As you probably discerned, yesterday was April 1st and therefore, Square Enix hasn’t really confirmed a remake of Final Fantasy VII. This would be the point where I slowly shrug my shoulders and say “April Fools?” to the three or four of you that read the article. While writing it, I didn’t really think I’d have anyone fooled, so think of it more like a Games You Should Have Played that fell on April 1st. But the whole time I’m typing, remembering Final Fantasy VII, I got to thinking. And you know what happens when I start thinking. Eventually I start Thinking Deep. So Let’s Think Deep about which games should be remade, or if games should even be remade in the first place.
The Trouble With Classic Developers
Square Enix has been extremely wishy-washy with the official word of a Final Fantasy VII remake, flipping back and forth between saying they’d like to do it, admitting that it’d take too long and cost too much, and then speculating that it may actually be possible. I find this really strange since the first six Final Fantasy games, including Tactics, have been remade repeatedly, pretty much whenever a new console hits. Consider the very first Final Fantasy: It was originally on the NES/Famicom, then ported to the Playstation, then ported to the GBA, then ported to cell phones, then ported to the PSP, and at some point dumped on the Virtual Console. Not every one of those is a straight port though. Some are complete overhauls of graphics, music, and content. Eventually that just gets ridiculous.
If you were to ask me, my favorite Final Fantasy is always going to be VI, mostly because it was my first. I hated IV, though I blame myself for playing VI first. You just can’t take a step back like that. Regardless, I tried playing the SNES version and couldn’t stand it. I tried again when it was ported to the Playstation and couldn’t stand it. I then bought the GBA port (do you see a trend with Square Enix?) and forced myself to finish the game. Sadly, the very next year I got the DS remake for Christmas. It’s still sitting on my shelf, still in the wrapping, mostly because I have no desire to attempt to play the same game a fourth time. I’m ashamed to say that I own three versions of Final Fantasy VI as well and completely expect to buy the DS remake when that inevitably happens.
I can’t entirely fault Square Enix. RPG’s take a long time to make, it’s tough to come up with new stories, and there is an established fanbase that will pretty much pick up every remake you make of them, such as Chrono Trigger or any of the Final Fantasy games. Other companies to do the same thing were Ubisoft by remaking Konami’s Turtles in Time, Capcom for remaking the Mega Man series, Street Fighter II, and all the Resident Evil games into oblivion, Konami for remaking Metal Gear Solid on the GameCube, and of course Nintendo for remaking the Mario Bros games whenever they haven’t done anything for a while.
The Few Positives
So before I start going off on the negative reasons for a remake, let’s pause and look at the positives, shall we? We’re at a time now where it seems like everyone who wants to play games is currently doing so, and for me it may seem odd that someone hasn’t played Ocarina of Time by now but there’s the chance that someone never had the opportunity to play it when it first came out. That’s the big benefit at work here: Remakes give new gamers the opportunity to play some classics they might not have missed. Beyond that, remakes give the game developers a chance to perfect the games past the original luster, meaning that a fantastic classic game can only get better, in theory. Plus, some gamers who had the game originally may have sold it, lost it, or just don’t have it for one reason or another and now that they have the new system, a remake of their favorite game from the past is a welcome treat. That’s all good and well, but I think the negatives spoil the fun for everyone.
We’re in an age now where a port of a classic isn’t difficult to find or download from the Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, or the Playstation Network. Most of the big favorites are there, just waiting to be snatched up for a reasonable price compared to the actual classic cartridge or disc. A remake now just seems pointless to me. Did I really need yet another chance to play Resident Evil? I’ve had plenty of chances, so another “remake” that uses motion controls becomes irrelevant to me.
Squeezing Every Penny From The Loyal Fans
Which brings me to another point: Games that get “remade” way too fast. I’m going to continue bashing Capcom for the Resident Evil games now because I just finished Resident Evil 5, begrudgingly but of my own free will, and now they’ve released the Gold Edition, a version that includes all the DLC that should have been on the game when it first released. I waited close to a year to play the game because I don’t have the money to buy everything I’d like, so waiting for a used copy to drop to a very reasonable price of $15 is a common practice in my home. I feel like I wasted my money, but then again, at least I didn’t buy it Day One for $60, only to then have to pay for each new piece of DLC, and then see the “good” edition released, as if to mock me or say, “Thanks for your loyalty, now buy it again.”
Nintendo and their Mario games, while fantastic, don’t need any more remakes. Did you realize that there wasn’t a single new Mario platformer between the original Game Boy and the DS? The Game Boy Color had a remake of Super Mario Bros, and the Game Boy Advance had remakes of Super Mario Bros 2 and 3, and Super Mario World 1 and 2. That’s why New Super Mario Bros was such a big deal for Mario fans. Finally, a new Mario platformer in the style we all remembered. I was just ticked to see these remakes on the handhelds since I already owned the console versions of each, plus I had Super Mario All Stars, the definitive remake collection of the Mario Bros games. Why would I want to buy these games yet again? The convenience of having them on a handheld? Why? I’d much prefer a new game on the handheld, thanks.
Pokemon just saw the release of the Gold and Silver version remakes, though the constant milking of Pokemon fans’ money isn’t new. Heck, the basic business practice behind Pokemon revolves around the inability to obtain every single Pokemon by yourself or with a single game pak. That was the beauty of having a Red and a Blue version to begin with; making the key differences 10 Pokemon unique to each game. That was it. Couldn’t get Meowth in Red, couldn’t get Scyther in Blue. Then Yellow version was released, a remake of the two, almost a “Greatest Hits” version of Pokemon, and even that didn’t contain all 151 Pokemon on a single pak. Every subsequent generation has had a “Greatest Hits” or “remix” version of the two main versions, i.e. Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum versions. Things got really sneaky when Ruby and Sapphire required you to have FireRed and LeafGreen, the remakes of Red and Blue version, to complete everything, and how Diamond and Pearl required you to have LeafGreen, FireRed, Sapphire, Pearl, Pokemon Ranger, Pokemon Coliseum, and Pokemon XD just to come anywhere near filling your collection out, not including event-only Pokemon. That’s just unacceptable, especially since each new Pokemon game isn’t really anything new, just more Pokemon that act like all the Pokemon that came earlier. There hasn’t even been a significant graphical or sound quality upgrade since the first ones, as I mentioned in my review of SoulSilver/HeartGold.
Slamming Capcom yet again, this time for Street Fighter II, it seems entirely irrational to realize that just about every year since Street Fighter II was released a new edition came out that tweaked the gameplay mechanics and added new playable characters, sometimes characters that were already in the earlier versions but that you weren’t allowed to play as for some reason. One new edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, literally added a Turbo option for the game speed. That was its main improvement, and yes, it was certainly an improvement. But then there was Super Street Fighter II, followed by Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and most recently, Street Fighter II HD, the now “definitive” version to own. It took years and years before Capcom made Street Fighter III. Now we have Street Fighter IV being re-released this year as Super Street Fighter IV with new characters and more tweaks that Capcom swears couldn’t have just been DLC or a free patch to the already existing game. Simply put, if you already bought Street Fighter IV, you’ve wasted your money because the better version is about to be released.
That’s one of the biggest aggravating factors to remakes for me. Even director’s cuts of movies bother me like that. Final Fantasy VII Advent Children really frosted my cookies. I bought the US DVD release the first day I could and I loved the hell out of it because the movie was awesome. Just recently, a better edition of the same movie came out, one that Other Chris can conclusively say is better than the original version, the version I own. This doesn’t make me want to buy it again. Rather, this makes me question every release a company makes since I have to wonder, “Will this be released as a better game within a year or two?” That sort of remaking practice only manages to create a sense of distrust between customers and the companies, and to that I say “No Thank You.”
But what games could really use a remake now? Classic games, like Pac-man and Tetris, have been remade into the ground but nothing has changed since they first appeared other than they’re now on every single console or cell phone available. I’m trying to think of a game that really, really NEEDS a remake, and I find myself coming up short. Fighting games don’t need remakes; they just need full updates with new characters and abilities. Sports games are typically the same game year to year with new rosters and stats, so there’s no point in a sports title remake, either. Really, I can’t think of a game I’d like to see a remake of more than I’d rather see an entirely new continuation. Can you?
And there’s where I end and you pick up the conversation. Are there games you really do believe deserve a complete remake? Are there remakes that you feel entirely overshadow the original? I want to know, so leave a comment and tell me your options. But do bear in mind, there’s a good chance I’ll just redo your comment to better reflect what I’d prefer you said.