What Do You Want Out Of A Remake?


#1

With so much of the games industry talking about Resident Evil 2, I’ve been seeing more and more criticisms of it as a remake. Some folks thought it wasn’t enough like the original, others thought it was too antiquated. This has got me thinking about the nature of remakes.

There is a large variety of ways developers can attempt to remake their originals. They can modernize it, replicating the plot and atmosphere, but updating the majority of the gameplay. They can take the original game, slap HD textures on it, and make it run at modern resolutions. Or they can try to land somewhere in the middle.

Each approach has it’s own drawbacks and benefits. Modernizing an old game can often miss out on important parts of the original, or divorce a sense of nostalgia from older players. Simply making the original game but prettier can highlight how poorly the game has actually aged and alienate any new fans. For example, I’ve seen some folks say it’s a shame the RE2 remake didn’t include tank controls. That said, if the game had kept tank controls I never would have played it for longer than 15 minutes, like I did with REmake.

Obviously there isn’t a definitively RIGHT way to remake a game, I’m just wondering what you all want out of a remake. Also feel free to shout out any games you’d like to see remade.


#2

I think some of the same concepts that apply to movie remakes also apply here. If you’re going to remake something, the remake needs to say new things. There has to be a reason to remake it, beyond “a remake will make us easy profit.”

For example, the Majora’s Mask remake adds a journal to keep track of daily activities across clock resets, and it does so to great effect.

The Mega Man X remake on PSP (“Maverick Hunter X”) doesn’t improve on much in terms of gameplay or mechanics, but it does jumble up a lot of things, like where armor parts are located, making it dumb and unnecessary.

At its core, remakes need to understand what made the original game successful and what needs to be updated and improved to bring it up to modern expectations. It’s what separates Bionic Commando ReArmed from, I dunno, Turtles in Time Reshelled, I guess.

ReArmed is mainly just a more modern, more accessible version of Bionic Commando. A lot of the level layouts are very similar to the NES version, but the controls are a little tighter, there’s new hacking minigames, and all around it’s just a better version of a cult classic game.

Turtles in Time Reshelled was adapted from the wrong version of the game (the original, and inferior arcade version) and fails to improve anything about the gameplay. It makes changes to how combat works, mind you, by introducing a second attack button, but that changes next to nothing about the simplistic, mashy combat. It was like the development team understood that Turtles in Time was popular, but not much else.

Basically, remake things for reasons beyond “I want brand recognition without having to earn it.”


#3

I don’t know how much I agree with this. On one hand I can totally see where you’re coming from, but I can also think of plenty of games I would love just an HD remake of, purely cause of the ease of getting to play it on a modern console. That said, that feels more like “porting” territory than it does remake territory


#4

Similarly to how I feel about film remakes, I’d want the creators to do something unique and their own with the core concept. RE 2 Remake is a retelling of the original game, but what interests me more is how it separates itself from the original game.

I think of films like Dawn of the Dead vs. the Dawn of the Dead remake as a good example of this. Similar structure: Group of survivors stuck in a mall, but everything else is completely changed. None of the characters carry over… There are maybe some roles that feel similar, like the lead male character being a cop in Dawn of the Dead for example, but nothing that says, “You ripped off the original”

In many ways, the recent God of War seems like a soft reboot of the original game. They took the core concept, Kratos fights a bunch of gods, and applied a completely different tone on it, a different combat system, and a different presentation style.

Personally, I think GTA is in dire need of a reboot/remake… Similar to how they cut out all the canon of 3-San Andreas, and started a new canon with GTA IV. GTA needs to cut all the ‘satire’ from it’s background and focus on delivering a compelling narrative in a believable world that isn’t trying to make you chuckle at a joke that is just awful and near ALWAYS punching down.

But is that considered a remake? Is GTA IV a sequel to GTA 3, even though it denies EVERYTHING from those past games?

I dunno, but I like creators who shake up preconceptions about what a remake actually is.


#5

I believe if something is going to be remade, you should do it because either the work has something left unsaid, or something new to bring to the table thanks to the passing of time.

Consider Micheal Haneke’s remake of his own film Funny Games, a story that was waaaaaaay more relevant ten years after it first released in 1997. The German version didn’t really set the world on fire, but an English language one releasing in the middle of the torture porn craze? Yeah, that’ll turn some heads.

Or, how about DEVO taking one of the most revered rock songs, with one of the most iconic riffs of all time, and turning it into this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jadvt7CbH1o

Their version is cold, tense, fucking weird, and perfect for American culture as it careens into the Raegan era. I swear to you, there are STILL people furious over this particular song’s existence, more than 40 years after its creation, but I’d say it was a necessary reinterpretation


#6

I think there is a factor in video game remakes that, unlike films and other media, they can be an excuse to make an inaccessible game more accessible by adapting it to a new generation of consoles or platforms (where a straightforward port might not be viable). Of course, remasters can do the same thing without the expectations of a remake, but the line between them can get blurry.

With actual remakes though, Majora’s Mask has already been mentioned, but Ocarina of Time 3D is worth mentioning as well for how it made the Water Temple a reasonable challenge rather than a tedious, pain-inducing nightmare with some simple interface changes (i.e., no longer having to pause and open a new menu to equip the iron boots, clearly signaling where the water level can be raised/lowered). It made the game a more efficient experience to play without sacrificing its overall aesthetic or feel.

The frequent Pokémon remakes as well—they generally update a game at least two console generations old to a new one, so that naturally entails huge graphical overhauls and improvements. Gameplay-wise they don’t change much, but as that series is constantly adding new QoL features, those remakes become roundly more accessible ways to experience the original game.

On the flipside, I think there is a danger of remakes losing something that was integral to an original game in trying to update it for a current audience. I know I’m in a minority here, but I think Shadow of the Colossus’s old control scheme is a pretty significant part of its experience; it ended up being kept as an option in the remake, but if it hadn’t, I feel like that game would have lost something.


#7

Yeah, there’s a difference between ports and remakes.

Dead Rising 1 on the PS4 is a port. And in that case, that’s almost more of a subject of game preservation. For something like that, I want it to be as close to the original product as possible (within reason; quality of life improvements are always good).

By remake I mean something that is a new work based on an old one. Instead of upcycling the original game’s assets, you generate all new assets, but stylized after the original product.


#8

All remakes should include an as close a good port of the original version and also let you use either set of sound effects/music in either one when playing.


#9

I think of a “remake” as a completely new but highly referential work. I think movies provide a better model/method of distinguishing remakes: the remake of Suspiria for instance is a very different thing from the Argento original, but it’s still Suspiria.

The RE2 Remake is a great remake in this mold. It’s not RE2 but it couldn’t exist without it, and benefits from the audience’s familiarity with original text. The SOTC remake? Bad. Because all it has done is add more visual polish to the same experience, which is why I think about it like the same way I think about when they put all the Beatles albums in stereo.


#10

So if I’m completely real? I don’t really find remakes appealing.

This is outside of games, too. I feel this way about movies, TV shows… I would always rather have a new piece of media. This is partially because of the way I consume media; I try not to be this person, but I 100% immediately start questioning whether a movie is faithful to the book or whatever. But this is not to say I don’t think we should return to narratives or games or anything. And I’m fine with ports!

In the context of remakes, though, I think it unfortunately has a lot to do with names for me. I just would much rather have a distinct, separate piece of media. If it’s a port, let it be a port. Literally as much as a different title or a subtitle will help. Rebirth, redux, remake, whatever. Hell, Metal Gear Solid is basically a remake of Metal Gear. Anything that makes sure I understand that there is something new here. On the other end of the spectrum, calling a game a sequel when it’s not is an awful idea (ahem, Pathologic 2).

I think I’m mostly just a weirdo about names. It bothers me that Suspiria 2019 is just called Suspiria. It bothers me that the fourth Doom game is just called Doom. Etc, etc, etc. Why make it so hard for me and my library?

But yeah, generally speaking, not very interested in remakes conceptually. Reinvent, recreate, recontextualize, reanimate, rethink, but don’t remake.


#11

Honestly, on some level all I want out of a remake/remaster is sometimes just a way to play something I used to love on a current console. Naval Ops Commander was rad but i don’t have a ps2 or a launch era ps3 so it’s emulation or bust and there’s a lot of stuff like that. Unfortunately the games most affected by this problem are generally niche titles because the big hits led into more modern versions to play so I have fewer cravings for them.


#12

That’s tough. It’s hard to tell what I really want pulled forward from my past memories of certain games. With games like Shining Force II, Phantasy Star III and IV, Suikoden and Brigandine, I feel like I think I want a remake, but probably don’t. Mostly, I’d want some smoother controls and expanded content or a handful of new features, but apart from that, I’d probably be heartbroken by having them updated. I already know this to be the case with the Atelier Iris series – if they were remade in the same fashion as the later gen Atelier games, I’d find them unplayable. The later games stripped the charm and wonder for me, though I was able to respect the need for the franchise to evolve.

But a game like Shadow Hearts: Covenant or even Xenogears, if you were true to the world, the characters and essential story (some changes are inevitable), I’d be able to immerse myself into a remake pretty easily as long as it didn’t go straight up hack 'n slash. If I am being truly honest with my deepest, darkest self, I’d basically like an open world version of those games with more options for cosmetics and modifications. I think what I am saying is I should never ever be trusted with a remake.

Fortunately none of the games I would want remade will ever get remade, so no chance of my cherished memories being sullied with newer version which crush everything I loved about them.


#14

The ideal remake should be doing something new, whether it’s with the aesthetics or mechanics, while retaining the spirit of the original.


#15

Video games are weird because we got remakes, reboots, and remasters. Sometimes it feels like things like Spyro, Crash and Ratchet & Clank fit and the first and last categories. Sure , there isn’t anything conceptually NEW but more or less these games are built from the ground up even if the end goal is a faithful recreation of the original.

Then you have Resident Evil who has taken the “same but definitely different” approach twice now. That’s neat! Usually I would prefer full on reboots. Give a property to someone else and go against expectations. Using the iconography as a framework for making something cool and interesting. Capcom dialing it back a couple of notches feels like an approach that can only work for a certain era of games. My example was going to be Mega Man 2 but I guess you could remake that in the MM11 engine I suppose. But still feels like that PS1 & PS2 era has a lot of potential for “new” games that are faithful in spirit and layout to the originals.

Maybe I’m in the minority but it feels like we get plenty of original, maybe not big budget but original, games but also a lot of games that are already trying to tackle the spirit of these old games with their slight twist. Often feels like if you swapped the original name for the inspiration no one would bat an eye. I think the biggest argument against remakes is game preservation. Where the property holders value the fancier version more than the original. Constantly podcast say “this is what I remember RE2 being like”. At what point is the original memory erased all together?

TL:DR Remakes are neat on the whole.