Weekend Sizzling Matter: Greatest online game remasters and remakes

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Resident Evil screenshot

Resident Evil – twice a traditional (pic: Capcom)

Readers title their favorite remakes and remasters from throughout the generations, together with Mafia Definitive Version and Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

The topic for this week’s Sizzling Matter was recommended by reader Ishi, who was impressed by the latest rash of recent retro releases. Which has been your favorite and why? Had you performed the unique while you first performed the remake and the way do you suppose the brand new model compares?

Some have been predictable solutions, with a number of Resident Evil games mentioned, but also more obscure choices that many will have forgotten even exist.

Resident remake
I think Resident Evil (2002) is the best game remake. Coming out a mere six years after the original, it vastly improved everything. The graphics still wow today, and the dialogue and voice acting are much more competent than the 1996 version. It also added things like remixed item placements and puzzles, new areas like the graveyard, and the terrifying crimson heads: superfast, aggressive zombies that can only be put down for good with decapitation or burning.

It really took the bones of the classic game and built on them in every way and is by far the best way to enjoy the game in 2022. You can even turn off tank controls in the modernised HD rerelease.

Resident Evil 2’s remake was no slouch either, so I’m cautiously optimistic about an updated Resident Evil 4 next year.

Welcome replay
I’m not particularly in favour of remakes or remasters, especially if the originals are still relatively recent and are still completely playable. I’d rather see resources from companies and money from gamers spent on creating new experiences. (I rarely replay games.) That said, while we are still getting enough decent new games, I’m not going to complain too much!

My favourite remake or remaster is probably Grim Fandango. It was about 20 years old, and increasingly hard to even play it, since it had never been released on consoles. The original had some awkward tank controls, fixed by the remaster, and, most importantly, it was an absolute classic of a point ‘n’ click adventure, which would not have been played by many.
Matt (he_who_runs_away – PSN ID)

Most screenshotted
My favourite remaster is Mafia Definitive Edition. I can’t claim to have played the original, but I had seen enough videos to see that this truly was a game remade from the ground up. Despite being a last generation game, playing it now I think it looks fantastic; I would assume it’s a current generation game. The character models are superb and the graphics on display were spectacular, particularly when it was a rainy night. It nailed the atmosphere and it is probably my most screenshotted game.

They updated some of the gameplay from what I understand but otherwise stuck true to the original, while providing players the option to play in an ultra-realistic mode with how strict the police would be and players having to obey traffic laws. There wasn’t a great deal to do in the open world but that didn’t bother me at all, it was just great to play through the story in this stunning recreation of Empire City.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Metroid Dread (Switch) and F1 22 (Xbox Series X)

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Early example
I would go with Prince Of Persia on the SNES as my favourite. Compared to the Apple II version almost three years previously, Arsys substantially changed the game. They most obviously implemented heavily improved graphics befitting the stronger hardware of the SNES, but at the same time changed the visual design for the better. But they also made it a much meatier game by almost doubling the number of levels, with new enemies, new bosses, and new traps/puzzles.

They leaned even further into the sort of Sinbad-esque Middle Eastern adventure theme, with Jafar now having an extra spellcasting phase in the final boss encounter, which itself is now a more spectacular fight than the original. It also has an excellent soundtrack, where the original and most ports only had the title theme and a tiny number of jingles for end of level and set pieces, with no music for 95% of the game length.

The Japanese version also boasted sublime boxart by Katsuya Terada, which I think I mentioned on a previous Hot Topic. All in all, it improves on pretty much every aspect of the original and is much loved by Prince Of Persia fans, as well as the original Prince Of Persia creator himself Jordan Mechner, who has praised it.

I hadn’t played the original Apple II version before the SNES one, but I had played the extremely faithful IBM/DOS port first, which is a fantastic game. I think the SNES version is far and away superior, as it gets the all-important controls correct (which many ports failed at), while expanding the game with superb new content.

However, I do go back to the DOS version from time to time, since the SNES changes are so large it’s almost like playing a sequel, and the DOS version is still a very enjoyable experience with its own charm.

If this Hot Topic came up a week ago I could have said I was most looking forward to Live A Live (which more than met up to my expectations and to my fond memories of the original), but now I guess it would be Dragon Quest 3. I’m very excited for that, as the teaser trailer the other year looked excellent. Though I do hope the localisation team stops adding their silly ‘Allo ‘Allo accents (they won’t).

My dream remake is Xenogears by Monolith Soft. The game was famously rushed due to tight deadlines, so I’d love for Takahashi to go back to it and do it justice. But I kind of doubt it will happen since there’s no reason for Nintendo to pay Square for the rights when they can just go on making Xenoblade games instead.
Lord Darkstorm

Rejuvenating trilogy
Long time reader, first time submitter here. My favourite remake has to be the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. I loved the games when I was a kid, even though I wasn’t very good and usually just messed around with the flying mechanic than properly play the game, and finally beat them when I was in my teens and looking to recapture some child-like wonder.

That was an interesting experience, as being 16 instead of seven-years-old, and having two console generations pass in-between, I was not impressed by the graphics. The games were still a blast, of course, but some of those models and textures looked really bad, and I don’t know how I didn’t get nightmares back in the day from the metal back spiders.

Then the Reignited trilogy came along and it did something magical. It took the image I had in my head as a seven-year-old of what Spyro looked like and projected that on the screen. I have no idea if I were to return to the PS1 games after playing Reignited if I’d be unimpressed with the controls. In my mind Reignited controlled just the same as the originals, but the mind’s a funny thing and in this case is probably wrong.

But yeah, Reignited is my favourite remake for the simple reason it made me feel like a kid again. I know you didn’t ask for this, but my least favourite remake/remaster has to be the Dead Rising 2 remaster. Great game, but the remaster has a lot of lighting and sound issues that weren’t present in the original, and while it does run at 60fps on console it often stutters or freezes for a second and can be prone to crashing unexpectedly. The PC version is the best way to experience this game smoothly.

Exception to the rule
I’ve played some remakes and remasters, but only where I never played the original in the first place. I’ve never paid money for a remake of a game I’ve already owned I don’t think, with one exception, which is Resident Evil 2.

Remakes and remasters should be about fixing a problem with the original game, whether that is some gameplay element that doesn’t stand up anymore or couldn’t be successfully executed at the time, or just the fact that it isn’t widely available for people to play anymore. Resident Evil 2 ticks all those boxes so there are valid reasons for it to exist. It does what it sets out to do pretty successfully and retains plenty of the charm of the original as well.

Away from that, I don’t think I’m coming out with anything original when I say I pretty much hate the prevalence of remakes in the current gaming landscape.

A remaster is one thing, there’s nothing too offensive to me about giving a game a quick polish and sticking it out on a different platform, but full remakes annoy me more.

Hopefully, we’ve reached a bit of a nadir with The Last Of Us. There is just no good reason for that game to exist. Remastering it for the PlayStation 4 was fair enough, there were probably a good deal of PlayStation 4 owners out there who’d never played the original seeing as Sony had increased their market share from the previous generation, but I can’t believe there are many PlayStation 5 owners who didn’t have the chance to play the original if they wanted to.

I don’t think it’s been long enough for nostalgia to kick in that much and they’re not making gameplay changes if we believe what we hear – so what compelling reason is there for a consumer to purchase this title? Other than that Sony would quite like you to pay for it again, please. So for those reasons I don’t think it’s completely wishful thinking to hope it might underperform somewhat and scare publishers off of remakes for a bit.

My favourite remake is Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5 because I’d become such a big Souls fan during the Xbox 360 era but never owned a PlayStation 3.

Once I got a PlayStation 4 in 2015, I regularly checked PS Now to see if Demon’s Souls was available for streaming and I even looked to borrow someone else’s PlayStation 3 and then buy a copy of the game. Those options never worked out but since almost everything else I felt I’d missed on PlayStation 3 had been made available next gen, I could never bring myself to buy an old console just for one game.

When the remake was announced as a launch title for the PlayStation 5, it felt like it was aimed specifically at me and while I knew I’d get a next gen console eventually, it was a big incentive to jump over sooner rather than later.

The remake itself is technically excellent as well, and my choice would have to factor in whether the new version would be worthwhile for those already familiar with the original. I’d imagine this would be the case with Demon’s Souls because of the fantastic graphics, dramatically improved loading times, and quality of life improvements.

There aren’t many old games that I really regret missing out on, so when the opportunity comes up and there’s that level of dedication from a skilled developer it definitely stands out.

I do suspect Sony has something brewing with Bloodborne and that’s why it feels oddly singled out in how ignored it has been. Although I know the game inside out and I never personally had much of a problem with the frame rate, I wouldn’t say no to a full BluePoint style makeover for PlayStation 5 but it’s hard to say whether it would be more sensible for Sony just to do a basic remaster and release it on PC as well.

Resonating remaster
For this week’s Hot Topic I first thought Resident Evil 2 or Final Fantasy 7, which I assume will be popular choices for obvious reasons, but I decided to choose a favourite of mine and what I believe is an overlooked gem: Resonance Of Fate.

This got the remaster treatment for the PlayStation 4 a few years back, supporting HD/4K. The improvements may have been minor but I loved the setting of the giant tiered, clockwork/steampunk city. Seeing it with sharper/shinier graphics was a small but welcome improvement.

I think it was also a bit smoother in running compared to the PlayStation 3 version. Either way it’s a game I love with its unusual story and setting and a nice change to the usual Japanese role-playing formula.

Classic remake
Best remake for me was the original Resident Evil on the GameCube, a new masterpiece inspired by the original version but with extended features of the mansion to explore and with a variety of creatures, plus more lore within the diaries you find on your investigation.

Resi 1 is a classic remake which made me fall in love with the Resident Evil games even more. The graphics of the mansion’s interiors were so lifelike and much more foreboding to look at, with the incredibly creepy soundtrack score and the atmospheric sounds putting a right shiver down you.

The cut scenes were awesome, with the best being the decomposed state of the zombie in the bath! I loved the wardrobe zombie scene but it was the unexpected walking down a dark corridor and a zombie opening a door really unnervingly quickly, when all was previously quiet, which did it for me. I reactively pressed the pause button as I literally jumped out of my skin! Never mind the dog and its smashing of the window jumping – I knew that was coming!

The crimson zombies and crimson head, along with the giant sharks, snakes, and spiders are all very well realised and done well, but it was Lisa Trevor which was the key to the game’s extended backstory.

As you find out more about Lisa and the horrific experiments she had to go through I felt really sorry for her, as she was trying to find her mother. Very scary moments with Lisa, but I just felt compassion mostly as I found out more about her.

It was definitely a winning version for me and although we’ve had remakes of Resi 2, Final Fantasy 7 and Demon’s Souls since, my first favourite would always be Resident Evil. This due to it being so gorgeous and satisfying to look at and experience.

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