Video Games Have Invented So Many Ways to Define a "Remake"

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

There still a lot to be said about the amount of remaking that is happening but for series that deserve to get a new fresh coat of paint, remakes are there to make it shine.

I’m not too keen on the Shadow of the Colossus big remaster. At this point it feels like we’ve peeled away the last vestiges of the original’s unique, dreamlike quality to bring it up to Modern Video Game Standards of performance and visual convention.

Remakes/uprez’s of PS3/360 era games are fine because that was very much a transitional period where we were entering the era of HD, but making massive visual compromises in terms of visual clarity and coherence, so using modern hardware to smooth away those edges is an encouraged effort.

But remakes which end up working to undermine the aesthetics of the original version are far less appreciated.


First thing that comes to mind is the Star Control series. I’ve played a free fan remake of Star Control 2, and it was quite good. But I wonder what a total re-do with all the quality of life and graphics stuff modern technology would bring would be like.
If you lost the arcadey top down combat, would probably be a bad thing, but who knows, maybe something better that still keeps the same arcade feel would work…

(link to remake)

edit : hmm appears a remake called Star Control Origins is already in works, oh well

While I agree with Patrick that option 3 is my general preference (I assume this is where things like The Last of Us PS4 would fall?), the best remake of the current generation is the new Ratchet and Clank, by a country mile. Can’t really think of a more profound example of option 4 than that game.

Also, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but give me ALL the remakes. I might not play them all, but I’m glad I have the option. Ok, who am I kidding, I play them ALL!


There are certainly many different degrees of remake, as outlined in the article, and while I think we need a clearer language to define the different approaches I find myself typically enjoying games from all these categories.

I like having old classics on new systems, since I’ve never been the type of person to drag around older consoles, and it’s always nice to have a better performing / looking version of a game you loved on a console you actually have plugged in; for example Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper HD trilogy, as well as the Metal Gear Solid HD collection have personally been some really good collections to have on the ps3, really well ported and looking sharp.

Of course the reboot / remake is gonna be the most divisive, there’s potential for a lot of factors to pull it in the wrong direction or miss the point of the original game, similarly to when a new studio takes over a beloved series after the original developer have moved on to other things.

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What got me is that I just learned that the remake is going to have collectibles all over the map and I find it so contrary to what the game is even about that I lost interest in it.

I’m excited for the Shadow of the Colossus remake, but I do expect it to be a different experience. I think I said this when the first trailer came out, but I’m not sure how you can look at those gorgeous, majestic creatures and think for even a second that you are the good guy in this.

Maybe that’s not as important 10 years on, when most people already know the “twist,” but it still feels fundamentally different. They don’t have the menace they did when they were shrouded in fog, and their head was so far away you couldn’t even tell what they looked like as you stood at their feet.

Option 4 is the way to go for me. Other mediums do this so well in recreating entertainment with more modern sensibilities or differing themes or just straight up changes to the story. I mean, even in recent memory big successes like Devilman Crybaby and It come to mind.

In games? We struggle to find examples let alone good ones. And even when we do find good ones, they tend to be complete remakes from simpler eras in games, akin to remaking a black and white film in colour or a silent film with voices. Metroid: Samus Returns is a big improvement over the original because technical limitations left a lot to be improved. Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia is basically an entirely new game when compared to the NES original due to applying a lot of the advancements the series saw throughout the decades. The aforementioned Resident Evil remakes replaced the laughable voice acting and breathed tension back in the game by throwing out those old textures and models that don’t have the same punch they did in 1996.

But there’s another big problem in games from remakes being made: how do you differentiate them from the reboots and sequels? With the video game industry being so sequel heavy, rebooting a franchise comes with the expectation that more, original stories will come afterwards, unlike a remake which is just a dedication to the singular game. 2013’s Tomb Raider, for example, is a fresh take on the embarrassing original, but is a reimagining of who Lara Croft is and what her adventures would be like going forward. 2012’s “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” could be considered a remake of the 1994 original, but also can be considered a sequel because, well, X-COM is going to be about alien invasions and you can’t really make it about 5th or 6th contact now can you? Punch-Out!! on the Wii has a lot of the same fights with new twists and gave Little Mac a new look, but considering that’s the same thing the sequel Super Punch-Out!! did, is it a sequel or a remake?

Part of the confusion stems from how mechanics based games are, rather than story based like other mediums. For example, Spelunky is a pound for pound remake of the original, adding a lot of mechanical depth but staying true to the original, but the story is so barebones that it’s more just a repolishing of the same systems. Same could be said of games like Klonoa on the Wii or the various Pokemon remakes. Ratchet & Clank was mentioned and it does the best job at a loving remake I’ve seen in games, but its story is, again, put on the backburner to its wacky guns and strong platforming.

But when you’re looking through the games remade for strong stories they become almost impossible to find. Strangely enough, Persona 3 Portable is the best example I can think of, even if its a game that is largely a step back when it comes to presentation and the mechanics are barely altered. The female path of the game offers some drastic changes to the social links of the game, which is the bulk of the characterization of the people you meet in the game. Hell, a crucial plot point can only change in this version of the game if a social link is completed. The PSP also saw Final Fantasy Tactics get a remake, which was mostly a much needed retranslation, but still offered a few story tweaks here and there.

The rarity of a true remake of a game that is heavily story based is actually the reason why I’m excited for Final Fantasy VII, even if I pretty much hated the original.

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Final Fantasy IV on the DS is one of my favorite remakes, which would fit into #3. A big graphical update, re-localization, the addition of voice-acted cinematic scenes and a few new mechanics but it still retained the core of the first FF and JRPG I ever played and what got me hooked on the franchise and the genre. I’m hoping the Secret of Mana remake will be just as good, it seems like it’s getting the same degree of treatment that FFIV got.

As for a game I’d like to see remade, this is probably a pipe dream but I’m holding out hope that Resident Evil 3 gets wrapped up in the RE2 remake. And not just having a Jill scenario, but also remaking it’s dodging and gunpowder mechanics into RE2’s scenarios. I’d even take RE3 as a DLC scenario that they put as post-release content.

I’m not sure if RE3 would ever get a remake on it’s own, so this is probably it’s best chance to get one.

I actually wrote a thing about these fluctuating definitions and how they relate to art history a while back!

for me a big sticking point for remasters and remakes is how often people fail to see the ways modern technology, and even simple things like a resolution boost cam change the feeling of a game.

like, ive grown up only seeing Mario 64 through high resolution digital video and thought it looked ugly as hell but I recently saw some direct rgb capture and i finally looked right to me

@Dreamboum yo are they really adding collectibles? I wasn’t already not exactly liking its look but that sounds like it the most Not Getting It. is there a source on this?

@Devour I’m playing Samus Returns right now and it’s an OK game but personally I really dislike the direction they took it and found it destroyed the mood of the original, partly because people saw all the effects of those limitations as flaws

The most memorable remake for me was probably Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which did itself a service when it was marketed as a reimagining, because I hate pretty much everywhere that game took the story to. Like I know Silent Hill wasn’t a good game in a lot of respects, but man I didn’t like anything about Shattered Memories outside of the weird question-y stuff.

For pure historical reasons, the level of care and love 343 put into Halo anniversary and Halo 2 was really something. It would be great seeing this kind of approach applied to other games, I guess this has been applied to some of the old Lucasarts adventure games.

To be honest, I completely forgot they were make the Resident Evil 2 remake. As soon as the GC remake came out, I have been wishing they revisit RE2 in a similar way. I feel like before the GC remake, Resident Evil 1 was this goofy haunted house game and the remake completely did justice to the original vision of the game. The way they remixed elements and added in new elements (LISA TREVOR) was a really smart way of upping the terror.

Compared to original, RE 2 was a lot more darker and grim in it’s tone, in just how you saw the G-virus outbreak affect Racoon City and the people (and family) at the centre of the story. Plus it did the same thing, you’d complete Mission A with one character and then opened up Mission B for the other character, whereupon the game remixed elements and threw in new elements like Mr X - who turned the early game in the police department into a much scarier experience. I wonder what this new direction means, I wonder if they’ll go the first person route? So much of the setting of RE2 is embalmed in my memory, it would be cool to see the same environments but up close.

On the subject of remakes. Remember Tomb Raider: Anniversary? And how the screwed up the T-Rex fight. Chirst, that was bad.

Yeah, collectibles, they even added references to other Ueda games in the world like the TLG barrel

1:01:17 if it doesn’t work

Yeah, I don’t think Patrick quite nails his taxonomy here. 2) “The high-definition remastering” doesn’t distinguish between original assets/code running with some degree of optimisation on modern hardware (FF7 on Steam/PS4, Team ICO HD Classics on PS3, MCC Halo with original graphics), and updates with newly created art/assets (FF12 on PS4, MCC Halo with updated graphics). “Playing a favorite PC game with a new GPU” alludes to the former, while the term “remaster” seems more appropriate for the latter.

I agree that Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 and Resident Evil on GameCube represent different approaches, but on appearances I’d say SotC is actually a (very extensive) remaster - a new engine used to express the same mechanics as the original, versus the fundamentally altered/expanded mechanics of the RE remake.

I’d apologise for quibbling over semantics, but it seems relevant if we’re talking classification.

god wow yeah and those seem to have zero function and just exist for some game like nonsense.what a damn mess

Those collectables seem pretty unobtrusive to me? And the whole thing seems like a response to the way people spent the better part of a decade digging through every inch of that game for secrets so honestly I don’t have any real issue with this at all nothing about this stops anyone from playing the PS2 version in an emulator. Shadows Of The Colossus is one of the few real actual classics video games has that’s true but a lot of the complaints and hatred around this remake seems really overblown TBH

collectibles are defeating the purpose of what the world is about for me, the whole point is that it’s not a gamey world of things to obtain for arbitrary reasons. The only two types of collectibles were fruits and lizards to increase your health and endurance, and your only reward for doing them was to reach a place that would ruin your efforts and tell a strong message of the way you interact in a game space and how to re-interpret them.

Gold coins scattered around the world defeats the purpose in a big way. Even by being inoffensive, they are things to look for. You’re not seeing the world for what it is but for what it has, now.


So where does the Gamecube reamke Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes fall in? Does that deserve a different category all together?

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Same category as RE1 remake I would say, different interpretation / retelling of the same premise in a new engine.