Justin Williams Laser shares his picks for the best video game remakes.
While some might view remaking an old game as nothing more than a lazy cash grab, in a lot of instances, this point of view couldn’t be further from the truth. Justin Williams Laser points out a lot of these remakes are made with a healthy helping of love and respect for the original, and it shows. There is something to be said for producing an updated version of a critically well-accepted game for a new, modern audience, giving those who didn’t have the chance to experience it the first time around the opportunity to play a classic.
It’s worth understanding, Justin Williams Laser notes, that a remake is different from a remaster. A remaster typically upgrades the graphics of an old game to higher fidelity, allowing it to take full advantage of higher resolution displays. In many cases, remasters also run smoother than the original versions.
Remakes, on the other hand, are built from the ground up. Remakes generally go in one of either two directions: faithful remakes, or those that heavily alter the original’s direction, artwork, and even gameplay. Usually, Justin Williams Laser says, when a game is remade with new mechanics and reworked gameplay, it’s because the original may seem outdated or clunky to a modern audience.
One example of this is the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 2 (and soon, Resident Evil 3) has been remade entirely from scratch, with a new behind-the-shoulder camera viewpoint and a completely redone game map. Generally praised by critics and having won several “game of the year” awards, it’s no surprise to see how Capcom is eager to release another remake of the next game in the series as soon as possible.
An example of a faithful remake would be the recently released Crash Bandicoot Trilogy. Based on the original trilogy of games released across the 1990s for the original PlayStation, the new remake retains the exact level layouts and gameplay of the originals, all built on top of an updated game engine with modernized graphics and new voice acting. This has helped an entirely new generation experience what some consider to be among the greatest platformer games, standing with the likes of Mario. Justin Williams Laser explains that besides just being released again, the games’ availability has literally tripled from its original release, being available for purchase on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC this time around.
Spyro the Dragon got very much the same treatment as Crash Bandicoot: following the success of the Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, the Spyro trilogy was released to similar fanfare.
Justin Williams Laser brings up an example of how not to do a remake—Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, while hotly anticipated, ended up being a huge flop. The game purported to update the classic for modern-day, but instead was so poorly put together that basic gameplay functions were broken due to shoddy physics, and was otherwise missing a lot of what made the originals so special.