling, an expansive, open-world level where you must accomplish several tasks before taking down a truly impressive boss, followed by an intense simulation/RTS mashup that requires careful resource management to guard your fledgling humans against the onslaught of demonic hordes.

3. Lunar: The Silver Star

Lunar is in many ways the quintessential Japanese RPG. Now, now, Final Fantasy fans, hear me out. FF games have their own unique flavor, a peculiar blending of the Asian design style (armor that is not just wildly impractical, but frankly useless as armor) with Western fantasy sensibilities. Very few Final Fantasy games have had the sort of anime-inspired wackiness that pervades games like Lunar or Disgaea.

Dragonmastery has its benefits
See? This screams 1980s. Let's bring it into the now.

As anime has evolved, anime has grown into a much more mature art form. What I imagine an updated Lunar would be like is a more mature version of Lunar: the same comic irreverence, the same Japanese-bildungsroman-cum-comic book story of a young country boy chosen to be the hero, but with a much deeper game world. Sidequests. Character development. Romance and mystery. In short, a modern RPG dressed up in the story-frame of Lunar.

2. Mechwarrior

I am not a fan of shooters or military games. But I do love giant robots… and Mechwarrior. Microsoft did something right with this one. The only joystick I have ever bought was used to play titanic LAN battles in Mechwarrior 3 and Mechwarrior 4. What I liked most about the series was the ability to design custom mechs and then take them into battle. I had the Chthulu, the Nyarlathotep, the Azathoth, and the AMAZING RANDOMECH! (Bonus points to the first commenter that identifies that reference in the comments)

The only problem with Mechwarrior is that it has not stood the test of time. I have tried to play other mech games, like Chromehounds or the Armored Core series, but they seem to lack the essential cohesion of Mechwarrior‘s simplistic-yet-fun gameplay. Imagine, if you will, the thrill of a fully-3D rendered model of your mech, as you build it from the cockpit up, adding rocket launchers, EMPs, railguns… all of the trimmings. Then, you take your Frankenmech out to the wartorn battlefields of the Mechwarrior galaxy, and turn some hapless other player-mechs into space dust in some of the finest PvP laser-slinging action around.

1. Final Fantasy VI

Wait, wait… before you form that lynch mob, hear me out. I know I have stumbled into a den of Final Fantasy VII-loving vipers, but clearly, the evidence militates in favor the verdict that it is Final Fantasy VI that is the pinnacle of FF games. I know the cool thing to do is to go with the crowd, or to make oneself an iconoclast by claiming that the game jumped the whaleship in Final Fantasy IV, but FF6 is superior in every way. Cloud is a doofus; Terra is a conflicted and interesting heroine. Edgar, Sabin, Locke and Shadow are all well-developed and interesting characters. Try and tell me you do not tear up during Cyan’s introduction, or that you do not look forward to buying Dried Meat to chunk at Gau.

What made FF6 a bit of a drag was the necessity of all that grinding to level up, but then again, it is Japanese. However, the pull of the story is irresistible; the world literally changes before your eyes as you enter the World of Ruin. Kefka’s megalomaniacal, diabolical evil is the true foil to the world’s troubles, much more so than Sepiroth’s emo-boy rage or the bait-and-switch of Golbez and Zemus. However, the game stood on the cusp of a generational shift between two gaming systems, and feels as if it truly belongs to neither of them. It is time for it to find a new home.

Kefka has evolved into... GOD OF DEATH-KA.
Imagine this in beautifully-rendered 3D. NOW IMAGINE SMACKING THE CRAP OUT OF IT WITH ESPERS.

Imagine, if you will, an unholy union of sorts, between BioWare and Square, wherein the Dragon Age engine is used to render a remake of Final Fantasy VI. Imagine the battle system, the leveling rate, and the gameplay experience all refreshed with 2010 sensibilities. Is it hot in here all of a sudden?

0 comments

  1. I totally agree with you on FF6 being updated. Lets just hope its not done like ff3 and 4 on the DS.
    For me the graphical style made the games less serious- I almost felt embarrassed to be seen playing them.

    Given the moderately serious and dark nature of the plot of ff6, the DS just won’t be able to create the proper atmosphere that the original game had.

    I was so relieved that matrix did not continue to go up the ff sequel ladder and ruin one of my favorite games.

  2. The FF3 and FF4 remakes were terrible. I would much rather see a 2D remake of FF6 in the vein of that done on the PSP for FF1/2.

    A 3D remake would worry me only because those games were initially designed in 2D. Rendering them in 3D would almost certainly mean turning them over to people who were not involved in the initial production and who are disconnected from the original intention and ‘feeling’ of the game.

    I’m always worried when a 2D game goes 3D. It’s so easy to destroy the feeling of the original that way. There are just so many things that could go wrong.

  3. I would only support a remake of FFVI (or VII, for that matter) If I was assured that it would be made about 3x harder. I coulsn’t beat VI for the same reason I couldn’t beat the GBA remake of I; I got bored.

    I’m leaning towards Lusi’s vision of a 2D remake of it though after seeing Amano’s awesome artwork in Dissidia I wouldn’t complain if it was made 3D.

    Your Act Raiser reinvisioning sounds good but I think it should be 2.5D like Valkyrie Profile 2 was. it worked for that game.

    And your idea for a remake of Secret of Mana is quite possibly the greatest idea I’ve ever heard. All hail Lane’s brain.

  4. I’m with you when it comes to Lunar (super duper awesome series of awesomeness, despite Zach Meston’s influence) and FF6. The other games I can take or leave. Probably leave. :)

    Gotta go, whee, bye! I liked this post a lot, sorry for the short comment!

  5. No time for a full comment, but is the Amazing Randomech an MST3K reference?

  6. ???? Lunar is being remade (and looks beautiful).

    -Remaking any JRPG using the Dragon Age engine is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

  7. Totally agree on FFVI > FFVII however I don’t want Bioware anywhere near it lest I have a merchant in every town selling exclusive Exper related sidequest DLC at launch….

  8. I hate Gau and Cyan–and most of the characters in FF6 for that matter. I’ve always thought the characterisation and plotline were strangely over the top or entirely underdone. There was no satisfactory middle ground.

    Edgar was very good as a character as was Celes (whose motivations were actually a mystery at some points), but the melodramatic backstories for so many of the characters made Kefka’s endgame line of, “You sound like chapters from a self-help book!” ring all too true, even without the hopefully optimistic party blather which preceded it.

  9. @Lusi – I didn’t get far enough in VI to really see that but I definitely had those problems with VII. it’s very difficult for me to take the plot seriously when the story comes to a halt to deal with one characters inner demons (here’s looking at you two, Barret and Nanaki). my greatest fear at the moment is that XIII is going to be like that. -sigh- I hate melodrama so much. I miss Matsuno T_T

  10. Haha that doesn’t sound to bad to me, I’d like a bit more melodrama for XIII.

  11. I can’t believe you guys covered ActRaiser. This was the game I had wet dreams about before I was into RPG’s. This is also the reason I picked up Dark Cloud, and why I had respect for Enix back in the day.

    Best. Game. Ever.

    As for VI… meh. It’s good, but as is the story for many games of old, it is riding the nostalgia train. I found it quite a chore to play through, and actually still have yet to beat it. I leveled up four main people, realized I had to use 12 characters for the final dungeon, and said screw this. Granted, the opera scene still holds a place in my heart.