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LONG BLOG

Point & Counterpoint 2 - Remakes

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This is the second in a series of experimental ‘dueling cblog editorials’ I will be doing with CaffeinePowered. While they may be long, we encourage you to read the whole thing; you’ll like it, I promise. You can check out his opinion on today’s topic HERE.

Previous editions:
Point & Counterpoint 1: Video Game Violence
Violence Doesn’t Affect Gamers
Violence Affects Gamers

Today’s Topic: Originals vs. Remakes



I should start this out by saying that I’m a huge fan of retro (NES & SNES era) games. It’s pretty clear from my avatar and banner that Chrono Trigger is my favorite game, and of my top 10 games list, probably about 7 are over 10 years old (at least). So as I argue in favor of remakes, I am in no way saying that I think the originals suck.

I also want to briefly mention what Caf and I are considering a remake (and not a port) to be for the purposes of this article. A remake we define as any re-released game that makes a jump from 2D to 3D, goes from really crummy 3D to good 3D, or a straight port that contains significant gameplay changes. Certainly there is quite a bit of grey area in between what constitutes a port and a remake and people will probably disagree, but this is what we both agreed on, and we’ll try to make it as clear as possible.

Why Remakes are a Good Thing

I’m willing to bet that a significant number of Dtoiders have FF7 in their list of their favorite games. It had fantastic graphics (at the time), an amazing story, deep and interesting characters (Although I still despise Aerith), and was probably the best game to come out during the PSOne era. In fact, for FF7 fans, one of the only things more exciting than the game itself was the PS3 tech demo that was released-the entirely remade intro to FF7 in amazing, PS3, HD glory.



Are you done drooling?



Gamers have been begging and pleading and whining for an FF7 remake ever since the PS2 was released. Why? Because a remake done right takes everything we love about our favorite games and expands upon them, while keeping what was so enjoyable about the original gameplay intact. For the rest of this article, I’m going to touch on the specific areas where well-done remakes enhance the gaming experience.

Graphics

The most noticeable change, and the main point of virtually every remake in existence, is updated graphics. As far as remakes go, there’s really no downside to recreating a game with better graphics. The core game mechanics typically say the same, but everything gets a nice shiny coat of new paint to spice things up. I admit, there’s a bit of a nostalgia factor involved in playing games the way you originally played them for the first time when you were 6, but on the whole being able to play your favorite game with lush backgrounds, detailed character models, and enhanced color only adds to the gaming experience. However, graphical changes by themselves can in turn lead to other non-graphical changes, typically things that could not have been done in the original because the graphics couldn’t support them. Confused? I know I am, and I wrote the thing. Here’s an example to illustrate what I’m talking about:



The FFIII remake for the DS. Of course, the more detailed towns and fight scenes are readily apparent, but what I found to be the best feature of this remake is the way each character gained a unique look. Fans of the original will remember that all four characters were basically palate swaps of each other, and their appearance was entirely determined by their job class. The graphics of the NES at that point weren’t advanced enough to create 4 distinct characters in a game where there were 20+ jobs. However, the DS version’s graphical upgrade allowed for four completely different characters which in turn led to backstories and character development for them; something that was sorely lacking in the original.

Sound & Music

Another area where remakes outshine originals is in terms of music. We all have our favorite video game songs, and to many of us video game music is just as powerful and emotional as any other genre (I could go on and on about that topic, but perhaps I’ll save that for another blog). In a well-done remake, you get the opportunity to hear your favorite songs rearranged and remastered. Particularly in the case of games where sound technology was limited to blips and beeps (not that that’s bad), hearing the artist’s vision of a song fully realized with multiple instruments in many cases is better than hearing the original.


(Stolen from Cowzilla)

Remaking music is what the ever-popular OCRemix is based on. I know almost all of you religiously check OCRemix, at the very least just to keep tabs on the amazing Mr. North. For me, most of my top 10 played songs on my computer are from there. While we might never get tired of the original versions, there is no denying that hearing updated iterations of our favorite songs is something that gets us gamers excited.

Fixing Gameplay Issues

The last point I’m going to focus on is how remakes are able to correct the failures/mistakes of the original, making the overall gaming experience more enjoyable. I think that we can all admit that no game is flawless, and that even our favorite games have certain gameplay aspects we wish could be fixed or changed. For example, one of the most frustrating things for me as I would play through the many amazing NES JRPGs (and even some later ones, like in Earthbound) was how clunky the menu system seemed to be, particularly in shops when you were buying or selling things. Every time you would buy an item, the whole menu would close out and you would have to go through the entire process again. When you’re trying to buy 12 different things and sell 20, this gets boring and tedious. The FFIII DS remake solved this problem by updating the game with more modern and streamlined menus.



Another, somewhat different example of this can be seen in the upcoming Street Fighter HD remake, where the developers have announced that they’ll be tweaking many of the characters. While I love Street Fighter, I did always find it kind of lame that the characters inevitably ended up “tiered” with certain characters being just flat out better than the others. In this new remake, the developers have acknowledged that their goal is to try to balance the characters so that they’re all viable choices. While it remains to be seen if this will be successful, the general concept is an excellent example of why remakes can be better than originals.



That ended up being a bit longer than I thought, but hopefully you guys will be able to make it through. Again, while I love the original versions of games and definitely feel a strong sense of nostalgia for them, well-made remakes are able to take those fantastic games and make them even better. Being able to get the original experience of your favorite games with better graphics, better sound, and having the annoyances/limitations of the original removed is really the icing on the cake (the cake that’s shaped like your favorite game). Even if the original is great, if there’s a better version out why not just play that instead? Having NOT played FF III on NOT an emulator, I can say that I vastly prefer the DS experience, and that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything from the original. I suppose it all comes down to taste, but really the only reason to play an original over a good remake is the nostalgia factor.
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About Aeroxone of us since 2:41 PM on 12.14.2006



Come join us on IRC!

I'm 23, and have been playing games since I was about 2 or 3 with the super old computer my dad got to bring home from working with the government. I got my NES when I was 5.

I love old school SNES RPGs, and I play pretty much anything now except sports games. I'll play FPSs, but typically not on consoles.



I currently own:
A PC
DS Lite
Wii
360
PS3

I have previously owned:
PS2
PS1
SNES
NES
A Mac
Gameboy

Xbox LIVE:Aerox47
Mii code:4266-0870-0999-6381


 

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