Just like Hollywood, the videogame industry seems intent on rebooting, remaking, or rehashing their popular franchises to make a safe buck.
Perhaps unlike Hollywood, however, the results in the videogames are often pretty good. Films tend to age better than videogames because they only need to worry about the storytelling element, and stories are often timeless (see Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Hansel, and Gretal, etc.) Videogames don’t just have storytelling to worry about, though – they have the gameplay side of things to worry about. Game mechanics that might’ve been revolutionary back in a late 90’s PlayStation game might not have the same feeling now that they did back then. Thus, often a remake is justified in the context of the videogame industry.
And with remakes such as Resident Evil 3 and FFVII generating huge success this year, what better time is there to look back at the top 5 best videogame remakes of all time? There have been some good ones and even bad ones to be sure, but this list is devoted to the best of the best – the creme de la creme.
So, get your graphics card and sound chips at the ready, as we look into the best five videogame remakes of all time.
5) Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen (2004, GameBoy Advance)
The original Pokemon Red and Blue are treasured games for Millennial gamers growing up in the ’90s. They are significant for kicking off the monster-collecting, monster-battling craze that has remained a big seller in the videogame industry for decades. If there were ever a prime example of the power of videogame nostalgia, you’d find it in the heart of these GameBoy classics.
So, it was a surprise to learn that Nintendo had remakes of these games in development for the GameBoy Advance. Using the same game engine and mechanics from Ruby and Sapphire, FireRed and LeafGreen not only gave the originals a much-needed graphical revamp and music upgrade, but it also included wireless connectivity that allowed players to trade Pokemon with Ruby, Sapphire, and the GameCube’s Pokemon Colosseum to fill their Pokedex of 350 Pokemon.
4) Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (2004, GameCube)
Kojima’s stealth-’em-up classic truly pushed the power of the original PlayStation, both graphically and in terms of its complex stealth-based gameplay. But by the time Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released on the PS2 in 2002, it was abundantly clear that the game had aged. It was begging for a first-person shooting mode, lockers to hide in, extra weapons, and a graphical upgrade (especially those awkward character models).
Luckily, Silicon Knights (most famous for developing the cult GameCube classic Eternal Darkness) were on hand to help Konami retool and reinvigorate their 1998 hit. Released in 2004, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is the result of what would occur if the original MGS and MGS2 had a baby. Seamlessly integrating all of what we stated above and giving it a good visual polish, Silicon Knights remade the game for a new generation – it’s just a shame that its GameCube-exclusive release meant that not that many got to play it.
Some criticism has also been leveled at the ‘over-the-top’ nature of the remade cut-scenes (one memorable scene has Snake leap onto the windshield of a Hind D before performing a backward somersault back onto the roof). Given that this is MGS we’re talking about, that’s saying something. But fans were no doubt pleased to see David Hayter reprise the role of Solid Snake once more, along with the rest of the original cast (who were brought on-board at Hayter’s suggestion).
3) Metroid Zero Mission (2004, GameBoy Advance)
The original Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System is notable for its unique open-ended world design, its multitude of power-ups with which to traverse the world and engage enemies and also being one of the first games to feature the first playable female protagonist. It’s unique in a multitude of ways, so naturally, a remake would need to do the game justice while adding some interesting elements of its own.
Lo and behold, in 2004, Metroid: Zero Mission hit the GameBoy Advance. The game retells the story of Samus Aran’s first mission in Metroid, as she takes up her first fight against Mother Brain on Planet Zebes. Making full use of the GBA’s advanced color palette, the game still looks gorgeous by today’s standards and plays marvelously well. It also adds a more involving story with additional elements, a completely new area, new minibosses, and items. It’s also notable for introducing Samus’s ‘Zero Suit,’ which has become popular amongst fans of the series.
2) Resident Evil 2 (2019, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
This year’s Resident Evil 3 was a good game and one of this year’s best so far, but its success was thanks to its predecessor, the Resident Evil 2 remake. There really aren’t that many examples of how to bring a 32-bit 90’s game into the current generation – but RE2 is definitely one of those few such examples. While changing the original’s fixed-camera perspective and tank controls to an ‘over-the-shoulder’ perspective and a more bearable control scheme, it never failed to lose the chilling atmosphere that made the game great in the first place while adding a lot more for modern players.
There has perhaps not been a more intense and heart-stopping videogame endeavor than being pursued by the Tyrant, who relentlessly pursues Claire and Leon in real-time. And, in recent memory, there has never been a videogame environment that’s felt as real and ‘lived-in’ as the Raccoon City Police Station and yet as creepily atmospheric. It’s a game you’d be foolish to miss.
1) Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020, PS4)
Given that this is a game fans were waiting for for years, and given the hype and hysteria surrounding it, there were so many ways in which Final Fantasy VII: Remake could have fallen way below expectations. Shenmue III has been criticized by many for falling short of its potential; a game waited on by fans for years and years. Why couldn’t the same kind of thing happen to good ol’ FFVII?
Luckily, this wasn’t the case. FFVIIR takes the ‘Midgar’ section of the original game and delves deep into its unique, dystopian world and its characters while adding some new ones of its own. Finally, players not only see the consequences of Shinra’s tyrannical reign – but also the impact that Avalanche has on the sullen metropolis. The relatively black-and-white approach the original game took is dropped in favor of a story and perspective that ha you thinking and re-analyzing long after the game’s ending credits roll.
Although initially criticized for it, the game’s action-RPG battle system is intense and exhilarating, forcing you to think strategically to take out your foes and making the most of your party’s unique abilities while leveling up that ever-precious Materia. Meanwhile, exploration is an even bigger joy thanks to the PS4’s graphical capabilities, drawing you deep into the game’s world and blowing you away all the while. FFVIIR is an example of how you do a remake right – take note.
Do you agree or disagree with our list of the best videogame remakes? Let us know in the comments below.