There has been a sudden revitalization of a lot of series taking place in the game industry the past few years. For the most part it is great to see long desired sequels like Diablo 3 finally coming to fruition but along with the idea to follow up on games that fans love is the idea to cash in on the exact same thing once again by slapping HD on the end of the title. These are called “HD remakes”.
Basically what an HD remake usually entails is upping the resolution and tweaking the graphics so the character models are smoother and the levels have more detail. They can be a good step-up from the original versions but for many of them they do look fairly similar. None of them look like they were made for this generation of consoles (excluding the Wii of course). They also increase the frame-rate in some cases so that the game runs better. At first these were being used as a way to increase awareness for an upcoming release. For instance when God of War 3 was coming out Sony released an HD collection that featured the first two God of War games in HD for $40 to get new people into the series and maybe get some fans to repurchase the games. This is no longer the case, now many companies just see it as an easy opportunity to make some money. One of my problems with this is that it takes time to convert the games into HD but they don’t need to. The games from last generation are still playable. They don’t look good by today’s standard, but they aren’t hard to look at and understand either. When I look at something from the PS1 or N64 there are objects that are hard to make out and people look weird but that isn’t really an issue with something like God of War. Plus it isn’t a total remake so what’s the point in repurchasing?
This leads to another issue. If the graphical upgrades aren’t needed then why do we have to pay so much for these games and make such a big deal about them when we could just purchase the games on PSN or Xbox Live for less. Both Xbox Live and the PSN have older games for purchase, so why release certain ones in stores and others online. In fact Sony spends so much time talking about HD remakes I didn’t know that you could buy PS2 games on PSN until this week when I searched around on Google. They should just put the majority of their respective libraries (not all because some companies have closed and can’t put them up and some might not want to) online for $15 (like an arcade game) and give package deals for $30, which shaves 25% off the price tag right there. It also allows people to get specific games in a series they might have missed instead of forcing them to buy the whole series. Not to mention that it would give gamers the chance to pick up games they missed for a fairly good price when you consider that the games won’t be damaged and they won’t have to rely on some guy online to send them the right thing. There are so many great games that go overlooked and if Sony and Microsoft did this and spent time advertising it, maybe some of those games could finally get the recognition they deserve. So while I appreciate the fact that HD remakes are keeping certain games alive, instead of allowing everyone just move on and forget about them, it shouldn’t be limited to just the big games from successful companies that don’t need the extra cash. Another bonus is that it won’t be putting new games in direct competition on shelves with classics. The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection was billed as one of Sony’s biggest games this fall which isn’t fair for new games coming out for that console, because their developers have put way more time and money into new products to have the sales taken away by re-releases of classics.
We used to get remakes of classic games ported over to the handhelds so that we would have something good to play on them like all of the Final Fantasy ports. Now we port PS2 games to the PS3. The PS3 has quality games and the teams should focus on them instead of going for the easy money with these HD remakes. Plus for the record the 60GB PS3 that came out at launch can play every PS2 game and as I wrote above you don’t need them to be in HD to thoroughly enjoy them. The 80GB model which I have (this too is a launch model) can play most PS2 games like God of War and FFX (both of which Sony decided to put in HD). The reason the new models can’t is because Sony wanted you to focus on the PS3 games so they striped a feature out and are trying to get you to buy it back one game at a time, which to be honest is BS. If you are going to remake a game that has a large fan base and try to get people to buy it again, at least do it justice and give them a real reason for picking it back up. Look at 343 industries and the Halo: CE Anniversary game. They didn’t redesigning the game (which they probably should have since I prefer Halo 2, but then it would have been full priced), but they gave it a new graphical coat so that it looks like it belongs on the 360 (mind you an early 360 game, but a 360 game none the less) and let you flip back and forth between the new and original look on the fly. It also comes with bonus maps based on classic Halo 1&2 maps to be included in Reach so you get more than just the game. If Sony wants to cash in on its classic franchises just remake FFVII from the ground up to look like FFXIII. One of my other problems with HD remakes is that it takes up time that the developers should be using to improve the next game they are releasing or to come up with something new. The Ico & Shadow collection was an entire year of work for a portion of a small company that should have been spent working on The Last Guardian which hasn’t really been seen at al since they announced their HD remake.
So while I appreciate the idea that we aren’t just moving from one thing to the next, but taking time to look back at some of the great games that brought us to where we are, I think it would be better to just make the majority of the Xbox and PS2 libraries available through Xbox Live and PSN and look back at everything, not just a choose few. Then they can put the advertising into the service instead of each specific remake. This would allow people to find and play whatever they want quickly and easily, adding another incentive for those who don’t yet have the consoles by offering two libraries of games instead of one. It also allows new games that smaller companies are making to do better by not competing with established blockbusters in stores. Plus the big companies can focus on making new games that we are all waiting for. All of that and the fact that the tweaks aren’t necessary is why I have a problem with the HD remakes trend that everyone wants to cash in on.