'Resident Evil 4' Rumors Have Us Asking What Makes a Remake a Remake

With another Resident Evil remake rumored, we try to suss out what we mean when we talk about remakes.

Apr 14 2020, 8:54pmSnap

There are reports of Capcom having a Resident Evil 4 remake in the works, so of course we sat down once again to discuss some of the ways the terms we use can set different expectations for a finished product. How much do you expect out of an "updated" game? Does a "remake" have to cross a certain amount of changes to be accepted as a remake? Does a video game "remaster" stray too far from the music and film lineage of that term? We consider these questions, catch up on the lastest in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and answer more listener questions on this week's Waypoint Radio. You can read an excerpt or listen to the full episode below.

Cado: So what how different was, going back to their Resident Evil 3 and 2 remakes, how much of those were changed versus like essentially just updates of those old games.

Austin: Two is a really good update of the original. There's some stuff that I believe is missing, like it doesn't have the zapping stuff that two did, [when when you] change one thing in one playthrough, [it stays] different when you change characters. That stuff isn't there. I want to say some of the stuff around the kind of side characters is distinct. The stuff around, I forget the name of the little girl.


Rob: I feel like saying it's just an update doesn't go far enough though.

Austin: No, I mean, you're right

Rob: If we [look at] the Resident Evil 1 remaster, that is an update.

Austin: It just better textures and better–

Rob: They fixed the voice acting. "Fixed" but it was never supposed to be ridiculous, right? It's never supposed to be as–

Austin: As campy as it was, yeah.

Rob: That was not how it was intended to be. But if you go back and play it, it is very much kind of the same clunky feeling experience that you remember from playing Resident Evil one on the PlayStation was. Resident Evil 2 to me does feel substantially like "okay this thing controls very comfortably and fluidly compared to today's games."

Austin: Totally.

Cado: Right. I mean–

Rob: There's a weirdness to it that I think couples with the fact that it now controls like a modern game, but still presents itself very much like Resident Evil 2 did.

Cado: To me that kind of falls within update right we are updating the the mechanics to fit within modern–

Austin: I think the work there though, it is a lot of work.

Cado: I'm not saying it's not a lot of work. I'm just saying there's kind of a difference between remaking something like Final Fantasy VII is being remade like they've changed the mechanics completely from a turn based system to a–

Austin: I think this is a failure of terms.

Rob: Yeah.

Austin: I think this is a failure of terms because in other formats remake can mean a lot of different things.


Cado: Sure.

Rob: Actually hold on.

Austin: A remake in film includes everything from A Star is Born, in which core thematic content and basic plot beats are the same, but there are dramatic differences in adaptation; to Psycho, where Gus Van Zandt tried to literally do a shot-for-shot [remake]. But even there what we say is "a-shot-for-shot remake" because we need to call attention to the fact that that is what makes it exceptional in its in its aspirations, not in its execution. We have to qualify shot-for-shot remake because the word remake isn't enough, right?

Cado: Or remake does imply a difference that shot-for-shot doesn't have right? Like the idea is you're trying to replicate it almost. It's "remake" because you're using different actors different, you have to go through different physical motions and sets and stuff.

Rob: I guess yeah, I mean to be fair I think if we were if we were to boil it down to like an update, the update equivalent in a film would be like a nice transfer, right? Which would be: okay this thing now runs and presents itself reasonably well on a modern display. It doesn't require a lot of hoops to jump through to fix compatibility like issues, it controls correctly with modern controls. That is sort of the the update model I guess that would be equivalent.

Austin: See, I think the controls is a remake. I think at that point you're out of the world of update. The second that you're like "I'm moving around this world in a in a different–"


Rob: No, no, I more mean there's some games that mouse coordinates get all screwed up in.

Austin: I see, you're like literally "bugs are fixed and to run on a high def display means the mouse doesn't work right" I got you, but basic interface and interaction is still the same.

Rob: But the minute it's like "Ah, now it's a twin stick shooter–"

Austin: Right, the minute we're going to mark on the map the rooms that you've totally cleared that has gone beyond "we've updated this game." So I think RE 2 is definitely–

Cado: Ehh?

Austin: 100%, that stuff is so fundamentally different about the way that game is played. Though ok, here are examples of stuff that's that're on the line. A lot of the Final Fantasy re-releases, the ports, Final Fantasy VII re-release, [ Final Fantasy 12_] definitely does this, has a mode where you can just double the speed or quadruple the speed of play so you can just burn through stuff. The _Final Fantasy VII port, I believe this is true on the PS4 version, let's you set it so that your Limit Break gauge is always full, just 100% of the time—

Cado: What!?!

Austin: —so that you can just say "I'm just here to get the story, I'm not here to engage with materia. Let me just go off." And that's a new feature in a port for me. I think I don't think that that's a remake at that point. But I do think that like the set of things that goes into RE 2, whether it's the same point by point stuff–


Cado: Maybe that's what it is though, it's closer to a shot-for-shot remake, but it's updated, it's like if you take–

Austin: The way Mr. X moves in Resident Evil 2, the most recent one, is so distinct from the limited encounters you have with him in in the original Resident Evil 2.

Rob: Why are semantic arguments so tantalizing.

Austin: They're fun.

Cado: They're fun, yeah!

Austin: They're fun because they help you hone your feelings about stuff when you engage with them in that way.

Discussed: Animal Crossing New Horizons: 2:35, Final Fantasy VII Remake 17:45, Control 32:48, RE4 Remake Rumors 41:46, Question Bucket 57:35

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on Apple Podcasts. It really helps.

Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to gaming@vice.com with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.

Have thoughts? Swing by the Waypoint forums to share them!


Resident Evil 4

like this
The Ending of 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' Throws a Lot at New Players
What 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' Has in Common With 'The Grudge'
We Discuss 'Halo Infinite' and the False Promises of Open Worlds
The Systems in 'Troubleshooter' Revel in Anime Style Excess
Was ‘Quake 2’ Half-Life before ‘Half-Life’ Released?
You Don’t a Need Branching Narrative to Give Players Choice
'Granblue Fantasy Versus' Actually Teaches You How to Play a Fighting Game
'Resident Evil 3' Might Be Mediocre, But 'RE 5' Reminds Us It Could Be Worse