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


im with @Dreamboum on the collectibles here. they train you to look at the space differently, and often have you looking at them for what they might hide rather than for the space itself.

think of the way Saints Row 4 or Crackdown are remembered more as obstacles courses for orbs than actual cities. that stuff can work fine with stuff like Zelda’s Korok seeds or the Mario Moons, because thats what they’re designed as, but those are very against the intent and mood of the intentionally empty spaces of SOTC.

and its because SOTC is so highly regarded that people act so negatively. think of the way people react to the changes in those original Star Wars films. they don’t change the major arcs, but they alter the tone and details in ways that are important to people. and on top of that the remake has a similar possibility to do the same thing those Star Wars blu-rays do, which is become the only available high quality version of those films and the one most people will remember.


Whenever I see comparison shots, particular of Wander himself, I get this discomfort like a huge part of the original game’s distinct style reminiscent of the Japanese PS2 era has been wiped away for a more “clean”, western aesthetic.

It feels really bland.

e; Also I briefly looked at a ResetEra thread about the new collectibles and the general response is “I don’t see what the big deal is, you can just ignore them if you don’t like them”. I get this sinking feeling like games will still be defined by constrained views like this for a long, long time.


what the fuck did they do to his face


If the look they were going for was “PS1-era CG Cutscene Man” then uh, I guess that’s spot on.


Bleh, I’m sad to hear about the new collectibles that are in the SOTC remake. They definitely seem counter to what that game intended to communicate with its other means of interacting with the game space. Though saying that, I still intend on playing the remake and I don’t doubt I’ll still enjoy it. I’m even eager to try out some of the new additions like the photo mode. I just can’t help but feel like I’m looking at a hollywoodized version of a Japanese classic, or something along those lines, with certain elements of the aesthetic having been “fixed” in the name of technical prowess.

When asked I’d still probably recommend this remake over other versions given it’s likely the most accessible these days but it’s a shame that it will feel compromised in some ways. I’d be lying if I said some of the visual updates don’t excite me, and I’m not the kind of person to advocate only playing the PS2 version of the game but I fall on the side of believing something has inevitably been lost in the translation.

To speak more broadly, I guess I’d say my ideal version of a remaster/remake is the kind that simply makes the original experience more available to a wider audience. If there were problems in the original, like in the case of the PS2 ver. of SOTC having a pretty rough frame rate at times, I won’t lose sleep over that being addressed but generally I prefer being able to experience a thing like how I remember it. Had Sony simply brought over the PS3 collection of SOTC & ICO I would have been perfectly content to play that again.


That’d be what I call a remake, even though it’s a curious one for sure - iirc the script is identical but rerecorded by the original cast, and it’s a new engine that incorporates mechanics from MGS2.


My thing is that bluepoint had an impossible task, which I think they attacked admirably, and the end result is a whole lot of new people are going to play the game.

Once you start digging into specifics, we run into the very real problem that people experience games so differently. So for me, when I look at the SOTC remake in motion and in screenshots (and I’ve done plenty of both by now), I feel like it captures everything that was personally important to me about how that game felt.

That doesn’t mean that other people’s things are invalid, but they’re necessarily personal, and remakes are necessarily an interpretation which is on some level going to be personal.

I think Wander looks fine, I was never that attached to how he looked in the original game so the differences don’t bother me much. But I get why it would bother someone. I also think the lighting looks great, but I get if someone thinks that was a special thing about how the game looks. It nails everything that I considered important about the look - the look of the colossi themselves, those big open spaces, and so on.

But that’s just personal.

The other thing I think sometimes tends to happen when we are very close to a game is have an unrealistic idea of what a remake can possibly do. I’m not saying all criticisms fall into this category, by any means, but I think when we imagine a remake in our heads we tend to imagine something that is exactly how we remember the game, but impossibly, also much more crisp and clear and lovely looking. There are remakes that approach that (and for my money, SOTC does), but I can’t think of any that actually hit that.

In the end, I can’t think about this selfishly, regardless of any opinions I’ll end up having on the remake. I’m just happy that more people will be tempted to play it in some form, even if I don’t end up thinking it’s the absolute best possible form.


It bugs me for the same reason as I’m bothered by the massively increased lighting of the Wind Waker remake: there isn’t really a “definitive” version of the experience due to the deliberate aesthetic changes, so you’re either going to play the old version with the original style and all the inconveniences of the era, or a newer version with (what I would consider to be) a compromised version of the style along with modern quality of life improvements.

An analogy would be a restoration of an old film to remove the grain of an aging print, but also removing any instances of objects/distance being blurred through changes in focus, because the person doing the restoration believes it “looks better that way”. It’s imposing a contemporary view onto a work in the belief that you know better than the original creators.


And that’s all fine, none of that is invalid, but I think it’s also probably more personal than you think. We actually can’t get into the heads of the creators and figure out what decisions they would have made. If the Star Wars Special Editions are anything to go by then perhaps we should also acknowledge the original creators aren’t even necessarily the best people to judge. So it’s all very personal from every possible angle.

So I think this ‘definitive’ version is basically an entirely mythical beast. There is no universally definitive version. For some people the definitive version can only be the original, on PS2 because there was something about the lighting, textures, polygons and even framerate that feels missing with any sort of upgrade. For another person that’s way too far and yes, higher res and framerate are all good upgrades.

For someone like me I very likely -will- treat this new version as the definitive edition because I’ve seen nothing about it so far that detracts from what I really loved about how the game looked and felt. Maybe I’ll feel differently with my hands on it, but that’s my impression so far.

I don’t expect everyone to feel that way, though.

Which is not to say ‘all critique is equally correct and so we might as well not engage with remake technique on a critical level’ - I think we just have to do so while acknowledging that something I thought was super important the next person may not even have noticed, and vice versa, and so that makes it really hard to talk about ‘definitive’ in a way that makes a lot of sense.


The PS3 remaster was that definitive version for a long while in presenting a cleaner image with a steady framerate; there’s an argument to be made that the low framerate in the original is integral to the dreamlike atmosphere, but that’s a much more difficult position to defend.

Even with that version being 6-7 years old and with no proper channel for easy backwards compatibility, requiring hooking up a PS3 again to play it, it makes this new remake seem ultimately self-indulgent.


Cameron Kunzelman just recently wrote a piece that speaks to some of the feelings expressed about the SOTC remake in this thread and I think it’s well worth a read:

Cameron does a great job of talking about the anxieties and questions that remakes of this nature bring forth, and how this will likely be an ongoing conversation with the likes of the FFVII remake on the horizon. I think he also hit the nail on the head when he said (paraphrasing) that no version of Shadow of the Colossus out there can truly match the Shadow of the Colossus that I hold dear, because that is speaking to an experience that only exists in memory and nostalgia. Though that’s not to say that arguments for/against the kind of changes seen in this upcoming remake are invalid, just that however you slice it, no kind of remaster/remake can deliver on providing the experience that was playing Shadow of the Colossus on a PS2 in 2005.


another good article on the subject is this one by Cathy McCarthy on US Gamer which gets to a lot of my feelings on the subject:

I do agree that it’s kind of an impossible task, it will always be that way given the generation gap, but it also feels like there was already a blueprint for the kind of impressionistic style possible in The Last Guardian.

I’m also in a strange position in that I didn’t play SOTC until probably 2009 and I’m also not someone who really finds it inconvenient to play old titles since I tend to treat them more like a film collection and return to old games as often as I play new ones.

that kind of gets into my biggest problem, which is that while I think that it’s good remakes get made and that new people can play it, theres too often a feeling that old games are impossibly inaccessible and that this will contribute to people declaring this remake the only edition worth playing and erasing the original.


Dredging this older thread up again in regards to players finding The Big Secret which turns out to be collecting 79 tchotchkes in order to get a Super Sword that will give you more attack power in exchange for less health regen.

As @Dreamboum mentioned above, one of the ways the original game “rewarded” obsessive exploration of the space was to massive de-power your character. It’s a big contrast to the 2018 remake’s fetch quest to get a pointier stick, and really doesn’t help with my deep discomfort about the project as a whole.


@miscu yeah, the fruit in the original’s secret garden was sort of a Garden of Eden thing warning against trying to seek out too much. it also made it impossible to return to the secret garden because of it. that’s a big difference from you kind of look like a demon but you can murder everything. it’s a very blunt YOU WERE THE BAD GUY ALL ALONG message

Heather Alexandra did a rather good and concise video on how the changes affect the remake that’s worth looking at on this topic

i also wrote up my own thoughts a little bit before that, which are a bit more on the art history side, and a lot more dour


I think being around the (non) discussion of the remake has been eye-opening about the way games are considered. There seems to be such a disdain for what games managed to achieve back then and now it’s shifting about “what it could have been” as if the remake is realizing a vision, instead of being a different entity.

The amount of times I’ve been hit by “but the technical limitations prevented this game to achieve what it wanted” is staggering. How are people able to know that ? Even if that was the case, what does it change ? SOTC is what it is and it will remain that way. Claiming this logic when it comes to SOTC doesn’t even make sense, considering that it used techniques that were uncommon in the console landscape. It achieved what it wanted, and the limitations are what makes the game. Why see them as holding it back ?

I’ll admit that I’m more of an original fan than anything. One of the reasons I still have my PS2 hooked up. I just come to appreciate its spotty framerate, the strong motion blur that comes with it, the sound of my PS2 struggling, etc. It was one of the first game where I realized that its intent can go beyond what I see with my eyes.

But I don’t have anything against the remake (except the coins, that’s a no no), it’s just disheartening to see people throwing the original to the bin for what is essentially a different interpretation making different choices in the way the game world is laid out. Having better lighting techniques in 2018 isn’t going to replace someone who painfully took the time to render light sources and god rays manually with a specific intent in mind. And I have to say, when I played the remake, I couldn’t get this intent. The lack of god rays with Dormin’s hole at the Shrine of Worship made it look like it was just someone talking at the other side of the hole, instead of an ethereal being made of light speaking to me. It was more natural, but it didn’t make more sense.

tbh I think to this day SOTC is another victim of devs having to suffer seeing their words being interpreted in the wrong way. Saying that they meant to add more colossi but cut them in order to fit their design philosophy has been transformed into “the game is unfinished” somehow, that it needed to be “refreshed”. Even though Fumito Ueda literally said in June:

“In this game there are 16 enemies and there’s a story about 16 enemies,” he told me, “so to change this history… I don’t think about changing this history. It’s finished with 16 enemies. It’s OK.”

And it doesn’t surprise me that Ueda has the finesse to understand about this history. But 12 years later and I feel the discussion today is worse than it was back at release. It’s kinda sad.


They really blew it by not changing the final Colossus to Knack.


yeah. it really feels like there’s such a lack of literacy around games when it comes to basic art theory that simple statements like “different lighting changes the mood” get people really upset. that’s kind of given when it comes to painting, photography, film…you know, like every medium?

I don’t really know what to do about that? There’s clearly a desire to find a True Consensus in a lot of game spaces, which is pretty much the opposite of how interpreting and engaging art works.