Who Remasters the Remasters?
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a very quick raft of releases of old games for new consoles, and not a single one has released without some issue, big or small. Just think about that for a second.
There is clearly a demand for old games. There are entire communities of retro fans over the internet, and the fact that these releases are springing up shows that there are financial incentives for them too.
But obviously not very much. Because they keep getting screwed up.
Blade Runner is an exception, which I recall was not easy to work with and was a passion project to boot. Nightdive have continued to try and it out in the months since.
Goldeneye had awful controls on Switch, leaving players to use accessibility options to fix it. Tales of Symphonia fails to improve on previous releases, and actually is worse in some ways. Metroid had an impressive release, but some minor texture issues have been mentioned.
Across all these games, with the exception of Metroid Prime, developers must now continue working on these games. Many of which were already fully completed 20 years ago. And, bizarrely, are sometimes worse to play now than on their original consoles.
None of this is down to developer skill. I would imagine it’s more likely time and money given to the project, which then increases when a release isn’t up to scratch. If older games were treated with respect in the first place, maybe this wouldn’t be the issue that it is.
Remasters – A Constant Cash Cow
I tried to get through this article without bringing up the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy. It’s in a pretty good shape now, but is still a long way from perfect. Will it ever be fixed? Will the embarrassing art upscaling that ruins multiple jokes ever be put right? The answer is likely no.
It sold millions of copies. Pick a major game released in the last year, and there’s a good chance the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy outsold it. And yet the negative reaction made Rockstar cancel remasters of other, equally deserving games. That’s the message they took from the backlash.
Meanwhile, fans of these games continue to work on them free of charge. Ocarina of Time has raytracing now. People are porting countless games to PC, increasing user options and maximising preservation. The Retroachievements community is breathing new life into hundreds of games each month. When you remove the financial incentive and offer things over to those who care most about these games, wonderful things can happen.
Old games deserve respect. They deserve preservation. Half-baked remasters are all too common. Things being available is not enough, especially when cost is high.
But what is the answer? Hopefully talented developers are given more time and money to make sure official projects are as user friendly and high quality as they can be. And, simultaneously, companies stop going after the fans who are working hard to keep old games working well. This doesn’t seem like an overly complicated solution.