Remakes. The idea of them seems like a cash-in, cop-out, or uninspired move by a publisher or developer. Yet, gamers are constantly clamoring for remakes of games like Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and many others. Personally, I would be drooling at the prospect of a remake of Final Fantasy X, my all-time favorite game that I tragically played almost 10 years after release, ruining any illusions that this game was technically impressive, even if it was at the time.
Recently, developers and publishers have begun to cash in on the remake market by releasing a flurry of remakes of classic last-generation games over the past several years, often in collections. Notable examples include the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, the Ratchet and Clank Collection, and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. These remakes have been generally well-received, and there seems to be many more coming in the future as a result.
The nostalgia factor of remakes plays a huge role in the appeal, as many gamers want to experience their favorite games in eye-popping high definition in order to “truly” experience them in the highest quality possible. After all, games are always best in high-definition, right? Not necessarily.
My concern with this newly invigorated remake culture is that it won’t always be done right. There are plenty of examples of film remakes that are either horrible or tarnish the memory of the original. Often, films audiences decide that the original was far superior. The same case could be made for many games. Most of the changes made in remakes are graphical changes, and hopefully companies follow Sony’s approach to remakes in making minimal changes to the original, perhaps only updating the texture resolutions to support 1080p, but nothing more. Some games actually may look better with their original graphics, as they may have a unique art style, such as Ratchet and Clank, whose graphics were barely touched in their remake.
We cannot take the risk to stifling the charm of classics to “modernize” them, as has happened too many times in the film industry. At the same time, a remake must not be lazily put out as an untouched port; it has to be modified somewhat to keep up with the current generation of games. A perfect example of a well-made remake is Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which had an ambitious graphics update that could have diluted the nostalgia effect, but ultimately was well-implemented. Otherwise, the original campaign was barely modified at all, and preserved the quality and charm of the original.
In general, many remakes can be considered quick cash-ins and not worth your hard-earned cash if you own the original. Remakes should only be made if they are made with care, and show reverence to the original by making the minimum amount of modifications when appropriate. Hopefully future remakes are made out of respect to fans and to the original game instead of for a quick revenue stream for the publisher, because it will show in the final product.