Whatever form a re-release might take - be it spit-shined remaster, full-blown remake, or plain-old port - they’re absolutely everywhere and have been for a while. 2019 doesn’t look set to change that, what with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and Onimusha: Warlords launching in the coming week alone. It’s all got us wondering whether the practice of repurposing old software is a cheap and cheerful way to reach new audiences, or just a lazy means of gouging money from nostalgic gamers.
I'm a strong believer that variety is not only the spice of life, but an essential. I crave new experiences, no matter how minor, and I champion creativity and imagination above all else. Which is why I'm against rehashing old content without adding something of value.
Granted, there usually is a little something extra, but its value is completely subjective. Upgraded graphics, bundled DLC, the occasional tweak to UI and mechanics; any of these should make for a better experience and offer a more attractive package than the original, especially for those who missed out the first time around.
Resident Evil 2 sits all alone, perched in a rarefied region on the re-release scale, as Capcom appear to have built a completely new game from the ground up, with little to tie it back to the original besides the characters, story and setting.
I'm not expecting many to follow in their footsteps, nor do I think that every remake needs to be handled in the same manner, but it raises the bar significantly and sends a message to any developer wanting to reinvigorate a beloved title: go hard, or go home.
I’m all for remakes, remasters and ports, so long as they’re done right. Not only do they give people the chance to relive classics and fan favourites, but they also give many who may have missed out the first time around another bite at the cherry. Plus, they're a great way to ensure gems of the past remain relevant and easily accessible years, or even decades, after their initial release.
I never owned a Wii U, which meant I had to look on as a bunch of great first-party titles passed me by, but with Nintendo seemingly intent on bringing all of the doomed console’s heavy hitters to Switch, it feels like I’ve been given a reprieve. I may have picked Pokémon for Switch as my most anticipated title of 2019, but secretly I yearn to see The Wind Waker HD grace the console this year.
Of course, I can understand why people would absolutely prefer to see studios coming up with brand-new IPs, instead of wheeling out yet another blast from the past, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives, whether it’s letting developers know there’s still an audience for a dormant franchise or giving them the chance to completely reimagine an old favourite, à la Capcom’s upcoming Resi 2 remake.
Whatever form they take, cynicism can accompany re-releases like a deadly silent fart. Personally, I’m for remasters if they’re handled properly and there’s been enough time since the original release, but all too often we’re expected to pay bloated price points.
I find the Switch to be an excellent example of this. I was one of about seven people (give or take) that owned a Wii U, so I find the endless “Deluxe” ports being sold at £40+ insulting. Despite the inclusion of minor extras and DLC, these should slot right into Nintendo’s budget “Selects” range.
There are countless examples of this across other platforms though, so, in spite of my internal beef, I suppose it really does come down to whether you’ve played the games before or not. I’d never have played greats like Uncharted, Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker without remastered, after all.
Ultimately, I’d like to see more productions like Resident Evil 2 and the Crash and Spyro collections: games a few generations old that have been brought bang up to date and made relevant again.
So what can we take from all this? 1. Companies like making money without spending money, and 2. I’m a massive hypocrite. Ciao, folks.
What's your stance on re-releases? Love 'em or hate 'em, let us know below!