What makes a remake/remaster work?

Capcom has just released another remake with Resident Evil 3, and that brings the discussion of re-releasing old titles with a new coat of paint back to the forefront, particularly with what differentiates a cash grab from something more meaningful.

There have always been HD re-releases, from Mario 64’s DS port to the plethora of PS2 titles upscaled for the PS3, with added trophies and support for higher resolutions. These were simplistic and didn’t change much, if anything at all, and yet they were better received than Dark Souls: Remastered or Skyrim: Special Edition.

Activision and Capcom are pushing out ‘remasters’ and remakes that bring classics to the modern day in style

The biggest defences for these titles were claims of reinvigorated online, better performance, and accessibility on current gen, so it seems that HD ports such as these are more often than not worse received due to their promotion or how they are sold on PC. Skyrim was saved, up until the inclusion of paid custom content, due to it being given to owners of the original for free, whilst Dark Souls: Remastered did what mods had been doing for years, only to a more professional standard, but is that really worth forking out £30 for?

The online scene quickly subsided, bans were unfairly handed out, little was done to rectify the glitchy and archaic PvP scene and tweaks were made to ease the early online experience, but that quickly backfired. So, a reinvigorated online wasn’t much of a selling point, when it was a step back to FromSoftware’s beginnings, cutting away all the progress they had made over the years.

So, it would seem that these remasters work for consoles, as they cut the need for forking out money to nab older platforms, but why does PC need these re-releases? Making grandiose claims when in actuality, all that’s being implemented is some low-res foliage and the rolling back of patches to buggier versions of the game – I’m looking at you Bioshock – is what harms these titles, and quickly, Bethesda and co find themselves the butt of plenty of jokes.

Ubisoft got it right, by porting over the Ezio trilogy to current consoles, but ignoring the PC platform altogether

That’s where Activision and Capcom excelled, with Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Resident Evil, pushing out ‘remasters’ and remakes that bring classics to the modern day in style, with updated controls, reworked cameras, triple-A current graphics and all the sparkly new tech of today’s generation.

HD ports are fine and dandy, as they can bring older works to fresh faces, but PC has access to these games already, and removing the original from the platform, charging full-price for nothing new or putting next-to-no effort in can sully the experience. Ubisoft got it right, by porting over the Ezio trilogy to current consoles whilst ignoring the PC platform altogether, as there’s simply no need to charge people for a port that they don’t need.

At the end of the day, a quick port isn’t anything to feel bad about, and people will likely rejoice at being able to delve into the Jak & Daxter trilogy on their PS4 or the Ezio collection on their Xbox One, but give PC players a janky, lazy re-release with little changed, or cut their access to the original and all of it’s Steam Workshop content, and you’ll find yourself digging your reputation’s grave. Resident Evil 3 is a testament to how a re-release can work, but that’s not to say that every port needs to be a complete overhaul, and that’s just fine.

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