The Greatest Remakes and Remasters on Switch
By Derek Wells I June 27, 2022
On July 22, 2022, a cult classic Japanese RPG called Live A Live will land on the Nintendo Switch. What’s remarkable about this game’s global release is that it has been 28 years in the making. Live A Live first appeared on the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo in the West) in 1994, developed by Square, the creators of the hit Final Fantasy series, but it was never officially released outside Japan. It took PC emulators and a fan translation for it to develop a loyal fan base in the English-speaking world.
The new version of Live A Live is somewhere between a remaster and a remake, with the same innovative narrative structure (it follows characters across eight different timelines in stories that seem unconnected until the final chapter) plus rebalanced gameplay and updated visuals in the “HD-2D” style of publisher Square Enix’s throwback hit Octopath Traveler.
Image Credit: Square Enix
Live A Live’s release is just more evidence that the Nintendo Switch is one of the best platforms out there for remakes and remasters of forgotten classics that are hard to find elsewhere. We’ve gathered a few of our favorites, which will be even better if they’re played with a NexiGo Switch controller, like the highly customizable NS90 Elite Controller, the large-hands-friendly NS53 (with a new crackling design!), or the comfortable handheld NexiGo Ergonomic Controller.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
Image Credit: Nintendo
Skyward Sword was originally released on the Wii near the end of the console’s life. It was underplayed for that reason, but also because of certain features, like the motion controls and an overly chatty companion that interrupted the pacing, leading to a less rapturous reception than most Zelda titles.
A sort of prequel to the other Zelda games, it has players exploring the land of Skyloft — a series of islands floating in the sky — with the help of a giant bird. In the HD remaster on Switch, the controls have been revamped (with a non-motion option added), the companion’s commentary is now toggle-able, and the visuals have been given a 1080p facelift at 60fps that finally does justice to the painterly beauty.
Image Credit: id Software
Quake is THE classic 3D first-person shooter. With its tight controls, destructive weaponry, brilliant level designs, and Lovecraft-inspired dark fantasy aesthetic, it was a major hit from developers ID Software back in 1996. This game showed how the genre they had pioneered with Wolfenstein 3D and Doom could effectively transition to the polygonal realm.
The new release of Quake on Switch (and other platforms) improves the resolution and lighting while keeping the bloody and nightmarish atmosphere of the game intact. It includes couch co-op and up to eight-player online versus modes with crossplay, as well as both original expansions and two new expansions developed by MachineGames which push the game engine to its limits. And perhaps best of all, the original industrial soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails, which was cut from previous versions due to licensing issues, has been fully restored. With all of this for under $10, Quake on Switch is one of the best packages in gaming.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Image Credit: Nintendo
Link’s Awakening is an outlier among Zelda games, as the only title released on the original Game Boy and a rare one to feature neither the kingdom of Hyrule nor the titular Princess Zelda. Its subtly surreal, dreamlike narrative has been popular among fans since its 1993 release, but its only update was a full-color version for Game Boy Color in 1998.
The 2019 release of Link’s Awakening on Switch boldly chose a bright, charmingly rounded art style that has never been seen in a Zelda game — but which works well to maintain the top-down visuals of the original in full 3D. Beyond the visuals, quality-of-life improvements and the addition of custom dungeons mean that those who have never taken on the journey to wake the Wind Fish owe it to themselves to try it on Nintendo Switch.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
Image Credit: Monolift Soft
Xenoblade Chronicles on the Nintendo Wii was a great game that was just a bit too ambitious for its hardware. The sprawling action RPG, set on the bodies of two giants that had long ago frozen in combat, featured sprawling vistas filled with massive beasts that pushed the aging console to its limits (and sometimes beyond — slowdown was an issue and the visuals were plagued by aliasing and low-res textures).
While a sleeper hit at the time due to its dark story and MMO-inspired quest structure, the popularity of its sequel (and Shulk as a character in Super Smash Bros.) led to a Switch-exclusive full remaster of the original Xenoblade Chronicles. With an upgrade to 1080p and entirely redone character models, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is the game as it was always meant to look. Modifications to the combat, menus, and quest structure round out the presentation of this fantastic game, as does the inclusion of both the English voice track and the original Japanese voice acting.
Trials of Mana
Image Credit: Square Enix
Similar to the upcoming Live A Live, Trials of Mana is a remake of a classic Square RPG that was originally released only in Japan but gained a Western following thanks to a popular fan translation. Seiken Densetsu 3, as it’s known in Japan, came out near the end of the SNES’ lifespan, with the next generation of consoles looming on the horizon. Its detailed graphics and massive world pushed the cartridge to its limits, such that there was no room (or budget) for localization.
That all changed with the Switch release of the Collection of Mana in 2019, which combined the original version of Trials of Mana with its two prequels. That was just a prelude, however, to the 2020 release of a full 3D remake of Trials of Mana. While it jettisons the 3-player co-op of the original in favor of fluid single-player combat with AI companions, Trials of Mana follows the same story structure in a fully 3D, high-definition world complete with voice acting and a re-recorded soundtrack. It’s one of the most dramatic transformations of a classic game ever made, and it’s worth a run through its whimsical narrative for that alone — especially for fans of the original.
Panzer Dragoon: Remake
Image Credit: Sega
Panzer Dragoon, originally released on the Sega Saturn in 1995, was influential in bringing the third-person “rail shooter” style (later seen in games like Star Fox 64 and Rez) into three dimensions. While featuring a captivatingly original fantasy world, it was hamstrung by limited controls (the Saturn’s controllers lacked analog sticks), performance issues, and being stuck on a platform that was far less popular than Nintendo and Sony’s contemporary offerings.
2020’s Panzer Dragoon: Remake vastly updates the graphics, replacing the blocky architecture of the original with fully realized fantasy environments. It also switches the digital controls to analog, resulting in a game that plays far smoother than before. While it’s available on other platforms, Panzer Dragoon: Remake is a great on-the-go title for the Switch thanks to its brief but easily replayable levels and a scoring system that lends itself to those seeking the perfect run. It’s also regularly on sale for 70-90% off, making the deal that much sweeter.
The Best Console for Remakes
Here at NexiGo, we’ve written a lot about the Nintendo Switch recently. It’s not just the most popular console on the market, five years on from its release — it’s also one of the most unique consoles ever made, with a fantastic library of modern games, classic ports, and more remakes and remasters than we could list here. We hope you’ll stay tuned to our blog for more Switch content, and if you’re looking for accessories to improve your gaming experience on the Switch (and keep it safe), NexiGo has you covered.