Updates: A question of quality
August 25, 2008

It's been awhile since I made a post, so I thought I'd end the drought with something that's been on my mind for a topic over the last few days.


I don't mean sequels or prequels. Not really, anyway. I'm talking about remakes and next gen revisions. Do you know of any really great ones? Any terrible ones? Let's hear it.

My first nomination for an amazing update would be the Maximo games. The first one is amazing, but Army of Zin is nearly perfect. Here is a case of an update being a much, much better game than the original source material ever was. The Maximo games are hard, but fair, with well spaced checkpoints; where the original Ghosts 'n Goblins franchise featured cheap deaths and almost no checkpoints, amounting in serious frustration.

The best of the GnG canon is probably Super GnG -- a game which doesn't come close to competing with Army of Zin on any level. Score one for the next generation. Old skool doesn't always get the win!

I can think of another stark contrast between old and new that goes the other way: Doom 2 versus Doom 3. The dusty old PC favourite wins by a landslide.

But as wide as that gap in quality is, consider this: Alone in the Dark (circa 1950 or whatever) absolutely kills the utterly broken Alone in the Dark for the 360, which I am just now fiddling with. The newer game scores points for graphic realism -- and nothing else. That match-up is a blow out if there ever was one.

Any others?

Most recent blog posts from Marc Golding...

Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - August 25, 2008 (08:07 AM)
I'm a huge fan of Metroid: Zero Mission over the original Metroid. Sure, the GBA remake isn't too challenging, but it looks fantastic, has a wonderful sense of pacing, and isn't a jumbled mess like the original. You can navigate through the labyrinths with relative ease, you don't have to refill your health packs every time you return to your save file, and there's even that extra bit after the end of the remake that wasn't in the original NES Metroid. Good stuff all around.

On the flipside, though, I'm not a huge fan of Super Mario All-Stars. Yeah, I know it's an old remake, but it's worth mentioning because I dislike the updated graphics and music. The original aesthetics from the NES games were better. The games play fine, but they lose a little magic thanks to the "improved" art.
Masters Masters - August 25, 2008 (08:31 AM)

I am totally in agreement with you on the Metroid issue. The first Metroid plays terribly today -- nevermind how it used to hold up. But Zero was a joy to play, if a little short and simple. It's such an improvement, you feel like saying "oh, okay so this is what the original game SHOULD have been."

I disagree with the Super Mario All-Stars take though. What's so wrong with the update? It's so sweet to have them all together, plus the Lost Levels.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - August 25, 2008 (11:14 AM)
It is a good compilation, for sure. The Mario games still play just as well as they did on the NES. The issue I have is that I didn't care for the updated graphics and music. The art style wasn't as pleasing to me. I loathe seeing the once neon Fire Mario now clad in white.
Masters Masters - August 25, 2008 (11:55 AM)
Ah, I see. I guess your complaints, while valid, went unnoticed by me. But damn if that Metroid example isn't the most prime (heh) one there is. There's like a six-mark gap between the original and Zero.
bluberry bluberry - August 25, 2008 (03:13 PM)
I can only think of bad ones, honestly. particularly Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. the whole game was ruined by them slapping MGS2's mechanics into MGS1's levels, you could just shoot any guards/bosses in the head the moment you walked into a room and you're all set.
espiga espiga - August 25, 2008 (06:18 PM)
The remake of Dragon Quest IV, Michibikareshi Monotachi, is quite good. The graphics are on par with the Playstation 1 versions of DQ and it fixes the flaws the NES version had. You can actually control the rest of your party this time!

As for bad remakes, how about Tales of Phantasia on GBA?The English translation was botched beyond belief... =[
Suskie Suskie - August 25, 2008 (07:59 PM)
Say what you will about the original Metroid, at least it was never laughably easy. Zero Mission should have been called Metroid for Toddlers, and the stealth segment at the end was awful. The odd thing is that after I unlocked the full original game on that cart, I found myself playing THAT far more often than the remake. Yeah, it's dated and wonky and features the save system from hell, but I still derive some sort of masochistic pleasure out of playing it. Take that away and you realize just how simple-minded the whole thing is.

The Twin Snakes... eh. The one thing MGS did NOT need was more cutscenes, and aside from that, what do we get? Um, improved graphics and a first-person mode. New content would have been great.

The only other remake I can think of off the top of my head is Resident Evil on GameCube, which was gorgeous and atmospheric as hell, like the original was supposed to be... but 2002 was around the time I started to get sick of those tank-like controls and goofy puzzles and whatnot. What's the use in updating your game if you don't update the gameplay?
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - August 25, 2008 (08:07 PM)
I still love Zero Mission in spite of its extreme lack of challenge. While I'm sure I don't speak for everyone, it's usually worth playing an easy game as long as it excels in every other category.

Here's another horrible remake - Conker on the Xbox. Sure it looked pretty good (Conker's fur looks like a real animal's!) but the game still had wonky controls AND Rare took away a lot of the cussing that was in the N64 version's script. They also replaced the original's zany, if somewhat crappy, multiplayer for some lame new modes. After years in development, all it had to show were new graphics that didn't even matter a whole lot.

Suskie Suskie - August 25, 2008 (08:36 PM)
Forgot about that one. Yeah, well, I didn't even think Conker's Bad Fur Day was anything special anyway. It had some classic moments, but it was too uneven and too shallow. It really had no idea what it wanted to be.
bluberry bluberry - August 25, 2008 (09:13 PM)
oh yeah Suskie, good call. REmake was a sick game, easily my favorite of the old RE games and possibly my favorite RE period.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - August 25, 2008 (09:23 PM)
[Conker] really had no idea what it wanted to be.

Nah, man. It wanted to be a comically offensive farce for pop culture. Ironically the remake was a farce of a farce. How does that work?
Suskie Suskie - August 25, 2008 (10:02 PM)
I understand it being a farce. It just didn't know what kind of game it wanted to be. Whenever it seemed as if something would develop, it'd move on to something else.
honestgamer honestgamer - August 26, 2008 (12:27 AM)
Is no one going to mention Prince of Persia? Sid Meier's Pirates? Both great updates, though the latter was (I feel) the more successful update. Prince of Persia is neat, but there's still something insanely hardcore about the original that the new ones don't entirely capture.
Masters Masters - August 26, 2008 (06:16 AM)
Good call on PoP, Venter. That's a hell of an update. But as you say, the newer trilogy never felt hardcore like the original pair. Those games were HARD. Can you imagine the original game had a 'sand tank rewind' crutch? I can't.
bloomer bloomer - August 26, 2008 (07:02 PM)
I didn't like the 3d prince of persias at all. In their own right, I found them unappealing. Then if we make comparisons, the originals are hard to beat in terms of their precision. 2d is great for precision. As soon as you add a bunch of semi-uncontrollable elements like 3d cameras and play areas with more infinite amounts of room in which you can stand, that kind of precision is out the door. I mean I love lots of 3d 3rd-person games, they're probably what I play most, but I don't think platforming intricacy is what they're much good for. And that's what Prince of Persia is all about.

I have the new AITD for Wii but haven't tried it yet. The marketing has been pretty funny, all this talk of 'bite-sized nuggets of story so you won't lose your place!' - but I can see what they're getting at. My main complaint about adventure and horror games these days is just their ever-increasing bigness, and their longterm demands on your time or memory. And I do need some of that grind - but not every game can be like that, so I also like it when a game comes along which is an antidote to that. And AITD is trumpeting that this is what it's about. So I'll be interested to see how it goes.
Masters Masters - August 27, 2008 (07:30 AM)
I liked the first PoP update, The Sands of Time well enough, but then the formula got a bit dry for me. The camera was good enough and flexible enough that the game could and did demand some precision moves from the player.

I think what made the original PoP so difficult was how deliberate you had to be about moving forward. Why? Because the timing was so unforgiving (you only had a split second to jump through the clamping jaws); and you had to concentrate so hard to remember where the next trap was; and you knew that if you died, you'd be sent back so far to restart (and Jesus, your deaths would eat up precious time on the godforsaken timer).
psychopenguin psychopenguin - August 28, 2008 (11:59 AM)
Zero Mission is definitely a good example of a great remake. They made Metroid playable somehow.

Another recent remake is Final Fantasy IV for DS, one of the better remakes I've seen.

Bad remake: Crystalis for Game Boy Color. End topic.

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