Reboots, Remakes and Remasters

In light of the news of Nintendo making a Wii U remake of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, today I will be discussing a recent trend in the industry, that being the High-Definition Remake. This trend caught fire last year with several remakes and reboots being released in 2012. This trend has never been more popular in the industry.  My question is simple, is this trend good or bad for the industry?

First, a bit of history, after all the remastered collection of older games is nothing new. Nintendo was doing it 20 years ago. Hell, even Sega made a Sonic CD game, but this wasn’t something that happened often. Jump forward to 2003, Square Enix (Squaresoft at the time) remasters the first two Final Fantasy games. Once again, this was an occasional thing but still nowhere near as frequent as they are now.  We did get an interesting precursor to this trend in 2007, with Valve’s The Orange Box.  Unprecedented at the time, it released five games for the price of one. It sold very well, and is partly responsible for the current trend.

It was in 2009 that this trend began. At the time, Sony Santa Monica was busy developing God of War 3; they had opened a thread on their website asking fans for suggestions for a “Collectors Edition.” Numerous requests were made for a PS3 port of the first two God of War games to be part of the collection. Instead a separate game would be released. Bluepoint Games were hired to remaster God of War & God of War 2, they released it as the God of War collection thus beginning the trend of HD remakes. Bluepoint games went on the make several other remasters, like the Shadow of C0lossus/ICO collection & Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. This trend however, extends beyond simple remasters; entire games have been remade, either graphically or from scratch. Not to mention the reboots.

Bluepoint Games’ cover artist must have been away that day, it’s two covers for the price of one!

The fact that remakes, remasters and reboots are so prominent nowadays tells me that this generation of video games is running out of ideas. More than any other console cycle, we are looking to the past for better ideas rather than the future. This is not entirely a  bad thing though; there are games from the past, like Halo or Kingdom Hearts, that deserve the attention but the trend has allowed for some developers to be lazy. For example, in 2010 everyone’s favorite developer Activision, remastered Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo Wii one year later they released the same game for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

I can’t be entirely negative though, as some of the games that this trend have given the industry are well worth the money. An interesting example is Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which is nothing more than a graphical upgrade. The voice acting, the animation and the gameplay weren’t touched. This may sound lazy but this  preserves the original game while preventing newer players from feeling alienated by dated graphics. (It also helps that the player can switch the graphics in game at the touch of a button) I consider Halo Anniversary among the best of video games you can get. It can be a lot of fun to revisit older games.

Pictured; The original Halo: Combat Evolved on the left, the remake on the right.

While the quality of these remakes is very erratic. what worries me is what this means for the future of the industry. The time in between the release of new consoles is getting longer and longer. Just think of how many revisions the PS3 and Xbox 360 have gone through. The next generation of video game consoles will do more of this. This current generation is an environment that supports consumers who don’t need to be open-minded. I think this is a mistake I mean just how many more remakes and reboots can developers produce before this trend dies? Considering that the Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider franchise have both previously released collections of their older games and are now both rebooting their franchises, I don’t think this trend can continue for much longer. It’s gotten to the point that some collections are practically running out of reasons to justify their release.The Tomb Raider collection for example, was just a rerelease of three games that already came out this generation (okay, they weren’t available on the PS3, shoot me). We gamers, need to ask ourselves, do we want a Zelda remake or do we want a brand new Zelda game? Nintendo plans to give us both, for whatever that’s worth.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an HD collection, but the fact that their prominence reinforces the status quo frustrates me. I fear for what the next generation will bring; between the rising costs of games, studios being closed, I don’t care what the future brings for the industry, I just hope it isn’t more of what we’re already seeing now.


About Sam Hale

Autistic, young adult and lots on my mind.

Posted on January 24, 2013, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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