Remastering the remaster
Remasters and remakes are absolutely everywhere. They provide us with a romantic whimsical feeling that can only be described as nostalgia, which a lot of games crave as they grow older. We saw 2017 packed with classics that were transformed to remain relevant in the current market and with Shadow of Colossus being a flagship title for Playstation 4 at the beginning of the year, it only seems right to look at the appeal of these old games. The fact is, remakes/remasters are huge titles with equally massive marketing campaigns. There are many aspects to these types of games and their success; whether its game-mechanics, loyalty to a franchise or just plain nostalgia. So, let us dive through history to examine some key releases: Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Micro Machines. I would blow off the dust from these games but my allergies would play-up for days.
Both Spyro and Crash Bandicoot were landmark platformers. The possibilities in these games felt endless, the levels were surprising and they genuinely seemed to fill a generation with wonder. There is no doubt that the gentle comedy, enjoyable game-play and lovable characters make these games valuable to contemporary players after all this time. Yet, this is not enough. The proof here is in the Micro Machines remaster. My Brother and I use to fly around that pool table in miniature vehicles like there was no tomorrow and who could blame us? It was the summer holidays. Despite that found memory, the remake Micro Machines: World Series didn’t add to the original game. With no career and poor online game-play, it was a series best left in a crystallised memory; where it would always be great.
We know what to expect with these remasters, we know we have to balance our ludicrous, nostalgic opinion with reality but somewhere we want the magic of discovering a game and in many instances game mechanics. Spyro was the first game I undoubtedly fell in love with. It was a spring day, sheep hopped around freely, until suddenly I set them on fire as Sparx regenerated his bright colour. This was a late 90s romance like no other, yet it was experienced by every other kid with a Playstation. Now Spyro and Crash were unique characters with original abilities that couldn’t become standardised like the gaming mechanics of Micro Machines. Spyro and Crash have a legacy because they’re different and therefore untouchable, despite changes in the video-game industry. Whether charging, lighting, flying, spinning or running for dear life; these games have a reputation for their game mechanics and this is how they developed a fan-base for remasters and franchises.
Franchises have existed long before video-games, or at least video-games as we know them. But when a film is ‘remastered’ it is usually a resolution bump or, if you are an insane George Lucas, adding extra CGI effects. Visually, a remastered game can bring back a sense of wonder as you see a level that used to have sharp cuboids now have rounded edges. With that said, I replayed the original Spyro trilogy when it was not remastered and thought it was still excellent. The difference between film franchises and video-game franchises is that original, high-quality game play never ages.
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy rebuilt the old levels from scratch, it felt fresh for new and old players. This is the key to a successful remake, innovation. The Shadow of Colossus changed elements of the original, in short it changed the game to keep it fresh and intriguing. This is where the astute reader will be thinking ‘that’s why they’re flagship titles’ and you would be absolutely right. Perhaps, all good remakes should build on an existing franchise with refinement and innovation by making it more accessible, more fun for more people. This is how games become flagship titles.
Nostalgia purchases are often seen as poor decisions, this Playstation-focused discussion suggests that these ‘remasters’ and remakes may be great decision for those who enjoy seeing their childhood remixed and reinvented.