When you hear the word video game, which games come into focus in your mind? If I had to guess, I would say a game that you think defines the entire genre. Perhaps you think about a game that, in your mind, never needs to be remade. But what makes a remake of a video game different than a movie, and what makes a good video game remake? With E3 around the corner and remakes of Pokémon Yellow, Final Fantasy VII, and Resident Evil 2 just as close, now is a good time to ask.

Remakes vs Remasters

First, I think that we should establish that I mean remakes and not remasters. A remaster of a video game just cleans up the assets, but leaves the gameplay relatively untouched. This includes the likes of the Devil May Cry trilogy that found a rerelease on the PS4 recently. A remake recreates the game from the ground up, often improving the graphics, the gameplay, and maybe adds new areas to explore. An example includes the Resident Evil Remake released on GameCube and years later touched up for the PS4.

Film Remakes vs Game Remakes

Let’s put aside for a moment that usually, the reason to create any remake includes money. Filmmakers also often claim that they want to remake a movie to introduce a certain film to a new generation. It has worked exceedingly well in the past with the 1980’s version of Scarface. It has, for the most part, eclipsed the original 1930’s version in the social consciousness. But, more often than not, the original gets deemed much better than the remake.

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For video games remakes, however, the more common situation includes the reverse. Poorly received remakes such as the 2013 remake of the 1992 game, Flashback, are the exception rather than the rule. The 2018 remake of Shadow of the Colossus provides an example of a wonderful game. It keeps everything that made it great and fixes minor things like button layout, frame rate, and the grip meter. This improves it even further.

Step 1: Make Sure The Remake Is Actually GOOD

Many aspects that one must keep in mind to make a good remake. First, one must make sure they keep everything that made the original so powerful. This may include something broad such as the overall message. It may also include something very specific, such as the subtle way an actor plays a character, implying something deeper. The notion in Star Wars that Han shot first comes to mind.

Aspects must change for a remake, otherwise it’s just a remaster. This includes taking the things that may not translate as well in a modern setting and changing them. Shadow of the Colossus was a masterpiece, but the button layout may leave much to be desired for newer players.

Uncertainty For Upcoming Remakes

It looks as though the new Let’s Go Pokémon games may not be remakes of Pokémon Yellow. At least they won’t remake it like Fire Red and Leaf Green remade Red and Blue. It will incorporate a Pokémon Go-like atmosphere and gameplay with multiplayer. The message of the original Pokémon games included adventure and collection, and it looks like these new games will too. It may be too soon to tell if the games will find success with such a drastic shift in atmosphere.

Resident Evil 2’s Remake finds itself in a similar situation with rumors that it may use the Resident Evil 4 or 7 styles of gameplay. I don’t see this as the end of the world. I just hope that these remakes live up to the spirits of their franchises.

What are your favorite video game remakes? Let us know in the comments below!

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