In recent times, remastered editions have gotten a rather undeserved bad reputation among some gamers. Even uttering the dreaded word is enough to send their blood boiling. With veins bursting and eyes bulging, they unleash a tirade on the evils of the modern gaming industry; a condemnation of the boundless avarice of the publisher for recycling and re-releasing older games so that naive consumers, mesmerised by the alluring promise of slightly upscaled graphics, are gifted the opportunity to pay for the game all over again. The purists among these ranks contend that the game could never be as good as it once was and that any self-respecting ‘real gamer' would have their video game in the original as God intended. However, with the recent news that this year Dark Souls is to be remastered for PS4, Xbox One, PC and the newly christened Nintendo Switch, it is time that we explore why remastering older games is so important for gamers.
There are some games that we simply cannot forget. Some are the first we played, some are those we loved, some are just games that got us through difficult parts of our lives and offered a distraction for which we will be forever grateful. With time, these games fade from the forefront of our memory and replaced with other games while, quite unbeknownst to us, a mist of rose-tinted nostalgia descends upon our favourite titles. I remember seeing the first trailers for the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane trilogy and returning to the original only to realise, to my horror, that Crash hadn’t always looked so crisp and detailed. Casting my eyes upon that earlier angular marsupial, I realised that he had grown and matured with me in my own mind, while his actual digital form had remained the same. Remastered editions are a perfect way to keep the memory of a beloved character alive because they recreate them every bit as vividly as we do.
Unfortunately, not everyone will remember older titles; gamers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Some are late starters, some were too young to play them, while others simply missed them somewhere along the way. Remastered editions give new players the chance to experience classic games without having to switch to PC or buy another console. We should be thrilled for this new crop of gamers: think of the things that they have missed. They have not have looked into the mournful eyes of a gentle Colossus as it resigns itself to its rotten and unkind fate. They have not faced the terrible realisation of the true meaning of the words ‘would you kindly’. They have not repeatedly bashed their head against the wall after having the next bonfire almost within their grasp then watching it slip away, in agony, yet again.
Finally, we must not sniff at the improvements that have been made to these games. Dark Souls, in particular, was a highly ambitious title for 2011; imagine what it could do with 2018’s game engines. Moreover, remasters can include extra or DLC content that many gamers were not able to play. They are the old games with just enough of a new twist to change the experience of playing the games without producing an entirely new game altogether. This means that they can change people’s opinions of the games by producing older ambitious titles in a context where the developers’ vision might be better realised. It also means that gamers who were too young or too inexperienced to finish an older game are given another chance to do so with equipment that they are now familiar with and comfortable using.
Remasters breathe new life into games; they are not just soulless carbon-copies. They can give games and gamers a second chance to perform at their best in the perpetually changing and competitive world of gaming. Some, inevitably, will fail; but it is important that we at least give them a shot.