Remakes and Remasters? She’ll be ‘right, mate

MegaLoManiaCharactersIt’s a bloody pandemic.  Turn back the boats, lock up your wives and daughters. They’re absolutely everywhere and they’re taking over.  Of course I’m talking about remakes and remasters, the plague upon our houses, the trend that is moving the Doomsday clock’s minute hand closer and closer to midnight with every passing day.  And I’ll bet there’s more where that came from.

But no need for alarm, because if the remakes to date are anything to go by, games over the last ten years are a bit like fine wine and get better with age.  Halo: The Master Chief Collection proved that Bungie’s hulking green Spartan is evergreen.  The Sleeping Dogs Definitive edition proved that life in Hong Kong can be even more beautifully gritty than it was on last generation’s hardware.   And perhaps the remake with the shortest lag time – The Last of Us – proved that its narrative can only get better with greater fidelity.  But most of all they all proved that a cracking experience is a cracking experience.

It is entirely subjective of course, but in many ways it begs the question of how much of one’s enjoyment is derived from graphical fidelity.  As someone raised simultaneously on the technical brilliance that the Amiga 500 pushed at every turn and the rather more humble power of the monochromatic monster that was the Game Boy, I’ve always been a bit torn as to how important visual fidelity is to the experience as a whole.

But if my recent experience with the first Halo game on the Xbox One – with the abundance of Ps and more frames than the Louvre – I realised that a visual overhaul may be enough to trick my brain into thinking it’s a whole new experience.  Because as soon as I’d played the game through with its original graphics, destroying the eponymous Halo in the process, I started it back up again with the new visuals.  And half way in it just feels like a new experience, while still scratching that nostalgic itch that makes one feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Nostalgia is a bit like a drug – no matter how recent – and publishers are more than happy to be the guy peddling it.

Of course it’s not a new thing to video games, last generation saw a fantastic array of remasters hitting the Playstation 3 and the Game Boy’s own Donkey Kong was practically a remake and remaster of Nintendo’s classic of the same name well before it was in vogue.  But the trend has gained momentum in the last couple of years, and it seems every man and his dog wants a piece of that sweet smelling cash stream.  And I’m often first in line to hand my hard earned over.

But take we long in the tooth players out of the equation for a moment and you’ll realise that there is a wealth of game experiences out there that someone old or young is yet to experience.  Believe it or not there is someone in the world that doesn’t own an Xbox 360 – and one who perhaps doesn’t want to – that may want to experience 2006’s hottest technical showpiece that is Gears of War.  It’s a distinct possibility, now bear with me here, that game publishers aren’t solely servicing the ‘been there, done that’ crowd. It may be hard to believe, but perhaps its not about us, but about them.

But you know what? Even if that’s not the case, video games are now old enough as a medium to warrant bringing things back, just like films and books have done for years upon years.  The better part of 40 years is a long time, and it is a near endless well of ideas to pull from, some that have been largely lost to the annals of time.  How there is no modern equivalent of Sensible Software’s Mega-Lo-Mania will forever remain a mystery to me, and in absence of some bright spark taking the initiative to remaster it, it’s a game that will sadly remain buried beneath its contemporaries and out of reach for all but the most dogged enthusiasts.

So I say more of it.  In fact, dig a bit deeper and pull out some more obscure stuff, and give them a second chance at life.  There is no shortage of not-all-that-old games that immediately come to mind as prime candidates for a remake, with the first Dead Rising sitting proudly at the top of that list, closely followed by the twilight Playstation 2 release of the final game in the Onimusha series.  And I’m sure every  person that has ever picked up a controller has at least one game they’d put hand on heart and say “I’d love to play that again and prettier if you please”.  That’s the sign of a medium that is culturally relevant, one that has the ability to speak to anyone and everyone on different levels, and one that is able to pay homage to its roots.  And perhaps it’s the ‘everyone’ for whom these games are intended and maybe even best enjoyed by.  Even if it is the more seasoned of gamers that pay the most attention.

In short: calm your tits mate, she’ll be ‘right.

LastofUsRemastered

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Remakes and Remasters? She’ll be ‘right, mate

  1. As someone who missed out on a lot of the classics growing up, I appreciate having access to these older games without having to venture into the bootleg/yardsale territory. Plus, they usually come in compilations, so you get several games in one. That being said, I’d prefer if they stuck to remastering games from at least 2 console cycles ago. Remastering a game from the 360/PS3 era to now isn’t that much of an upgrade. I laughed when they announced the “remastered” The Last of Us. I was like, “It just came out!” And I’m pretty sure most of the people who bought a PS4 already owned a PS3 & had played the game. Still, I like giving old games new life so younger generations can enjoy them too.

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    • It’s weird because not all that long ago I probably would’ve said the same thing. But all of these remasters of new-ish games are making me oddly nostalgic for games that are only a few years old.

      That said i did have the slightly terrifying realisation that Gears of War and Halo 3 are almost eight years old a piece – and they still feel rather new to me.

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  2. I think it’s great that they remake some of the oldies. I particularly enjoyed the special editions of Monkey Island with great graphics and speech. Wouldn’t mind seeing some classic RTS games updated either, like C&C Red Alert 1 and 2. And I’d probably love a new, polished and shining Morrowind (I know you can download additional gfx-packs, but thinking of the big picture here). Or how about Fallout 1 and 2? Oh yes, need those too. 😀 Now I’ve started craving for remakes after thinking about it..hehe..

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    • Morrowind is right at the top of the list for me – a nice streamlining of some of its systems to make it a thoroughly modern RPG would be great. And it is still the most interesting of the Elder Scrolls worlds to me, so i nice big visual overhaul would be great.

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      • Cool, then we are in agreement there! 😉 Morrowind had a dark, mystic atmosphere and there was so much to discover. The audio was great as well. When Oblivion came I was disappointed. Why? Because it was too polished/clean/nice looking. Besides, they decided to go for level scaling as well, which sucked. Morrowind did not have any of this. Now I really hope they will do it! Morrowind for the win! 🙂

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