It’s the Same Game . . . But in HD!

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.

  6 comments for “It’s the Same Game . . . But in HD!

  1. mkessler
    January 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

    The current trend of HD remakes does often seem like a way for the gaming industry to get more and more cash off of games that they know sell well. And having the chance to play these stellar games, especially if you were unable to when they first came out, is a definite plus, but I feel that there is one aspect to this that is being overlooked. New gamers – younger gamers and those who’ve just become a part of the gaming culture – who didn’t play these games since they weren’t alive, old enough, or didn’t care for video games before have now become accustomed to today’s “better” graphics and would have a very difficult time tracking down copies of the original games are now given a chance to play games that influenced and ultimately shaped what is now the culture/identity of video gamers.

  2. althky
    January 31, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I have a mixed opinion on these HD remakes. Principally, I kind of dislike them. The game’s already been made and played, and if all you’re going to do is make it shinier, it feels like a lazy cash in, like you mention. And when you mention that some of these games are splitting their content with DLC such as in the remade Sonic Adventure 2, I can’t help but feel this is a bad trend. If they want to rerelease a classic game, why not release the whole thing in its best form? There’s no good reason to be muddying up the experience of a tried and true game by splitting it into pieces, unless you’re forcibly removing what flaws there were. Furthermore, if you want to rerelease a game but add something to it, why should that addition be some separate piece at additional expense? Some DLC feels justifiably separate, but I feel companies are testing what they can get away with regarding DLC, and we shouldn’t be too lenient on poor DLC schemes.

    I can agree that there are practical benefits, though. There are definitely important games whose native hardware is phased out, and making them available is a valuable service.

    I might disagree that companies should invest a lot in fundamentally changing these older games. They certainly should look beyond graphics when touching them up, perhaps fixing up age-old bugs and perhaps adding some small Easter Eggs as a nod to fans, but to really change some of these games feels wrong to me. They presented a certain experience which should be preserved in its ideal form so much as possible.

    Developers should definitely show they care about their IP, but I think changing old games isn’t the ideal route. They should hang those games on the wall, have them remembered as they are, and focus on advancing their IP in new games. If we let them live on remaking the same game, what’s their incentive to move forward?

    Ultimately though, the audience is speaking with its wallet; the nostalgia of older gamers and the discovery of younger gamers is enough to keep these remakes apparently profitable; whether or not that’s healthy for gaming in general.

  3. Jim
    January 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I’m totally alright with HD remakes. There are a fair number of games from my childhood, that have been lost/stolen/sold for money to buy more games. Metroid Prime, which got a remake on the Wii, I was happy to pay for it again.

    I also think that sometimes the remakes aren’t just for cash. In the Nintendo Direct, Anouma (the executive producer of Zelda games) said that Windwaker HD came from them playing around with the Windwaker models on the Wii U trying to find inspiration for the art style of Zelda U. They felt that where they could take the orginal Windwaker make it look amazing on the Wii U. So they did. It’s fair to say that perhaps a lot of ‘HD remakes’ are created this way. Developers using older models to test out different effects on newer platforms.

  4. steve
    January 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I like that you decided to tackle this crazy trend. It almost seems like a scam to slap an HD sticker on a 5 year old game, call it new, and charge $60 for it. Hey, maybe it is, but, like you, I’ve bought into it a little bit. In a way, it really is a genius marketing tool. Video games are expensive, and the primary consumers of them aren’t the sort of demographic that has money to throw around. It has become an increasingly important process to weed through hundreds of games to find the one worth throwing down the cash for. When you already know you love a game, that decision gets just a little bit easier. The HD tag just gives a consumer’s brain some reason to feel less bad about buying something twice.

    In small doses, I think these HD remakes are fine and fun. I don’t think they pose as large a threat to the diminishing number of new IP’s as do the inane number of derivative sequels in existence right now.

  5. February 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    The hype for HD assumes that the higher the definition, the better the game experience. So are there any games that are worse in HD?

  6. emartine
    February 14, 2013 at 1:37 am

    I think HD releases of past games are awesome. They are essentially a win/win situation for both developers and gamers. The reason I see HD ‘remixes’ like this is because for the developer it costs a ton of money and man-power to create a AAA video game. By releasing HD remixes of fan favorite games, the developers get extra profit that could come in handy especially if one of their newer games don’t do as well. In this day and age of video games, one single AAA game that doesn’t sell well could mean the end of that developer. HD remixes help the developer with extra profit in their pockets with little to no expense in cost and man-power to the developer aside from the publishing side.

    Now for the gamer, it’s an obvious win situation because you get to play old games with slightly better graphics and some enhancements. These games usually sell for $10 to $40 dollars depending on what they contain, which could be 1 or even 2 full games. Now, some people may not like this trend, but they are only thinking of themselves and not the newer generations that would of otherwise never have been able to play these games before.

    I personally don’t buy HD remixes because: 1) There hasn’t been a game I want to play again that has been released in HD and 2)I have better, newer games to buy with my limited funds. This doesn’t mean I won’t buy HD remixes in the future (spoiler: I am going to buy KH:HD Remix 1.5) but I see why they are sold by developers. Also, I don’t consider this an “HD remix”, but I have bought Final Fantasy 7 from PSN (never played it before but heard a lot about it), and I found it to be one of the greatest games I played last year because of its price and story. If Final Fantasy 7 was not re-released, I never would of experienced it, and I think the same applies to all the other games that have never been experienced by the newer generations.

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