Our wish list of great games that make sense in VR.
Every generation or so, a massive technological advancement comes along that will change video games forever. The last one was the Internet, allowing us to play games with friends all over the world, update our titles, and get new content without going to the store, etc. If you've been paying attention, you probably know we're on the cusp of another one: virtual reality. Sure, the basic tech of VR isn't anything new. People have been experimenting with immersive worlds for decades. But with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR, we've finally got consumer-priced equipment that can deliver the goods, and with all this hardware, we're gonna need software.
Yu Suzuki's ambitious Dreamcast adventure is coming back in 2017 after a decade and a half away, but we can't help but think that he's sort of missing out on an opportunity to bring it to the next level. The original games were notorious for their level of immersion. As protagonist Ryo, you can wander freely through large, well-detailed towns, talking to everybody you meet, buying capsule toys, petting cats, etc. What made it work was the sense of nostalgic reality. You really felt like you inhabited Ryo's life, and transplanting that sensation into VR would be a huge accomplishment.
One of the most recognizable arcade classics of all time is Pac-Man, Namco's often-imitated maze chase. There has actually been a take on the series in VR once before, for Virtuality's primitive mid-90s system, but the concept is irresistible. Run through a neon-glowing maze, gobble up dots, and flee from ghosts, all while that iconic music plays? It's a no-brainer and we'd be shocked if somebody wasn't already working on it.
This one is a serious longshot, but man would it be fun. Iconoclastic designer Goichi Suda made his name with this 2005 action-adventure mind trip. As Harman Smith, the "host body" for the seven murderous alternate personalities of the title, you complete a series of surreal assassinations in visually striking locales. The main antagonists, the exploding creatures known as Heaven Smiles, are invisible until you target them, only announcing their presence with a cackling laugh. This is a truly demented game that seriously deserves a second chance, and using VR to get inside Smith's head would change up the experience significantly.
This all-out head trip would be insanely great in VR. The original games feature you guiding a machine down multiple tracks of music, matching beats to lock in audio tracks. The remake was a ton of fun, but it's still stuck to a screen. Imagine being inside a living world of music, turning your head to lock into different tracks and being surrounded by beats pulsing as you frantically try to groove to the sound. Breaking free of the 2D display could reinvigorate Amplitude for a new generation.
God games aren't as popular as they once were, but if Peter Molyneux is looking for something that would probably infuse some much-needed cash into his operations, he should consider bringing his landmark Populous into the new world of VR. You were always the disembodied hand of a powerful celestial being in the original games, but imagine being able to spin your little world underneath you, pinching the earth to raise mountains and pushing it to sink continents full of nonbelievers into the sea? What a power trip that would be.
We've already figured out that horror experiences are amazing in virtual reality, so it's time to pull existing franchises into that space. Long-running series Fatal Frame would be a great fit, for a few reasons. First and foremost, it gets rid of guns. In the series, you can only bust ghosts using a special kind of camera, with better pictures causing them more damage. This would be insanely fun in VR, requiring players to bring their hands up to face level as if they were holding a camera to take the shot, then back down to move around. There's a lot of untapped potential there.
This one is kind of a stretch, as Nintendo keeps a pretty tight grasp on its IP, but with the massive success of Pokemon Go, you can't help but think it might be amenable to some outside-the-box thinking. The original Pikmin was one of the GameCube's sleeper hits, a real-time strategy game where a tiny explorer had to muster a platoon of plants to accomplish a variety of tasks. Being able to move around the playfield in virtual reality as Captain Olimar takes care of business would be super awesome, adding a sense of scale to the game that would bring it into the next generation.
Psygnosis's 1995 racing game was a system seller for the original PlayStation, a hyper-stylized futuristic speedfest with an absolutely banging techno soundtrack. It saw a few sequels, but the franchise has been in limbo since 1998. Virtual reality would be the perfect medium to bring it back. The physics and driving controls of the original game were always a little bit loose; Wipeout was more about style and flair than precision. But in VR that's kind of what we expect. Tilting and turning your head as you careen down a neon-colored antigravity raceway sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
Shadow of the Colussus
Sony is moving into virtual reality with PlayStation VR, and with Fumito Ueda's long-awaited The Last Guardian finally coming out (eventually), it's a perfect time to bring back one of his greatest accomplishments in a whole new way. Shadow of the Colossus is widely regarded as one of the best games in the PS2's software library, a unique desert adventure punctuated with battles against massive stone beasts that force you to jump, climb, and hang from their bodies as you strike their weak points. Being able to completely immerse ourselves in that beautiful world once more is an irresistible idea.
Nintendo's Wario Ware series has always been about innovation. Entries in the franchise took advantage of tilt sensors, the built-in microphone on the DS, the Wii's motion controls, and more. So why not spin that eagerness to try new things into the VR space? The frenzy of Wario's non-stop microgames, each taking just a few seconds to complete, would be totally different if you added in the head-tracking and body-positioning features that virtual reality provides. Bonus: you'd probably look insanely hilarious playing them to observers without their own VR headsets.