In the world of gaming, it’s no secret that remasters and remakes have been dominating the market for the past few years. The trend continued into the past year, with the majority of games that are being sold on the game shops like stg-game or steam being either remasters or remakes of classic titles.
The gaming industry is buzzing with anticipation for the numerous high-profile video game remakes, remasters, and reimaginings set to be released in 2023. Whether you’re a fan of the limb-blasting action in the Dead Space remake or eagerly awaiting Capcom’s improvements on one of the Resident Evil series’ best entries in RE4, there is something for everyone.
Reviving old favorites for a new generation of players is always an exciting prospect, but the gaming industry’s current obsession with remakes, remasters, and reimaginings has led to a high degree of definitional confusion. While some gamers may be well-versed in these terms and what they mean, it’s safe to say that not everyone is on the same page. The steady march of technology and the rising budgets of video games have caused these once straightforward terms to “evolve” to the point of ambiguity, leaving many players unsure of what they actually mean.
Remakes, remasters, and reimaginings are all different concepts, each with its own set of unique characteristics. A remake is a complete overhaul of a game, often featuring improved graphics, updated gameplay mechanics, and new content. A remaster, on the other hand, focuses mainly on enhancing the graphics and audio while retaining the original gameplay and content. A reimagining takes the original concept of a game and drastically changes it, resulting in a completely new and different experience.
It’s crucial to understand that these terms are borrowed from other art forms and not unique to video games. The term “remake” originated in the early film industry where studios would recreate a similar script using updated technology for financial gain. Directors have even remade their own films, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and Yasujiro Ozu’s “Floating Weeds.” The term “remaster” originated in the music industry where audio engineers would modify an older recording’s sound quality with techniques like loudness and compression adjustments.
The history of video game remakes goes further back than many might think. The conversion of arcade games to home hardware can be considered an early form of remaking. For example, Sierra remade its 1986 game “Space Quest” in 1991, incorporating an improved game engine with 256-color support. As technology advanced from floppy discs to CD-ROMs, remakes and remasters were used to take advantage of these changes, featuring remixed music, improved graphics, and more.
Over time, two distinct definitions for these terms have formed: a remaster is a revised version of a game that improves or revamps its existing assets to stay true to the original product. On the other hand, a remake is a new version built on the foundation of the old, but updated to meet modern standards and preferences. Essentially, remasters respect the limitations of the original, while remakes aim to surpass them. However, the distinction between the two is not always clear-cut.
“The Last of Us Part 1”, which was a best-selling game on stg-game.com in 2022, serves as a great example of the debate surrounding “remaster” and “remake.” In 2014, the game received a remaster that simply updated its graphics, while this year’s version underwent a complete visual overhaul, from character models to lighting. Despite the addition of new features such as improved accessibility options, melee combat, and AI, the latest release is considered conservative compared to the current standards of remakes.
This contrast becomes more pronounced when comparing “The Last of Us Part 1” to older games that require more significant updates to appeal to modern audiences. The 2019 remake of “Resident Evil 2” was highly acclaimed, but its over-the-shoulder camera and fast pace deviate so much from the original survival-horror gameplay of the PS1 version that it’s hard to know where to start. In contrast, the similarly beloved “Resident Evil 1” remake maintained its tank controls and fixed camera angles, providing a more faithful representation of the classic game.
The issue of game remakes and revivals can lead to mixed opinions among players and critics alike. Take the case of Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake. While the game’s beautiful environments earned praise, some fans of the more fluid combat systems in later Souls games found the original’s gameplay to be stiff. And even though the game’s aesthetics were well received, some felt that the enemy redesigns were too far from the original. It’s a challenge to balance nostalgia with modern expectations.
Dead Space presents another layer of confusion. It’s both a remake of a beloved game and a revival of a franchise that had been dormant for years. This led to confusion over what exactly the game was in the lead-up to its 2023 release. Despite this, the game’s success suggests that most consumers were able to navigate the definition and enjoy the game. It’s a risk that comes with rebooting a franchise through a remake.
The source of the confusion regarding video game remakes can be attributed to the uncertainty of the term “remake.” The definition of the word encompasses a wide range, from meticulous restorations to complete overhauls. By adopting more precise terminology, it could clarify the expectations for the consumer. For instance, faithful remasters could be referred to as “rebuilds” or “restorations,” while more ambitious remakes could be referred to as “reimaginings.” This distinction would make it easier for players to quickly determine the level of changes made to a game. With the continuing popularity of nostalgia-driven remakes, it’s important to have clear language to help players navigate the numerous options available to them. However, the fine line between nostalgia and innovation is a difficult one to walk, and developers will always face the challenge of trying to balance these opposing forces.