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Point & Counterpoint 2 - Originals

Welcome to the second point and counter-point, in this edition we’ll be arguing whether or not certain games should be ‘remade’ for a new audience or whether gamers should go back and play the original versions. You can view Aerox’s counter-point here.

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

As a caveat we must first define what a remake is (versus a port) and also that we would also like to point out we are discussing remakes of games that were previously considered good. 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. There is some grey area with regards to what significant changes include, but we hope we can make it as clear as possible.

When a game is a remake, can it ever truly deliver the same experience as its predecessor? If an artist was to look back on previous works of art and copy them exactly, hoping to ‘modernize’ them and make them somehow appealing to ‘new consumers’, would they be looked highly upon? We’ve seen this happen many times with movies, music, and more recently video games, all times with mixed results. Is the effort that goes into a remake worth the cost of a potential sodomizing of a classic game, and should developers focus more on making new experiences than trying to recapture old glories?

Lost in Translation

Like some of the horrible translation errors that used to happen in Japanese to English localization, remaking a game for a new audience is bound to miss something when moving to a new medium, especially going from sprites to 3D models. Subtle nuances and the experience can be easily lost.

Think for example if some classic SNES games got a make-over, would the opera scene from FFVI still be the same without the sprite choreography, and would it even be possible to find a voice for Kefka’s laugh? Would Earthbound retain that childish art-style and would you still feel the same watching the Motherbrain kill the baby Metroid in 3D?

There’s a certain kind of magic that one can associate with playing a game in its original format. Sometimes even emulators playing the original data really can’t totally capture the experience. From some of the amazing 8 and 16 bit soundtracks to the feeling of the ‘true’ controller in your hands, they’re just not going to be there if you create a remake.

Franchise Destruction

Just because someone remakes a game does not guarantee that it is going to be good. There is always a possibility that the game will be absolutely nothing like the original save for having the same storyline and characters.

Numerous problems could arise when remaking a game. First off, the original design team and visionaries behind the first game could be long gone. For example, the mind behind many of the old Final Fantasy games no longer works at Square Soft, going back to remake the games he designed might distort them. In addition, if the remake is outsourced, those creative minds surely aren’t going to be there for every step of the process.

A poorly done remake could simply ruin a franchise or turn gamers off to the premise of going back and playing the good game that it is based off of. It would be like listening to a poorly done cover of a classic rock song; that would be the first time you had heard the song and now, you have no desire to go back and listen to the original recording or band.

Waste of Resources

For every one game idea that pans out and eventually sees a product created, hundreds of ideas are pitched in brain storming sessions and subsequently discarded. While the vast majority of those ideas probably would not have panned out, there are a few discarded original ideas that could have been a breath of fresh air to gamers.

When a developer decides to remake a game, they must devote resources to creating that remake; resources that could be better utilized making new intellectual property instead of rehashing old things. Even if developers outsource the creation to another studio, that studio could spend their time on an original work of their own rather than spending time rehashing someone else’s old IP.

Future Rumors

To touch on a few rumors of future remakes, there has been talk that one of the two larger Final Fantasy games (VI and VII) possibly getting a remake after the PS3 tech demo showing a remade FFVII introduction. While VII might work because it was 3D to begin with, and fanboys would eat it up regardless, I think VI would be an abomination against the original. And even well done, a VII remake would still just not be the same.

Another remake rumor that has been on the back burner has been a Link to the Past remake for the Wii, and honestly, I don’t think that a Zelda designed for a 2D overhead view would translate at all into a 3D world. It wouldn’t play the same, nor would it feel the same at all. The dungeons would likely need to be totally overhauled and it would not provide the same experience that the original game did, and unfortunately, like an FF remake, fanboys would likely eat it up anyway, good or bad.

However, even if both of these remakes made money, they might turn off new gamers. The developers have to try to play a tenuous game of trying to please long time fans and attracting new ones. While remakes may pander to long time fans, they don’t capture the surprise and experience of playing the game for the first time on its original medium.

In the end, if a game has to be re-released for a new audience, try to make it as true to the original as possible. Some updated sprites and a few new game play areas are ok, as long as the underlying game carries with it the same experience. I for one would love to see more classics released on places such as XBL, the VC, and eventually Wii-Ware, if they updated sprites it might be ok, but just don’t go and try to ‘re-imagine’ the whole thing.
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About CaffeinePoweredone of us since 3:26 PM on 12.20.2006

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