Forgetting the future: a rant against HD Remakes

What’s the connective tissue between Silent Hill, Devil May Cry, Sly Cooper and Fable? Apart from being some damn fine games according to everyone who’s played them, they all have crisp HD remakes.

And everyone loves HD remakes, right?

One cursory search for the term “remake” at Reddit’s r/gaming will give you an idea of how much some gamers love HD remakes. They can’t get enough of discussing what game needs to be remade or given an old lick of the HD brush for good measure. Another – even better reason for bigwig publishers – is that HD remakes have reportedly managed to outsell sequels in their respective franchises. The Devil May Cry HD collection sold 540,000 copies on PS3, while DmC – this year’s reboot of the beloved franchise – managed to shift 500,000 copies according to VGchartz.com. The same pattern can be seen with Sly Cooper, with The Sly Collection managing to outsell the series’ latest release Thieves in Time. You can’t argue with the numbers, although it’s not surprising when both HD collections offers three games while the sequels offer just the solitary one.

Crashing into HD

But how many games really need a HD remake? Let’s take this post for example. Does Crash Bandicoot 1, 2 or 3 – all currently available to download from PSN – need to be fiddled with? Wraped looks fine on my Vita as well as on my PS3 and the gameplay is balanced to perfection. What’s the point of remaking a game that is widely available, works perfectly fine and isn’t the ugliest game you’ll come across? Tinkering with any old game only runs the risk of tarnishing what made it special in the first place, as well as it being completely unnecessary.

It might be two years old, but this Crysis mod gives you an idea of what a HD Crash might look like

I can’t talk for every HD collection, but last year’s Tony Hawks HD remake did nothing for me as its core mechanics felt like an ASDA Smart Price version of the original series. It looked fairly pretty – a huge shock to us all, considering it had to look shinier than a now fourteen year old game – but good graphics count for nothing when I would rather play through the 32-bit era’s jagged polygons to experience the full of adrenaline skateboarding over this generation’s simply adequate version.

But above all else, why would gamers who bemoan the lack of originality and mock yearly franchises demand HD remakes? Surely you would want the people who made these wonderful memories for you in the first place to be working on something you hadn’t already played through before? Even getting in another studio to work purely on remaking a game – like Robomodo on Tony Hawks HD – is another group of artists who aren’t getting the chance to work on something original or getting the chance to create a game of their own.

Remake my heart

Despite all of these gripes, HD remakes are popular and that’s a good thing – in a sense. They give people who didn’t get a chance to experience a game the first time around an opportunity to delve into gaming history. It’s only gotten hard for younger games to find out what all the fuss is all about when it comes to the mountain of classics from the past, especially for games that go out of print or become increasingly difficult to find.

HD remakes enable those gamers a chance to experience gaming history. But why bother tying up developer resources and focusing on past glories when there is so much opportunity for future ones, especially when there is the option to simply make the original versions available via PSN or Xbox Live. Let’s give every gamer the chance to sample and delve into the stuff they have never had a chance to enjoy, just try to remember that those games don’t need high definition to make them relevant again.

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