As of late, it seems that re-releasing old titles in HD is the new craze. Is this a good thing? Should we be rehashing old games instead of creating new IPs? For the most part, yes, we should.
First off, let us get the terminology correct: these aren’t HD “remakes.” They’re remasters. If you read an article on a game news site, most of time the headlines will read “HD remake” but this is wrong. What is being released are remasters, not remakes. If you remaster an old Beatles record, you’re not remaking it; it’s the same music. If you remaster a movie from the 90’s in HD, you’re not remaking it; it’s the same movie. All they’re doing is upping the quality of an already present product, hence the term “remastering.” A remake would be from the floor up. For example, originally released on the Sega Genesis, Earthworm Jim has seen an HD remake. The game was completely redone, built from the ground up with shiny new graphics.
These remasters are great cash-grabs for companies. They are relatively simple to do and sell, as the bulk of the content is already present, but it is also a great way to breathe life into older games, giving people a chance to play them now that previously didn’t have the chance before. This can rekindle old interests. For example, God of War Collection is a game for PS3 that remasters both God of War and God of War II on one disc. This was released before God of War III, which created more interest for it. Another example would be the Sly Collection, which is a remaster of three PS3 games. To our knowledge, it was a simple way for the company to make money, but once it was released, players found that the disc also contained an announcement trailer for Sly 4, which only created more curiosity towards the franchise.
Not only does it create interest for newer games in the franchise, it also attracts more attention for original games but made from the same company. In the case of the Team Ico Collection for PS3, it remasters Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, both from the PS2. This is a great way to hold fans over while the company is developing The Last Guardian.
The only downside of these remasters is that sometimes the developer takes the easy way out. In the case of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD, the graphics were only slightly enhanced and offered no new features. Technically, the game wasn’t even upscaled in HD, even though the titles claim to be so. This would be a perfect example of simply milking a franchise for a quick cash-grab. Other enhanced games may actually touch-up the graphics, as in smoothing out rough textures or fixing jagged edges, and not simply changing the aspect ratio. Most other remasters include trophies and 3D support and sometimes bonus content. In the God of War Collection, the disc also contains a documentary that was released with God of War II, but would otherwise be inaccessible if you didn’t have the original game.
These remasters are also great for the HD buffs and the achievement/trophy lovers. Graphics don’t make a game, but if I had the choice to play on my PS2 in SD, or play a shiny, better looking and sounding alternative, it would definitely help the experience, and I’d rather play that. Otherwise, why need an HD system and TV? As long as companies can make the HD-overhaul worth it, while at a good price and still maintaining new, other games, there is not a problem with it at all. It offers a new experience for previous fans for and newcomers alike, and attracts even more fans for games set to be released in the future.