Fact: Remasters And Remakes Are Eroding Our Memories

This is the opposite of video game preservation.
Fact: Remasters And Remakes Are Eroding Our Memories

We've previously killed the hopes of many nostalgia seekers by revealing that no amount of modern hardware will make retro games look like they did when we enjoyed them as kids. Now that we're callously assuming that our readers have recovered from that blow, it's time we talk about how deep remasters and remakes will likely be far more damaging than just letting them exist as they are.

Let's try to diminish some of the inevitable backlash by stating that yes, some degree of remastering can do wonders. Let's look at Dark Souls 2. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the guy who came up with the concept of the original game knows that coming up with new stuff is what matters, and his success with the original Dark Souls allowed him to dodge DS2 to work on an even fresher project, Bloodborne. That's great, but the success of the original Dark Souls pressured FromSoftware into coming up with a sequel and replacing the original director with what we assume were just various pairs of ghost hands that would slap and strangle the devs in an attempt to improve productivity didn't turn out too well. Dark Souls 2 sucked ass upon release, and most people who think it was actually decent are probably remembering Dark Souls 2: Scholar Of The First Sin. That's supposedly a compilation of both the base game and the DLCs, but it also brings fixes to many of the original game's problems. DS2: Scholar Of The First Sin couldn't fix every single part of the banished original's hilariously broken insides, but made it more enjoyable for most.

The visual improvements were few, but the game improved a lot

From Software

It's pretty telling that one of the best remasters of all time mostly left the original graphics intact.

Remakes only look better for a short while:

Remakes don't just leave it at increasing the resolution and improving the framerate, and usually go for introducing new assets. That's basically new graphics, new graphics on a product that's still old on the inside. While we can spend the entire day saying that the new assets made for a 20-year-old game make it look better than it ever has, as opposed to just weirdly out of place, that sadly isn't true. Bluepoint rocks. They're the company behind the Shadow Of The Colossus and Demon's Souls remakes, two games that are as beautiful as they're unnecessary.

soft remaster on the left vs remake on the right


Does it really look better, or does it just look more like the other stuff we see today?

It looks more detailed, sure, but the thing about the original is that it's its exquisite art style, not its superior graphics, doing the leverage in terms of making it stand the test of time. The new version might look better now, sure, but which one is going to awaken our nostalgia when we look at them both 20 years from now? The remake will soon be indistinguishable from every other game of its era.

Remakes actually ruin our childhood

Fans tend to accuse certain modern sequels of ruining their childhood. That's dumb because the original is right there as it has always been – unless we're talking about Star Wars – because Star Wars really was ruined by dumb remasters. Let's look at the Final Fantasy VII fan attempt at redoing the graphics.

Sure, the tweet above is actually about awful-looking pc mods and not about an official remake of any kind. The Final Fantasy VII Remake that we got is actually pretty good, but that's not just because it looks great. It's great because, spoilers, it isn't really a remake but rather an alternate tale. The devs took their time to make something great out of what already existed without trying to replace it. Unfortunately, it's impossible to allocate the same amount of care and love towards remakes of every less-successful property. Well, below is Squall as seen in Final Fantasy VIII's promotional art and cutscenes:

Squall's FMV model

Square Enix

The most noteworthy thing about Squall's design is the lack of trust in the efficiency of his belts, but let's focus on the second most noteworthy thing about him, his scar.

1999 was a big year for protagonists with forehead scars who’d see their legacies tarnished by their creators in weird ways. Squall was a big deal because his scarred and more realistic model paved the way for all the characters we see in modern Final Fantasy games. Sadly, his scar isn't as easy to notice in-game.

Squall's victory animation

Square Enix

Other than that, his now over 20-year-old model still looks damn good.

But damn good isn't good enough, and Square Enix decided to come up with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, which promised to fix everything that wasn't broken in the original game. 

Imagine having the gall to think you can make this look more artistically pleasing.

There wasn't much to improve upon here, so, uh, were they just going to let us finally get a good look at Squall's scar in the game? Nope, because they introduced a remade model that tossed away the most revolutionary character design in the history of the company to replace it with what could've been the model for any asset flip mobile RPG in existence.

Squall's awful new model

Square Enix

Complete with a dumbass new hairstyle that completely covers his once iconic scar.

Many remasters do more than they should and actively mess up not just the great memories we have of our favorite retro games, but they also erase the games' own places in time and history. Don't take it from us, take it from the guy who wrote Half-Life.

Remasters and remakes also delay the future

What we said about the Shadow Of The Colossus remake also applies to the already infamous unreleased remake of the original Last Of Us. Leaks have already revealed that this remake serves only one good purpose, and that's the addition of accessibility options. Outside of that, it looks and plays just like the original game. The accessibility options are great, but adding them to a game via a patch is definitely easier than making the entire thing from scratch, not to mention way more accessible than forcing people to pay an extra $70 for them. Also, that way we wouldn't be preventing such a huge and prolific team as Naughty Dog from coming up with something new and fresh.

Original on the left, remake on the right (we think)

Naughty Dog

Remaking something to make it look modern is even dumber when the game in question is still one of the best-looking games around.

So yeah, want to remaster games in a way that will make them run smoother or on a higher resolution? Go for it. Video game preservation is a goal we should all help with. Want to remake a game? Ok, but consider remaking god-awful games, not good ones. Go crazy, give us what we really want:


Ok, now the backlash is warranted.

Marc Laidlaw no longer speaks through G-Man from the Half-Life series since he no longer works for Valve, but he's still writing and anyone can check out his newer stuff right here. 

Top Image: Square Enix

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