Few third-party developers have supported the DS anywhere near as well as Square Enix has. Over the past few years, the renowned publishing giant has released such titles as Children of Mana, Final Fantasy III, Front Mission, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. In 2008 alone, they also released remakes of three classic Super NES RPGs – Final Fantasy IV, Dragon Quest IV and Chrono Trigger – as well as other critically acclaimed titles like The World Ends With You and Space Invaders Extreme.
With Square Enix showing such support for the Nintendo handheld, as well as a willingness to tap into their back catalog for dual-screen ports, here’s a list of five more classics we’d love to see the mega-publisher revisit on the DS.
Bahamut Lagoon – Initially released for the Super NES in 1996, Bahamut Lagoon is a strategy RPG that also features combat similar to the original turn-based Final Fantasy titles. Characters move around a battle map during combat, just like in tactical roleplaying titles, and can either strike using long-distance special attacks or engage up close in party-style battles as described above. Also, players are responsible for raising dragons which will also aid them in battle. The dragons act alone but can be commanded to pursue different strategies, and feeling them certain items outside of battle will change how they grow, and what kind of dragons they ultimately become.
Live-A-Live – Much like another Square-Enix RPG, Saga Frontier for the Sony PlayStation, Live-A-Live features several separate character stories (seven, to be exact) which can be played through individually, ultimately culminating in a final chapter. The graphics in this 1994 title aren’t quite up to later efforts from the developers, and were there ever to be a DS re-release, it could probably use an upgrade there. Meanwhile, battles are turn-based take place on what appears to be a 7 x 7 game board, somewhat reminiscent of a chess board. The unique premise and gameplay would make this an idea candidate for a handheld, dual-screen remake.
Seiken Densetsu 3 – The Japanese title of this action roleplaying classic may or may not be familiar to you, but it is the true sequel to the highly acclaimed Secret of Mana. Much like its successor, Seiken Densetsu 3 features real-time combat and a ring-based system for easy access to weapons, items, spells and so forth. The graphics were noticeably improved, however, and the game also features more characters, a new class change system and a deeper story. Those who have played both it and Secret of Mana all but overwhelmingly hail Seiken Densetsu 3 as the superior game, making a potential English-language version on the Nintendo DS that much more enticing.
Just Breed – The sole Enix-developed game on the list, as well as the only NES / Famicom title, Just Breed is a tactical RPG that looks remarkably good for an 8-bit title. In addition to quality graphics, the game boasts six lead characters, each of whom commands an army of six soldiers of various class types. Instead of fighting a set number of opponents on each map, players must disable monster generators to stop the flow of additional foes onto the battlefield, and the game even includes free explorations of towns, ala Shining Force on the Sega Genesis. As impressive as the original version sounds (it is said to be one of the largest NES games ever), it would be wonderful to see what Square Enix could do with it these day – and to see it in English as well!
Treasure Hunter G – Finally, we conclude our list with the Super NES RPG Treasure Hunter G, a game that sounds somewhat reminiscent of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter in that every action consumes some of a limited resource, called ACT in this game. Two things set this apart from most Square games of the era – the graphics are pre-rendered, which allows for improved animations, and the fact that players can set traps, interact with environments, attempt to outflank enemies and do all sorts of other things on the battlefield. The game is said to be quite challenging and long as well, making the prospect of a U.S. release all that more tantalizing.