NiGHTS into HD
Nights into Dreams is highly regarded and under-played. A standout for a console that was shunned by its own manufacturer, Nights was doomed to be ignored by a generation of gamers who opted for Sony or were content sticking with Mario. Two generations later and this sorry situation may yet be remedied. Nights is due a much sought after HD update this autumn as SEGA continue to milk the teat of nostalgia. Nights will join the likes of House of the Dead 3 and Daytona as a digital re-release, with Jet Set Radio to follow shortly. Rumours persist that Ryo Hazuki may soon be searching for sailors in high definition - it's not yet clear whether this will make them easier to find.
Developed exclusively for the Sega Saturn by Yuji Naka's Sonic Team, Nights into Dreams took the speed and shiny collectibles from Sonic and added a visual flair and charm that has always escaped the blue blur. Set in a dream world of floating alarm clocks and crescent moons, you soar through 3D levels switching from dreaming children to the titular, androgynous jester. The fluid gameplay is accompanied by a musical score that may stay with you even longer than the impressive and colourful 3D visuals, which were a remarkable achievement given the Saturn's 3D architectural shortcomings.
Nights is an ideal candidate for a HD touch-up. It'll look great running smooth on your big screen and is ready-made for the analogue sticks that became standard in the years following the Nights pad. If Sega want to go all out and not simply cash in with a quick rehash, Nights into Dreams would be extra special in 3D and would benefit from optional motion controls. They could even patch it with the Christmas Nights pack come December, served with a festive mark up. 'Tis the season.
While they are raiding the retro pantry, Sega would do well to consider a handful of other Saturn classics for digital release. When I bought a PS Move earlier this year, part of my reasoning was that one day Sega would port Virtua Cop 1+2 to PSN and that I'd best be prepared for the games that the creator of The Wire, David Simon, once described as "the most realistic depiction of crime fighting in any medium”. With the comparatively shitty House of the Dead 3 and 4 already available on PSN, it's not unreasonable to think that the trigger happy bobbies from Virtua City will one day be dispensing crotch-shot justice on my PS3.
Later this year, the Panzer Dragoon series will make a return of sorts with Crimson Dragon for Kinect. Motion controls make sense for this rail shooting series and Panzer Dragoon and Zwei, two of the most celebrated Saturn exclusives, would perfectly lend themselves to Move and Kinect support, as well as offering context for the latest entry. Following PD and Zwei, Team Andromeda made the smart move of stuffing PD’s rich universe and distinct art style into an RPG, Panzer Dragoon Saga (Azel:RPG in Japan), which would look great in HD. It was released in limited quantities during the last days of the Saturn, which meant that very few people experienced this celebrated role player, myself included. I own a Japanese copy but the language barrier is too great; the characters speak in a dialect of gibberish peculiar to the series and the kanji subtitles come too thick, fast and pixelated for me to follow. Unfortunately, the original source code was lost some years ago, so unless series creator Yukio Futatsugi finds a copy behind his sofa, we are unlikely to get a re-release.
While we are on the topic of games I can't understand, my unfounded love affair with Hideo Kojima's graphic adventures Snatcher and Policenauts, both of which were ported to the Japanese Saturn, continues. I realise that these are Konami games but I struggle to discuss sought after re-releases without referencing this pair at least once. A HD overhaul would be a waste of time, as much of the story is told through pixel art stills that remain eye catching to this day, but Kojima's star shines as bright as ever and a port to iOS devices would certainly be a worthwhile endeavour.
Looking to add a splash of colour, Treasure’s side-scroller Silhouette Mirage would be a great addition to PSN and Live in HD and wouldn't look out of place sitting alongside label mates Guardian Heroes and Radiant Silvergun. I bought a copy during my last trip back to Japan and was really impressed by its colourful visuals. Bringing it back in-house, Sega really should consider polishing up Sonic Team gem, Burning Rangers. Released during the tail end of the Saturn’s short life, it is a third person shooter with a twist, casting you as a futuristic fire fighter, battling flames and rescuing the same kind of angular fuck-wits who are forever being kidnapped in the Virtua Cop games.
Are there any older games you'd like to see get the HD treatment, Saturn or otherwise?