For as long as history can remember, mankind has been striving to improve upon previous inventions. Sure, the wheel is one of the most notable advances in human technology, but once two wheels are connected and a platform added, there are carts. Having four wheels makes it stable. Add an engine to the contraption and the wheel has made it to the Twentieth Century as a car. The point of the matter is that there is always someone who is unsatisfied enough with the way things are to actually do something about them. A more modern take on this is the re-releasing of video games.
Recently, there has been a slew of remastered games. Many of these are a part of the Sony “HD Collection.” Each of these games was on previous Sony consoles and has been re-released for the PlayStation 3 with better graphics; some were even redesigned to incorporate 3D effects. Sadly, not all older games actually warrant this new chance to impress. A horrible eight bit game is going to be just as horrible in high resolution. What makes a video game a good video game is the gameplay. Some might argue that the storyline is also important, but then there are games, such as several online first person shooters, that are extremely successful with little storyline at all.
If a game was not successful the first time around, re-releasing it after updating the graphics and adding nothing else will not help with its overall quality. Fortunately, most companies realize this and have yet to attempt re-releasing such atrocious masterpieces as Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis or the glitch ridden Fantastic Four. Even though video game players as well as the game makers seem to have come to an agreement to not dredge up bad memories, the market is still filled with re-releases and remasterings of games that were only mediocre and not worth playing a second time.
While re-releasing a game for a newer console makes it available to more people, this should by no means be the only reason for a re-release. If someone does not have the console that a game was released on, he or she could easily go without that game. There are plenty of other video games available. When companies re-release games with only a change to their graphics, they are forfeiting time that could otherwise be spent on new games.
Of course, it is hard to expect the gaming community to be creative in their releases when TV shows and movies happily remake or re-release their forms of entertainment. Even books have been “re-released” in the form of newer editions or re-publications where information is updated or the cover art is redone to reflect a new movie based on the book or simply to make the book more eye-catching.
Remastered video games are not always a bad idea; however, it should not be happening very often. Perhaps video game companies should learn from the movie industry. Take Disney as an example. They have recently re-released several of their classic movies such as The Little Mermaid after improving the quality of the images. What video game companies must realize is that Disney did not re-release or remake Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The difference between these two is that one is a classic while the other is a decent movie that one might watch once and not think about again. Another point that seems to be missed is that movies only have the image and sound quality to worry about. Video games are much more involved; a re-released video game should reflect this. Re-releasing a video game in HD and making it available on a new console is okay, but the game would be much better if the re-release improved the controls or fixed a puzzle that was previously incomprehensible due to a translation error.
Video game companies should make their re-releases count. If a game was alright to begin with, perhaps it should just remain alright while the next game that group makes benefits from the mistakes made in the previous, unrelated game. On the other hand, if a game is amazing, it could get a re-release, but instead of simply updating the graphics, the few trivial nuisances or glitches could be fixed. Another approach would be to change the puzzles or level design slightly, which was demonstrated with the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time re-release alongside a more challenging version of the game Master Quest.