Much like the current Hollywood trend to relentlessly churn out remakes of classic movies and release simple HD versions of old titles, the games industry has decided to take the easy route and squeeze out a bunch of old games with little more than a shiny polish. First it was the God of War Collection which hit North American markets in the rear end of 2009. Since then we’ve had all manner of previous gen games clawing their ways onto our current gen consoles like the rotting zombies of long lost beloved pets. However, the flood of these titles begs the question, are they really necessary?
No remaster changes the mechanics of the original game. The Splinter Cell Trilogy (2011) was the definition of unchanged. The control scheme had grown extremely dated over the 9 years since its original 2002 release. Unchanged. Nothing was added to the game to make it a better version except the HD veneer that studios insist constitutes a remaster. The Prince of Persia Trilogy – hallowed be its name – was also exactly that upon its 2010 PS3 release. Just a HD version of the same games. Marvel Ultimate Alliance, The GTA Trilogy, offer nothing more than a shallow graphical upgrade. There are plenty of pointless remasters out there wanting your money and offering only the fact that they’re slightly prettier.
There’s also the cost. Each Splinter Cell title in the trilogy can be found in your local pawnshop or CEX for fifty pence. A Playstation 2 will likely cost you around twenty-five pounds. Then guess what! You can use the Playstation 2 for other old games that will be super cheap like God of War, Prince of Persia, and GTA’s 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. The whole lot will probably cost you less than the price of two remastered titles.
However, there are some that, like your first weird looking girlfriend in school that you see looking super fine at a reunion ten years later, want to thank you for your love of the original and for playing them when they were still ugly ducklings.
Halo Anniversary was a work of love for its fans. Not only providing completely overhauled graphics but remastered sound effects, the addition of trophies, but also the unique ability to switch between the new better shinier graphics and the originals. It was as if you were being led back through your old hometown with your best friend occasionally stopping to say ‘Wow. Look at this. So much has changed.’ Cortana was still so amazed that the obviously unnatural cave formation was not a natural cave formation. Even small gestures in remasters are nice such as including all the previous DLC. The Bioshock Collection, Return to Arkham, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, The Last of Us Remastered, Skyrim Remastered are all members of this club and for that I thank them. While these are all good, what I think everyone really truly wants a remaster to be is a remake.
Final Fantasy VII almost popped eyeballs out of skulls when a remake was announced at E3 last year. A complete remake, the only thing remaining intact being the story. New character models and environments completely rebuilt and redesigned. A new combat system. A game built for the new generation of consoles. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Final Fantasy but this is one must buy that I must buy. Imagine your favorite old titles completely rebuilt. Prince of Persia, Spyro 3, Metal Gear Solid – I’d also say Fallout 3, but Bethesda would still use the same godawful engine.
And right there is why remasters, the shitty HD upgrades and the better ones, will always sell like hot cakes We want the games we love. We want to play them again and again and it doesn’t matter how poor the release is. Any remaster is slightly better than the original and we view the originals through nostalgia tinted lenses, the beer goggles for games so it’ll always be better than the version we played as kids.
For all the bad shit I’ve said about remasters and why I think they’re mostly pointless, I would fight someone for a Spyro Trilogy Remaster. I’d genuinely go a round with Brock Lesnar for Prince of Persia to get the same treatment that Halo Anniversary received. Konami could name their price for a Metal Gear Solid Remake and this is because those games are special to me. We all have titles that we’d willingly give a shameful handy for and the companies that own those games have us and our wallets by the balls. Remasters and remakes are here to stay and that’s not entirely bad. From the studios that produce them, I would only ask two things. Deliver an experience that is as enjoyable today as it was back then and be gentle with my balls.