In the gaming industry, the desire to release new and exciting is paramount above all else. As it is these games that help drive sales and bring attention to developers both big and small.
However, with recent console generations, an interesting trend has occurred. Developers have gone to great lengths to “remaster” old games, or make older games look better via HD graphics and possible changes in gameplay.
While at first this was reserved for certain games and titles, mainly ones that felt deserved it or haven’t been in the public eye for quite some time, now it seems that every other week or so, a new “Remaster” is announced. In the last few weeks alone, Batman: Return To Arkham got an October release date, and Warner Bros announced that the Lego Harry Potter games would be “remastered” onto one disc and released to the public.
With each new remaster comes a question, are these games worthy of gamers time? More importantly, should gamers even spend their money on titles they’ve either played before, or currently have in original form?
Moneymaker? Or Money Grab?
The big question about remakes is about the developers themselves. What is there intent when they make HD remakes? Are they doing it because fans have asked for the games to be remade with better graphics and are thus giving it to them? Are they doing it because they feel now is the best time to bring back the game after such a long absence? Or, are they cashing in on a popular property to try and make money from games they’ve already made a bunch of money on?
While I won’t go as far to say that every remake/remaster is a money grab, it’s clear that for some, it is. Depending on the remaster, it may not cost them that much to make, and thus even if they get just a small amount of sales, it’ll be worth it overall. Why else would certain titles, say Lego Harry Potter for instance, be getting an HD remake?
Now on the flip side, there are titles who probably “deserve” to get such treatment. Grim Fandango is a great example. The game was a Point-And-Click title from a bygone era, and fans loved it when it original came out decades ago. So when its HD remake was announced, they were happy! Why? Because they likely didn’t have the game anymore, and thus the appeal of trying to beat the game again, now with better graphics, was a must.
In contrast, look at a game like The Last of Us. A game released on the PS3 to critical and financial acclaim. Then less than a year later, it gets a “remastered” version on the PS4. Little to no changes to the game other than the graphical quality (and they added one DLC campaign). Why? Because there was a chance that the PS4 owners would buy it for the new graphics quality, or, PS3 owners who would get the PS4 and leave the PS3 behind wouldn’t want to not have Last of Us.
All the companies do it. In the course of one console generation, Nintendo released both Wind Waker HD, and Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U. Two games from the same franchise, Legend of Zelda, getting HD remakes. Again, there was very little changes to the gameplay itself, mainly the use of the Wii U Gamepad to better help in some areas, but overall, just graphical improvements.
Why remakes can be welcome, shouldn’t there be a limit on how long one should wait to make one? If a game is less than two or three years old, or even if its on a past generation of console, does it really deserve an HD remake?
The Bad Remakes
Then of course, there’s the dark side of remakes. Ones that are aren’t up to the quality of the original games, or are so hastily thrown together that it truly does look like a money grab.
Easily one the biggest offenders of this was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This game had all the momentum it needed. Halo 5 was coming out soon, and Microsoft wanted to make sure everyone was hyped in the best way possible. So, they put the first four “true” Halo games together, gave them an upgrade, boosted the multiplayer, and gave it to the players.
Problem was, though the main campaign was fine more-or-less, the multiplayer was plagued with bugs. So many in fact that multiplayer at times became quite unplayable, which annoyed fans to no end. Several patches had to be released in order to make it work.
Why is this bad is because when the original games were launched, these problems were virtually non-existent. In a way, Halo revolutionized multiplayer in a way that hadn’t been done yet. Especially with online play. It was all right there to use again, but the “remaster” botched it big time.
Then there are remakes/remasters that are so obvious in their desire to make money, it’s hard to watch. Resident Evil 4 is widely considered one of, if not the, greatest Resident Evil game ever. It’s story, gameplay, and use of horror was top notch. The only “bad” thing about it was that it was on the Gamecube. So naturally, after a while, the game got ported, then it got ported again, and again, and again. Why? So that it could sell, and sell again, and sell again. While it’s one thing to want a game to sell as many copies as possible, when remaking it with slight changes to try and encourage even more sales, long after the games time has past, it becomes annoying to fans.
So What Is The Point?
It’s hard to say at times why remakes/remasters happen. Because in a way, they are good. Timing is one of the biggest crimes in gaming. If you’re not old enough to play a game when it releases, by the time you are, it’s likely already been given a sequel or potentially ended. So remasters allow you, more times than not, to play everything you’ve missed, but with new quality.
The problem though, is that when the remasters don’t come close to the quality of the original games, fans notice. And critics notice. If the game isn’t as polished as it should be, in any way, fans will rip it apart. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.
Not all remasters are bad, some are given the quality and care they should be. The Rachet and Clank remake was a good example of that, and the collection they had a few years before that was another great one. But for every one of those, there’s another that doesn’t have that, and makes gamers wonder why it happens.
If you’re in a position to get a remaster/remake, it’s really your decision whether you get it or not. As is it should be. The question that should be asked though, is whether you truly need this remake/remaster. If you say ‘yes’, then get it, if ‘no’, then pass, and just go play the original if you can. More times than not, you know those work 100% of the time.