Last week, Nintendo held “Nintendo Direct,” an online presentation where they announced a bunch of big games coming soon to the Wii U and 3DS. As is always the case, one of the biggest announcements was that a brand new HD Zelda game for the Wii U was coming. While that’s great and everything, the announcement that got me excited came after: an HD remake of my favorite Zelda game, and game in general, “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” Even though I don’t own a Wii U, and probably never will, this got me incredibly excited that Nintendo was revisiting one of my fondest childhood memories and reworking it for a new generation of gamers. However, I am pretty sure that, even if I had a Wii U, I would not get this game simply because I still have my original copy. The screenshots look great, but why should I pay for a game I already own and play?
It’s not just Nintendo either; several game developers have released their own HD “remakes” of their respective games. Granted, companies have been doing this for a few years now, and if the games are old enough it is a great idea to reintroduce these titles to the world. On searching the Internet, I even found the “list of all game remakes” according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_game_remakes), and I’m sure there are several more that have yet to be released. The question is though, when do these games stop being nostalgia trips and start being a quick cash-in. One of the most blatant examples of this in recent memory is “Resident Evil 4,” another great GameCube title. Released on the GameCube in 2005, it was soon ported to the PS2 and later every current generation console. Specifically, the 360 and PS3 were distributed digitally and were marketed as being HD. I got to play the 360 version over the summer, and, while the game play still held up fine, I noticed that the selling point, the graphics, were very much like the original, albeit slightly nicer. I’ve also seen several “HD bundles” of franchises with, again, slightly tweaked graphics. This is just my opinion, but most of these bundles come from developers who haven’t released a noteworthy game in a while and possibly just put it together to say that they released something. Some games are even only partly rereleased, with parts only being available as DLC. For example, the HD remake of “Sonic Adventure 2” for the PS3 and 360 costs $10, but the “Battle Mode,” which was included in the GameCube remake, costs $2.50 extra. This unfortunate trend in the industry ultimately comes across as more of a cash-grab than an actual desire for players to enjoy these games again.
Of course, I’m not completely against these HD remakes; they give me a chance to play games that I never had the chance to originally and can help renew interest in a series. Thanks to these rereleases, I’ve been able to play such amazing games as “Beyond Good and Evil” and “Okami.” Though I stand by (but won’t discuss) the belief that the gaming industry needs more new IP’s, I do appreciate that developers remember the games that made them popular in the first place. The only major advice I would give them would be to stop using the term “HD” so liberally and to find new ways of making an older title more accessible to a newer audience. You can’t just spice up the graphics and call it a remake; developers need to show that they still care about the IP and that they are trying to improve upon it. I personally believe that a good remake is not one released to earn a quick buck, but one that reminds us of the past and excites us for the future.