What justifies a Remake?

With the long awaited remake of Dead Space finally releasing today, I thought now would be a perfect time to discuss remakes in gaming once again! Previously, I had talked about remakes and when the right time to remake a game was, this time though I’d like to discuss what makes a remake feel justified. Given that remakes are becoming a bigger and bigger trend in gaming this seems like a good topic to tackle. So let’s do just that!

So, why exactly would someone want to remake a game? The obvious answer is for money but not every remake is a soulless cash grab or anything like that. However given the fact that most games that get remade were already great games that didn’t need much changing kind of shows exactly what I mean. A lot of publishers don’t remake games to correct errors or actually make them that much better, they do it to bring a well loved and recognized game back for the people who loved the original and the people who never got to try it. Again, this isn’t a bad thing, at least not on paper. It all comes down to how justified the remake feels. How much work was put into it to really make it feel remade instead of just pushed out with some new graphics to make a quick buck. And the best way to show this is by bringing up some remakes and discussing what makes them justified or not!

Easily the first major series that comes to mind when discussing remakes is Resident Evil from Capcom. This series has some great and terrible examples of how to go about remaking a game. So let’s start at the beginning with the remake of Resident Evil 1 for the GameCube! The RE1 remake, or REmake 1 as it’s referred to by fans, is often considered to be one of the greatest remakes of all time! And as such, is a perfect example of what to do when it comes to remaking a game. First of all, REmake 1 took a dated looking PS1 game and turned it into one of the best looking games ever. The original GameCube version of REmake 1 still holds up to this day! It actually looks a bit better than some of the remastered releases as the remasters had to ditch the hand drawn backgrounds and added in 3D rendered ones instead. Not only that but the remake added a bunch of new content that had originally been cut from the original game as well as changing up some of the basic layout of the mansion. This makes it both enjoyable for new and old players while still keeping the feel of the original. REmake 1 shows how to remake a game by changing enough to keep the original feel of the game while also making changes to spice things up and justify players of the original picking it up. This was a slam dunk of a remake! It’s no surprise why remakes are always compared to REmake 1 even after 21 years. Jesus Christ, I’m old… And after the smashing success of REmake 1 Capcom would naturally go ahead and remake Resident Evil 2, right? Well yes and no. We did get a remake of RE2, it just took 17 years for us to get it…

The remake of Resident Evil 2, or REmake 2 as it’s often referred, came way after REmake 1 was released. And it came in a very different form as well. REmake 2 was a completely redone game with a new control set up and everything. No longer did you have fixed camera angles and tank controls, now the game played much more like Resident Evil 4 with an over the shoulder third person camera. And while I will always defend tank controls and fixed camera angles till the day I die, I have to admit this was a good change. Players these days really don’t have the patience for those things and tend to quick dismiss games that heavily feature them in a way that isn’t just for nostalgia. Now I really am sounding old. So the change to a more modern feel and look was probably for the best when it came to drawing in new players, which is exactly what the remake was meant to do. I feel like REmake 2 was far less for players of the original and much more for new players to the series. After all, REmake 2 was released after the revitalization the series got from the success of Resident Evil 7. This was Capcom’s way of getting those new players into the older entries in the series. And it worked perfectly! While REmake 2 is vastly different from the original, so much so that some could argue that it’s almost a new game over a remake, it was still an awesome game. It managed to bring RE2 into a more modern age without losing it’s survival horror roots and without turning it into something closer to RE7. At the same time, I do understand why some fans complain that the remake doesn’t feel like a remake at all as it’s so far removed from the original. REmake 1 felt more like an evolution of the original on a newer system while REmake 2 feels like a new game with the same characters and story from the original. Again though, I don’t think this is a bad thing or makes REmake 2 a bad remake. At the end of the day I think we can all agree that REmake 2 is still Resident Evil 2 just different now. Interestingly enough though, I think this could actually lead to more people playing the original PS1 Resident Evil 2! With the games being so different, it gives people far more of an excuse to check out the original and see how things are translated over. So in the end, while REmake 2 is different from the original, I don’t think it takes away or loses what made the original good. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the remake of Resident Evil 3

The remake of Resident Evil 3, often referred to as REmake 3 as you probably guessed, is very often considered to be a poor remake of the original. Unlike before, there wasn’t a massive gap in time between the release of REmake 2 and 3. REmake 3 was released just a year later actually. This makes a lot of sense as the two remakes were much similar in gameplay compared to REmake 1 and 2. That and RE2 and 3 both take place in Raccoon City and as such share a lot of locations that don’t have to be completely remade. So it didn’t take too much time to release REmake 3 after the second one. This both worked for and against REmake 3 though. Coming out so soon after meant more people would still be interested in picking it up if they enjoyed REmake 2, however now the two games could be much more easily compared to each other and doing so seemed to reveal a dip in quality. REmake 3 was far shorter than REmake 2 and lacked content compared to it as well. Now Capcom would probably argue that there is just as much content as REmake 3 also launched with a new multiplayer focused game RE: Resistance. An asymmetrical multiplayer game that was suppose to take place around the time of RE3‘s story. However… No one really asked for this mode. In fact, people were pretty uninterested in it all together. As such, no one really played it meaning REmake 3 was very much lacking in content in the end. To make matters worse, when comparing REmake 3 to the original RE3 it was clear to see how much content was cut. You could also argue that content was cut from REmake 2 but I think it would be more accurate to say that a lot of content was reworked for that title. REmake 3 simply cut a lot of content, specially when it came to the game’s opening which originally feature far more exploring in Raccoon City. This is very much what I’d call a bad remake. Not only did it feel like it under delivered as a game in general, it was also lacking content the original had without adding enough new to make up for it. This ended up making REmake 3 feel rushed in the eyes of fans with many people feeling like the game would have worked better as DLC for REmake 2 with how similar they are rather than a full priced release. Something I honestly have to agree with.

It was clear this backlash was noticed by Capcom. It should be no surprise at this point that Capcom had plans to remake Resident Evil 4 next, not only had REmake 2 been a smash success but RE4 is considered by most to be the best Resident Evil game ever. And Capcom knows this given how many times the game has already been rereleased. The game is on damn near everything at this point. But after the backlash of REmake 3, they seemed to pump the breaks on remaking RE4. And I think this was for the best! At this point, we have actually seen a lot of the RE4 remake, it’s coming out in March, and it’s very clear Capcom took some extra care this time around. Similar to REmake 1, the RE4 remake seems to be something of an evolution of the original. After all, RE4 is where the series added the third person over the shoulder camera and dropped the fixed camera angles. Meaning that unlike with the remakes of RE2 and 3, the game was always meant to be played from this perspective. Just like how REmake 1 kept the fixed camera angles from the original! Currently the game looks to be adding more than cutting while still keeping the feel of the original. As such, lots of people, myself included, have high hopes for this remake. But we’ll just have to wait and see if it lives up to that.

While we’re on the topic of remakes that weren’t received all too well, I should probably bring up the most recent remake controversy, and that would be the remake of the Last of Us, now being called the Last of Us Part 1. The main reason why people were against this remake from the get go had to do with how unneeded it felt. The original game wasn’t that old and could be played on PS4 and PS5. And it wasn’t exactly unplayable in the gameplay department either. However, we’re not going to focus too much on that aspect of the game right now. But if you would like to hear more about that, I have a whole post talking about it you can check out right here! The main thing I want to discuss is how the remake actually preformed on release.

Most people seemed to agree that it was an improvement over the original game. The graphics look great, it uses the PS5’s unique features well enough, and some of the gameplay tweaks were welcome too. However, no one could deny the fact that it still felt unnecessary. And not only that, it felt way too over priced! Just like with REmake 3 people felt the remake of the Last of Us just wasn’t worth it, and while it didn’t cut any story content from the original like REmake 3 did, it did cut something else: the multiplayer mode. Unlike with the multiplayer shoved into REmake 3, people rather loved the multiplayer of the Last of Us! So much so that many were upset when it didn’t make a return in the Last of Us 2. As you can imagine, people weren’t happy about it being gone once again, even more so this time around as they were expected to pay full price for a game that felt incomplete compared to the original. To put it into perspective, the original Last of Us launched with just about everything the remake has and a multiplayer mode all for $60. The remake though launched with just the story content and no multiplayer and was $70. While I’m not going to discuss prices and whether or not the game was still worth this price, it does highlight the fact that, just like with REmake 3, people were expected to pay full price for a game that didn’t feel full. Not enough was done with the remake to set it apart from the original release and the remaster of that release which, once again, could still be played on modern systems.

This tends to be the biggest fear when it comes to remakes, especially when you’re remaking a game that can easily be played nowadays. Not changing enough for the game to actually feel like it was remade is something developers need to watch out for and was the Last of Us‘s biggest downfall. The remake simply didn’t feel needed in the end. Not enough set it apart from the original to make it feel ‘remade’. It just felt like the original game with nice new graphics. This is always the worry that comes with each announcement of a remake. It’s what I worried about with the Resident Evil 4 remake! RE4 is still very much a great game even by today’s standards, not only that Capcom loves to rerelease it on just about everything so it’s not a hard game to play these days either. Luckily, these fears were calmed when more footage of the game was shown and we got to see the new additions that would be added to the game. And like I was saying before, this is where the Last of Us Part 1 failed as a remake. It wasn’t the lack of multiplayer or the price, even though those things didn’t help, it was the fact that the game was largely the same as the original. Meaning unless you really wanted the better graphics and PS5 exclusive features, there isn’t much of a reason to pick up the remake over the remaster…

The Last of Us Part 1 is a great example of what not to do when it comes to remaking a game. While it doesn’t make the game worse than the original, it also doesn’t do anything to set itself apart making it feel extremely unjustified as a remake. This is honestly my biggest fear when it comes to the Dead Space remake. While the developers of that do seem much more open to changing things, like giving Isaac a voice this time around, there’s no telling if they will do enough to really set it apart from the original. Because, honestly, the original Dead Space is still really good! Giving it some fresh new graphics won’t be enough to justify it, we’re going to need much more than that. Luckily, we won’t have to wait to find out! After all, hopefully I’m enjoying it already as I post this, but you’ll have to wait a couple weeks to hear about that.

But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? What makes a remake worth picking up for you? Are there any games you’d like to see remade in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy!

And thank you for taking the time to read the post! If you enjoyed it feel free to leave a Like or share the blog with a friend. You can also follow the blog on WordPress or on Twitter if you want to stay up to date on new posts. Also if there’s a topic you’d like me to discuss sometime, go ahead and tell me in the comments! Any interaction is appreciated, even just viewing this post, so thanks again for stopping by.

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