Games that Need to be Available Digitally

People complain about digital downloads pretty frequently. The topic of physical media vs. digital downloads is one of those hot button issues among nerds, gamer or movie buff alike. We aren’t going to debate this today, however. No, today we are going to be looking at games that need to be available digitally. You see, internet, games like Halo Reach, or Skyrim are not going to be wanting for availability. They are relatively new and the developers have already sunk a lot of money in them in the digital age, where it takes very little to put a game up on the PSN. However, it is much rarer for an older game to get a rerelease digitally, especially niche games and you can forget about new cartridges being made. A whole host of factors can stand in the way of a game being available digitally: lack of interest, lack of sales projections, resistant developers, non-existant developers, licensing problems, or good old fashioned laziness.

This game came with a guide… for free. Truly the glory days of gaming.

This is a major problem for the video game industry. Every game is markedly different and there are some amazing games that simply get lost in time. We are at a period in the history of video games where older games are simply not available to purchase anywhere, or, if they are, they are too expensive for a purchase to be viable. Fortunately, this generation’s digital distribution services have sought to remedy this issue. Because of this games like Persona 2, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, or Tomba are available to anyone with an internet connection. Brining back games from extinction is a hugely good idea, but in some cases, it just isn’t happening fast enough. Today we are going to be looking at games that need to be made available digitally as soon as possible. This list could stretch on for days, so I’m keeping it brief. Let me know any you think are important in the comments, internet.

How many of you know what this is from? This is last generation, and I would be surprised if anyone knew it on sight.

1.) Earthbound (SNES)

Was there ever any doubt that this was going to make the list? I even used it as the first image. Earthbound at this point is probably the most requested Virtual Console game out there, and one of the most wanted games in general. Developed by HAL Laboratory, Earthbound, or Mother 2 as it is known in Japan, is one of the most insane, and memorable RPGs ever made. The plot of the game consists of four preteens attempting to stop an alien invasion from wiping out humanity. You are tasked with collecting sounds from certain landmarks in the game, and that’s pretty much it. Of course that doesn’t cover the amazingness of this game. From cults obsessed with the colour blue to beating hippies until they’re tame to a host of crazy giant moles who all think they are the 3rd strongest, Earthbound reeks of charm.

That thing is a Mr. Saturn and he rejects your damed logic!

It doesn’t help that Nintendo hasn’t abandoned the series. Mother 3 was released in Japan on the Gameboy Advance, and Ness, the lead of the game, has been in every Super Smash Bros. game ever made. Lucas, the lead from Mother 3, was one of the new additions to Brawl, making it more upsetting that western audiences cannot legally play his game. Earthbound was also rated by the ESRB, which is usually a prelude to a game coming out on the VC, but alas, this never happened. As it stands, the only legal way to play this game is to own the extremely rare SNES cartridge. It is rumoured that the reason that Earthbound cannot come to the VC is because of certain tracks violating licensing agreements. This seems mostly like speculation to me, but either way I hope that sometime in the future this gaming classic can be accessible to all.

It came, not that you’ll ever get to play it.

2.) Suikoden II (PS1)

I’m not the biggest Suikoden fan in the world. Truthfully, I’ve only played the first and fifth game in the series, partially because of lack of interest, but also because they are very hard to find. Fortunately the first game is available as a Playstation 1 classic on the PSN. Unfortunately, Suikoden II is a direct followup to Suikoden (You can import your save and everything), meaning that many fans of the first lose out. The Suikoden series is about as strongly in the JRPG genre as it can be. Huge storylines, old school turn-based combat, and melodrama up to your eyes, Suikoden has it all and then some. It is an extremely niche game with an extremely loyal fanbase.

Ha ha ha ha ha, no seriously, give me all your money or I’ll rape you

The problem is that the series hasn’t been doing so well lately. Suikoden IV is the least popular in the series, V was a really expensive , and it under-performed in most ways. People thought the series was dead until the release of Suikoden Tierkreis in 2008. It was a DS game and a spinoff, but a sign that the series wasn’t forgotten. Unfortunately, this did not lead to a revival of the series. Another Suikoden game was released in Japan on the PSP and it tanked in every way imaginable. Back to the game at hand, the most frustrating thing is that Suikoden II has been available on the Japanese PSN for years now with no sign of it coming to other regions. With the series in as much trouble as it is, and its staff disbanded throughout Konami, it will be difficult for even its determined fanbase to make the series widely available.

This guy didn’t give the money to the last guy.

3.) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2)

SMT: Nocturne is not an old game, but it is still one that few gamers will ever hear about no less play. Those who frequent this blog will know the fondness I have for this game, as should every red-blooded gamer. Nocturne was the first main SMT game to come over to the west and it became a major cult hit immediately. With extremely innovative combat, and a dark, deep, and moving story and setting, Nocturne is one of those games that should be near the top of any gamer’s best game list. With the advent of PS2 Classics and the fact that Atlus has been providing digital releases for its Persona games should make Nocturne a shoe-in for a release right?

I don’t have to comment on this one right?

The problem is three-fold. Firstly, the SMT series is still very niche. Sure the Persona subseries is extremely popular, but the main series has stayed in relative obscurity. Atlus has been bringing over its Persona series, but they haven’t released the second part of 2 yet, and they are unlikely to take a break for this game. Another problem is that, since the game is so niche, it probably won’t sell too well, which would not put it high on the priority list. Finally, the subject matter is dark and controversial with its treatment of Judeo-Christian mythology. It is this that has kept the first to SMT games tucked safely in Japan. Will it ever get a release? It has a better chance than other games on this list, but it is hard to say still.

An army of the damned isn’t nearly as cool as face tats.

4.) The DS’ Library (DS…duh)

Instead of picking one more game, I decided to pick the entire library of the DS. One of the great things that the PSP Go did for the industry was it forced Sony to put up a huge amount of PSP games on the PSN in preparation of its release. While the Go failed miserably, its legacy lives on. Because of the Go, most PSP games are available for purchase on the PSN, which means that Vita users instantly have a fairly large library to choose from. Nintendo has not followed suit with the DS. Of course this can be attributed to the fact that Nintendo, traditionally, fears online services like they are swarms of spiders, but the 3DS has attempted to change this. Why is it that the 3DS, a major success, could learn from the PSP Go, a major failure?

And this shall never be cited in a positive way again.

The DS’ library is immense, and Nintendo could make a killing selling titles such as Mario 64 DS, or Final Fantasy IV DS, or… countless other huge titles. Even niche titles like the Etrian Odyssey games could be released to a wider audience. It seems like it would simply be a license to print money. The downside is that Nintendo didn’t provide much internal storage, but dealing with flash cards would be worth it. It isn’t like Nintendo isn’t offering older titles, but they seem to not understand that they can sell last generation’s titles at a premium, not just older games.

Make it happen, Nintendo.

I was rather disappointed when I got to my fourth selection and I realized how long I had been writing. I had many more that I wanted to throw in, but maybe another day. Digital distribution may be controversial, but it is much easier to save gaming history through the use of an internet connection than by releasing new cartridges. These games need to be saved. The games on this list aren’t even the ones in danger of being forgotten. How many people are ever going to know or remember Jade Cocoon 2 in another 10 years? How about now?

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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