What Makes a Remaster or Remake Good?

Remasters and remakes have partially defined this console generation. We’ve seen great improvements like the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane and Spyro Reignited trilogies. There have also been some effortless re-releases like Prototype: Biohazard Bundle. Regardless, we’ve certainly played our fair share across the PS4 and Xbox One’s life. There are still more to come before the next-gen consoles release too. Crysis Remastered and Mafia: Definitive Edition both launch this month on consoles! With every company jumping at the chance to revisit their back-catalogue, I decided to take a look at what actually makes a remaster or remake good.

Technical Improvements

Remasters should look to add more detail and life into an old game. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a good example. Compare the original Combat Evolved to what we see in the remaster. What was once fairly bland and flat is now filled with detail and texture. Some may argue that 343 didn’t capture the same spirit as Bungie, but you can’t deny that this remastered package is a vast improvement in the graphics department.

Another game that does this very well is Pokemon. They often remake older games for the newer consoles and the jump from 2D sprites to 3D animations has added life to all our favourite pocket monsters. Every remake brings us closer to the spectacular flair of the anime battles.

Remakes should be able to take full advantage of the hardware the developer builds them for. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a great example of how to do a remake. It uses the full power of the PS4 to deliver a remake that isn’t only excellent for fans of the original, but also a must for all RPG fans on the platform.

The three above examples demonstrate the gold standard for remakes and remasters. They take full advantage of the console, making significant strides in graphics and audio.

New Features

Remasters and remakes aren’t always the most appealing. There are plenty of new games released every month, so some are reluctant to revisit older classics. There’s one easy fix that’ll make me desperate to jump back in. New content! A new expansion or DLC will probably make me pick up an older title, so I can see where the story went next or experience some new challenges.

The Resident Evil 2 Remake added in new missions called Ghost Stories, which feature the tragic tales of some residents of Raccoon City. This is a great incentive to encourage everyone to jump into the game, whether they’ve experienced the original story or not. We can see how successful this game was as it spawned a Resident Evil 3 Remake as well. A Resident Evil 4 Remake is also rumoured to be on the way according to VGC.

Familiarity

It might be ideal to draw in new fans, but a remaster or remake won’t get far if it alienates the original fanbase. Developers need to balance a fine line between these two markets by offering a more pretty, yet still familiar experience. We’ve seen a few games have great success through this, such as Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Resident Evil 2 Remake.

This could even open up possibilities for a new sequel in the future. Remasters and remakes often have the ability to revive once dead franchises and bring them back into the spotlight. Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy spawned a whole new generation of fans across consoles and PC, leading to a long-awaited sequel that releases October 2nd 2020.

What to Avoid

So we know what a good remaster or remake needs to include. What do they need to avoid?

Alienating the Original Fanbase

Of course, most important is avoiding alienating the original fanbase as I said earlier. A good remaster or remake could sell well just by word of mouth and social media buzz if the original fanbase is impressed by the new offering. Resident Evil 2 Remake took over the gaming world back when it released in 2019, and this positive buzz has led to similar efforts being made for other Resident Evil Remakes.

Being Worse than the Original

Not every remake or remaster goes to plan. Some actually end up being received much more poorly than the original. This might be because they are unnecessary, or because they don’t offer any significant improvements. Prototype: Biohazard Bundle is one such game. The remasters of Prototype 1 & 2 actually performed worse than the original games in some scenarios, leading fans to be very disappointed.

What do you think makes a remaster or remake good? What’s your favourite remaster or remake? Let us know in the forums, or over on our social media. Why not check out some of our other pieces?

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