After what feels like years of waiting, the Dead Space remake is finally upon us, letting gamers everywhere return to a darker, scarier version of the USG Ishimura. By all accounts, the remake has lived up to the high expectations that fans had set upon it, letting it join the ranks of games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Resident Evil 2 Remake.
Dead Space's great success has, of course, got us all nostalgic about other some of the other great gaming remakes that have popped up other the years. As it becomes more and more trendy for developers to revisit their old work and improve it for a new generation, let's look back on the best examples to follow.
Super Mario 64 DS
George Foster, Lead News Editor
Although my heart instantly wants to go for Final Fantasy 7 Remake (something I'm certain you'll be seeing a lot of on this list), all of the changes it made to the story, canon, and gameplay make it feel like more of a reimagining than a remake. It's basically a completely different game that winks at what we all used to know.
For my money, a good remake should introduce features that make the original game feel almost obsolete by comparison. It needs to build upon what the original game did, while mixing it around a bit and adding things that can only improve the original adventure. That's why Super Mario 64 DS is my top pick here, because all it really did was take the original game, chuck in three new characters with unique movesets, bump the graphics up a bit, and add in some awesome minigames. Everytime I've tried to play the original since, I can't help thinking that Luigi would improve things.
Pokemon: OmegaRuby & AlphaSapphire
Joe Parlock, Tabletop Editor
Someone’s going to come in and say HeartGold and SoulSilver are the best ones, and that person is wrong because Johto is boring (it isn’t, but it is the frustrating intellectual pipe-smoker’s choice of generation). Gen 3 introduced so much to the formula, and to this day has some of the best Pokemon, Trainer, and world design in the whole series. OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire took that, and combined it with the innovations of X and Y to make definitive versions that felt faithful, yet expanded hugely on what made those games so special. Freeform 3D movement, new Mega Evolutions, a completely reworked Mauville City, and a weighty post-game mode that gave us the kind of stories we rarely saw in Pokemon at the time makes ORAS one of the most comprehensive and exciting remakes ever made.
James Troughton, Cross-Department Editor
Demon’s Souls wasn’t a game I ever thought would get remade, given that it’s the middle child of FromSoftware’s Souls outings, even if it’s the one that started them all. It was clunky and outdated as soon as it launched, and ugly even by PS3 standards, while being strapped to old consoles despite being a key part of FromSoftware’s history. Yet, buried beneath all its shortcomings was a great story with heartfelt characters that sowed the seeds for Dark Souls and now Elden Ring, even boasting some of the series’ best music.
However, getting to any of that meant putting up with what felt like a Dark Souls tech demo. Luckily, the PS5 came with a remake, and while it’s easy to shrug it off as little more than a graphical update, the online functionality being brought up to modern Souls standards with all the quality-of-life features FromSoftware developed over the past decade put it on par with its successors, finally making it the all-timer it could’ve been.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
David W. Duffy, Evergreen Editor
I’m going for the obvious here with Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I’m old enough to remember the colossal tease from E3 2005, where Square showed off the opening train sequence in a tech demo harnessing the power of the PS3. Sure, we had to wait another fifteen long years for that to become a reality, but boy, was it worth the wait. And I say that as someone who couldn’t actually finish it the first time around.
What FF7R did wasn’t just give an old game — one that desperately looked and sounded dated — a new lick of paint like a lot of remakes. It transformed it into a more expansive title that made Midgar truly feel alive. Secondary characters were finally given their dues (Jessie > everyone else), and while not perfect, the story was built upon to give us something that matched the grandeur of a game that was the first major title to span three discs and which spawned a rather conceited ‘Compilation’. The addition of chapter-based gameplay really made it more digestible, too, something those of us who remember that lengthy, no-save Kalm flashback scene can appreciate.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Branden Lizardi, Evergreen Editor
My initial inclination is to say Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. It managed to capture all of the charm of the original GBA game and restructure it into a more user-friendly, visually appealing, modernized package.
That is why I'd have to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and say the Resident Evil 2 remake. It did more than just take the existing concept and slap new graphics on it (though that was also a huge improvement). They rebuilt RE2 from the ground up, ensuring that they could have all of the dreadful beauty of Raccoon City without the common conflict of forcing outdated design ideas or narrative trends into a format that it wouldn't mesh with. It felt perfectly natural, new, and yet familiar. It felt less like a remake and more like what the game always wanted to be.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Amanda Hurych, Evergreen Content Lead
I’m going to heartily agree with Branden. I think Resident Evil 2 is the best example of a video game remake. Enough time had passed between the original and the remake that it getting “redone” wasn’t just a touch-up and polishing of still serviceable mechanics. They remade Resident Evil 2 from the ground up. And not only did they manage to capture the nostalgia of the Raccoon City police station, they improved upon it. I think that improving upon the original is a key aspect of a good remake, and RE2 went above and beyond when it came to that. It’s like Capcom took all that it had learned over the years with Resident Evil, including the development of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, and used that knowledge to make the perfect remake.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Justin Reeve, News Editor
When it comes to video games, I think the most impressive remakes do more than just apply a graphical upgrade. They could change up the mechanics, add something to the story, or make substantial modifications to the level design, but a really good remake has to be a great leap forward, at least in my personal opinion. The upshot is that I can’t think of a better one than Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I mean, the original came out back in 1997 and the remake was released in 2020, something which represents a pretty solid span of time. The developer behind Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Square Enix, managed to improve on all three of these points and more, something which must surely make this one of the best-ever video game remakes.
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