Remakes, Remasters and Ports

older games (sitting on couch pressing buttons) need to be made more “playable” (also sitting on couch pressing buttons)


This gets to me, too. I’ve seen plenty of games/series over the years lose part of what made them special because so much feedback focuses on removing friction from experiences designed with it in mind. Quality of life updates can often be a good thing, but I think it’s important for devs to consider what might be lost from the experience when making changes in this vein, and if possible, consider ways to preserve the experience at the same time


Accessibility is a really strong argument for remakes/remasters. I agree that “quality of life” stuff can go too far, but plenty of old games are really inaccessible in a bunch of ways. Flashing images, unremappable buttons, archaic/illogical controls, inverted cameras, etc. One thing I’ve noticed in the past few years is I really hate it now when games make me mash buttons fast. That can pretty much all go in the trash as far as I’m concerned.

There is definitely a balance re: save points, like some games simply don’t respect your time at all. I don’t want to be locked into a game for several hours in a single session, and sometimes just abandon games that put me in that position. But equally, stakes can be important in a game too - being able to just save-scum through every hardship can make a game much worse.


My favorite quality of life “enhancement” was the Remaster of Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song (which is the remake of Romancing SaGa 1) which added a fast-foward option to a game with time-sensitive quests, so you could inadvertently lock yourself out of them and miss a bunch of stuff :+1:


I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, but I think I am simultaneously annoyed by and okay with remasters and remakes.

Firstly, ports are usually 100% okay by my books. Well, sometimes the port itself is bad, but the idea of making the same game available across multiple platforms is only of benefit as far as I’m concerned.

Remasters are, mostly, fiiiiiine. I’ve bought some of them over the years! I have the PS2 original releases of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus and then I bought the combo remaster for PS3. (note, this is different to the later remaster SotC got). I bought the Metal Gear HD Collection on PS3. The first Last of Us remaster that happened on PS4. A few others. Again, these are usually just making a game available to a wider audience (while, yes, serving a Capital need to Sell More Stuff).

Remakes can sometimes be a bit odd, but one need only remind oneself that the original game still exists. A great example of this is over in the One Day at a Time: Persona 3 Game Club SPECIAL thread, where people are choosing to play different versions of this same game for their own reasons. P3P should maybe be considered a “port”, but P3R is certainly a “remake”. Personally, I’d launched P3FES a few times ages ago and never got it to stick, but the release of P3R is what got me to actually play this game. I likely would never have gotten around to it otherwise – that’s got to be a mark in the “good” column for remakes, right?

Sometimes, remakes change a little bit too much for players’ liking. That’s understandable, but again – in almost all cases, the original still exists. I used to be annoyed by them, and similarly used to be annoyed by remakes of films. I think I’ve calmed on that considerably lately, and have just accepted that these things will exist but I do not need to engage with them if I don’t want.

It’s a bit like other media: sometimes the remake is awful and actually does replace the original, and I don’t like that – eg, Lucas’ Special Edition versions of the Star Wars trilogy and the subsequent deleting of the originals from circulation. Sometimes it is clearly no replacement for the original, but exists to to accessibly provide some/most of the same feelings one experienced with the original work – eg, your local cover band playing the hits for a $2 cover charge rather than you spending Big Bucks to go to a concert for some band that only tours your way once every ten years. It is obviously Not The Same, but it also is in no way attempting to replace the original.

...and sometimes a remake really is That Good, and the original author essentially transfers ownership of the work and we are all floored by this other version of an existing thing:

Is there a Johnny Cash’s Hurt of video games? There might be some remakes that become a definitive edition, but this would be something different, right? Can it even exist, in an industry so concerned with “intellectual property” that “covers” can’t really exist on any kind of scale?

Freshly awake and only a few sips into my coffee, I can’t think of any remakes that even come close to the transformative nature of Cash’s Hurt, but maybe someone else can!


Yeah, the more I think on this topic the less sure I feel about it. My initial position was broadly: I like playing the originals, I’d rather see investment into new original IPs, ergo remakes = bad.

But I kept thinking of exceptions and caveats, I had a couple of meandering draft replies that I just abandoned. It’s a nuanced topic - I don’t think the concept is inherently bad. It varies case-by-case. There are bad, cynical remakes and there are excellent ones. There are remakes that poorly misrepresent the original work, and those that elevate it.

Ultimately a lot of the negative points around them essentially boil down to the cynicism of megacorporations - but the reality is that ruins everything it touches.


This is great food for thought!

I think you have to consider how important both the original song and the Cash version are, also how different they are but still have the same feeling to them, but from different perspectives. Hurt closed the Downward Spiral and after the lead up to it, was a perfect contrast to the entire album but still had the same theme of the rest of the record. And while the Cash version was a standalone cover, it was more than that - it became something new and took on its own life, which a lot of people heard and some knew of the original.

So what’s a game which had a following and was loved by those who played it, and has been remade and in turn, created a whole new audience and generation that may help some enjoy the original but still have an amazing experience if they never do, and still blessed by it’s original creators…?

I can only think of the FFVII remake trilogy. Which I know sounds maybe off to some people but I’m looking at it as someone who got to enjoy both versions of Hurt first time round and FFVII as well.


This is the closest thing I can think of, too, but it’s missing part of the equation, I think, in that it’s being made by many of the same people. Part of what makes Hurt unique is the way someone other than the original creator/author ended up making the authoritative version of the work. It gets murky in video games of course, since they’re made by huge teams, though—not everyone on the original FFVII team is working on the Remake trilogy, after all


Cover songs aren’t as elaborate an object or an undertaking to produce, so I don’t think it’s enough of a 1:1 comparison. Also, recorded music is basically equally accessible across decades with the exception of I suppose old 78s that never republished after 1907 or whatever. The originals are easily available, not languishing on obscure MSX hardware etc

As with most video game dumbness, the problem with these remakes is their preponderance: yes there have been great games made in this framework, but they are too ubiquitous and too uncritically accepted by the public and journalists/critics who should know better. I don’t think the fact that RE2make was excellent means this stuff is ok: I would expect that with all the resources poured into making these things, some of them would be really good.

Anyway, I think with The Making of Karateka and M2 ports, we have a solid example of I think the best way to do this


@yeso (as always) raised a good point, it’s not a direct comparison but I think the answer may be different from person to person. For me I still think the FFVII remake is the most relatable, but of course for someone else it could be very different.

RE2 remake would definitely be one to consider as well, as I bet many people haven’t and wouldn’t play the original now after that.


The Johnny Cash “Hurt” of video games is the Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines fan patch. It’s still the original thing, but worked on by different people. It makes substantial changes, but everybody more or less agrees that playing it without the patch is a bad idea: it has replaced the original.


Yeah, this is good. Fan-mods/patches are a good angle to look at this from, I think. Stuff like this is closer in spirit to the idea of a song cover than something like a commercial remake


agreed, I use save states all the time when I emulate older stuff so I’m not precious about purity of experience of whatever

intention is the wrong word to use in that particular case but even the stuff we find annoying is, I think, part of the aesthetic experience of the thing. using save states to get around them seems meaningfully different than a different group of developers excising that stuff entirely and presenting the re-release as the ‘definitive’ version


I agree with what most people are saying here—remasters/remakes are not for me but okay as long as the original is available.

Yesterday I was trying to figure out how to play the original xbox release of halo on my series s, and found out it’s not possible (as far as i could tell). There is the remaster-chief version with “classic” art style options, but i would really like to just buy the port like i can with many other classic xbox games, something that microsoft is thankfully pretty good at normally.

This is not a huge deal at the end of the day, but it got me thinking about this thread and feeling slightly more cynical than a few days ago. Of course, there could be technical or logistical reasons halo 1 and 2 are not available in their original form. idk anything. This is just a mindless consumer’s perspective

huh, that’s weird. I wonder what happens when you put a copy of halo into a series x?

i think most xbox games play a video saying “this disc can only be played on an xbox console” or something like that

Portable is a now-rare “official” example of the as yet unmentioned fourth category, the “demake.” Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is another recent one that comes to mind. Wish the culture still supported handheld consoles so we could keep getting weird technically downgraded versions of popular games (T n T)

(I’m relying on a number of generalizations for this, sorry, but) The relationship between NIN and Cash’s versions of “Hurt” I think may be better captured not by a game and its remake, but by Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics. One is the original idea, and the other recontextualizes that idea in a way that was hugely popular (the song is more of an artistic statement than the game, granted). And while there is certainly overlap between fans of both versions of the game and the song, I’m under the impression that people who believe the Cash version of “Hurt” is unilaterally better don’t really listen to Nine Inch Nails, just as there are fans of Final Fantasy Tactics who aren’t interested in playing Tactics Ogre (not saying this as a value judgment). I don’t think most people who listen to The Downward Spiral would swap out the last track for Cash’s version, even if they appreciate it separately, just as fans of Tactics Ogre who enjoy FFTactics wouldn’t consider the latter a replacement for the former. Unlike many recent remakes which attempt to tell the same story as before but with different art and game mechanics, FFTactics relies on similar mechanical framework as Tactics Ogre to tell a markedly different story; that sounds like Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” to me.


Reznor himself said he thought it was better!


I listen to both Cash and Reznor, but I’m a bit of a weirdo, lol (and I got into Cash because of his cover). I think Cash’s version is better, but I’m also a fan of transformative covers almost by default, so Cash gets an edge there, I think

Outside of that though, that’s a solid thought, because I do think part of what makes Cash’s “Hurt” better is that it recontextualizes the song to make it ultimately something new. And I have to admit that I find Final Fantasy Tacctics much more enjoyable than Tactics Ogre generally. While I’ve played a couple Tactics Ogre games in the past, none of them have ever stuck with me quite the way FFT did.