While Sony might be planning on 3D becoming the next big thing, right now the gaming world is focused on HD, and more specifically HD remakes. The fad caught my eye when the God of War Collection first came out in 2009. Then there were others. It feels like more and more HD remakes are coming out of the woodwork almost every day. Is this a good thing? Or is this HD-ification of the past just a shameless cash grab?
These are just some of the HD remakes coming our way: Prince of Persia, Oddworld, Splinter Cell, Beyond Good & Evil and I’m sure there are others out there that I’m missing. For some, these remakes are the greatest things to happen to these franchises. I can see the reasons behind that line of reasoning. Many gamers missed out on experiencing these games when they were first released, and these HD remakes will let them experience updated, tweaked, and “better” versions of the original games.
However, there’s a point when you have to stop and wonder: does this series really need an HD remake? God of War came out in 2005 and its first sequel in 2007. That was barely four years ago. They were huge hits when they came out. Did they really need to be HD-ified when they already had some of the best graphics seen on the PS2? I understand the appeal of having the two games collected on one disc – that’s the only reason I ended up playing God of War. But I feel that I’m in the minority when I say that I didn’t play the series when it first came out.
While the God of War Collection might fall under the shameless category, there are other games that I’m happy are getting a little love. I came to the Sly Cooper series late. I ended up buying them used on the internet just before the HD collection was announced. For me, the Sly series was a little more obscure than the God of War series. Being able to get all three games on one disc would have made obtaining them so much easier. In this case, the HD-ification of the series is more of a positive thing.
But how much do these remakes actually help raise brand awareness? Both the Prince of Persia and Splinter Cell series are very well known. Beyond Good and Evil? Outside of gamer circles, I doubt many people have heard of it. Will the HD remake inspire consumers who passed over it the first time to pick it up now? I suppose it all comes down to marketing, but I’m not holding my breath.
There’s another aspect that I haven’t touched on yet however: nostalgia. When is it better to just leave these games alone? I remember watching my friend play Oddworld back on the original Playstation. I thought it was quite charming. Isn’t some of the game connected to how these games looked and played back when gamers first played them? HD isn’t the answer to everything. For example, New Super Mario Bros Wii was essentially a (non-HD) remake of Super Mario Bros. 3. While the graphics were newer, I couldn’t help but miss the whimsical sprites of my youth.
Sometimes these remakes feel like they’re trying to grab older franchises and drag them kicking and screaming into the “current gen” whether they need to be here or not. There’s something to be said for nostalgia, and the way certain games captured the industry’s zeitgeist. I believe the best way gamers can handle the HD-ification of the past is to be pragmatic. Certain collections are just attempts to get inside your wallets, while others are worth your attention. By buying the remakes of games that fell by the wayside, we can let developers know that they still have a place in the present and future.