What Do We Want from Remakes?

The past few weeks have seen a couple of interesting remakes, spinoffs and updates of older games. Just a few examples are Syndicate, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D and Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus. Before that, Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time received a 3D version that, among other things incorporated touchscreen support, gyroscope controls for aiming, a new “Boss Challenge” mode and more importantly 3D visuals. But this kind of makes me think about these adapted versions of video games: Why are they made? What are their main characteristics? And more importantly, what do fans want from them?

In my opinion, one of the main motivation forces for players to get updated version of classics is nostalgia. Although certain games hold up quite well even after years of its original release (like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) one could argue that a proper update isn’t really necessary. But these types of updated versions have been doing so well that developers and publishers know that they can get away with it. Players on the other hand, are more than happy to relive certain moments by buying the same game they did back in the day. It is worth pointing out that even though many fans are buying the same game over and over again, some others are getting that very same title for the first time.

And there lies the beauty of remakes and updates, they reach more people. Many people simply missed old games such as Beyond Good and Evil, so for them it’s great that they can experience it in an updated HD version. No matter how many times a game is rereleased it will always reach a new audience as there will always be younger fans that never played certain games.

Nevertheless, the HD collection series features hundreds of games and not all of them deserve it. Although it’s great to be able to buy packages like the God of War Origins Collection or The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus one, why Resident Evil: Revival Selection even exists. The former collections are quite convenient because if you were to buy Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 2 for example, you would have to spend at least $100 for used copies. The latter collection, though (which includes Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica X) is a different story. Resident Evil 4 originally came out for the GameCube and then was released on the PlayStation 2, PC and Nintendo Wii so most of the people who wanted to play it, had four opportunities to do so. Code Veronica X on the other hand, hasn’t aged very well and last time I checked you can buy it for $5 at a local retail store. Still, for those who have never played them and want to experience them in HD this is probably more convenient to get them both in the same package than going back to the PS2 versions.

But nowadays we are also getting remakes of remakes. That would be the peculiar case of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus. The original Ninja Gaiden came out in 2004 for the original Xbox and a subsequent updated rerelease (titled Ninja Gaiden Black) also came out for Microsoft’s console. In 2006, an enhanced PlayStation 3 version came out (Ninja Gaiden Sigma) and finally, this year saw the release of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, an enhanced port for the PlayStation Vita.

Usually though, video game remakes are meant to be newer interpretation of old classics. Most of the titles mentioned in this article have aged quite well and apart from the updated high definition graphics they have barely received any other meaningful changes. But what about games like Bionic Commando Rearmed, Mega Man Powered Up or Metroid: Zero Mission. Going back to the original titles is quite hard because they are either extremely difficult or include antiquated mechanics, but these newer versions modernize certain aspects, making them much more accessible to younger players.

Even when we can complain about the approach certain companies may have towards remakes, it’s great that (most of the times) we can get so much for so little. Tracking down 10 year-old titles can be both difficult and expensive, so downloading them on the PC or a console in a few minutes is convenient and overly easy. I’m pretty sure all of us have a few remakes in our collections. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Final Fantasy Chronicles and Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection are some of the ones I have on my shelf. But what are yours? Do you like playing remakes? Or do you prefer the original versions of games? Please let me know your opinion in the comment section of the site.