As good as some games were in their original incarnations, there is always room for improvement. Beyond updating classic games with aesthetically-pleasing graphics, remasters and remakes generally fix any outstanding flaws, and occasionally add some new content for good measure. The new Ratchet and Clank remaster was recently released to critical-acclaim, but that’s just the latest in a list of great remakes and remasters.
From old PC classics and Game Boy games, through to contemporary gems and Nintendo favourites, here are what we consider to be some of the best video game remasters and remakes that have been released over the last few years.
The Last of Us was one of the best games of the last generation, so a re-release would have to be something really special. Thankfully, The Last of Us remaster kept all the things that made the original great, and added in a few little, but welcome, features that bolstered the entire package. The new version plays and looks much better than what the original version offered, but the great gameplay remains untouched. With some shiny new graphics in tow, Naughty Dog also added in a new Photo Mode, which allows players to take gorgeous action shots of Joel or Ellie getting the better of a few Clickers.
The cherry on this beautiful-looking cake, however, is the addition of The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC, which is the perfect example on how a stand-alone single-player story is supposed to be done. If the sequel is indeed coming, the remastered edition of The Last of Us has just set the bar even higher.
Often considered to be LucasArts’ best game that doesn’t have Star Wars in the title, Grim Fandango was a hit with the critics upon its release, but a flop with literally everyone else. It was a slightly different story when the brilliant Grim Fandango remaster was released last year, and a new legion of fans were introduced to the Land of the Dead. As a testament to the game’s timeless qualities, the new remaster keeps Grim Fandango‘s great gameplay and art style intact, bar for some visual upgrades. For the audiophiles out there, the game’s brilliant jazzy soundtrack also returns, albeit in a new re-orchestrated format.
What really elevates this remaster above the original, though, is the addition of insightful developer audio diaries and a director’s commentary, with both of which providing a unique perspective of the game for newer and older fans.
With over 300 creatures and three different regions to explore at the time, it was question of when, not if, Nintendo was going to go back and revisit some of its older Pokemon universes. While there was a risk of being nothing more than a cash grab, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen were successful in breathing new life into the old black and white Kanto region. Younger fans got to see what the fuss was all about, and FireRed and LeafGreen‘s additional content gave older Pokemon fans new reasons to revisit Kanto once again.
It has since become sort of a tradition for Nintendo to remake past Pokemon games, but given how well made they’ve all been, we’re looking forward to what’s in store next.
Grand Theft Auto 5 is considered to be the masterpiece that capped off the last gaming generation, but it turns out that the game still had much to offer when it was remastered for current gen. GTA has always had fantastic in-game radio soundtracks, but the GTA 5 remaster adds an astonishing 165 new songs to an already-expansive track list. And of course, there’s the updated visuals, which make an already-gorgeous game even more beautiful.
Not one to rest on just an expanded soundtrack and graphical improvements, Rockstar has also managed to deliver an entirely new GTA 5 experience by including a first-person mode. Seeing Los Santos through the eyes of Michael, Trevor, and Franklin – literally – makes us feel like we were introduced to the city for the first time all over again.
The Secret of Monkey Island is considered a great game, but sadly, time has not done it any favors. Thankfully, the remaster came in at the right time.
While the fantastic story and writing was left relatively untouched, everything else was given a much-needed overhaul. The original 256 color palette was replaced by completely redrawn graphics, and the 8-bit audio was swapped with an orchestrated soundtrack. The best part of this remaster, though, is the inclusion of voice acting.
It’s one thing to simply read the jokes on a computer screen, but to finally hear them being spoken by voices just makes the remaster that little bit extra special.
Final Fantasy 4 is a game that helped shape RPGs as we know them, and while everything from the gameplay to the characters still holds up, the dated 2D graphical style has robbed the game of some of its impact. When the long-awaited 3D remake finally came, the immediate reception proved that the creation of the updated version was one of the best decisions Square Enix has ever made.
What makes this remake so special is the fact that it stubbornly recreated every aspect of the original game, right down to all the little secrets. Couple that with the new graphics and additional content, Final Fantasy fans got to relive their childhood all over again. We all loved Cecil, Rosa, and Kain as 2D sprites, but we loved them even more in their new 3D incarnations.