The HD-2D style is a boon for Square Enix’s modern turn-based JRPGs. It takes retro 2D sprites and fits them into beautiful 3D environments with gorgeous special effects. Seeing realistic fire animations, reflections, and more alongside charming old-school pixel art really helps the games that utilize this style stand out from the crowd.
Octopath Traveler introduced JRPG fans to this style when it hit the Nintendo Switch in 2018 Since then, two more HD-2D games have been released: Triangle Strategy and Live a Live. Additionally, an HD-2D remake of Dragon Quest III is coming out in the future. Square Enix trademarked the HD-2D style back in 2019, which is a shame because there are so many great games from other developers that deserve this graphical treatment and can breathe new life into franchises.
If that were ever to charge, these five JRPGs not from Square Enix would greatly benefit from an HD-2D remake.
It’s wild to see how far the Fire Emblem series has come. It was almost on the brink of death until the massively popular Fire Emblem: Awakening saved it. Fire Emblem is now a staple Nintendo franchise that shows no signs of slowing down now.
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is one of the very few games in the franchise that did not see a localization outside of Japan. The main protagonist is Roy, who most people were introduced to in Super Smash Brothers Melee. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is also a sequel to Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, which was localized as just Fire Emblem when it launched for the Game Boy Advance in 2004.
With the popularity of the Fire Emblem series now, it’s hard-pressed not to greenlight a re-release of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. By forgoing the fully modern 3D style that the latest mainline entries use and using a style similar to HD-2D, Fire Emblem: The Blinding Blade would be a great nostalgia trip for veterans and newcomers who can appreciate where the series came from.
Bandai Namco’s Tales of Arise was one of 2021’s best JRPGs and helped reinvigorate interest in the franchise. Tales of Phantasia is the franchise’s debut on the SNES but never made it overseas until the Game Boy Advance remake arrived. The GBA version of the game isn’t available on any Nintendo eShop, and its 2014 iOS port was criticized for its microtransactions that doubled in-game shop prices and removed some save points, as well as the ability to save and load files without an internet connection.
Is that the legacy the first Tales game deserves? No. In that case, Tales of Phantasia would be a great candidate to receive the HD-2D style. The GBA remake was only marginally better than the SNES version, graphically, so an HD-2D take on the game would be the best-looking by far.
All of the games that have been remade in the HD-2D style so far have been turn-based games, so Tales of Phantasia would be a nice challenge. The real-time action combat would feel exhilarating to play and be a spectacle to look at with the gorgeous 3D effects flying around the screen.
Falcom’s Ys series is one of the more underrated JRPG ones. The two most recent entries, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, have been relatively successful and brought the franchise to more mainstream audiences.
Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand is one of the very few entries in the franchise not to receive a localization. Originally released on the SNES, it also received a remake on the PS2. This remake opted for more of a chibi look and made the game look similar to an HD-2D title years before that was a thing, so the potential for a great HD-2D remake is definitely there. A full-on remake would make this forgotten Ys Entry look even better and be the perfect excuse to finally bring it to international audiences.
Like Tales of Phantasia, Ys V has a real-time action-oriented battle system. However, this time around, the main protagonist Adol Cristin is on a solo adventure rather than with a party of allies. It also plays similarly to a classic Legend of Zelda title. It’d be a unique experience for the development team to create a game that plays like that while retaining a retro but modern look.
Atlus is known nowadays for the Persona series, but that actually started off as a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off. Shin Megami Tensei III and Persona 3 on the PS2 put Atlus on the map in the west, but the franchise’s previous entries on the SNES were never localized.
One of them is Shin Megami Tensei If…, a side story that hypothesizes what it’d be like if the events of the first game never happened. This entry is special because it served as the springboard for the Persona series because of focusing on the trouble of adolescent teens.
Shin Megami Tensei If… is admittedly hard to create an HD-2D remake for, considering the game is a first-person dungeon crawler. However, Soul Hackers 2 went full 3D even though the 3DS remake of the first Soul Hackers game stayed as a first-person dungeon crawler. If Atlus put in the effort to reimagine HD-2D from a first-person dungeon crawler perspective, it would introduce Shin Megami Tensei If… to a whole new generation of Persona fans.
Mother 3 is an infamous game that fans have begged Nintendo to port. It’s a surprise that this game hasn’t been officially localized after all this time, despite so many people clamoring for it. Will it get a full 3D remake? Will Nintendo drop the original GBA version with a complete localization on the eShop one day? Who knows?
However, an HD-2D version of Mother 3 would be a great fit for Mother 3’s distinct visual look and would give it the graphical lift it needs to join the modern gaming age while also keeping its old-school charm. It’s not nearly as retro as some of the other games on this list, but the game is old enough that it can benefit from the remake treatment.
I don’t think I need to say any more about Mother 3 here. Nintendo, please bring this game over for international audiences! And if you’d work with Square Enix to make it an HD-2D game, that’d be a nice bonus.
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