Why Video Game Remasters are a great tool for game developers
2020 was the year of the remastered game, but it certainly isn’t the first time the companies saturated the market. It’s becoming increasingly hard to figure out which titles are simple cash-grabs or genuinely benefit the gaming community. When companies release their latest consoles, we know we’re in for a slew of remasters; We’re given many reasons why, beyond nostalgia purposes, such as improving graphics and performance. Well, remasters serve many purposes but should only cater to a few. The first? Nostalgia.
What is a remaster?
Video game remasters are different from full-blown remakes. A remake takes what we know and modernizes it, whether through changing a game’s basic systems or how they present the story. The best titles recently undergoing the “Remake” treatment, in my opinion, are Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Trials of Mana.
A remaster preserves what is precious about those older games we love. Companies know that nostalgia is a winning formula; They’re also painfully aware that not everyone has access to older consoles. Even if gamers do, like me, we are not always keen on pulling out our beloved old school consoles and cartridges/discs. Developers pick classic games and then bring them to modern consoles, not just for old fans. New players get to enjoy games they have heard about but may not have had prior chances to play.
Gallup, an analytics firm, reported that economic decision making is 70 percent emotional and 30 percent rational. Considering I own Final Fantasy X/X-2 across every gaming platform we can buy it for, they’re correct. Who can resist playing our favorite games from our memories, fully realized in HD graphics? Look at Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Gamers worldwide love Super Mario 64 which is included in 3D All-Stars. Many players boot up the game and know exactly where to go and what to do despite not touching the game for years. Remasters are a welcome comfort.
Why Remaster a Video Game?
What a remaster does best comes down to presentation. Companies upscale the graphics and music/sound. Let’s face it – audio has made leaps and bounds, so I’m not surprised any remaster goes in to improve the sound. Some games go so far as to re-record voice tracks. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy X’s infamous laughing scene between Tidus and Yuna never received the same treatment.
Final Fantasy X is an excellent lead into my point, however. Was a Final Fantasy X remaster necessary? No. I loved it. It’s one of my favorite Final Fantasy titles, but we didn’t need it. Its saving grace was including content from the “Final Mix” version of FFX, the formerly exclusive Japanese version. In the end, though, remastering this RPG did not lead to anything new.
Video Game Remasters should stoke the fires of something new
The Mass Effect Legendary Edition is bringing all three games of the original trilogy to gamers. That’s not just to appease those of us calling for a remaster for a long time. BioWare is currently working on another Mass Effect game. The reveal hints that the new game will tie into the original trilogy. In this way, releasing a remaster not only checks the nostalgia box – it prepares people for a brand-new game. Remasters are incredible tools to market for sequels.
Another video game series that absolutely needed a remaster was Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover between Square Enix and Disney. Right out of the gate, Kingdom Hearts had Final Mix versions in Japan with exclusive content. Moreover, the game spawned several sequels across different consoles and handhelds.
By the time Square-Enix was working on Kingdom Hearts 3, they had needed some way to inform their fans of every storyline event. To place all the games together, Square Enix created remastered collections. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, and an oddly named 2.7 Final Chapter Prologue included all previous content in the series. Some mobile games made the transition to a cinematic retelling of the events.
Capcom utilized remasters skillfully with Devil May Cry 4
Capcom released Devil May Cry 4 in 2008. After the story concludes, many fans are left wondering what the next stage of the story is. We all watched our speculations shatter when Capcom/Ninja Theory released DmC: Devil May Cry in 2013, a reboot/re-imagining of the series. An entirely different team handled the game. I thought the original Universe was gone, and we’d never see Nero’s parentage explored in a fifth game.
Later, Capcom surprised fans with a Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition. They included Vergil in the game after much back-and-forth about Nero’s parentage. This remaster also included a cutscene of Vergil arriving at Fortuna. It’s these few editions and the period between releases that made me think “Devil May Cry 5 must be happening.” Capcom ramped up excitement with a remaster, and then released the long-awaited Devil May Cry 5.
There is a time and a place for nostalgia, but those who aren’t attached to older video games may question that importance. The practice of remastering games isn’t going anywhere, and despite my arguments, I don’t want it to. I want every remaster to celebrate older video games and present the characters, world, and story that will tie-in to a future game. Done the correct way, a remaster serves as an excellent marketing tool – This is a method I hope many companies master over the next few years.