The Tension Between Remakes And Originals

With the spiffy Resident Evil 2 remake right around the corner, I got to thinking about remakes versus remasters. At what point should you just go back and boot up the original?

It can be interesting to see a modern take with new mechanics that retains the original soul of the source material. Then again, how would you know if it retains the soul of the original if you haven’t played it? You might just end up playing a prettier version of the game with changes that impact it in ways that take away from the original.

Still, as technology advances, remasters and remakes are becoming a trend that we all have to get used to. But what makes a good remaster and when does a game warrant a refresh from the ground up? I sat down with Heather Alexandra to talk about great remakes, as well as the games that should just be preserved and left alone.

Hear us talk about the surprising similarities between Leon Kennedy and Lady Gaga in the video above. Here’s an excerpt:

Heather: Maybe it’s my first real “old lady shouts at cloud” moment but for me, I don’t want the Shadow of the Colossus remaster to be the one that’s in the cultural ether. I want that to be a facet of what Shadow of the Colossus is, but I want the original to endure.

Paul: It’s interesting because it’s not an inherent problem specific to video games. We have remakes in Hollywood-

Heather: But it’s bullshit because we talk about remakes in film and we have a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. What was the point of that? Which is why I will say, what I do appreciate about remakes is when they do recontextualize and reimagine a gameplay experience.

Paul: I think about—welcome to the one show that’s going to mention A Star Is Born—but I think about that movie, where it’s a remake but it’s the fifth one and they all do something different that adds something to it. It’s not just a shot-for-shot remake.

Heather: So one of the reasons that Shadow of the Colossus made me uncomfortable—it just takes this original experience that I think was very pure and very much its own thing and adds all this glossiness to it. I think when you change the aesthetic of a thing so much, it changes the tone of a thing. It can change the implications that people read into it.


    Not seeing a video link on mobile.
    Dunno if you’ve tried, but a ps2 connected to a 65” 4K tv looks garbage, even running through branded component cables. I’ll take the remasters please

      And that's before you get into the fact that, as brilliant as it was, it was definitely biting off more than the PS2 hardware could chew. The frame rate is... *ahem*... "inconsistent".

      The PS3 remaster and PS4 remake were pretty much perfect IMO - keep the game intact, fix the technical shortcomings.

    Remasters Pros:
    - make games look gooder
    - can fix known issues (framerate, mistranslations etc.)
    - can add voluntary new content, like trophies/achievements
    - open games to wider audience
    - fewer platforms required
    - can spur interest in old franchises (see Bandicoot, Crash)
    - can lead to new content for old games (AOEII)
    - can generate easy revenue for devs to spend on new IP
    - you can still plug in your PS2 and play the original

    Remasters cons:
    - disincentivising backward-compatability? That's about it IMO.

    Remember you don't need to play these games. If you think a remaster will ruin your experience then don't buy it.

    I think people need to also understand the difference between a "remaster" and a "remake".

    A "remaster" is essentially the same game, just updated in terms of visuals (resolution, textures, lighting, special effects etc.) and possibly audio as well (generally in terms of quality).

    A "remake" is when they take the original game and essentially rebuild it from scratch, from the ground up.

    I've heard a lot of people are, for some reason, upset by the remake of Resident Evil 2. Personally, I'm super excited, especially after playing the demo.

    In many ways, I get more enjoyment out of getting an emulator, running an old game and getting round the often frustrating nature of old games by using savestates to make life easier.

    That way I get the little nostalgia trip without the attendant "I FORGOT HOW HARD THIS %$%#@ING GAME IS!" problem.

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