It seems as though each and every month, new remasters are either being announced or are being released. Capcom appears to be leading this trend, going so far as to stating that it’s a business plan of theirs. It’s not hard to understand why developers are following this route. Many AAA outlets tend to come with a deep pool of interesting IPs that pretty much guarantee a lucrative return for minimal effort. Gamers continue to gobble these up because it’s a chance to replay prettied-up titles that They’re extremely fond of.
Though, there’s no denying that this gen more than any before it, we’re seeing a massive surge of older games coming back for another chance to shine in the proverbial spotlight. It goes without saying that some of these games don’t particularly “need” to be remastered, or certainly haven’t been out long enough to justify a return trip. Still, they continue to arrive thick and fast among the growing popularity of that very concept. This is merely my own opinion, but a game should be very dated before coming back for another hit.
Crash Bandicoot’s trilogy is a prime example of a meaningful remaster. When we look at the original state of the game vs the new and improved update, the differences are extraordinarily striking. There’s also a massive amount of content to soak up, seeing as though the trilogy includes the first three games in their entirety. This, if you ask me, is exactly what justifies a remaster. That then leads us onto games that released at the back end of last gen, such as Capcom’s polarizing DmC.
Games such as DmC that released not too far from the dawn of the current gen did indeed deserve another round. Sure, the visual upgrade may not be anywhere near as significant as the aforementioned Crash trilogy, but those that were holding out to buy new hardware (at the time) may have missed out on these experiences during the shift. It helps that developers tend to sweeten the pot by throwing in all previously released DLC. It gives the consumer a great chance to pick up marginally-recent games on their new hardware.
That leads us to the “in-between” remasters. Remasters that I’m not entirely convinced needed the treatment, despite their distinct popularity. Resident Evil 6, for instance, quite frankly could have stayed dead and judged on last gen hardware. I’ll not judge any more because to be blunt, I could be here all day. Furthermore, I know full and well that there’s a large number of fans that cherish games that I personally don’t feel are worthy of making the last-gen to current-gen jump. So, let’s get back on point.
Remastered returns are not slowing down. This year alone we’ve had a large number of them, ranging from Assassin’s Creed: Rouge, Shenmue HD, Dark Souls: Remastered and many more since released and yet to arrive. Going further back than that will only show a massive list of titles, spanning the last handful of years. There’s clearly a space on the market for this, otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing this level growth. This also helps to drive more popularity and ignite hope that specific series will see new additions.
Burnout Paradise: Remastered, for instance, is hardly the best game in the series, but it certainly hit the media and fans like a bat out of hell when it was formally announced. Hell, it even made the charts. More than anything else, this level of hype and heavy sales will make future installations more likely than any volume of fan demand. I’m not at all suggesting that we’ll see a new Burnout soon, but it has to be said that a thick wallet and a bigger bank balance will make it easier to sway respective publishers and developers alike.
Shenmue on the other hand already has its third and final chapter releasing, which appears to be (at least) timed exclusive to PlayStation 4. Shenmue I and Shenmue II released decades back on the Dreamcast, but sadly – due to poor sales – never saw its concluding third game release. With Shenmue III finally in development, SEGA clearly saw a golden opportunity to release Shenmue I and II. It’s a wise decision, though a questionable one if the third game never arrives on Xbox One. Though, that’s a different story for another time.
Irrespective of specific remasters, they all do achieve one important goal, which is that they reach a new generation of consumers that may have been too young to try them out during initial release. On that front alone, each and every remaster is worth its weight in gold. Crash’s trilogy once again being the most relevant example of this notion, much like the upcoming Spyro trilogy, whereas games such as Dark Souls, Modern Warfare and BioShock trails behind, given that they’re only a handful of years old.
The point in all of this is that there’s a trend and for better or for worse, it’s here to stay. I wont continue to argue with or against the relevancy of each remastered title, but we do need to see developers spending just as much effort, or more, working on new experiences. Maybe this is easier to criticize as an Xbox One owner, given the sheer lack of IPs and exclusives, but something I feel is important to call out all the same. This gen, as made clear in the title, will always be remembered as the gen of remasters.