What Makes A Great Video Game Remake?

James Warrell

Remakes are remastered editions of an old game. The most recent remakes released were Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. There has never been a better time than now to assess what makes a remake brilliant and what makes it fall completely flat on its backside. James explores what makes a video game remake great, and what makes one not so great.

First of all, a remake of any game must stay true to the original while putting a new twist on the original game. For instance, the remake of Ratchet and Clank (released in 2016) completely overhauled the graphics and character models, as well as the gameplay. All while retaining the original’s theme, invoking a sense of nostalgia. These gameplay changes gave the game a completely new feel and even a new dimension to the original game. 

Thus, to be a truly great remake, the game must strike a fine balance between introducing new features and retaining the core values of the original. If there is one element but not the other, a brilliant remake can become simply okay. In Pokémon Brilliant Diamond’s case, it remained true to the original but did not add any new features. This left the game feeling far too like the original. While this did invoke the nostalgia factor, it did not change enough to bring the modernisation that is necessary to bring the game into the modern era. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond illustrates that balance is necessary to create the perfect remake.

On the other hand, the worst remakes do not modernise or bring a classic to life on a new console. In the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy case, neither modernisation nor nostalgia was retained. Even worse, the game contained countless bugs and glitches with no quality-of-life improvements. The only redeeming factor of this game is that it takes inspiration from truly great classic games in the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy.

However, the game was doomed to fail, even if it was great. This is because Rockstar Games made all the mods improving the original games inaccessible to the public. This is a bad way of introducing remakes. Remakes shouldn’t have to rely on getting rid of competitors to sell copies. It should be on the merits of the new features and twists in the GTA Trilogy. All the worst remakes feel like a poor man’s version of the original and a cash grab (which is the case with the GTA Trilogy). Therefore, the worst remakes neither modernise nor retain the nostalgia gamers seek. Even worse is that they feel like a cash grab at the expense of consumers.

If they ruin the feel of a childhood favourite, they will receive massive backlash

You may ask, what makes remakes so special to the consumer? For me, a remake transports me back to my childhood. A great remake reminds people of their youth, like their mom’s cooking or speaking to old friends. The pure unadulterated enjoyment I first felt playing the Pokémon games is what the remakes bring to me. Remasters remind me of the great time I had with the originals. Thus, it is so important for companies to nail video game remakes. If they ruin the feel of a childhood favourite, they will receive massive backlash.

James Warrell

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article videos courtesy of IGN and Rockstar Games via youtube.com. No changes made to these videos. 

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