I hate remakes and I love them. I hate how much I love them and I think Ne-Yo and Rihanna should do more features, but let’s not get off-topic and all 2008-reference-y on the very first sentence...
We, as a society, have an obsession with remakes. We don’t want to let the old go, and we always want the new to mirror it. When I grew up, wrestling was huge and Hulk Hogan was on his last legs. There was a new star though: Dwayne Johnson, who, back then was simply known as The Rock. Before The Rock became one of the greatest sports figures of his time, he wasn’t just The Rock though. First, he was ‘the next Hulk Hogan’. A remake of a classic.
There’s a ‘the next’ to everything: ‘The next Dark Souls,’ because we don’t want something new, we want to repeat greatness. Also evident in ‘The next MJ’—both Jordan and Jackson—and ‘The next World War’ – because that’s the only way I’ll ever understand how we put that psychopath in the White House. Oh yes, we’re going in on this one, brother. Hear me preach.
We even remake ourselves, like how women get remakes to look like their young selves again or how men jump into an embarrassing remake time capsule during their mid-life crisis or get wigs to remake what they once had (I didn’t mention Donald Trump here, you thought of him yourself).
Dwelling on glorious memories has always been part of human nature, and it’s a beautiful thing - after all, life is a one-way track and once the body withers and Justin Bieber is the next President, memories of former glory will be all we have left. Gaming, however, takes this to the next level: We don’t just renovate and innovate, no, we straight up remake content. Old games are re-released with new graphics and modern-day features. And yes, I say 'remake' because I’m not getting into the whole remake vs remaster vs reboot vs reimagining vs re-whatever thing. I have a life, and we have a video for that:
Video games are a very disposable medium. A game that felt like the greatest thing ever can be virtually unplayable just a decade later - if not earlier. Particularly the 90s and early 2000s had graphical advances so great that no nostalgia was safe from the dreaded replay. Great video games intoxicate us when they’re released but that fades in a way that other mediums don’t have to deal with: Books are more or less timeless and, depending on the genre and its VFX needs, so are movies. So it only makes sense for games to re-release: Just because a game doesn’t stand the test of time and becomes unplayable, does not mean that the concepts or the story aren’t great. Why deprive so many people of a great experience if you can transition it into the new age?
Now the problem of course is that you can’t necessarily remake greatness. For a game to be great, the time during which it’s released – the culture, the state of the industry, the established standards of its time – is a crucial factor. With remakes, you can’t replicate that because you’re just rehashing an innovation that’s since become industry standard. That’s why, throughout music, movies and sports you always hear the sentence
“...at the time, it was revolutionary… ground-breaking.”
You can only invent the wheel once and be the man for it. I stroll down the street now, proclaiming my newer, shinier, upgraded wheel and boast about how it can roll, no one is gonna care. But – and this is a big but like you see on Instagram these days – if someone’s never seen a wheel before, they a) probably escaped from an asylum and are armed and/or dangerous, but also, b) they’re going to not only be amazed but, uhm, super-amazed.
That’s how I feel about remakes: If you’ve never experienced the game in question before, a remake is amazing. It’s super-amazing. I never played Resident Evil 2, nor Resident Evil 3. My bedsheets simply didn’t take so well to me having nightmares. Now, decades later, I get to replay both Resident Evil classics as an adult with impeccable bladder control and the game is a blast: It controls better and looks better. If it weren’t for the remake though, I would have never gone back to the archaic graphics and gameplay of '99. Thus, I would have missed out on it.
Or take games you’re nostalgic about: I used to love Final Fantasy 7 and I now love playing the remake. It makes me feel young again, and I just turned 30, so I need that. That and copious amounts of Whiskey. It makes me feel good, I dwell in memories, and it’s an all around good time. The remake looks gorgeous and feeds my nostalgia. Is it as good as Final Fantasy 7 was back when it released? No. At the time, Final Fantasy was groundbreaking. Is the remake better and more enjoyable than the original Final Fantasy right now, objectively comparing the games in this very day and age without bringing emotions of the past into it? Yes, absolutely. 100%. The old one is just too outdated.
A lot of people don’t like remakes. They’re upset that their very own, personal, nostalgic treasure is shared with whole new audiences that can’t even appreciate what it meant once upon a time. It’s not dissimilar to not wanting to see your ex getting a makeover and becoming a hot item that’s available to everybody.
But, look here: A great man (Matthew McConaughey) once (last night) taught me (I watched a 2 minute speech on YouTube) that gratitude reciprocates. I live by those words. Since yesterday. Thus, I no longer spew hate and doom when my favorite gaming company releases a remake of something that I have a personal and cherished relationship with. I’m happy my ex got a makeover and I wish her all the best with the many people that get to experience her now and I’ll just remember the times we had and I’ll never forget the way she… wait, we were talking about games here...
I’m happy my favorite game got a makeover and now gets to be experienced by so many new people. I reciprocate my gratitude. Or something like that.
“But don’t you hate it when gaming companies try to cash in on cheap remakes and prey on people’s nostalgia when really they’re just after your money?”
No. It’s your own fault for buying them.
More EarlyGame Talks:
People get upset about the fact that companies want to make profit, but every single capitalistic entity that has any marketing whatsoever pulls at your emotions and desires to get your money. What’s next? Are you gonna be mad at the waiter with the biceps or his colleague with the cleavage? News-flash: When they smile, flex, lean forward and laugh at your jokes, they do it to get your money. Shocker.
Remakes are the same: They’re shiny and polished to make them look attractive. Remakes are flexing their biceps and flashing their cleavage, and we’re falling for it. And that’s ok because we’re enjoying ourselves while we are. We experience greatness, either for the first time or by reliving it. Nothing wrong with that. And those who don’t like it, can just not participate. Don’t hate the player, nor the game, just appreciate. Because, as we all know now:
Thank you, Matthew McConaughey.