On HD Remakes

I know it’s once in a blue moon and typically brought on by some sort of blood sacrifice beforehand to make it happen but IGN actually has a decent article on the current trend of HD remakes.

The article makes mention that publishers are doing double-takes over HD remake sales figures.  A portion of that surprise may come from the fact that these remakes and collections are so easy (i.e. cheap) to produce and market; in God of War Origins Collection’s case, the largest number of staff members developing the title was ten.  Publishers are enticed by the idea that these games are already made, require short development cycles with smaller teams, and are slapped with brand recognition from the get-go.

I can’t snidely claim that I’ll just stick with the original versions since it’s stupid to buy the same game twice.  I’ve purchased more than one.  I’m already suckered into the scheme and not just by game publishers.  We’ve excised the use of tube televisions from my apartment, opting to get with the times and own HD TV’s.  A standard AV setup honestly shows up like rolled shitballs on a big LCD, so I invested in an HDMI cord back when it was fashionable for retailers to rip you off on one (I still make angry, squinty eyes at the $15 HDMI’s we sell at work).

Naturally, I like getting some mileage out of my entertainment setup.  More than that, despite whichever financially sound argument you’d like to provide, HD remakes (or ports but we’ll get into that shitty distinction) still tickle my nostalgia bone.  Now add on the fact a lot of the games I’m being resold are titles that have circulated out of my collection one way or another.  I was a dumb kid that traded a shit ton to experience more games.  Only growing older has taught me the terrible lesson that I miss the things I lose.

However, I completely understand the incensed feelings towards the whole subject.  Criticism is owed where criticism is due and that brings us back to the aforementioned “HD ports.”

The very term “remake” – brace yourself – means something was fucking remade.  What a concept, huh?  Well, unfortunately, that very notion escapes some developers.  Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia were privy to three game collections of mere frill deprived ports.  We aren’t talking about the kind of care given to the recent Ico & Shadow of the Collossus Collection where textures were updated, lighting effects sharpened, and graphics smoothed out.  No, the former collections predominantly share resolution bumps; little else.

Even my dear, dear Resident Evil 4 felt rushed out the door when it was made available for XBLA and PSN.  That port survived purely on the original game’s merits alone.  From a distance the HD facelift served to smooth out the roughness of age but take a closer look at textures, models, select cutscenes – it falls apart in this generation.  RE4 was the lucky one, though.

Code: Veronica was given the HD service by Capcom as well with spectacularly flat results.  The higher resolution blazes a scrutinizing eye over every single imperfection that game has like the stiff, boxey character models that swivel around without moving their feet or jarring lapses in sound quality.  It’s sad to admit that one of my series favorites didn’t stand the test of time like the PS1 and Gamecube era iterations.  But an HD remake would have been the optimal platform for Capcom to update Veronica’s rusty engine parts; smooth out dated mechanics, remodel awkward designs, but keep the core gameplay of it – the appeal and very reason I blew threw its entirety many times as a kid – intact.

That may sound like the sort of rekindling a straight up remake would call for but I contest, sir, and point you in the direction of Beyond Good and Evil HD.  There’s a title that managed all of the above with major aplomb and, much more importantly, care and consideration for the source material.  Need another reference?  Even Halo: Anniversary pulled off exactly the kind of HD remake that publishers and their subsequent developers need to keep note of.  343 Industries relaid the foundation of what made Halo great with very little divergence yet mixed together today’s graphical sheen and a few tricks picked up from sequels in the series to really revamp Combat Evolved.

Yes, at its core, we’re being sold the same product.  But if we’re being sold the exact same goddamn thing like these simple resolution bumped ports then I wholeheartedly agree that these HD cash-ins need to crawl back into the ground and die in our memory where they fucking belong.  But so long as dev’s continue to show me my favorite classics in a new light (and throw in some sweet extras for my dollar), I’ll gladly walk down memory lane.

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