The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
Top 5 Video Game Remakes
Over the years, the gaming industry has seen many remakes, reboots, ports, etc. While most are basically echoes of the game used to be, some are cut from a different cloth. They provide enjoyment and mirror the experience given from the original. Some even exceed the standards set by the game they are recreating. This, here, is a list of the top 5 games I feel reach that level.
5. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
Chain of Memories may be the weakest entry of Kingdom Hearts, commercially, but it offered an interesting, emotional storyline and a combat system exclusive to itself. That said, Chain of Memories wasn’t able to offer what Kingdom Hearts did before it, and what Kingdom Hearts II after. It was hindered by the loss of a 3D environment, lack of cutscenes and voice-acting going as far as battle grunts. Re:Chain of Memories for the Playstation 2 was able to remedy all that and then some.
Not only was its remake completely redesigned to be graphically and audibly on par with the numbered titles in the series, several additions were included. These additions included new cards, bosses, cutscenes and a Theater Mode to watch them. Square took a leaf out of Kingdom Hearts II’s book by including the Reaction Command, as well as adding the “Duel” system, similar to the card game “War” to Riku’s battle mechanics.
The changes made to Re:Chain of Memories, whether subtle or drastic, did well to recreate an already enjoyable experience and elevate it to the level of its surrounding entries. Unfortunately, Re:Chain of Memories didn’t do much to improve the popularity of this “side story”. One can only hope that if 1.5 HD ReMiX comes to the US, which Re:Chain of Memories is included, its story will become more known amongst the fans and newcomers alike.
4. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Pokémon is without a doubt one of the most lucrative game franchises ever. Their second generation, Gold and Silver became one of their biggest, selling 23 million copies worldwide and being met with huge critical acclaim. It came as no surprise that when their remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver were released, they were met with the same response, commercially and critically. Together, they have sold over 1.48 million copies in Japan during their first two days and now have sold over 12 million worldwide.
HeartGold and SoulSilver play virtually the same as their earlier versions. Enhanced graphics and sound, equivalent to the other DS releases, was the biggest improvement. They added a homage Yellow by having the first Pokémon in your lineup appear on screen, walking behind you. There was a lot of controversy over the removal of slot machines and addition of Voltorb Flip. I, personally, don’t care whether or not they removed the slot machines to keep children safe from fake gambling. I think Voltorb Flip is a great mini-game, and I spent a fair bit of time enjoying it. Of course, I love Minesweeper and Picross.
There are various other changes to the remakes, such as the addition of several Generation 4 Pokémon, having to face Ho-oh or Lugia as a part of the story and many others. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can switch the soundtrack with the original after you clear all 16 gyms. Granted, the game itself should be enough to spark memories and feelings from playing the originals. Nintendo did very well to keep the feeling of the originals while adding enough to make it a new experience worthy of going through.
3. Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
There’s no denying that Mega Man X was a great game and important entry in the Mega Man franchise. Many new elements were included, such as wall scaling, dashing, armor upgrades and an introductory stage. Many have sung the praises of Mega Man X and its sequels. It has appeared on several “Best” lists, including ranking 11th on Nintendo Power‘s list of best SNES games in their August 2008 issue.
When the PSP came out, Keiji Inafune and his team debated whether or not to make Mega Man X9, but decided to go with a remake of the first. A sequel would’ve been nice, but Mega Man Maverick Hunter X for the PSP made for a good substitute. Maverick Hunter X was successful in bringing Mega Man X into the new century while retaining the same gameplay and story. The remake was dressed up in up-to-date 3D graphics, as well as getting a remixed soundtrack, voice acting and anime cutscenes. A new game mode is unlockable where you play as vile, giving the chance for the player to assume the role as the villain.
Needless to say, Maverick Hunter X made itself a worthy entry of the series by recreating what made the original Mega Man X so amazing. Maverick Hunter X received the best critical response in the X series since the first, but was unfortunately not met with the expected sales. It was placed on the Playstation Network. So, if you have the time and money, and you want to re-experience a classic in exceptional fashion, you should most definitely give it a whirl.
2. Persona 4 Golden
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is one of the most immersive games in the last decade. There are so many things offered in the game that it is literally impossible to do everything in one run through. Whether your increasing your personality, strengthening bonds, dungeon crawling or even fishing, it becomes nearly impossible to waste time in this JRPG epic. The game constantly tests you to see if your paying attention, even to the point where what you decide could change the ending of the game. Its an innovative move to get people to actually play the game as opposed to coasting through. Persona 4 was a big hit, being the number 1 selling PS2 game on Amazon for 2 weeks after its release.
Atlus discussed making Persona 4 into a PSP port, much like it did with the previous three entries. This probably would’ve sufficed, but there’s no way it could’ve been as massive as the original. Therefore, it would’ve been cut down in many aspects. Instead, Atlus decided to step up their game and put out an extended port of the game, entitled Persona 4 Golden, and “golden” it is. Much like its PS2 counterpart, Golden became a hit, much to the assist of other forms of media that the Persona 4 series branched out to.
Not was only Golden able to keep all of the content from the original, it added a great deal more. Extended dialogue and anime cutscenes, Personas, Social Links and outfits are some of the smaller features added. The biggest addition is an entirely new sub-plot, which introduces a new character and dungeon, and adds even more depth to a vastly deep story. A few more things were added to help you, as well. A garden was added outside your house where you can plant various crops. Golden takes advantage of the Vita’s wireless network features, allowing you to see what other players did at the same point you are at, and allowing you to call for help during troublesome battles. If you are one of the few proud owners of a Vita, there is no reason not to have what is considered the definitive version of one of the best RPGs out there.
1. Resident Evil
Of all the remakes on this list, nothing compares to the reconstructive surgery given to Resident Evil. While the original was a great game, and a classic, there were definite flaws. Most notably, the controls. Once you were used to them, it became manageable, but after playing some later entries and going back, it very apparent just how clunky they were. In spite of this, the game reached immense fame, spawning a dozen sequels and spinoffs, and even a movie series. One of the greatest accomplishments for theResident Evilseries came in 2002 when Capcom remade the first game on the Gamecube.
Resident Evilreceived a complete makeover. It was built on all new graphics and sound, replacing the original live-action FMV segments with CGI and adding a new cast of voice actors. They managed to keep the same dark, creepy atmosphere as its original version, if not adding to it. The mechanics were altered to include body language that indicates the player’s health and 180 degree turning (very helpful). The plot remains the same, save the addition of the G-Virus subplot.
Shinji Mikami stated that the remake is 70% different from the original. That’s a pretty massive for a remake. Making that many changes is risky enough, but given the fact that could change so much while keeping the atmosphere and feel of the original, nonetheless improve upon it, speaks heavily in their favor. If there has been a remake for other companies to look to for guidance, Resident Evil (dubbed REmake and REbirth) is without a doubt the project they should taking notes from.