Opinion – Keep The Remasters And Remakes Coming

by Joe Juba on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:00 AM

When people talk about the year in gaming, they’re usually referring to the quality of all the new releases. I enjoyed playing plenty of amazing new titles in 2017, but it was also a banner year for replaying my favorites from the past. With the wide selection of remakes and remasters, I am sure I set a new personal record this year for Most Hours Spent Playing Old Games. But looking ahead, I hope game companies continue to mine their back catalogues and help me break my record again next year.

I understand the resentment some gamers feel toward remastered titles. From a certain cynical perspective, it looks like the death of creativity; instead of focusing on innovation, companies are repackaging old content in an effort to milk fans for easy money. However, I don’t see things that way.

First of all, the outstanding array of new titles in 2017 puts to rest any argument that rereleases are preventing game developers from exploring new frontiers; remaking an old Metroid title didn't stop Nintendo from breaking new ground with Mario, Zelda, and more. Second, selling remasters and remakes to fans who want them is not some insidious corporate mind-control technique – it’s a win-win situation. I get a reason to replay games I love, and the companies that produce them get my money.

The main reason why I’m even more willing to support rereleases lately is that developers have gotten much better at making them. Granted, some examples from this year are just marginally improved ports (like Dragon’s Dogma, which I still spent dozens of hours with again). But these days, most companies find ways to enhance the experience that allow players to see their old favorites in a new light.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a great example of this. I enjoyed the original version of the game back on PS2, but this new iteration is even better. You can read the full review, but the bottom line is that it makes numerous changes, large and small, to remove frustrations and add new layers to the progression.

Metroid: Samus Returns takes a different approach, completely rebuilding the core game from the ground up. The result is an experience so different that it earns the title “remake” only on a technicality, though it still retains the Metroid essense. On the other side of the spectrum, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is fiercely and obsessively devoted to retaining the design of the original games, but with nice additions like save systems and the ability to play as Coco.

Those are all examples from this year alone, and the list goes on: Yakuza Kiwami, L.A. Noire, Full Throttle, Bulletstorm, and more. And that doesn’t even take into account another category of rerelease: ports.

Like many people, I bought a Switch this year. Even though it’s a stretch to call Switch games like Skyrim, Stardew Valley, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe “remasters,” the inherent portability of the Switch adds a fantastic new feature to each one of those titles. While the console gets more credit than the games in these cases, that doesn’t change the fact that pouring hours and hours into these great games is even easier and more enticing than ever.

Living on the cutting edge of gaming is fun, and I enjoy playing (and talking about) new games as much as anyone. But entertainment doesn’t work like that all the time; we all go back to read familiar books and watch familiar movies to keep ourselves immersed in what we love and remind us of the power of our favorite media. So if developers want to continue making games I already like even better, I will gladly continue buying them.