Jack runs down some of the usual ways companies re-release games and what those “re” games mean to him.
Gaming has come a very long way in the years since it’s birth and the it’s history grows longer with every step forward. As the community and industry move forward, some members have felt the compulsion to reach into the past and remind us of where we’ve been, where we come from. I am both privileged and unlucky to have been born into a world with gaming. As a young twenty-something year old, I’ve never known a world without my favorite medium and watching it come into its own has been an honor. Unfortunately, this also means I only gained control over my own access to games recently and, consequently, missed large swaths of history here and there.
With that in mind, you might think I’m overjoyed whenever an older franchise is revived or re-released in some form and, to varying degrees, you’re right. What I’m here to discuss today are those “varying degrees” and what causes them to shift so dramatically. We’ll take it piece by piece and see what I can come up with for every category:
While I’m not sure how “reboots” are actually defined in gaming terms, I’ve always thought about them as a game developed by a team that begins at square one, but with a narrative, gameplay elements, and supporting ideas all inspired by or informed by a previously released title or franchise. For a more concrete explanation, think DmC: Devil May Cry compared to Devil May Cry 1 through 4. DmC: Devil May Cry was developed with a more “western perspective” with the help of the fine folks at Ninja Theory and restarted the series with the beginning of a new narrative. While the story started anew, it still drew a large amount of inspiration from the original series.
While I (regretfully) missed the original series, I thoroughly enjoyed this reboot. It gave me a look at an older series that had always appeared to be covered in sharp edges and generally unapproachable, especially since most of it took place on a system I never had the chance to own. I love this kind of “re” game because, good or bad, it gives new players a chance to experience a series they never had the chance to play, which is important for a medium that so passionately preserves its history. Reboots also give older players a chance to experience a re-imagination of their favorite franchise if they are willing to embrace that opportunity.
Re-releases are the most divisive of the bunch for me. Many exist simply to bridge the generation gap and, while they do offer new console owners a chance to play some of the later titles of the previous generation, it often feels like a second chance for producers and developers to cash in on a game with minimal effort. Re-releases beyond the beginning of a new generation are usually titles within the same franchise released as a bundle. You have your Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition as an example from early this generation. A great game, re-released with what essentially amounted to some prettier hair for the beloved protagonist.
Because that kind of re-release leaves a bad taste in the mouth, I’m not exacly enamored with it. On the other hand, sometimes the bundling of a franchise into a set works to my advantage. One of my greatest gaming regrets is that I never had the chance to experience Metal Gear Solid so that collection seems like a dream come true…once I find the time to play through it.
Remasters may just be my favorite kind of “re” game on this list. Remasters offer all the excitement of the reboot, adding new features and/or gameplay elements, but they also offer the safety and security of the re-release, staying true to the original beat-for-beat. I really only have positive examples here so strap in for some gushing. They’re both Pokémon titles. The titles LeafGreen and FireRed were two of my favorite titles for the Game Boy Advance back in the day. While both were near carbon-copies of the originals, additions of new pokémon-types, abilities, and even player gender choice make these remakes just different enough to combine the excitement of new with the comforts of old.
The second set of Pokémon remasters I’m most excited about are the recently announced Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Both of these titles I expect to be great because Pokémon is in the title. However, I also expect they’ll be amazing because Ruby and Sapphire were two of my favorite entries in this long-running franchise and if there’s one thing Nintendo has proven exceedingly well, it’s that they know how to take what you used to love and make you want it all over again.
With Nintendo being so heavily featured in “remasters” I almost feel bad bringing them up again here but remixes are a type of “re” game that I have yet to see anyone else do. Recently, with the drought of third-party titles plaguing their home console, Nintendo has seen fit to re-release some of their much older titles in collections called NES Remix and NES Remix 2. While Nintendo does certainly love to draw on their history to boost sales, these are not simple re-releases. In a very Nintendo-esque stroke of creative genius, Nintedo has taken the “remaster” to the next level, giving players unique or just plain wacky goals and challenges to make us experience the titles of yester-year in new ways.
Examples such as disappearing platforms in Super Mario Bros. or playing through a Donkey Kong stage as the earth-bound Link rather than Mario revitalize these old titles in such a way that make them wildly appealing to both the grizzled veterans of gaming and the fresh-faced noobs. The “remix” is a relatively new trend in gaming and I’d love to see it expand to other companies or franchises. Give me a reason to come back to some of my favorite games and I’ll buy as many copies as I can afford just to hand them out to friends and family. This may be the first time this generation that I believe other gaming industry leaders could take a page out of Nintendo’s playbook to great effect.
Well, that completes the rundown of all the “re” games I could think of. What are some of your favorite re-releases, remasters, reboots, and/or remixes? Let me know in the comments below!