Gaming History 101

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Opinion: The HD Remakes We Need

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This generation has become a bit of an anomaly.  Instead of a throng of new intellectual properties (IP), fantastic sequels, and even downloadable titles we are inundated with re-hashes from the last generation.  Don’t get me wrong, last generation was fantastic and I can’t say enough good things about it, but my fear is that we have lost our identity to the concept of the remake or remaster.  Look at the release list of the Xbox One or the Playstation 4 and it’s clear that touch up work on games less than a decade old, some of them within the last few years, have become the norm.  I can’t scan a news blog on a gaming site anymore without hearing about it.  Video game consumers have become churn factories, now abandoning the old hardware at the same moment that the new hardware releases.  I guess it was only a matter of time in an age where we upgrade nearly thousand dollar iPhones every year for a new model that barely bumps the specs of the old, but I hate that with those purchases comes the loss of the software they supported.  It’s odd that the first generation to abandon backwards compatibility reveals the strong need to keep the feature, if only to prevent these re-releases from coming out at the rapid pace we are seeing.  When I buy a new iPhone I still get to keep all the apps from before, so why are games insisting on being different?  Then it dawned on me.  We need these remakes and remasters because unlike apps, movies, books, and really any other medium, video games can consistently improve with age and games thought lost and abandoned can become new again.  The problem is not that we are getting remakes, it’s the selection of remakes that we are getting.

ss2Some of my favorite games that I recently purchased on Steam may sound familiar: Indigo ProphecyValkyria ChroniclesKnights of the Old Republic.  These games have already come out before, but for various reasons I have seen it fit to purchase them either because I’ve never played through them or because it’s difficult to play the originals.  Indigo Prophecy was always a clunky interface and the disc-based consoles like my Playstation 2 is starting to show its age and have read issues not to mention the headache of pulling out my Xbox 360 and buying the digital version.  Oh yeah, and it’s on my computer with increased resolution and almost no load times, that’s the main reason I bought all three games.  There are a lot of other games available these days that were lost to time until they were recently restored, regardless of whether or not the graphics/gameplay were tweaked.  System Shock 2, the Tie Fighter and X-Wing series, Balder’s Gate, and just about every single game on Good Old Games.  These are significant releases because I have never played these titles, couldn’t get them to run even if I did, or the fact that they appear on old consoles that are ridiculously expensive.  The same is happening on consoles, despite that popularity and backing waning.  Rondo of Blood was a $100-$200 game that only released in Japan and required about $300-$500 in hardware to play, now it can be downloaded on any Wii or Wii U for $9.  The SuperGrafx is a $250 console that only supported 5 games, each costing between $50-$100, but now all of these games can be had via Japanese Virtual Console or PSN for less than $50.  Even last week the Adventures of Tron Bonne, a $100-$200 mini-campaign collection saw a $6 digital release.  These are worthwhile releases that preserve the history of games and allow both older audiences to revisit them while newer audiences get exposed.  These games should be re-released, especially with the remaster treatment, and consumers are already telling us they want them.

mm3d_boxDon’t believe me?  Sure, the PSOne library as well as the Virtual Console library may not be tapped by as many people as we would hope, but given the right circumstance anyone will jump at a good remake.  The best selling game in February of this year was Majora’s Mask, a relatively criticized Nintendo 64 game, that magically became a highly sought after relic nearly 15 years later.  People are playing it and they are enjoying it.  The same was true of Windwaker on the Wii U, and Capcom’s best performer of late has been Resident Evil HD Remaster that also came from the Gamecube era.  It’s not just Nintendo either, The Master Chief Collection was predominantly purchased by fans to get access to the Halo 2 remaster and nothing else, the draw of a game that released a decade before this remake.  Lets also not forget that Sony broke ground on this concept with the fantastic God of War HD Collection on the PS3 and eventual release of a bunch of Playstation 2 remakes of almost all of its franchises – even an HD remake of Killzone.  Somewhere along the way everyone lost track, though, because the concept of an HD remake of The Last of UsGrand Theft Auto V, and God of War III is just laughable to me.  I have played these games and I know they benefit from an upgrade, but come on, they looked fantastic in original form and haven’t been around long enough for people to miss them – hell I haven’t even gotten to playing Grand Theft Auto V!

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I propose that game companies do participate in that scary practice of re-releasing old games.  I assure you that despite my general lack of interest in replaying Final Fantasy VII or seeing it get a remake, I’m much more excited about an HD remake of FF VII than the disasters that have been FF XIII and most likely XV.  Sure Konami is dead in the water, but what if they got an up and coming development studio to remake Metal Gear Solid in the Fox Engine?  Ever wanted an updated action RPG remake of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest?  And oh Nintendo, you don’t even have to ask about Super Mario 64 HD, just take my money as a commitment.  These are what we want, just look at Kickstarters like Shovel KnightMighty No. 9Yooka-Laylee, and Bloodstainedthe clear response is that we desperately want a return to form with the games of old, whether they be new adventures with the old style or just plain remakes.  I’m sorry to say that given the recent years of new IP and sequels, I’m about ready to see these companies focus on making what is old new again rather than trying to re-invent the wheel.

Written by Fred Rojas

May 14, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

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2 Responses

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  1. We only need HD remakes of 2D sprite games, since pixels are not upscale-able. As I said before, companies need to make official, legal, WORKING emulators for older titles. That way they could just sell digital downloads of image files of old games, that would be perfectly compatible with their emulators. Any attempt at an “HD remake” has a very high risk of breaking some element of the game, resulting in something akin to the Blu-Ray release of Return of the Jedi.

    Andrew

    May 15, 2015 at 2:30 am

  2. NO remakes are necessary. If it was done well the first time, why remake it? To pander to teenyboppers (and midlife-crisis sufferers who try and act like teenyboppers) who can’t help but to waste money on the latest version of the latest gizmo? Besides, you yourself recently wrote against revisionism.

    All that a remake says to me — in games, movies or anything else — is, “We as a company / I as an allegedly creative person don’t have the courage to risk releasing something original.” Remakes are never necessary, and never more fun than the real games.

    Chris

    May 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm


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