Full Force: HD Re-Releases and Remakes

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists examine the growing trend of HD re-releases.


Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix is already out. Wind Waker HD just hit the Wii U Shop. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD should release by the end of the year. With all these titles and more coming down the pipe, the burning question is this: Are HD remakes of old games a good thing or a bad thing, and why?

Chris: I think as long as big companies like Nintendo and Square Enix are continuing to develop brand-new titles (and hopefully IPs as well), it’s more of a positive than a negative for the industry. Most remakes are cheaper to develop than a brand-new title, so The Big Three can help expand their libraries with more great titles with relative ease.

Chip: These sorts of re-releases have a lot of potential as a means to bring older games to new audiences.  There are so many titles that are lost to the currents of time due to hardware obsolescence and lack of availability.  Just think about the Playstation 2: Gamestop is no longer accepting trade-ins on games/consoles and they are working super hard to get rid of their current stock.  Once they are gone, so many great titles will be relegated to eBay and flea markets like others before them.  HD remakes help to keep these classics in the limelight.

Dave: I think they’re a good thing if done in the right way. If the gaming industry’s creativity is stymied by the cash cow of remakes…then we have a really bad thing on our hands. But if developers use the relatively “easy” money made by HD remakes to take some chances on new ideas, then we all win.

LadyCroft3: I’m on the fence about this one but mainly because I don’t care about 90% of the games being re-released or remade in HD. I think it’s a cool idea and gives this generation the chance to play games that were before their time or that they never had the chance to play and have a hard time going back to now. On the other side I feel like it’s a lazy way to get more money off of past series’ as opposed to actually coming up with something new. I’m not really sure I like either reason for bringing them out again.

Cary: I’m happy to see some new life breathed into old titles, as long as the right titles are chosen. HD remakes don’t seem to be a bad short term solution for companies that maybe need a little economical boost. (Maybe Wind Waker HD will help Nintendo make up for some its losses.) But what the industry doesn’t need is something akin to Hollywood’s sequelitis or rebootism. The video game industry has always thrived on creativity, and we’ve seen the terrible results of oversaturation. So hopefully there’s no “HD remake” virus heading through the industry’s pipeline.

Crystal: I love seeing some old titles remade simply for the fact that they look like absolute poop on my flat screen now! As long as they’re done right, they can be a fantastic way to attract a younger crowd while satisfying the original fans with a product that looks clean. I think of it like wiping off the dust. As long as the price isn’t steep, I wouldn’t mind buying a HD remake. …Now they just need to make one for Final Fantasy VIII.

What’s your main focus when an old series is updated? Fancier graphics? Improved gameplay? New modes and features? Having access on next-gen systems? Would you rather have just a straight port? Or something else not listed above?

Chris: Honestly, I think it depends on the game. In some cases, ports are fine by me, especially when it means taking a great console game and tossing it on a handheld system. Then again, if you can take the time to perfect an already great game, like Persona 4 Golden, that’s the best of both worlds.

Chip: When an older game is updated, I would like to see publishers go all out with a new version.  Provide an HD version of the game (but include the original as well), and jam pack the disc/download with as much bonus material as possible.  Concept art, interviews, making-of features; all of this stuff should be included to shed new light on the effort and magic that makes a certain game so good/influential.  Something like the Criterion Collection, but for video games.

Dave: I think that I would want a port that has fancier graphics and a few extra side quests. I wouldn’t want them to change a classic game’s storyline because they’re remaking it, I would want to see just a cleaner, prettier version of a game that I love with a few extra quests so I can enjoy my time with the characters more…also if they ever gave an option to shorten Knights of the Round…that’d help.

LadyCroft3: Fancier graphics and updated gameplay are a must. I don’t see the point in remaking or re-releasing a game if they aren’t going to pretty it up a little bit. The gameplay is a big deal, I don’t want it changed since that is like making a different game, but I’d like it to be fixed up so that it isn’t difficult to play. Otherwise I’d just play the old games I have on the N64/PSX/PS2/etc.

Crystal: After playing (and becoming addicted to) so many newer titles, playing a game simply for nostalgia’s sake doesn’t really help reinvigorate the game for me. That may be because I’ve sifted through the story a million times already, and in a game that doesn’t offer multiple choices, consequences, etc. it just gets stale. While enhanced graphics are important to me in an HD remake, I’d appreciate some extra content. Something that can kind of enhance the story. If you haven’t guessed… I’m big on storytelling.

Liam: One of the really irritating things is when games don’t update basic options such as networking or AI to compensate for the advances in technology in the interim. With the HD remake of Age of Empires II that came out earlier this year, a number of problems have occurred with the internal AI, in that basic pathfinding and queueing is actually far worse than it was ten years ago, and also with the multiplayer infrastructure; while having Steam capabilities available is nice, having half of the players disconnect seven seconds into a game is not. (This has been “fixed”, and by fixed I mean made far worse in recent patches.) That game is still addictive and fun, especially for the price with which they’ve re-released it, but to not update these basic features with this re-release feels lazy. So, I suppose just updating the game’s basic capabilities so that it holds up with current systems; we wouldn’t be disappointed with the gameplay if we’re clamouring for a remake, right?

What are some classic games that you would like to see considered for an HD remake if you had unlimited dollars and a pimp cane made of solid gold?

Chip: There are so many point-and-click adventure games that I would throw onto the mobile/tablet market, with Grim Fandango at the top of the list.  From an input standpoint, it just makes sense to control games like King’s Quest and Monkey Island using a touch-screen.

Dave: Would I have to sell the pimp cane…or could I raise money by having people pay to look at it? I would absolutely like to see Final Fantasy VII remake, just because I think there’s a lot of beauty that Midgar and the rest of that world can provide. My other one I’d love remade is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The problem with GTA IV was that the world was amazing but there was not a good story behind it. If we could get the story of GTA: SA with today’s graphics, I’d buy that again in a heartbeat.

LadyCroft3: I agree with Dave, a Final Fantasy VII remake or “HD-remix” would be glorious. I have a list of games that I would like to see HD remakes of but there is a part of me that thinks they should stay in the past. I just don’t see them being so exciting now compared to newer games and part of the reason I love them is the nostalgia associated with playing them back in the day.

Chris: I had a feeling FFVII was going to come up — and I’ll cast my vote on the side of “not interested.” Then again, my battle against VII spans generations. I wouldn’t mind seeing a full-blown update of Chrono Trigger. The DS port added some content and cleaned up (for better and worse) the original dialogue, but that was about it. Of course, the caveat here is that the remake not ruin the original game in the process.

Dave: I knew you wouldn’t be happy with FF VII Chris, and I’m not even 100% on that one, I just feel like today’s graphic’s might really make up for that questionable storyline. I think the biggest issue of an HD remake is the change from 2D to 3D. I’d love to see an original Zelda remake in 3D, but that would completely change the game that we loved…and I wouldn’t love to see that.

Cary: I wouldn’t at all mind a prettier, beefier version of Banjo-Kazooie. Those fun, colorful levels just call out to the HD gods!  Also, I’m pretty sure I’d play a new Super Mario World just because, especially if they made its great soundtrack crystal clear.

Crystal: Everyone seems to immediately bring up Final Fantasy VII. While I’d enjoy it, Final Fantasy VIII will always be my favorite so I’ll always wish for a remake. What do you guys think about Chrono Cross as a HD remake?

Liam: I would pay an obscene amount of money for a Donkey Kong Country HD Collection or something of the like. Those games are already amazing and still look great, but a HD remaster would make them really pop out and blow people’s minds. Also, Final Fantasy V, because if we’re going to remaster a Final Fantasy game, why not remaster the one that most people missed?

Finding That Treasured Time to Game…

If you’re anything like me, no matter how much you love video games, it can be hard to carve out some uninterrupted gaming time during the week. I can typically find a few hours on a weekend morning, but otherwise, my gaming is often interrupted by something — chores, errands, work, friends.

I don’t really mind any of that. It just makes any time I find to game all the more precious. My most memorable gaming weekend was several months ago, when I was replaying Mass Effect 3 in preparation for the Citadel DLC. I had just finished a playthrough of ME2, and it just so happened that my mom needed a house sitter for the weekend. I live about two hours away, but that’s what made the whole set up so perfect.

Because I’d been down to see her recently, I had already caught up with friends in town, etc. So on that particular weekend, I didn’t tell anyone I was coming. I took my PC laptop, grabbed some food on the way in, and started a weekend of unadulterated gaming.

ShepardBetween Friday night and Sunday afternoon, I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t even leave my mom’s house. I would wake up around 7 AM, plunk my ass down at the kitchen table, and play Mass Effect 3 until midnight or later — until my eyes had trouble concentrating on the screen, and I knew I had to sleep or I’d go crazy.  I think I ate, but there just wasn’t a lot of time for that kind of thing. I was totally in the Mass Effect world that weekend, and it felt so good to have absolutely nothing else to do or think about or worry about. My only responsibility that weekend was playing the entirety of ME3 in 48 hours.

I’ve heard other people say it’s hard to find time to game as an adult, but it makes every day I’m able to veg out and game without disruption feel like a little triumph in life. We all need time like that once in a while.