Videogame Remakes and The Attitudes Surrounding Them

So I‘ve got myself a soft modded PS2 now that can play games off a harddrive and along with playing a bunch of Japanese only games I decided to throw on the original Yakuza 2 since I’ve never played either of the original PS2 entries (dunno about other regions but 2 is a pretty rare game in Europe!), and since I‘ve beat every other localised Yakuza game including heckin’ Dead Souls I should give them a try for curiosity‘s sake. What was supposed to be an hour or two poking around in an “old jank game” turned into me playing the whole dang thing in about 3 days. It’s still a real good game!

I have to say, despite all the missing quality of life improvements in the sequels going back to Y2 was a fascinating journey in seeing how the PS2 limitations forced so many of Yakuza's weirdo design choices that hung around for years and appreciate the changes they did make and why. Fans at the time must have SCREAMED the first time they could walk around the city as an open world rather than as Silent Hill. But most of all, I have to say as a narrative I enjoyed the game infinitely more than the 2018 remake. Kiwami 2 is a hyper polished, much more fun ball pit of bonus content but all that extra goofing gets in the way of how the story was originally laid out, not to mention the difference in vibe, aesthetic, music choices, voice actors, action sequences, long fights and a whole dang city missing from the remake! I didn't even about know that until I played it!

Kiwami 2 (which I do like a lot too btw) is sort of its own thing built on top of the story and setting of the original game with different focus points and intent...yet still in casual discourse along with many other examples I see these games fall into the "just play the remake dude it's way better" pit which is starting to weird me out. Nobody thinks about movie remakes this way, nobody says you're "nostalgia blinded" if you think the original Robocop is better than the PG-13 one with Batman in it, yet it is commonly assumed that if a game is remade on newer hardware it will be better by default as if the art of game design has developed as a linear progress bar.

I'm not going to start ranting and raving about every example I can think of but I'd say there's more bad videogame remakes than good ones, and even then of the good ones only a minority of them "replace" the original or deviate in an interesting/meaningful way where it wasn't pointless to make at all. An example I'd give of a good remake is the 2002 Resident Evil for the Gamecube where it's an excellent example of a director returning to perfect a vision on new hardware...but even then I still find it crass how people suggest it replaces the original considering how important the game was and the unique charm (voice acting) it has. Even when people are right to celebrate remakes it still seems to be expressed with a contempt for videogame history.

So consider this an invitation to share your own thoughts on remakes, maybe vent about ones that were acclaimed but you can't stand or offer up your own personal examples of remakes that work great. This thread was partially inspired by a flashback I had to the Insert Credit PS2 ranking podcast where Yakuza 2 was brought up on the ballet but dismissed because Kiwami 2 is "just better", I appreciate this was more about keeping the list varied and definitive but I have to say if you're hearing that attitude echoed on Insert Credit of all places then that means its DEEP in the culture some of you have to have some thoughts on this!

@Lesmocon#15121 totally agree about yakuza 2 vs kiwami. As much as I’ve enjoyed every game in the series, the goofiness and lazy optimism is starting to wear on me a little and it’s a shame that kiwami has sort of erased 2, which was as you describe, much more downbeat and somber (by series standards).

I'm not crazy about remakes insofar as they have that effect of erasing an original. I guess if the remake is so different that it’s essentially a different game, like the recent resident evil remakes or pathologic 2. That demons souls remake I suspect will be an example of a close remake subsuming the original which is a bummer in my opinion


@yeso#15160 That demons souls remake I suspect will be an example of a close remake subsuming the original which is a bummer in my opinion

I saw that during the time when Demon's Souls was released and I felt very disappointed by videogames journalists and the media surrounding them, because there was a very marginal part of the videogame community that compared the virtues of both without dismissing the other part and the general consensus was to focus on the big, next shiny thing. It's sad because while I don't mind having remakes, consumerism is so engraved into people's minds that these debates of looking at the original and the remake and comparing both experiences or trying to conceptualize different ways of how to do a remake is something that the media and even ourselves need to do to understand how videogames evolve according to the times (either good, bad or both).

I've got two dead horses to beat here:

1) How I use these terms:
a) "Remake" = a new game built on concepts introduced by the original. e.g. Resident Evil 2, RE3, Final Fantasy VIIR
b) "Remaster" = an old game with upres'd textures and possible surround sound; basically old games running on new hardware. e.g. Devil May Cry HD Collection, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, etc.
c) "Reskin" (I think @GigaSlime called these a "Cover") = an old game with shiny new art assets that is designed to play as close to the original as possible. e.g. Demon's Souls, Shadow of the Colossus 2018, Crash trilogy, Spyro trilogy

2) That being said, my quadruple quotation marks ""remake"" beef is with 2018's Shadow of the Colossus, for essentially the same reasons gone over w/r/t Demon's Souls 2020. It's _fine_, but the new assets create a different visual tone for the game. That's like half the appeal of those Ico games, is their distinctive visual style, so I was surely a bit peeved when reviews of the remake basically said it was a fitting replacement for the older version(s).

I wonder if enthusiasm in reviews for remakes owes to the fact that older versions are almost always not easily available to the casual consumer—the reality that old games just aren't available/are inconvenient to acquire is too horrible to confront, so we compensate with praise for the newer version and dismiss the idea that we're missing out on anything with the old one. Wanna play Demon's Souls 2009 but don't have a PS3? Tough luck! Ditto Shadow of the Colossus 2011* or 2005, etc. Around 2017-18 Sega actually reprinted Yakuza 1-4 (I think) on PS2 and PS3, which is awesome, but if you don't have those consoles (or a computer to emulate on, or you don't want to emulate) you're stuck with Kiwami. Thankfully Capcom has made sure you can buy every Resident Evil game on every platform under the sun.

I LOVE Resdient Evil 2002, Shadow of the Colossus 2011, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Final Fantasy IV DS, and so on. It's not an issue of remakes being bad, but an issue of making old versions available should the player wish to explore game history.

Thank you for starting this thread with an explanation of what distinguishes Yakuza 2 from Kiwami. I haven't played either, but I got the idea somewhere (don't remember why) that vanilla 2 was worth playing instead of/before/in addition to Kiwami 2. I was also surprised to hear the podcasters dismiss vanilla 2.

*I lump the 2011 HD remaster together with the original, but maybe I shouldn't! If I don't want to be a hypocrite. I only ever played the HD version.

In conclusion:


Well, off top:

Link‘s Awakening remake on Switch gets more hate than love. Technical issues aside, price aside (I paid only $20 for the cartridge used) I think it sets a standard for remakes how I’d imagine them. I believe that one day, either 20, 50, or 100 years from now we will see a remake of Earthbound in a similar style, claymation or something. My one and only complaint about the Link‘s Awakening remake on the style of the game is They Gave Him the Wrong Shield. I hate retconning the tired Hyrulean shield into everything because it sells merch to gamer bros. Would have loved to purchase the Link’s Awakening amiibo, if he had the cool 90's shield from official art. I even considered painting it.

But anyways, I am such a purist, such an idealist that I prefer to play the original game on the original hardware 90% of the time. I will not touch any of these new Katamari games. I think SotC and ICO are great on PS2. Rereleases usually only serve to water down the experience to appeal to a market of dumb dumbs.

Times I enjoy remakes is twofold:

  • - It's basically a new game altogether (Sword of Mana)
  • - I have played the original so much, wrung it dry of any content, and in this case, even if the remake misses the mark I will still enjoy playing it, unless it makes a downright criminal choice.
  • Examples:

  • - Demon's Souls Remake. I usually would hate the westernization of the enemies to look more ugly/covered in pimples, but since I have played the original more than anything else, it's fine. I can overlook. They did a great job in other areas that are more important
  • - Link's Awakening. That game is kind of in the top 3 most important games in my soul. I played the remake and 100%'d it by memory in 3 days. I could probably recite the secret seashell locations by memory.
  • - Metroid Zero Mission I now play with a fan patch that removes the map altogether. Either way you play it, I once thought it was the greatest remake of all time, and now I see it as the swan song of Nintendo R&D1. It did set a quality standard.
  • - Metroid II.... I played the original. I made a topic here on IC of a magical review of the original. This is a game that has been remade both by fans and by an outsourced studio. I played both. They both have value. AM2R is my preferred of the two, but if it was for a couple stupid choices, the 3DS remake would have been perfect in my eyes. Neither of them match the genius of the original, but Nintendo R&D1 is gone.
  • From examples used above by other users:

  • - Final Fantasy. I very much enjoy the FF1+2 remake, GBA version. I think the Famicom version also has value, but I would probably play with a couple patches. I will never play the FFX HD remaster, the PS2 version expresses the original vision, and I have no need to compromise because I have all the necessary hardware to play it! But even then, FFX is a benchmark game for PS2 emulators. To me, stuff like HD remasters is there for accessibility to people with less time to configure their games like they're calibrating something professionally. It's like the NES Mini of video game software.
  • - Yakuza. Now, I'm no Yakuza-head. I first picked up Yakuza 5 on PS3 when it was cheap to do so, after my trip to Japan when I had post-japan-depression back in the united states. I played allllll the taxi race missions, unlocked all the SEGA music, fiddled around a bit, read tons of magazines and manga in the shops, enjoyed the product placements and decided yeah, I've got plenty left to do in Raw Danger, I don't need my wacky fun times watered down with fist fighting, violence and.... Story that I don't care for. Not to mention I think Kiryu looks like a little punk who I wouldn't like in real life. Still, I considered playing the PS2 originals over Kiwami. Without the humor of the newer games, but maybe a more focused design, who knows which I would enjoy more / rather play. After all, antiquated design from the past is something I am 200% immune to, unlike most gamers. Either way, I probably won't be playing either of them. But my point here is that with something like Yakuza, it's a personal choice which you'd play.....
  • I've little interest in the semantic arguments surrounding remakes. It's just another game. You don't have to buy it. If people buy it and their idea of the original is messed with, that is their fault for not going the extra mile to access the original.


    @treefroggy#15185 I think Kiryu looks like a little punk

    oh my god

    and more about the topic: I think that the emphasis on remakes does diminish the originals in the sense that it implicitly disputes their unique audiovisual object qualities. Links awakening is a great example of this great little object of its own, and the remake is its own separate thing. Just preserve and republish the old thing and make a different new thing. I don’t have much sympathy for remakes I guess

    @yeso#15191 Yeah, in terms of making some new, I think A Link Between Worlds is a really good model of what a company can do instead of releasing a traditional remake: act as though you‘re remaking an imaginary sequel that never actually existed. It’s maybe a little disappointing that they didn‘t do something similar for Link’s Awakening

    In general I prefer the original - perhaps in part cause I have to justify to myself how much space, time and money I expend messing around with old consoles! I find the concept of a remake to be inherently unappealing. I feel like people clamouring for nostalgia stifles creativity, especially in these major studios that are only making one game every few years. Still this is just the nature of shareholder driven production, “safe bets”, etc. Like we get a lot more reboots and sequels than new IPs. It's the same story in most forms of media.

    I am all for remasters, emulators, and preserving the playability of old games on modern systems. I understand why most people don't have a bunch of old consoles all hooked up and I don't want to see older games being lost to history.

    Still when I get the chance I will choose the original over the remake or remaster. For example I have only recently played Yakuza 1 and 2 on PS2 and had a really good time. I think the cinematic storytelling in those games is as compelling today as it was then. I will say the combat in Yakuza 1 _sucks_. Yakuza 2 was a huge improvement in that regard. When the Crash N-Sane trilogy dropped I played through all the original PS1 games instead - I even prefer the aesthetic. Sometimes I think even HD remasters look weird to me, like I would rather see upscaled 480p than the whole thing rendered in HD. The textures look weird in high res, like everything looks weirdly spaced out.. or more fake? Not sure if I'm alone in this but for example I think SotC running in 480p on PS2 looks better than SotC 2011.

    The Resident Evil remakes have been the gold standard for me. Take the framework and yes give it nicer graphics, but also add something you really couldn't in the past version. Like Lisa Trevor in RE1 or everything with Mr. X in RE2. (I still need to play RE3make). I dunno, both are much scarier, so mission accomplished.

    My brown standard is the SotC remake which actually made me question whether the game was ever all that good. Though that is a tricky one as that game pulls off one trick perfectly, but once you know the trick... It's a game that almost works better when the barely held together PS2 expression of the idea was firing the "what could be?" part of my brain.

    Tony Hawk remake is somewhere in the middle because wow does it look and play great, but I kind of dislike that its actually a lot more difficult than the original, if I'm in for nostalgia I want it to be breezy.

    I gave a 2 hour talk about Demon's Souls, so I am in NO RUSH to play a version of the game that just looks better.

    @Kez#15195 the Crash remake isn‘t good! Like it’s okay, but it‘s one of those “play it once for the novelty then go back to the original because its better” sort of remakes. They screwed up a lot in it by replicating the level design of the original 1:1 then changed a bunch of visual stuff and hitboxes to make it way more frustrating and unforgiving than the old games ever were. And Crash is a prime example of the negative effects of this culture because that remake comes out, gets celebrated by everyone despite its obvious problems because game journos don’t have time to revisit the originals to contrast and compare, then Crash 4 (which suuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkksssssssss) comes out by a different team and all its issues are waved off with “well, the games were always like this FANS WILL LOVE IT”

    The Shadow of the Colossus remake has come up a bunch of times now and I'm not a big fan of it either but a HOT TIP for anyone who wants to try it for curiosity's sake...even if you don't have a 4KTV play it in the 30fps mode, the Colossi feel weightless and plastic in 60fps it kills the game way harder than any of the aesthetic changes.

    I don‘t have much interest in playing 240p games in HD. Nintendo is also good at, instead of remaking a game, you include the elements in a sequel. For example, the Mario Odyssey postgame felt like it was made just for me, someone who got mario 64 at like age 6.

    But also they do stuff like Mother 1 and Mother 2. They are so similar, you’d be forgiven for thinking one is a remake of the other, because all the elements are there.

    When it comes to stuff like Tales of Phantasia even, instead of just going with the PS1 release because it's “better", sometimes I'd rather play the SFC original. Because heck it, it is pretty amazing to do something like that on sfc hardware.

    @saddleblasters#15192 I like LBW, but LA is just too perfect to mess with, I'm glad it was a 1:1 remake. More people needed to play that game. Whereas aLttP is already highly rated, I've met Zelda fans who didn't consider LA to be a "real Zelda game" because it was a dream... lame

    @robinhoodie the demon's souls remake is something I'd love to play just on the basis that there's a mirror mode and more immersive lighting.

    Another exception for me is Resident Evil... I like the GameCube version.. I don't like zombies or RE that much to begin with though. I agree with anyone who likes the newest HD versions!
    In general, I’ve little interest in remakes of any sort! I've got enough old games I still need to play!
    but, if it's good, it's good!

    sometimes it's like, which generation of Mr.Potato Head is best??? 90's is my favorite, he had the best pieces! He was in Toy Story, and mascot for Burger King for a minute.


    more like

    Mother 2 : Mother :: Demon’s Souls : Dark Souls


    You know what was a really good remake?
    Heart Gold and Soul Silver
    but you still gotta play the originals, man.

    Any time a remake makes me cry, it's a good'n.
    that's why I give Final Fantasy VII Remake 11 gallons of tears out of 10

    I don’t think the anniversary edition of Halo1 gets enough flak. They really screwed that up and completely ruined Truth and Reconciliation, the most moody and interesting Halo1 level. Such trash. So sad.

    having gotten back into playing more retro games specifically on their original hardware this past year, i think there‘s really something to be said for the experience of a game being played as it was originally intended, that remakes really struggle to pull off. i don’t think this is a controversial opinion in these parts haha, but i do think that a remake needs to either re-imagine the original title or do something truly unique with the latest hardware so that the experience of playing it “for the first time” is recreated in a way that goes beyond nostalgia for the player.

    but! it also depends. i'm replaying Killer7 for the first time since it came out and i think it manages to do just as well on a PC with HD upgrades. however, i don't know if i like it as much as i did originally, but that's a different topic.

    but i tried out Pulseman on my Genesis recently, and it plays around a lot with the aesthetics of a CRT, which is much less effective on displays that don't have those features.

    @isfet#15265 funny you would bring up Pulseman. Last time I was in Oakland, I brought my SEGA up into my friends apartment to play on his projector. I booted up pulseman, thinking, yeah, a crt would be better. It’s true, I‘d rather play on my crt of course but, actually pulseman intro was pretty cool projected onto the wall. Probably because projectors also use similar CRT technology and existed during the days of CRTs, it wasn’t totally wrong to me to view the static effects of the intro projected onto his wall. It was actually really cool and felt like pulseman was jumping out of the wall at us, which is the intended effect of the intro!

    but yeah, forget about an hdtv.


    @Lesmocon#15121 ok this is interesting. I‘ve only played Yakuza 2 so far. I’ve got Kiwami 2 installed and ready to go, but haven't started it yet! Really interested to see how it goes as 2 is probably one of my top ps2 games.

    it‘s interesting that once sakaguchi left square and wada became the big boss they immediately started exploiting FFVII as a franchise with all the companion games. obviously these aren’t remakes, but visionaries (i have my own sakaguchi complaints but hard to not term him that) in the industry seem to always be fighting an uphill battle against the shareholder rep CEOs for whom the value of remaking or exploiting existing franchises is obvious. keita takahashi is another example. this seems more endemic to games than film to me but i don't pay enough attention to film to be sure

    i'll join the chorus and say that i don't see the value in remakes, and often sneer at them, but i gotta admit a couple things:

    one is that i get excited thinking about FFVIII being remade,

    the other is that the gamecube resident evil remake is like unbelievably good to me for as far as i played it. so i guess sometimes new tech can mean that the original vision is more fully realized, without any real compromise. this is the only remake that i feel this way about though

    @hellomrkearns#15502 it’s kind of a ff7->ff7r thing for those of us who hold the ps2 yakuza 2 in high regard. Just a different thing that’s also good, but doesn’t really carry forward essential qualities of the original

    @yeso#15567 I argue that FF7R carries forward the essential qualities most of all, while dropping some superficial stuff