In this article, I will be looking at some of the best and worst cases of games being remastered. Is it ever enough to just give a game a shiny HD coat of paint and send it out for another beating? Or do developers need to bring something new to the table even when they’re effectively serving us a remaster of a decade old game for the thirteenth time?
“We are cannibalizing our audience by only giving them regurgitated material. Every movie is either a remake, a sequel, based on something else. Based on a former television series. Based on a successful videogame.” – Dean Devlin
Excuse me…this may sound corny but have we met somewhere before?
You know the score. You’ve been following the news about the PlayStation 5/Xbox Thirteen/Nintendo Kookbox for over a year now. Finally, release day arrives! You stand in the queue waiting for your brand new console. As a part of your PlayStation 5/Xbox Thirteen/Nintendo Kookbox bundle, you get to choose one game to play! “Will you go with Skyrim 4K Ultra HD Remastered Version? Will you go for Pac-Man Mega Deluxe Edition? Or, would Sir care to play Resident Evil Re-Re-Remastered: Why Won’t You Let Us Rest In Peace Edition?”
“Wait, what? Isn’t there anything more original to play on my shiny new console?” you ask. The clerk looks at you with a puzzled expression on his face for a moment. “I’ll just check in the back.” He comes back and hands you a copy of Bloodwych. You know it’s a remake of a Spectrum game that was already remade in 2014 but by this point you’ve abandoned all hope and buy it anyway.
“Be sure to come back in ten years time, then you’ll get to play the Bloodwych Ultra HD 8K Remastered Version…in VR!”
“Oh, great. I’ll make note in my diary,” you mutter.
The Lazy Remaster: Just How Shiny Does it Need to Be?
When it comes to remastered editions of games, my personal least favourite kind is a remaster of a fairly recent game…say, one generation old…which has been sent out there again with a marginal visual improvement, thanks to whatever the latest tiny technological advance may be. I’m looking at you, Prototype/Protoype 2 Remaster. Graphically even when placed side by side with the original, you were barely any different! Frame rate issues also plagued this remaster and it was full price on release. Or how about God of War 3 Remastered? If you’re going to release a remastered edition of a game that’s already perfectly fine in the original form, you could at least ensure that it’s not full of bugs. No? Too much to ask?
And Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD. I see you there, lurking at the back. We already loved you in the original form. You were never aiming for realism with your cute and deformed art style. You were already classed as one of the most beautiful games of all time. Isn’t that enough for you?!
The Surprising Remaster: So you think you remember me, huh?
The other kind of remaster is the one which takes your preconceptions of the original games and tweaks them a little to make you question whether you really know what you think you know. You remember that bit in Resident Evil when the dogs jump through the window? Well, in this version they don’t! You let yourself relax. But in the next room…the dogs jump down from the chandeliers instead! Ha! Got you, didn’t we?! That change alone has got to be worth the premium fee you paid for a game you already completed ten years ago.
Personally, I like this kind of remaster a little more but if the change is too big then it could potentially annoy some fans. With old classics, some people want them to be exactly as they remembered them being…only prettier, I guess.
The DLC Included This Time Remaster
Hey, want to pay double the price of a game that you can already buy on your PlayStation 3? What’s different? Well, the visuals are technically better but you’d need them to be running side-by-side and possibly to analyse them under a microscope to notice the difference. But hey – this time, all the DLC that you already purchased for the PS3 version has been included in the remake! We’re calling it the Ultimate Version, even though we’re going to release another version of the game when the next console is released. What will that one be called…erm, the Ultimatest version? The Ultimate Times Two Version?
Wait…what are you doing? You’re adding up how much the DLC you’d be interested in playing would cost to buy individually and comparing it to the price we’re asking you to play for the Ultimate Version? No! Naughty player! Maths is bad! Now, look into my eyes. You are getting sleepy…very sleepy. When I count to three, you will wake up and go and buy the Ultimate Edition of a game that you’ve already completed three times before. One…two…three!
The One Extra Level Tacked On Remaster
Marginally better than the DLC included this time remaster, this one woos you with the promise of one whole new level to play! Possibly it was a brand new construct. Possibly it was a level that they’d already made but opted to delete from the original as it offered nothing noteworthy to the game’s story and messed with the pacing. Either way, it’s now yours! Enjoy it, you lucky people.
The Game That Time Forgot Remaster
Do you remember Human Killing Machine which was released in 1989 for the Spectrum? Oh, you don’t? In that case, can I interest you in Human Killing Machine: Redux? It’s the game that literally nobody was crying out for! It’s a remake that has next to nothing in common with the original! However, we bought the license on the cheap and thought it’d save us having to hire a writer to come up with an original concept for a game. Do you know how expensive original thoughts are?!
And finally…the winner is?
Despite this rant about remasters/remakes/ultimate editions, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to buying them. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t but yes, I do it too occasionally. I bought the VR version of Skyrim just because I was that desperate for a decent RPG for my PlayStation VR.
Sometimes, I’ll even come across a remaster that improves on the original enough for me to be pleased I bought it. For example, I liked the Redux versions of the Metro games. Being given the option to play through each of those games with the play style of the other one was a nice touch. And yet…could the Last Light portion of that Redux have been done as an update rather than a remaster? Or would those hours spent crawling through the Metro once more have been better spent discovering another more original game to play instead? Hmm…
I am also aware that for people who never played the originals…and maybe haven’t owned the original consoles either…they arguably serve a purpose.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If not, don’t worry – the 4K Ultra HD Remastered version of it that I’ll post next year will be much better. So, where do you stand when it comes to remasters? Do you buy them or have you managed to resist the urge so far? What’s the best and the worst remaster that you have played? Is there a game that you want to be remastered? Please comment below and let us know.