When I think of how far graphics have come since I was a kid, I am left in awe. I first started playing games on a 16-bit Sega Genesis and an 8-bit Gameboy Color. Now, graphics are no longer measured in bits. Games can produce photorealistic images and breathtakingly immersive worlds.
This has lead to the trend of the remastered game. Here, an older game is reimagined with HD graphics on a new console. Perhaps the most anticipated of these will be Final Fantasy VII’s relaunch on the PS4, officially announced in June. The eighteen-year-old game will jump from the processing power of the original PlayStation and look drastically different than it first did.
Why do we feel the need to recreate these games with a new coat of paint on a new console?
It is easy to dismiss the trend as a money grab and a sign of lazy design. However, the fan support of these titles bespeaks something else.
Nostalgia is clearly at work here. A generation of people who grew up playing video games wants to remember their favorite titles of yesteryear. Perhaps they lost the ability to play the original games, because not all hardware or software lasts forever. We as people instinctively attempt to hold onto our memories.
One important thing to note is that only well-received games are remade. As technology advances, this becomes the gaming industry’s attempt to preserve its classics. It becomes more and more expensive for consoles to support previous titles, providing a reason to repackage and re-release them. Because of increased technological ability, the new versions are often more in tune with their original artistic designs.
Another reason for the trend is the desire to share games with a new generation. I may want to see my favorite games re-envisioned, but someone new to the medium would not share that same desire. It is important to recognize that video games can appear dated a few years after their initial release. To incite a new generation to play these games, there needs to be a draw, and an HD remake may provide it.
And I do not speculate about this phenomenon as an outsider. Back in high school, my brother and I purchased remakes of the classic Pokémon games we started with nearly ten years before. The remakes looked drastically improved, but it felt the same; it was the game I had fallen in love with, re-imagined and appealing for a new generation of players.
Before judging these re-releases, a person needs to know the motivation behind it. Some games may be remade a bit prematurely (a few years after their initial releases), many are significantly older and mean a great deal to people. Video games are a living medium, constantly trying to reinvent themselves. If HD remakes allow us to share our passions with a new generation, then I am all in favor of them.
Cover Image Final Fantasy X | X-2 ; via Flickr User crhis.alcoran; Flickr Creative Commons, available here.