Video Games Have Invented So Many Ways to Define a "Remake"

Between ports, high-definition remasters, and straight-up reboots, there's a lot of ways to bring back a game.
January 25, 2018, 4:00pm
Image courtesy of Capcom

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If you believe the rumors, rumors I cannot personally substantiate, Capcom’s due to unveil their Resident Evil 2 remake soon. Even more unsubstantiated rumors suggest it could be a large departure from the original game, moving from pre-rendered backgrounds and tank controls to a more traditional over-the-shoulder camera.


As an experiment, let’s assume the rumors are true. It’d be a big change. Combined with the impending Shadow of the Colossus remake, game publishers have come up with some pretty radical and different ways to approach bringing a video game back.

Feel free to yell at me if I’m wrong, but there appear to be a handful of revival paths:

  • The straight port, warts ‘n all. Same frame rate and other technological hiccups, but true to the game, as it was released. This can be a tough sell to players who weren't there; in modernity, they can seem little more than products of their time.
  • The high-definition remastering, a dressed up version of the above. It runs into some of the same pitfalls, but for people who do have nostalgia, it’s like playing a favorite PC games with a new GPU. It’s cool to see something you loved look better.
  • The remake, which goes beyond increasing frame rate and resolution and does major reconstructive surgery on the game’s visuals. This is what Sony’s done with Shadow of the Colossus. (They already did the HD remaster on PlayStation 3!) The gameplay, in all its sometimes frustrating glory, remains intact, but the graphics look straight out of 2018. It’s an attempt to recapture the same awe you once felt.
  • The remake-reboot, which retains the base elements but makes substantive changes to the game itself. Capcom actually took this approach to the original Resident Evil, resulting in one of the most profound and impressive “remakes” to this day. (Long live the crimson zombie!) Resident Evil 2 could be a more extreme version of this.

If forced to pick, my favorite is the third option. I wish more games included the neat tech in things like The Master Chief Collection, which allowed you to swap between the old and new visuals in real-time. It gives you an appreciation for the work that was put into the updated game, and allows you to feel extremely old! It’s great.

Are there games you wish would get one of these treatments? Which ones and why?

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