Remastered Games: Do We Need or Want Them?
I loved The Last of Us. I’d go so far as to put it in my ‘Top 10 Games of All-Time’ list. I can’t recommend it enough. But the impending ‘Remastered’ version scheduled for release on the PS4 did make feel a little conflicted when it was announced. It’s less than a year after the game’s initial release, and I can understand why they are doing it, but my feelings towards it remains unchanged. HD updates, Remastered editions–they seem like a concept that hovers between offering nostalgic value and a means to earn a cheap buck with little effort.
This doesn’t mean I’m against these updated versions of mostly classic games. The truth is that a lot of people have only recently developed an interest in video games, and naturally this means they have missed truly great video games from the past. This is where updated versions of games can truly come into their own. Shadow of the Colossus & Ico were huge successes in terms of their quality, but they became cult hits flying under the radar of many. The HD updates of both games, packed into the Team Ico Collection, allowed a whole new group of people to jump into some of the best video game experiences on offer.
When done correctly, updated versions of games can be fantastic. Wind Waker HD is a truly stunning video game to behold. Quality gameplay aside, the visuals are arguably some of the best available at the moment. The likes of Final Fantasy X/X-2 and Ocarina of Time make a clean transition on portables, and in regards to these, there’s a sense of success–a valid update. These examples don’t just give the game a quick lick of fresh paint; they make the games feel almost new again, even if said game is over ten years old.
There’s a number of HD collections which do a decent job of bringing back classic, often overlooked, titles (e.g. Sly Raccoon) on new systems. They’re respectable efforts that maintain the nostalgic value while giving the game a nice added shine to its production values. Some truly look HD, while others look sharper but still clearly stuck in the past. This is where things start to creep into the realm of being cheap cash-ins.
The most worrying examples of cheaply done, rushed out and broken HD updates, come from Konami. The Silent Hill Collection is a prime example of a company taking advantage of a franchise’s fan base and reputation. It featured barely updated visuals, barely any updates or changes, and most worryingly, game-breaking bugs that left the game unplayable. The sad thing is Konami were well aware of the issues yet refused to fix them, resulting in the first great example of the dangers of HD collections/ Updates/ Remastered games.
Konami followed up The Silent Hill collection with Zone of the Enders HD collection, which somehow played host to awful frame rate issues, leaving the game in a barely playable state.
HD updates are seemingly here to stay, and they have a legitimate role to play, but the concerns still remain. Where is the line? How long does a game have to be out on the market before it’s seen as being fit for a HD update? The gap between release and update seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Do we really need, or even want, updates of games from last generation?
What makes a game qualify for an update? Do we need more or less of them? It’ll be interesting to see how many updated games appear on Sony and Microsoft’s shiny new machines in the near future.