Remastering games is a point of contention for many gamers. On one hand, it updates a great game or series, bringing it to newer audience; but on the other hand, the company makes a point of rehashing an old game potentially poorly rather than moving forward with something new. The games that get remastered are unarguably fantastic games, but that doesn’t always mean the remastering is good. They could be poor ports, lacking features, or nothing more than the same game packaged for a new system. There have been mixed opinions on HD remasterings, but with the news of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare including a remastered Call of Duty 4, and with the slew of recent and classic games becoming remastered constantly, it seems like this trend will be something that sticks with the gaming industry for awhile.
This list consists of the 5 best and worst remastered games and not remakes. I’m sorry Ratchet and Clank — maybe next time.
The Best Remastered Games
1. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Originally released by Square Enix for the Playstation 2 in 2001 and 2003, Final Fantasy X and X-2 were graphically overhauled and given quite a few new additions. The remastered game was released on the Ps3 and Vita in 2014, then a year later on the Ps4. The game was put through the ringer with advancements: they rearranged a majority of the musical compositions, upgraded display resolutions, and also added a new feature called the Creature Creator that recruited friends and enemies in a similar fashion to Pokémon. The graphic overhaul alone is a fantastic feat for these JRPGs; the character models are updated as well as the environment textures, making the game seem fresh for the current age. Though X-2 is the weaker of the two games, the collection holds up really well and was done justice with this remastering. Plus, with the new rumors of the game releasing on Steam in the coming weeks, we will only see more improvements to this already great remastered collection.
2. Metro Redux
This remastered collection of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light made it clear that even recent games can be improved upon. Originally released in 2010 and 2013, these games were bundled and enhanced for the newer generation of consoles. The graphical enhancements and gameplay tweaks bring these games to the next level. The graphics look crisp and smooth with this transition, making it seem as if they could have been originally released on the PS4/Xbox One. The gameplay additions bring a new level of excitement, with a survival mode and Spartan mode for a new way to approach the games. Survival mode makes the game harder and more resource scarce for a tactical way of playing, while Spartan is fast paced run-and-gun action with more resources at your disposal. Both games fare very well in this HD remastering, even when compared to other games that came out during the same time as Redux.
3. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen
Starting in 1996, the world was consumed by a new franchise that would eventually revolutionize handheld gaming and RPGs alike. That franchise was Pokémon, which released in 1998 in North America with Pokémon Red and Blue Versions. Arguably one of the best RPGs of all time was remastered in 2004 with FireRed and LeafGreen on GameBoy Advance. Long before the current trend of video game remasterings, this one really pushed it by making a classic game seem fresh even as they were already on the 3rd generation of Pokémon. The games were updated to include many of the current elements that were in place for Pokémon games such as support for the game link cable, GameCube connectivity, and the packaged in wireless adapter. The adapter was a first in the series, and became a series staple afterwards with wireless player interactions. The series brought the originally 151 to a newer audience and succeeded by making great remastered versions that sold very well, too.
4. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Released in 2011, this HD collection brought Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker together in one place. This was the first time Xbox owners were able to play these games, as they were originally released for the PS2 and PSP. They have held up really well, and with the upscaling to 720p resolution and 60 fps, the games look great for newer consoles. The collection brought some action for trophy hunters and nostalgia lovers as well as newcomers to the series. The improvements to the games helped the transition to the new systems, and when the collection was brought to the Vita, it utilized the touchscreen and save transferring between itself and the Ps3. Compiling these fantastic games into one collection was a great choice, as these heavily story-based games work well with one another, making the package feel encompassing of the many trials between Snake, Otacon, Big Boss, and Raiden. As the Metal Gear Solid franchise grows in popularity, especially with the success of MGS5: The Phanton Pain, this collection is as relevant as ever.
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Nintendo has had a great track record when rereleasing old titles. From Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES to the Metroid Prime: Trilogy on the Wii, they have done their games justice when reintroducing them to a newer audience. The pinnacle of these remasterings is Wind Waker, which boasted an incredible update to the graphics and many new features. The upgrades to the graphics make the game look as if it was a Wii U release title. The cel-shaded designs look beautiful, as they are smoothed out and enhanced with a new lighting engine to compliment the aesthetics. The new additions of the Swift Sail and streamlined Triforce Quest help with some issues that arose during the initial release. The game also includes a Hero mode, which makes the game more challenging for those experienced fans of the series. The game works really well on the Wii U, with the Gamepad as the inventory, letting you swap items on the fly or navigate more easily across the vast ocean. As a whole this remaster is worth getting for anyone that may have played the game already, or even people that have never played a Zelda game before.
The Worst Remastered Games
1. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
This game is undeniably fun, with the open world Hong Kong landscape at your disposal. The story is exciting and as you progress you feel deeper and deeper in the criminal underworld of Hong Kong; however, as remasters go this one is a bore. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition brings all the DLC from the previous release while also updating the graphics. The game was initially released in 2012, and then remastered in 2014, only 2 years later. The updates to the graphics are negligible and the little additions to the game otherwise make this remaster an odd choice. It’s nothing new and caused few heads to turn when it was announced.
2. Kingdom Heart 358/2 Days and Re: Coded
The remastered versions of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 are fantastic; they add a lot of new elements, from graphics to completely new gameplay mechanics. However with these releases they completely snubbed 358/2 Days and Re: Coded. Want to watch almost 3 hours worth of cutscenes retelling 358/2 Days and another 3 hours for Re:Coded? Well that’s what you’re getting. There were initial ideas of actually remastering these titles, but instead they went for a full cinematic take. If someone wants to replay these games, they are looking in the wrong place when they buy Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 and 2.5 Remix. Advertising these games as remastered versions may be bending the truth a little.
3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Rockstar’s incredible Ps2 open-world game was botched when it was “remastered” for newer consoles. The video game community turned the HD version inside out after it was released, as the game suffered from fps dips even while being capped at 30fps. The game’s graphical upgrades aren’t very apparent and the inclusion of some additional features was missing. After some investigation, the game was found to possibly be a port of the Android version rather than a true remastering. A lot of mystery is surrounds this poor HD port, but what is known it that it is a weak update to a great game.
4. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection
In 2002 the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai franchise was created, bringing many of the classic Z fighters together in this epic 3D fighting series. The gameplay is easy to pick up and fun to dish out. When the announcement of an HD collection came up, many were ecstatic to be able to play these great games again. Once the game was released, however, it was apparent this remastered collection was far from great. The remaster was released in 2012 and only included Budokai 1 and 3, missing out on the second iteration altogether. The reasoning Namco Bandai gave for this was because out of the 3 games, the first and third were the games fans wanted more. That being said, Namco Bandai also decided to not add online play and stick with three single player modes and local multiplayer. Though the game is nicely visually updated for Ps3 and 360, it is apparent the game is lacking in many other departments. The original soundtrack is replaced and even some cutscenes are in the original 4:3 display. The games that are included aren’t bad, but they miss the mark when trying to reach old fans and newcomers, too.
5. Silent Hill HD Collection
This collection of remastered versions of Silent Hill 2 and 3 was bound for greatness. Silent Hill 2 was released in 2001 and Silent Hill 3 in 2003. It was a fantastic choice to bring these classics to the next generation of consoles, however, a lot of setbacks created a mess and ultimately one of the worst remasters ever. The updated graphics aren’t very good, especially since there is a lack of anti-aliasing. The game is plagued by technical issues such as game crashing bugs, disappearing textures and even missing sound effects. The Ps3 version of the game was later patched to help with these issues, but the 360 owners were literally abandoned and given refunds because of how much a mess the game was. The game was updated for native 720p with 16:9 display, however, with a game like this it’s easy to look past those improvements. This is a major example of why there is a lot of criticism for HD remasters. Maybe one day we will get to see proper remastered Silent Hill games, but for now we should keep our old consoles around to play these classics.