The lights are on
Reviving well-known games in HD was a popular trend in the last hardware generation, giving us the chance to relive old favorites with new visuals. Replaying good games is always fun, but for an HD remake to stand out, it needs to be more than a prettier version of its original release. They should add new features, modes, or extras to create the definitive form of the game. The HD remakes on this list get it right, drawing in new players and giving old ones a reason to come back.
Ico (review)The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on PS3 has excellent versions of both games, but Ico contains new content that North American gamers hadn't seen in the PS2 release. A few puzzles are slightly different during the first playthrough, but the big bonus comes after you beat the game. A co-op mode allows a second player to control Yorda. Even better, you can get subtitles for Yorda's speech, clearing up some ambiguity during the main story.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (review)Kingdom Hearts has never been easier to play thanks to this overhaul. Moving the camera control off the shoulder buttons and onto the analog stick gives the gameplay a more modern feel, and the tweaks to the menu system make it easier to find what you're looking for. Players are also treated to new items, keyblades, and other bonuses that invite yet another trek through the combined worlds of Disney and Square Enix.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection: Peace Walker (review)Getting a gussied-up version of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 is great, but the highlight of this HD collection is Peace Walker. The game was previously exclusive to the PSP, and the handheld's controls were not ideal for the tactical espionage action of the Metal Gear series. With its transition to the big screen, players finally get to control Big Boss with two analog sticks. The online interfaces on PS3 and 360 are also smoother, making it easy to play co-op.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (review)The Wind Waker was controversial among Zelda fans when it first released, partially because of the effort it took to explore the world. Sailing between islands often felt like a chore thanks to slow speeds and shifting wind direction – not to mention that tedious end-game fetch quest. All of those issues are remedied in the HD remake, clearing away almost every complaint that detractors could muster against this terrific installment.
OkamiI know I said that the best HD remakes need to offer more than prettier visuals, but this one is an exception. Okami's gorgeous art style is such an influential part of the experience that any improvement it receives ripples out and enhances every other facet of the game. This PS3 rerelease (along with the Wii port) also supports motion controls for the celestial brush mechanic, so there's more to it than graphical upgrades.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.