Bit Socket
Bold Swagger, Monthly

Do It Justice


What makes a good remake?

Joe Merrick

Video games are being lost to time. That's no secret, and it's a problem the industry as a whole has to come to terms with and solve, otherwise entire generations of cultural artefacts will be gone forever.

One solution has been the HD remake or remaster. You can see why they've become so ubiquitous recently; a publisher can spend a relatively small amount on taking old assets and engines, making them work on new consoles, and then sell the result on, sometimes for a second or third time if its a classic game. And the fans are rabid enough to double or triple dip...

But bringing classic games to modern audiences also brings a heavy burden: you have to do it justice.

I've always liked to think that a modern re-release of an older game should aim to be the definitive version. "Definitive" is a fuzzy term, but in the context of video games it really only means asking one question:

Is there any reason for me to play any other version of this game?

Sadly, with many HD remasters, the answer is yes.


The main offender is, of course, Silent Hill HD Collection. Famously, the fog and mist, so crucial to the Silent Hill experience, didn't work properly. So even to this day, to play Silent Hill 2 in the way its creators intended, you have to play on PS2.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection came closer. Much closer, in fact; it's a technical marvel that plays the games in widescreen, HD with no framerate drops at all. But absent from the collection is MGS2 Substance's skateboarding level and boss rush mode, and MGS3's secret theatre, as well as the famous nightmare mini game Snake experiences. These might seem like small omissions, but an MGS fan would probably want to experience them, and a collection of MGS2 and 3 should include everything that went into making those experiences on `PS2 originally.

What about full remakes then? Well, I have a tricky history with them.

On the one hand, remakes like Yakuza Kiwami and Kiwami 2 do a great job of bringing the original two games into line with how the rest of the series is presented; there's now a clear consistency in every chapter of Kazuma's life story, and that's something to be cherished. But it also doesn't detract from Yakuza 1 and 2 on PS2 being great games.

More suspect is Shadow of the Colossus' PS4 remake. I'm in the minority here, but I think the visuals are just a bit more generic and less ethereally wonderful than they looked on PS2 (and PS3...)

For my money, the ultimate HD remaster is the Daytona USA's rerelease on PS3 and Xbox 360. It's a perfect recreation of the original with all the advantages of modern HD displays. There's no reason to play any other home version of Daytona USA now; it's the definitive version.

Justice was done.