It's tough to replay old games, especially when they're a few generations old. Whether you missed out on the game the first time or want to go back and experience an older title, there's a lot to consider. You might need to get a used console, find a copy of the game, or have to adjust to how games used to play. Sure, you can seek out an emulator and do it that way, but there's nothing like playing a game the way it's meant to be played (plus, you can support developers in the process).
Enter game remakes. Unlike remakes of movies or TV shows, game remakes serve a more concrete purpose. Not only do they let you experience an older game, but they'll often be updated for newer audiences, with improved graphics or gameplay mechanics to follow suit. Game remakes have been a part of the industry for a while now, but they've entered a whole new era with some remakes, like Resident Evil 2, becoming new classics. Here are some of our favorites, listed from newest to oldest.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Original release: Jan 31, 1997, PlayStation
New release: Apr 10, 2020, PlayStation 4
Many games have been "remade" or reimagined over the years. Still, few have been as faithfully and meticulously recreated as Final Fantasy VII Remake, which recreates the pixelated fixed backgrounds of the 90s Midgar sequences in glorious 4K 3D. Every single detail from the original has been included or expanded upon — every monster, every character, and some new ones along the way. The combat reimagines the turn-by-turn play of the original for something more active, and more spectacular, making you feel like you're choreographing an action movie in real-time. I know the new elements of this game may end up being polarizing, to say the least, but even if you dislike two percent of the new stuff, you'll appreciate the effort and detail that has been poured into this mythical product. -Jez Corden
Resident Evil 3
Original release: Sept. 22, 1999, PlayStation (later ported to Dreamcast, Windows, and GameCube)
New release: April 3, 2020, Xbox One, PC, PS4
Resident Evil 3 takes the story of S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine escaping Raccoon City while being pursued by Nemesis and brings it up for modern hardware through the RE engine. The branching paths mechanic has been smartly removed, resulting in a more streamlined story with some big setpiece moments. In particular, it connects well with the Resident Evil 2 remake, allowing both games together to tell a connected, fleshed-out story.
Combined with the excellent enemy variety and tense gunplay, you're always on your toes and very rarely allowed to rest. With the action-oriented dodge roll, you still feel capable enough to continue. Resident Evil 3 is a smart remake that allows players who don't have access to the original version to understand just why Nemesis is to be feared. -Samuel Tolbert
Original release: Half-Life: Nov. 19, 1998, Windows PCs
New release: March 6, 2020, Windows and Linux PCs
Black Mesa has been in development by Crowbar Collective for an astounding 15 years. This group of modders-turned-professional-developers originally released Black Mesa as a free standalone mod on Sept. 14, 2012. Still, the project was so good that Valve gave its blessing to turn it into a commercial release. Black Mesa is a full remake of the original Half-Life featuring significantly enhanced graphics, an actual physics engine, better character models and animations, and redesigned levels that put the story and the scenes first.
Half-Life is remembered for being the seminal first-person shooter of its time, and much of this is owed to the story-telling. Black Mesa takes that story-telling and improves it in palpable ways that make the universe feel more alive than ever before. It also removes a lot of mechanics and sequences that didn't age well and replaces them with better environmental and NPC interaction. The alien Xen world finally doesn't look like crap, unlike in the original game, and it isn't boring either. It's challenging to play some older games nowadays, especially genres like first-person shooters, but Black Mesa turns this sci-fi shooter into a modern-day classic. -Nick Sutrich
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team: Nov. 17, 2005, Nintendo DS
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team: Nov. 17, 2005, Game Boy Advance
New release: March 6, 2020, Nintendo Switch
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a perfect example of how to remake a game. It kept the core storyline, which was the best part of the Mystery Dungeon series, as well as the core game mechanics while adding new features to streamline gaming. The auto modes for exploration and move selection make the whole gameplay much smoother, while still giving options for those who prefer the old gameplay. The additions of Mega Evolution and Pokémon from later games, as well as the ability to add Shiny Pokémon to your teams, were also a great bonus.
What set it apart for me, however, were the fantastic watercolor style graphics. While some of the remakes in the Pokémon series (Pokémon: Let's go, Pikachu! and Let's go, Eevee!, for example) opted for more modern graphics, Rescue Team DX went for graphics similar to what you'd find in Ōkami. The game was an absolute work of art. Even if the gameplay changes hadn't already made it feel like a brand new game, the graphics alone would have been enough for me to pick up this remake. -Casian Holly
Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Original release: 1993, Nintendo Game Boy
New release: Sept. 20, 2019, Nintendo Switch
Nintendo has a knack for taking a beloved masterpiece and breathing new life into it for a whole new generation of players. Link's Awakening was a classic from Game Boy that took our favorite Hyrulian hero out of his comfort zone and onto a mysterious island and a brand new adventure. While the setting may have been different, the game still held on to the core of what makes a Zelda game while introducing tropes we still love today. Link's Awakening was so popular it was remade once before for the Game Boy Color with vibrant colors and a brand new dungeon to explore — but that was 1998.
The new Link's Awakening graduated to the home console from handheld (sort of), and it has never looked better. With charming toy-like graphics and a remastered soundtrack, the update looks and sounds better than ever. Plus, the mechanics received much-needed modernization to make gameplay smoother, and players can even create their own dungeons with the Chamber Dungeon mode. While there are many changes, Link's Awakening is still the classic we all loved; it just has a new coat of paint. -Sara Gitkos
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Original release: Feb. 11, 1999, PlayStation
New release: Sept. 3, 2019, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam
This remake did what I think all remakes should; It kept the core of the game the same while bringing all the graphics up to par with modern games. Square Enix also added a few simple mechanical tweaks that you can turn on and off on the fly — 3x game speed, no random encounters, and auto limit breaks — that make the game more enjoyable to play the second time around. Every part of the game oozes nostalgia and makes me dream of a simpler time. -James Bricknell
Resident Evil 2
Original release: Jan. 21, 1998, PlayStation (with ports to PC, N64, Dreamcast, and GameCube).
New release: Jan. 25, 2019, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
This wasn't Capcom's first Resident Evil remake — that honor goes to Resident Evil 1 all the way back in 2002 — but, in many ways, it's become the gold standard on how we gauge modern game remakes. It seemed to do everything right. It was not only faithful to the original, but it also added new content and updated the game for a newer audience. You still play as both Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they work to make it out of Raccoon City during a zombie outbreak, but it's more streamlined. Instead of tank controls, which were more common in the late 90s, Capcom adapted an over-the-shoulder third-person view, which had become widely used in later Resident Evil games. Saving is easier, characters look better, and other improvements make this feel like a game developed in 2019.
However, the biggest change was the inclusion of Mr. X. He was in the original game, but Capcom decided to make him a more lingering, stalking presence. Once he appears for the first time, you spend the rest of the game hoping he's not watching you. To raise up an existing element and turn it into an icon was one of the best decisions Capcom could've made. -Carli Velocci
Pokémon Let's Go, Eevee!/Let's Go, Pikachu!
Original release: Pokémon Yellow: Oct. 19, 1999 (U.S.), Game Boy
New release: Nov. 16, 2018, Nintendo Switch
Pokémon Go created an enormous new audience of players who had never experienced a traditional Pokemon game but got addicted to catching and battling on their smartphones. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu! enticed these players without overwhelming them by going back to the series' earliest days, combining the new Pokémon catching mechanics developed for the mobile game and the plot of Pokémon Yellow. The massively-updated graphics found on the Switch also provided beautiful, nostalgic fun for those who had played the original games nearly 20 years earlier.
Beyond just recreating Pokémon Yellow, Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu! added plenty of new charm by allowing you to have one of your Pokémon follow you around or even letting you ride some of the bigger versions as you explored. It also made the game more accessible by reducing the need for grinding and making many of the fights optional. The result is a perfect entry point for an entirely new generation of trainers. _-Samantha Nelson
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Original release: - Spyro the Dragon - Playstation 1998, - Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage - Playstation 1999 - Spyro: Year of the Dragon - Playstation 2000
New release: Nov. 13, 2018, Xbox One, PC, and PS4 (with port to the Nintendo Switch)
Spyro the Dragon was the platformer Playstation needed. It had a cute protagonist with a little sass, a simple concept with some tricky puzzles, and, oh yeah, dragons! The Spyro series was a mixture of fun and frustrating gameplay with so much for players to do. They were instant classics with interesting characters, sprawling level designs, and enough firepower to light up the worst of Gnasty Gnorc's army.
When Toys For Bob decided that the series needed to be introduced to the current generation, long-time fans of the series lost their minds, and for a good reason. The Spyro Reignited Series not only polishes up the graphics and mechanics, but it manages to present faithful remakes of three games. It was entirely recreated using the Unreal Engine 4 game engine, so the world is simply beautiful. Toys for Bob really did its homework and took its time with each game. The whole series is just as tough, fun, and exciting with updated music, sound effects, visuals, and voice-overs. It truly does our favorite purple dragon justice. _-Sara Gitkos
Shadow of the Colossus
Original release: Oct. 18, 2005, PlayStation 2
New release: Feb. 6, 2018, PlayStation 4
Shadow of the Colossus is often heralded as one of the greatest games ever made, and with good reason. The 2005 release brought fans a game that they had never seen before, introducing them to a gigantic world filled with a story that was much more complex than just taking down monsters. The remake took 13 years to release but was very much worth the wait.
The biggest change is noticeable from the start, and it's how the game looks, with the world looking even larger and the Colossi seeming even more gigantic as you aim to take them down, making for some truly incredible moments. The gameplay itself is almost identical to the original, but Bluepoint Games reworked the controls, making things much easier and more fitting to modern gameplay. Aside from a few other extra options — including a new Photo Mode — Shadow of the Colossus is still the classic that it always has been, and should be a must-play for both new and old fans of the series. -Anthony Nash
- Pokémon Red and Blue: Sept. 28, 1998 (U.S.), Game Boy
- Pokémon Gold and Silver: Oct. 15, 2000 (U.S.), Game Boy
- Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen: Sept. 7, 2004 (U.S.), Game Boy Advance
- Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver: March 14, 2010 (U.S.), Nintendo DS
The original Pokémon games were groundbreaking for their time. Red, Blue, Gold, and Silver, introduced us to the Kanto and Johto regions, along with over 250 Pokémon. Each of their remakes then defined a generation. All four of them brought new features and new locations to the table with updated graphics while retaining the series' core pillars. In HeartGold and SoulSilver's case, a peripheral hardware device called the Pokéwalker was released that allowed trainers to interact with their Pokémon outside of the game world.
These remakes were a lot more than a fresh coat of paint, with added online capabilities that brought players closer together than ever before. FireRed, LeafGreen, HeartGold, and SoulSilver set the example for all other Pokémon games to follow. They were a testament to how far the series had come and what fans could look forward to in the future. -Jennifer Locke
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Original release: Feb. 23, 1999, PlayStation
New release: December 2009 (U.S.), Wii (with ports to PS2 and PSP)
Okay, this is less of a remake and more of a reimagining, but because the plots are the same, I'm going to include it on this list (also, it's a great game, and this is my list). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories carries over a lot of elements from the very first Silent Hill — dad Harry Mason must go into Silent Hill to find his missing daughter Cheryl — but adds a whole lot of new content to reshape the story. Combat is removed altogether in favor of chase sequences, and if you play on a Wii, your Wii Remote becomes a phone that Harry uses to take pictures or make calls. In other parts of the game, you play an unnamed character in therapy sessions, which has to complete several tests, and your answers affect gameplay. It was a unique take on the Silent Hill brand and cast the first game in a whole new light.
Shattered Memories was overlooked by audiences when it was released in 2009. Still, in lieu of any quality Silent Hill games getting released in the past decade, this is definitely worth a second look. -Carli Velocci
Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes
Original release: Sept. 3, 1998, PlayStation
New release: March 9, 2004, GameCube
The original Metal Gear Solid was the benchmark for action stealth adventure titles and influenced action games for years to come. The Twin Snakes remake takes the classic story and characters. It puts them in the significantly improved Metal Gear Solid 2 engine, along with some additional tweaks by master GameCube developers Silicon Knights. Since many early 3D titles feel incredibly bulky and stiff, the updated visuals and smoother gameplay helped Twin Snakes hold up in a way the original PlayStation release doesn't.
While this release was a bit controversial with fans of the original upon its release, many of the gameplay replacements and enhancements over the original release help Twin Snakes feel like a more dynamic, expressive game than the original. Better voicework, more impressive cinematics (with obvious influence from popular movies at the time), and fancier visuals that include facial animations and other important animation changes help carry this beyond the decade it was released in. Gameplay enhancements, like first-person aiming from MGS2 and better environmental interaction, round out the package and really make this the best way to experience the thrilling story of Metal Gear Solid. -Nick Sutrich
Did we forget any?
What are some of your favorite game remakes? What makes a good remake for you? Sound off in the comments below.
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