Why are game remasters not needed? Or are needed, but not always

The general release of game remasters is characteristic not only of recent years. Publishers are always active when console generations change. In addition, everyone wants to be in trend – the surge in popularity of a genre prompts developers to get the bestsellers of a bygone era from dusty shelves. Today we’ll talk about why the HD reprints pipeline is harmful. Situations when they are really needed, too, will not be ignored.

Remaster, remake, reboot
To begin with, let’s distinguish between the concepts of remaster, remake and reboot. This is important, because sometimes the developers ask for the same $ 60 for the remaster as for the remake and reboot, which does not correspond to the effort invested.

A remaster is a re-release with standard improvements. Here we changed the textures, re-recorded the facial expressions using motion capture, here we fixed the lighting. In a word, the game is not redesigned from scratch, but only adjusted to modern requirements.

The remake is a serious rethinking of the previous project. To get a feel for the difference, compare 1998 and 2019 Resident Evil 2, 1997 and 2020 Final Fantasy VII, the original Yakuza (2005), and Yakuza Kiwami (2016). The matter was not limited to the change of the engine. The developers revised the gameplay, moved away from the old formula: they introduced advanced dismemberment in RE 2, transferred battles to real time in FF VII, and borrowed the combat system from the later parts of the series in Yakuza Kiwami. The impressions seem to be the same as during the passage of the original, but you perceive the remake as a new game.

Reboot is a complete restart of the series. Good offhand examples: God of War, Samurai Shodown, Doom, Tomb Raider. Moreover, the line may change significantly. For example, in the recent Sakura Wars, intermediate segments in the form of tactical battles have given way to action.

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It is not always possible to separate the remaster from the remake for sure. Thus, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy (2017) and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (2020) fall into both categories. The reissue of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, although based on a different engine, meticulously copies the original. At the same time, it was performed at a level unattainable for other remasters.

It is not always possible to separate the remaster from the remake for sure. Thus, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy (2017) and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (2020) fall into both categories. The reissue of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, although based on a different engine, meticulously copies the original. At the same time, it was performed at a level unattainable for other remasters.

Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy

Disaster with GTA: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition
We were prompted to write this material by the failure of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. The audience had never met Rockstar Games releases so negatively.

Over the past 8 years, Rockstar has released two games – GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2. You can still remember LA Noire: The VR Case Files, but this is a chamber project. GTA 5 and RDR 2 are, without a doubt, demonstration action games in the open world. They have complete order with the plot, characters, filling the world. One problem: two projects in 8 years is too little. Especially in contrast to how many bestsellers R * has given out in the “zero”.

The company got too carried away with preening GTA 5. After the debut of the shooter on PS3 and Xbox 360, it prepared versions for PS4, Xbox One and PC. As if the first round of remasters was not enough, R * went to the second: in 2022, GTA 5 will migrate to PS5 and Xbox Series. Thus, the series ignored an entire console generation.

As a result, many had high hopes for GTA: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, an improved re-release of GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas for PC and all modern consoles. R * promised a transfer to the Unreal Engine, an increase in the drawing range, high-resolution textures, comfortable control …

Game Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy. The Definitive Edition (PS4)

[18+, action, release date: 12/07/2021, Russian interface and subtitles, Blu-ray BOX]
4 499 *
What did the gamers get? Strange character design coupled with “plastic” models, the absence of a part of the soundtrack (an illogical move for a project with the Definitive Edition sign), typos in in-game inscriptions, a lot of graphic “bugs”, frame rate drops at tense moments. R * made a big mistake by entrusting the Grove Street Games trilogy. The same studio is responsible for the mobile ports of Grand Theft Auto, similarly suffering from technical ailments.

GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition

It’s not just Grove Street Games to blame. The R * testers overlooked a bunch of material that shouldn’t have been remastered, such as expired licensed music tracks. To clean up such material, R * removed the PC version from the market for a few days after release. Who was hurt? Those who honestly pre-ordered the collection.

Previously, R * removed old versions of GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas from stores. After a wave of popular anger, she agreed to return them as a set in the Rockstar Games Launcher (for PC). The set will be presented to everyone who spent money on GTA: The Trilogy. The offer is valid until June 30, 2022.

GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition

R * eventually apologized for the disastrous premiere of GTA: The Trilogy. She stated that the remasters did not meet her standards. A number of patches await the trilogy.

Failures of recent years
We’ve been focusing on GTA: The Trilogy because it’s an egregious case. Dead end for slipshod remasters. Now let’s briefly consider what preceded it.

Last year, gamers on the forums smashed Warcraft III: Reforged to smithereens. Blizzard made a minimum of changes to the remaster and instead removed the usual options like clans. In addition, the strategy suffered from technical problems. As a result, the developers launched an automatic refund, and the fans began to call the project not Reforged, but Refunded (from the English refund – refund). Blizzard attributed the failure to the fact that from the very beginning it did not have a clear idea whether it wanted to forge a remaster or a remake.

The recent Diablo 2: Resurrected, by the way, earned the nickname Disconnected. Blizzard did not expect the excitement around the remaster, as a result, the servers “fell”, for some time only the offline mode was available for players.

Diablo 2: Resurrected

Nintendo was also noticed in inappropriate behavior. She only sold the Super Mario 3D All-Stars compilation from September 18, 2020 to March 31, 2021 to spur fans to quickly make a purchase. The circulation of the remaster was an impressive 9 million copies. The collection included Super Mario 64 (1996), Super Mario Sunshine (2002), and Super Mario Galaxy (2007). It turned out that we are not dealing with HD ports for Switch, but originals launched through an emulator. Not without any changes – Nintendo has worked, for example, on the interface. However, the changes do not justify the $ 60 price tag. Super Mario 64 is the least fortunate. It operates in 720p resolution, aspect ratio – 4 to 3, frame rate – 30 fps.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

It happens that the fundamental problems of the originals are moved to remasters. Over the years, the rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper (1996) has had an interesting drawback – the response delay when outputting to HD TV. It’s okay on a CRT TV; it’s extremely inconvenient to play on HD TV. Sony did not fix latency in the Remastered version (2017). Against the background of modern rhythm games that forgive light mistakes, this is wildness.

Paraappa the rapper remastered

Or the opposite example – the main features of the original disappear from the remaster. In the Silent Hill HD Collection (2012), you will not find the impenetrable fog strongly associated with the series. Once a necessity due to the low performance of the devices, fans of Silent Hill fell in love with it and were outraged not to find it in the HD Collection.

And finally, let’s touch on the endless re-releases of Skyrim. Bethesda managed to resell the cult RPG under the guise of Legendary Edition (2013), Special Edition (2016) and Anniversary Edition (2021), plus, in the meantime, adapted it for virtual reality and the Switch hybrid console. The Anniversary Edition is nothing new, just a bunch of content from the Creation Club – paid add-ons created by casual players and Bethesda.

Who Really Needs Remasters
Remasters are not always an attempt to make extra money off the fans. In some cases, they have the right to life.

For example, Crysis Remastered Trilogy was made primarily for console players. The fact is that Crysis 2 and 3 did not work satisfactorily on PS3 and Xbox 360. And modern consoles have more strength.

If a genre is in crisis, or unpopular, it’s worth a try too. Such a trick Microsoft did with Age of Empires in the era of RTS oblivion. The Definitive Edition of three old installments went on sale, plus a new Age of Empires 4 was released.

Activation Key Age of Empires: Definitive Edition (PC) 419 *
Also, remasters are suitable for acquaintance with the classics of the younger generation. Take Full Throttle Remastered (2017) or Grim Fandango Remastered (2015). For those who have found the originals, this is a cheerful charge of nostalgia.

Finally, remasters bring ancient exclusives back to life. The first Shenmue remained a Dreamcast exclusive for 19 years, until Sega re-released the HD version on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2018.

Shenmue

What is the bottom line
If developers put money at the forefront, then such a remaster is likely to cause an explosion of popular indignation. If the reissue really has any sense, be it historical value or lack of fish in a particular genre, then the audience will say thank you.

What examples of successful remasters of recent years can you name? What projects disappointed you? Share in the comments!