5 PS1 RPGs worth reviving

A handful of classic PS1 JRPG franchises are about to see remasters or new installments, but why stop there? Here are a few other contestants who need another shot on modern platforms.

A new ocean of stars is on the way, Chrono-Cross is being remastered, and the first successor to the Valkyrie Profile The lineage was announced last week at State of Play – we’re on the verge of a second coming for the JRPG genre, a throwback to the golden days when PlayStation was awash with epic content.

Given the currently stellar lineup of RPGs already on the Nintendo Switch, and the interest to come in these 20-year-old titles, what better time to dust off some increasingly rare hidden gems? This trio of IPs comes from a golden age for the genre, and some of their classmates are due for another facelift or follow-up as well. So here are our picks for a few half-forgotten PS1 gems that should be brought back for modern audiences:

Honorable Mentions

Of course, the franchises we’ve already named as heralds of this new JRPG revival could use a little love on modern consoles: the original ocean of stars and its sequel, The second story; Valkyrie Profile; and the trigger of a stopwatch, Chrono-Cross‘ predecessor (who has been a SNES game, later re-released on PS1). The latter already has a PC version which has won the love of its fans after a series of updates, even. It would be hugely beneficial to gamers and publishers if these were made available to console gamers as their new descendants arrive.

5) Jade Cocoon: History of Tamamayu

Although there was no break from Pokémon in the late 90s, a brave little competitor appeared between Red Blue and Gold Silver: Jade Cocoon: History of Tamamayu from Genki Co. and Crave Entertainment. Like Game Freak’s up-and-coming juggernaut, Jade Cocoon featured a silent young protagonist named Levant, on a quest to capture wild monsters in bullets, not for the fame of being a “Pokémon Master”, but to save his village from a terrible curse.

This original RPG was a decent alternative for older gamers who might have been put off by the apparent simplicity or kid-dining style of Pokemon. The world had a resident Evil-style camera, with random battles visible on the map, so you can hunt down the creatures you want. The “Minions” could be fought by Levant or its current party, and could later be fused together to create stronger hybrids. With a modern coat of paint, this would make an awesome niche title for Switch, if nothing else.

Rebirth probability: Thin to none. Although it sparked a mobile spinoff in Japan and a PS2 sequel, Jade Cocoon went relatively unnoticed in the west.

4) Lunar: Story of the Silver Star & Eternal Blue

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Originally released on the Sega CD, Lunar: Story of the Silver Star and Lunar: eternal blue were transferred to the PS1 in style, with improved sound and animations, and a considerable amount of voice acting for the time. Their scripts were developed for English audiences by Western publisher Working Designs, instead of strictly adhering to the literal Japanese translation, and became laden with jokes and pop culture references.

On the one hand, the series hits most of the conventional JRPG and mid-’90s anime tropes, but their localizations really brought them to life. Most other JRPGs were completely text-based at the time, but Lunar pushed the boundaries of dubbing in the genre and proved that a script need not be detrimentally beholden to near-text translation. Their collector’s editions were also works of art, filled with bonuses, but also price increases and likely contributing to their long-term sales decline. With a bit of modernization, this series could really shine on today’s hardware.

Rebirth probability: Slender. Although the president of Working Designs and Lunar Localization champion Victor Ireland – who went on to found Gaijinworks when the previous company closed – claimed he was working on bringing both titles to the PlayStation Network, it never happened. The first was later ported to PSP by Xseed as Lunar: Silver Star Harmonybut was fraught with problems and didn’t make much noise.

3) Xenogears (& Xenosaga)

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As Nintendo and Monolith Soft prepare to launch their third Xenoblade Chronicles game in five years, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see the ancestors of the series (or their forgotten Wii U cousin) again. Xenogears was a cult hit for Squaresoft in 1998, receiving critical acclaim from magazines and reaching the coveted Greatest Hits plateau. On the surface it was an RPG involving giant robots and anime cutscenes, but below the surface its narrative was laced with strong psychological, philosophical and religious undertones – almost like the Neon Genesis Evangelion PS1 RPGs. It would later be re-released under the PlayStation Classics line.

Creator Tetsuya Takahashi then left Square and founded Monolith Soft to continue working on similar games, and Xenosaga followed on the PS2. Takahashi had ambitious plans for a 6-game saga, but after the release of the first episode, the rest of the plan was heavily cut and condensed into a trilogy. Nonetheless, Takahashi’s sci-fi epic was a refreshing, albeit story-heavy, departure from the high-fantasy fare that dominated the genre in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and it would be enlightening to bring the original games to modern consoles. as the Xenoblade Chronicles the trilogy comes full circle.

Rebirth probability: These waters are muddy, given the games’ publishing history. If Square Enix, Namco, Nintendo, and Monolith Soft could all play well, we might see a re-release for either series. As it stands, the legal Gordian knot might be too difficult to untangle unless Xenoblade Chronicles 3 does extremely well and makes the prospect more appealing.

2) legend of the dragon

Among the cult-favorite Ps1 Jrpgs, Legend Of Dragoon might be the likeliest candidate for revival on modern hardware.
Among the cult-favorite PS1 JRPGs, legend of the dragon might be the likeliest candidate for a revival on modern hardware. (Sony)

Final Fantasy VII changed the industry when it launched in January 1997. One of the strongest games to imitate it was Japan Studio’s legend of the dragonwhich Sony itself released in 1999. While its graphics and visual design heavily referenced FFVII, its combat gameplay was anything but derivative. Players can time button presses to do combos and boost damage, or unleash a character’s dragon spirit to transform and boost their stats. Since Quick-Time events had not yet been overused and exhausted at this point, legend of the dragonCombat was one of the most interesting systems among PS1 RPGs.

Ultimately, Sony’s in-house RPG sold around 1.5 million units, but struggled to stand out against the triple threat of Final Fantasy VII, VIIand IX. Despite fierce competition, it was released in Japan about two weeks after pokemon gold and Money— it has managed to carve out a place for itself in the market. legend of the dragon did well on Sony’s sales charts when it was added to the PlayStation Classics lineup a decade later, proving its enduring appeal. However, a petition to remake the game was started in honor of its 20th anniversary, but never reached its goal of 30,000 signatures. If that ever happens, a proper remaster would flesh out Sony’s library of exclusives and perhaps allow the game to reach its true potential.

Rebirth probability: A slim, but possibly growing chance, and arguably the highest of this bunch. Japan Studio has been involved in many of the PlayStation family’s biggest cult hits, from Monkey Escape and PaRappa the rapper for Patapon and even transmitted by blood—and the studio recently restructured around Team Asobi, which developed Astro’s Playroom for PS5. With the studio technically active, a flurry of fan interest could help start conversations within Sony.

1) Legend of Legaia

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The first product of Contrail, a short-lived studio within Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., was Legend of Legaiaanother title with clear visual inspiration from Final Fantasy VII., with chibi overworld models and robust and complete combat models. However, the game was a unique experience in itself and one of the most surprisingly compelling PS1 games I’ve ever played.

The plot seems too heavy on paper. Players assume the roles of Vahn, Noa, and Gala, three young strangers who are tasked with reviving the Genesis Trees scattered across Legaia and repelling the vile Mist. The heroes receive powers from the Ra-Seru, sentient beings that manifest as bracelets on their arms. Not only do they gain the power to revive Genesis Trees, but they can also unleash powerful martial arts techniques, or absorb and use magic spells from various Seru monsters.

Legend of LegaiaThe combat system uses fighting game style button inputs to chain combo Arts together. This approach appealed to me when I first tried his US Official PlayStation Magazine demo, but the full version kept me hooked with its punchy narrative. The game didn’t pack a punch after the first few hours, which made progress all the more satisfying.

Rebirth probability: Unfortunately, thin. Legend of Legaia was Kazuhiro Kobayashi’s only directing credit, and he later left game development. Contrail only existed for about three years, long enough to deliver eight titles, including Wild Arms 2 and Alundra 2– before he was reabsorbed into SCEI, leaving virtually no legacy. Sony could still make it happen, but they’re extremely unlikely to resurrect Legaia before legend of the dragongreater commercial success.

While the outlook seems bleak to see these series brought back at the moment, I have no doubt they would be welcomed with open arms by a generation of gamers who grew up on the PS1. eBay is already proving that there is a market for them. Hopefully if the likes of Chrono-Cross and Valkyrie Elysee can do well in today’s market, it could open the door for others. After all, if we’re seeing PS5 remakes for PS3 games that have already been remastered on PS4, why not dig a little deeper and bring back something more unique?

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