With the return of Resident Evil 2 currently taking the gaming community by storm and Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy still fresh in our minds, we are seeing a steady stream of remakes to our favorite games of yesteryear, and this makes me very happy. While some may argue that remakes go against innovation and show a stagnation in creativity as far as coming up with new IPs, this is often the argument against remakes of movies, I personally love the fact that old titles are being brought back to life with a shiny new coat of paint.
Remakes to our favorite video games allow us to experience a title in a whole new light. Even if it’s something as simple as a direct remake but with a substantial update in graphics, the fact that we are given an excuse to go back and reintroduce ourselves to a game from a decade ago is something worth getting excited for.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and playing a remake to an old favorite can act as a time machine by unearthing old memories and feelings that we got when running from Resident Evil 2’s Mr. X or freeing all the dragons from their crystal prisons in Spyro The Dragon. It’s like being reintroduced to an old friend. An old friend that has gone under the knife and received a face lift, but one that you can still sit down with, have a drink, and share great memories from years ago.
Here are my top 10 favorite remakes to the games from my childhood.
10: Shadow of the Colossus
Okay, so the first entry on this list is a bit of a cheat. I had never played Shadow the of Colossus when it originally released, but when it was announced that a remake was in development, I was intrigued to say the least. I had heard so many great things about the game: The scale of the fights, the somber setting, the obtuse, but beautifully tragic story. I wanted to try the title out for myself, but never had the chance to go back and actually give it a go. Cue the remake…
From the get go, it was hard for me to believe that this game had originally released back in 2005. This was a remake of course, but apart from a graphical upgrade, the massive vistas and the scale of the Colossi were features that still existed back in 2005. Shadow of the Colossus was and still is a beautiful game, and the remake gave me an excuse to finally experience what so many others already had. The moment that I rode up on the first Colossi, my stomach dropped. The sheer size of the beast was intimidating and the thought that I was going to have to figure out a way to take it down was baffling. I was a man armed with nothing but a sword going up against a kaiju sized behemoth that shook the world around it every time it took a step. The sight and battle that ensued was what ensured Shadow of the Colossus’ place on this list. The majesty this title presents is awe-inspiring, delivering a gaming experience that is truly unlike any other.
9: Tomb Raider Anniversary
At the time of its original release back in 1996, Tomb Raider revolutionized the 3D action game with intense game play that attempted to replicate the thrills of blockbuster films. Unsurprisingly, thanks to its Indiana Jones style setting mixed with said action movie inspired game play, Tomb Raider was a success and a new icon was born in the form of Lara Croft.
Decades later, however, and Lara’s sharp edged, pixilated body and the flat, blurry backdrops that lined the temples had failed to age as gracefully as the 2D, sprite-based games that came before it. Lara’s first adventure was in desperate need of an update, one that could remind gamers why Tomb Raider became the popular franchise it is today. Cue Tomb Raider Anniversary…
Like a good remake should, Tomb Raider Anniversary stays true to its roots while expanding upon what the original game introduced. Lara is given more personality and backstory, but she is still recognizable as her charmingly cocky self. The fight with the T-rex and Atlantis doppelganger are expanded upon and made more exciting, while fun Easter eggs such as the Hand of Midas are all still there to torment poor Lara if she is unfortunate enough to stand atop it.
Tomb Raider Anniversary was a joy to play back in 2007 and was a welcome revisiting to an old favorite after Tomb Raider Legend had set a solid foundation for Lara Croft to return.
8: Mortal Kombat
In the years leading up to the franchise’s revival in 2011, Mortal Kombat had, like a few other entries on this list, fallen by the wayside. Mortal Kombat was not what it used to be until the reboot/remake came into existence and solidified the series’ rightful place as the ultimate fighting franchise (Sorry Street Fighter). And boy did this game bring Mortal Kombat back in fashion, painting our television screens in a gory explosion of lovely viscera and entrails.
Back were Sub Zero, and my personal favorite, Scorpion, to tear their opponents apart in glorious high definition. Never had we seen fatalities like this. Mortal Kombat was notorious for its violence, and MK9 did not disappoint. On top of what fans of the franchise were craving, we were gifted x-ray attacks and a return to a 2-dimensional plane in which to fight, bringing the series back to its roots, while phasing it into the modern era of gaming.
It’s great to have Mortal Kombat back in top form and I look forward to what gory greatness Mortal Kombat 11 has in store.
7: Ratchet and Clank
I remember watching my dad play through the original Ratchet and Clank trilogy, but I had never had the pleasure of playing through them personally. It wasn’t until the Ratchet and Clank Future series did I finally get to experience Insomniac’s beloved platformer for myself. Needless to say, I was hooked by the colorful worlds, the over-the-top weaponry, and charming cast of characters that the franchise was known for. I was officially a Ratchet and Clank fan, and when the remake of the original game was announced, I was hyped (I could have cared less for the companion movie, however)
Although I did not have the original Ratchet and Clank for comparison, it was still apparent that a ton of love and respect for the series’ roots was put into this newer version. Everything the series was renowned for was here in the remake. From the visuals to the sleek platforming game play, Ratchet and Clank is in top form and it has me excited for the future of everyone’s favorite Lombax.
6: Halo Anniversary
The year was 2001 and Microsoft’s brand-new Xbox had just released. My dad was working as a technical director at Westwood Studios at the time and had managed to acquire the console through his work. What was the first game he put into the disk drive…? Well, it was Munch’s Oddyssey, but we’ll ignore that and pretend it was Halo: Combat Evolved for the sake of dramatic effect.
I was immediately intrigued by the space marine setting, despite my snobbish remark of it being an Aliens rip off (everything was a rip off of something to me at that age. I was quite the elitist 11-year-old). Anyways, long story short, I absolutely fell in love with the game and Halo had become one of my favorite things ever. I played the living heck out of the game, both co-op and single player. Master Chief was my main man in green and the two of us could not be separated. Then, exactly 10 years later, the remarkable happened: A remake to the original game was in development!
Halo Anniversary gave me a reason to relive one of my favorite games of all time. Again, I could snipe those sorry elites from the path up to the right. Again, I could tremble like a little baby during the flood level. Again, I could escape the Pillar of Autumn in my Warthog as it was about to explode (RIP Foehammer). Again, I could hum the Halo theme day in and day out!
Halo Anniversary was a gift from the gods to Halo fans and even though it was just a graphical upgrade, that was more than enough to experience Master Chief’s first adventure all over again and again and again.
5: Halo 2 Anniversary
Then Halo 2 Anniversary happened…
Admittedly, Halo 2 was always my least favorite entry in the original trilogy. At the time, I wasn’t too big a fan of the now grandiose storyline with English speaking aliens (I guess I gave the grunts from the first game a pass for some reason), the idea of the Gravemind never sat all that well with me (again, an English speaking alien) and of course, playing as the Arbiter for half the game was disappointing. However, like how Halo Anniversary gave me a reason to revisit a game I loved, Halo 2’s revamp did the same with the potential to change my outlook on what I felt was the bastard child of the series—That honor now sits with Halo 5: Guardians.
What Halo Anniversary did for Combat Evolved is expanded upon here. Sure, the game play is still untouched for the most part (if ain’t broke, don’t fix it), but not only were the graphics updated, the cut scenes were redone in gorgeous hi-def CGI. Everything in these scenes, from the visuals and cinematography, 343 Studios did a brilliant job of re-imagining the scenes from Halo 2 into something that made the game feel grander than before. And this was a large reason as to why I gained more respect for Halo 2.
Being able to revisit Halo 2 and experience it in a new light allowed me to appreciate what Bungie was trying to do with its sequel. I knew what to expect with the Arbiter’s involvement, and you know what, playing Halo 2 10 years after its initial release I learned to like the Arbiter’s campaign SLIGHTLY more than Master Chief’s. He’s arguably a more interesting character with a very interesting arch, one that overshadows the Chief’s traditional save the world plot.
Thanks to Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 2 had gone from one of my bottom tier Halos to an entry that I place just below Halo 4 and Halo 3.
Yes, Halo 4 is my favorite Halo game. Sue me.
4: Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil is an undeniable classic that helped birth the survival horror genre, but it’s hard to argue the fact that the 90’s iteration of the game hasn’t exactly aged well. And despite the contradiction to myself, because one of my favorite aspects about the original Resident Evil is its voice acting, lines such as, “Don’t be a hard dog to keep under the porch, Barry.” (Albert Wesker, 1996) prove the game’s outdated-ness. Only a game from the 90s could possess such wonderful dialogue.
For the time of its release Resident Evil was pretty terrifying, but it can be said that fear dissipated over the years. The well-lit levels and pixelated monsters lost their edge and it was time to make the Spencer Mansion horrifying again. That’s where the Resident Evil REmake comes in…
The REmake (yes, I’m going to write it like that for the rest of this entry) took everything that was scary from the original and exemplified it. The mansion was much moodier than before, with dimly lit, muted corridors, dusty air, creaky floor boards, and zombies that made the ones from 1996 look like friendly house guests. The REmake made Jill and Chis’ nightmare horrifying again. New additions too, such as the un-killable Lisa that would stalk you through the house were surprises to the fans of the original, communicating early on that the devs were hellbent on scaring the living crap out of you.
The Resident Evil REmake stands as one of the shining examples of how to update a game from the past by not only preserving what made the original a classic, but expanding upon those aspects and turning the REmake into a classic itself.
And by the sounds of it, Resident Evil 2 is following in its predecessor’s footsteps.
3: Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy
When thinking about the ultimate nostalgia trip, only a few games really take me back to my childhood: Final Fantasy VII (fingers crossed I can include that game on a list like this soon), Final Fantasy IX, the Spyro The Dragon Trilogy, and the Crash Bandicoot Trilogy. I ADORED Crash Bandicoot, so much so that “WOAH” and “OOGA BOOGA” were ingrained in my child psyche. Of course, I was terrible at the game and usually had to resort to watching my mom play though and beat it, but I was enamored by the orange marsupial’s misadventures, nonetheless.
Crash Bandicoot was the pinnacle of 90s platforming and the N’Sane Trilogy brought it all back with gorgeous visuals that made Crash’s quirky style all that more appealing. The challenge was upped, to the ire of some, but I didn’t mind. I was happy to jump back into 3 of my favorite games growing up.
Crash 1, 2, and 3 are treated with the upmost respect in the N’Sane Trilogy, recreating the old games with such accuracy, that when I played them, it felt like I was that kid again, missing my jumps over and over again. Only one game remake could give me a greater sense of nostalgia…
2: Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy
And if you haven’t already figured out what that remake is, it’s Spyro, The Reignited Trilogy.
After finishing Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy, I think we all wanted the same thing: For everyone’s favorite purple dragon to get the same treatment. And after The Reignited Trilogy was officially announced, it immediately became my most anticipated game of 2018. Playing through Spyro The Dragon and Spyro 2: Riptos’ Rage in particular were the closest I’ve come to stepping into a time machine. Weird and oddly specific memories that somehow tied into my experience playing the games started to rush back when I would play certain levels and rediscover certain areas. For instance, upon finding a specific dragon needing rescued, I was suddenly hit by the flashback of me at my friend’s dad’s house eating crappy chicken tenders and watching Mystery Men. What does this have to do with Spyro The Dragon? Who the hell knows, but the fact that a game could remind so vividly of my childhood brought a massive grin to my face. No matter how random these memories were. I mean, I’m sure I was playing Spyro right before or after watching Mystery Men, or I turned Mystery Men off and played Spyro instead, because that movie sucks.
Much like Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy, Spyro is given the same level of respect and eye for detail. What were once simplistic, pixelated levels, are now beautifully rendered worlds with a unique art style and personality for each. Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy is a celebration of everything Spyro and I hope it is only the beginning of the purple dragon’s return to his golden years.
And here we are, my all-time favorite remake: DOOM!
By the way, I believe it’s some kind of law that DOOM must always be typed with caps lock on.
Anyways, where do I begin? Just from the opening, this game had me on the edge of my couch cushion. Oh, that opening title sequence! The moment when you step into that elevator and get your first look at the Martian landscape, while the mysterious Samuel Hayden speaks over the ramping DOOM theme. Oh, good lord was I ever covered in bloodthirsty goosebumps. It was about to get real!
DOOM has everything I want in a video game: Fast paced action, blood and gore, a futuristic setting, demons, a faceless space marine, a passive aggressive robot guy, insane weaponry, the BFG, the list could go on for another page or so. I LOVED this game!
DOOM was by far my 2016 game of the year. The moment I put it in my Xbox One and started tearing into demonic hordes, I didn’t want to put the controller down. The game play is fast and energetic, but so smooth and easy to adapt to. The soundtrack pumps you up and inspires you to lay waste to anything unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of your visor covered face and doesn’t let up until the credits role. Even the credits are freaking hardcore!
DOOM is not only one of the greatest remakes to a classic, but it is one of the greatest modern first-person shooters. DOOM strips away all unnecessary baggage and focuses on what an action game needs to be: Pure and unadulterated adrenaline pumping chaos.
Rip and tear, baby!
And there you have it. If done right, remakes to our favorite video games can be windows back into our past, or awesome re-energized versions of classics. Here’s to hoping that we have more remakes to great games on the horizon, or more specifically the remake to Final Fantasy VII!
Anywho, I’m going to go get myself a copy of Resident Evil 2 and spend the rest of the night screaming expletives as Mr. X chokes Leon to death, while I’m trying to place a goat medallion in the lion engraving, so I can open the passageway into the sewers.