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Are Remastered Games Worth It? Remasters vs Sequels

During this generation, we have seen a decline in the endless sequels that share a title with your favourite games but not much else. In their place we have remasters of games from the last two generations, offering graphical and sometimes mechanical upgrades, as well as remakes of titles from possibly even further back.

Many of these proved to be very popular but they aren’t doing much more than retreading what has been done previously. Is the experience new or just the same with an extra shine?

So here we are asking the hard question, what is better for those titles you loved, a remake of a classic or a follow-up? Let’s have a look at some examples.

Spoiler Warning: as we will be looking back at various titles in a given series there may be some spoilers. You have been warned!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Announced during the Summer Games Fest, after being heavily rumoured for some time, is the remaster of the first two Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, which will be landing in September. There has been a calling for a remake of these classic skateboarding titles for years but many assumed it could never happen due to the licencing needed for the skaters and music etc. 

This remake is being developed by Vicarious Visions who developed the very popular Crash N-Sane Trilogy. As heard from The Birdman himself the game has been developed to feel as close to the originals as possible, while including some more updated mechanics for the best possible experience. 

The series experienced many highs during the original Playstation and PS2 era, moving from a sports sim focus to a more wacky street skating style game which included cameos from the likes of Jackass and even Jason (My Name Is Earl) Lee. Games like Underground 1 & 2 were heralded as edgier titles that suited what next-gen gamers wanted in the extreme sports series. My personal favourite of the series, American Wasteland, introduced an open world map, a story mode, allowed a custom protagonist, the ability to use BMX bikes and even featured a cameo from Mat Hoffman himself.

The series, however, struggled to maintain its popularity come the PS3/XBOX360 titles, in part due to rival Skate releasing with much more realistic feeling gameplay and controls.

In 2009 the series hit a major bump in the road. Activision, coming off of their huge success with the Guitar Hero series, decided to try the plastic peripheral idea with the Tony Hawk games and thus we were given Tony Hawk Ride & Tony Hawk Shred. These titles got some of the lowest review scores for the entire series with many citing that what you did with the board did not translate well to what was happening on screen.

We did receive an early promising remake in 2012’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, which featured maps and gameplay from the first three pro skater titles, but felt like the best of those games only not with very much content. 

Then in 2015 came what could’ve been the final nail in the coffin. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was meant to be the true sequel to the beloved Pro Skater series on current-gen hardware, surely nothing could go wrong. Unfortunately the title arrived as a mess of bugs and glitches and faded from the memory of gamers in no time at all.

Verdict: Considering the series has lost what made it popular in the last few releases here’s hoping that the 1 & 2 Remaster can deliver on its promise and if it releases without being a broken mess then the nostalgia alone may be enough to put the series back on top once again.

Crash Bandicoot

Crash is back on current generation consoles and his popularity seems to be as high as ever. Not only has the N-Sane Trilogy, a remake of the original three titles, found huge success on current generation consoles, we were then treated to another Crash remake in the form of Crash Team Racing Nitro fueled. This title not only brought back the classic PS1 racer with some tracks from other Crash racers, it also allowed for online multiplayer so there was no excuse for you to not remind your old friends how much better you were.

Unfortunately, the title had been tainted for some as the always smart decision to add microtransactions was made after the critics’ reviews were already in.

Many were not happy with this seemingly sneaky post-launch addition but the gameplay itself was not affected as all that could be purchased with the in-game Wumpa Coins was cosmetic upgrades. 

The next logical step for this series of remakes, of course, was to bring back what might have been the king of the original Playstation’s party games: Crash Bash. The game had allowed for up to four-player mayhem in a variety of mini-games featuring your favourite characters from those original games.

It wasn’t long before a leak of the next Crash title hit the internet, confirming we will soon be playing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. There was some serious surprise when this was confirmed to be real but considering how well the N-Sane Trilogy did it looks to be a good move.

Obviously fans will remember that we had more than three games originally with the PS2 & Xbox being host to titles like Wrath Of Cortex, Crash Twinsanity, Crash Of The Titans & Crash Mind Over Mutant. With the new generation of games came a new and more hip Crash who now had fingerless gloves and even additional markings on his forearms to look slightly like cool tattoos. The reception to these titles was mixed with some being received well but overall Crash was not as popular as his PS1 days.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time looks to take the series in a full Terminator: Dark Fate direction by looking to seemingly erase any post Crash 3 games from the series. The official synopsis for the new game states we will be going back to find Crash relaxing after the events of Crash 3: Warped, offering a time travel adventure with both Crash and Coco taking on Cortex and Uka Uka who have escaped from a space-time prison. Expect many time travel shenanigans and, if the announcement trailer was anything to go by, plenty of self-referential comments on how this isn’t only the 4th outing for our old Bandicoot friends. Luckily fans won’t have long to wait as Crash 4: It’s About Time is currently scheduled for a September release, let’s hope it’s going to be a great title and we can have more great Crash games to look forward to in future.

Verdict: A little clearer for this one, the series definitely lost its charm over time, if it wasn’t for the remake then Crash would just be remembered for his poorer sequels. We’ll see if the next sequel can avoid the mistakes of the past.

Spyro The Dragon

We can’t talk about the spinning marsupial without discussing his fire breathing friend.

Spyro also had his original trilogy on the Playstation, albeit without a kart racer or crazy mini-game collection.

The first three Spyro titles were incredibly popular with its levels feeling more open than what Crash had shown so far. When it came to the next generation of console two sequels followed before a reboot of sorts with the Legend Of Spyro Trilogy. These titles have their fans due to having great stories and voice acting, including Elijah Wood as our favourite purple dragon, but it seems the gameplay let the titles down and Spyro would be rebooted again.

In 2011 Spyro leapt into the HD generation with some new friends, spawning the lucrative toys-to-life game genre that would eventually give us games like Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity.

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure launched with a redesigned and barely recognisable Spyro, who wasn’t even the central character on the box art, perhaps a sign of where the series would go and how far the character had fallen. He continued in the series but with the number of new characters joining with each annual release he was no longer of any focus.

In 2018 we received a remake of the first three games in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which like Crash proved to be very popular with new and old fans alike, this collection was developed by the same team who will be bringing us Crash 4. Anyone wanna put some money on an announcement next year for Spyro 4: Return Of The Old Flame?

Verdict: Much like Crash, Spyro’s heyday appears to be with that original trilogy. He’s had two different reboots, with both having their fans for various reasons but due to the fact we have the successful remake, it seems as if this is possibly the best path for the young dragon.

Resident Evil/Biohazard

One of the most iconic survival horror series, which has been through many changes in its time on our consoles. Resident Evil, or Biohazard to our friends in Japan, started as a tense fight for survival in an old mansion fighting off zombies and monsters. The fixed camera perspective, sometimes not allowing you to see what is right in front of your character, only added to the suspenseful nature of the title.

The series would continue with this style through its next two mainline games, only moving the action in Racoon City itself. But with some hammy voice acting and awkward tank controls it’s incredibly impressive how well the series has done since it’s early days, not only managing to outlive other horror games from the time but also spinning off into a huge film franchise. Some may say the movies vary in quality but when we think back to how many video game movies have fallen at the first hurdle it is incredibly impressive that we have six Resi films.

Following Resident Evil 3: Nemesis the series took a break from numbered entries to launch various other titles, including some light gun games and even some online compatible titles on the PS2.

Before long Nintendo’s usually family-friendly Gamecube got a console exclusive injection of the T-Virus with a remake of the first Resident Evil. This game took players back to the first title but had better graphics, some new gameplay mechanics, additional areas to explore and even an entire subplot that was cut from the original release.

The game was praised upon release but this did not translate into sales, the game undersold and became part of the reason Capcom decided to go down a different route for the next mainline release.

Resident Evil 4 released as more of an action-oriented game with Leon Kennedy returning to save the president’s daughter from a cult of European villagers who have been infected with mind-controlling parasites.

This title featured a new look with an over the shoulder camera allowing players to manually aim Leon’s gun at villages for accurate shooting as well as a sweet roundhouse kick that Jon Dalton would be proud of.

Resident Evil 5 followed with a similar style of gameplay featuring a few tweaks from 4, the biggest shake-up being the capacity to play the entire game in split-screen and online co-op.

Chris Redfield, from the original title, returns along with new partner Sheva Alomar to once again take on the villain Albert Wesker which culminates in Chris using the guns the Lord gave him to punch a rather large boulder into a river of lava. The series may have reached peak action game by this point.

Resident Evil 6 looked to take what worked with 5 and make it bigger and better, now there were four separate campaigns that interwove during each playthrough with three of these giving you the chance to choose between classic Resi characters like Leon, Chris & Ada Wong as well as newbie Mercenary Jake Muller. In each campaign, the player can choose to play as the respective main character or their partner within the story. The character not selected would again be AI-controlled or once again local and online co-op play was available.

The killer feature that made the title stand out was its four-player co-op. No, this didn’t involve only having one corner of the screen to play from. If you are playing online and come to a section where you meet another pair of characters from their own campaign these characters could be being controlled by other players. The beauty of this is that at times your teams may split to do some sections with someone from the other team giving you the chance to play with someone new. As long as they’re co-operating as well.

Resident Evil 6 received mixed reactions from fans which led Capcom once again to look at shaking things up.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (I see what you did there Capcom) launched as something entirely new to the series. Gone was the usual ensemble of specialist characters, taking away that feeling of being a total badass who can handle anything. Suddenly you’re playing as Ethan Winters, an ordinary man looking for his wife who has been missing for three years.

The protagonist wasn’t the only change in RE7, gone was the over the shoulder action view of the past three titles, replaced instead by a first-person view, placing the player directly into the shoes of Ethan. This first-person horror had become more popular following titles like Outlast and the infamous PT demo of the cancelled Kojima helmed Silent Hills.

Resident Evil 7 was praised for its improved graphics and gameplay as well its return to being more horror focused. Some critics had felt the boss fights were lacking for the series but overall the game was received well, especially for incorporating a VR mode in the PS4 version. 

Fans happy with the new direction the series was going in got a surprise when the Resident Evil 2 Remake was announced. The game was built in the new RE engine from 7 and impressed for its hugely improved graphics from the PS1 original as well as leaving behind the fixed camera in favour of the over the shoulder reminiscent of RE4.

The game also took strides to subvert fans expectations by changing certain beats from the original allowing the game to feel nostalgic but new at the same time. The game’s reception was incredibly positive and it received many game of the year nominations.

This success was quickly followed up by the Resident Evil 3 Remake. Fans once again got to tussle with the monstrous Nemesis in all his new 4K glory. The game followed a very similar gameplay style to the previous title but struggled more to get over with fans due to its shorter run time.

The series will be returning on next-generation consoles with the upcoming Resident Evil Village. According to the official synopsis, the game will have you once again playing as Ethan Winters with Chris ‘Boulder Bunch’ Redfield making an appearance to set off a chain of events that will take Ethan to the titular village for what I’m sure will be a horrific time for him.

Verdict: How can you call it with Resi? They seemingly have managed to have bad sequels, great sequels and brilliant remakes. Trust Capcom to go all out, throw every idea at the wall, keep what sticks but then just keep on throwing. 

The series looks like it will be with us, in its many forms, for many years to come.

God Of War

For the final entry, I think I’ve possibly cheated, but with it being one of my favourite long term franchises I had to include it in this list.

But before we get onto the sequel/soft reboot lets look over what came before, Boy!

God Of War launched as a brand new IP on the PS2 system and became a huge hit.

Playstation had often stated that its games were at the time made with the more mature gamer in mind, trying to possibly stay a little clear of the more family-friendly Nintendo market, and didn’t they just deliver with this title. Dark colour pallets, an extremely angry and violent Spartan (making Spartans cool a whole year before the 300 movie) as well as a dark and twisted take on Greek mythology with plenty of monsters to slay. Heck, there was even a sex mini-game that rewarded you with orbs to upgrade your weapons and powers, kind of makes you think if GTA’s Hot Coffee had just cut away to a vase on a nearby table maybe Rockstar wouldn’t have had to recall all those copies of San Andreas.

The thing that worked very well in the original God Of Wars’ title however was the story. There was a reason this pale-skinned bald man was doing all this killing. Right from the title screen, we see Kratos throw himself into the sea to rid himself of the hold the gods have on him before the game cuts back to an earlier part of the story.

The Kratos of old is often looked back on as a mindless rage machine just slicing and dicing anything in site, many seem to forget the tragic story weaved into the first title. The story of a Spartan General making a deal with Ares the God Of War, only to then be tricked into killing his wife and daughter, whose ashes are then placed upon his own body. The game was as much about tragedy as it was violence. The game ends with Kratos doing what he set out to do by killing Ares in an almost Kaiju like battle and being crowned the new God Of War.

God Of War 2 then followed with Kratos somehow being more thirsty for violence. Using his influence as God Of War to help Sparta win many battles, until the gods tire of his ways.

Zeus tricks Kratos into putting all his godly power into the Blade Of Olympus to have a weapon powerful enough to defeat the Colossus Of Rhodes. Zeus then uses the same weapon to kill Kratos following this opening battle.

Kratos is then helped by Gaia, one of the Titans, to leave the underworld and work towards his revenge against Zeus. The game ends with Kratos finding out Zeus is, in fact, his father (Zeus was kinda everyone’s father to be fair) and going back in time to save the Titans from The Great War and to bring them to Kratos’s time to storm Mt Olympus.

Playstation Portable owners were also treated to two exclusive handheld titles that linked into the main series and helped to flesh out the story of Kratos. One epic fight from these titles that will always stay with me involves you having to take on the mighty Atlas at the Pillar Of The Earth. In this battle, as you fight and dodge the enormous fists of Atlas, the pillar starts to get damaged and eventually falls away, Kratos ends up leaving Atlas with the world resting on his shoulders, trapped for eternity.

God Of War 3 came along to finish what had been started in God Of War 2, Kratos was on the warpath to kill Zeus and any gods that stood in the way. This was the first game in the series to be built for PS3 and so the developers took advantage of the newer hardware, allowing for battles on the titans themselves as well as epic boss battles against the Olympian gods.

The game finishes with Kratos left bleeding to death at the top of Mt Olympus while the world goes to hell below. A post-credits scene returns to this spot on the mountain to show that Kratos is no longer there, just a trail of blood leading off the mountain. Needless to say, I was praying for a sequel at this point. Just something.

A little later we received God Of Ascension. This, however, was not the sequel I had hoped for but was, in fact, a prequel to the very first title, showing Kratos renouncing Ares after killing his wife and child. Kratos was then being held by the Furies as punishment. Needless to say, this title did not live up to the rest of the series. The tried and true combat was there with a few new additions but it didn’t feel right going back after all that had happened in 3. To this day Ascension is the only God Of War title I never finished. The thing that I disliked the most though was the introduction of the online multiplayer mode. This was at the time where single-player games were being packaged with online multiplayer modes to possibly extend the time players spent with them, but this also led to a reduction in the space available for the main game.

But then everything changed in 2018. The previous year we got a trailer for a new God Of War game, this game looked to be drastically different from what we had seen before, with an older looking Kratos teaching his new son to hunt. Gone was the fixed camera angles, replaced by the Resi 4 over the shoulder view. Gone were the iconic Blades Of Chaos, this Kratos was using an axe that had a recall feature to it reminiscent of a certain Norse god of thunder. There was a different world, one of snow and mountains, trolls and dragons.

The game took a huge leap of faith, changing the entire concept of its main character while still showing he was suffering from his past sins. This new Kratos was a more three-dimensional character, who at times showed he had a softer hand when dealing with his son but still packed an almighty punch when it was called for.

The beauty was that even though this game made many references to the original series, newcomers could jump right in and enjoy the story without getting lost. God Of War rebooted itself for a new generation but it kept Kratos, it kept his history and pain but it used it in a different and possibly better way.

Verdict: There is no doubt that the God Of War series had its struggles as a hack n slasher but the developers pulled out something special with their 2018 reboot. The unconfirmed sequel is currently one of the most eagerly awaited announcements for the PS5.

Are there any other examples of a series being rebooted in a way to act as a sequel and yet make such changes?

Final Thoughts

It’s clear from these releases and many others that going back to what was once hugely popular can prove to be incredibly successful. Just recently we have seen Streets Of Rage get a brilliant 4th instalment some 16 years after the last game. While remakes can also give developers the chance to do something different that perhaps could not be done the first time, like with the hugely popular Final Fantasy VII Remake can which managed to update the PS1 classic but also bring something new that fans were not expecting. Even the upcoming Oddworld Soulstorm is being touted as what was intended for the original Abe’s Odyssey sequel. 

There are plenty of other examples too and it seems impossible to decide definitively what is the best route for a series , but when a remake already has a proven base to launch from you can see why they are becoming more common place.

Are there any titles in need of a reboot or remake? Do you want more sequels of your favourite franchises? Or should we just be asking for more new IP’s? Only you can decide.

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