Remakes are the act of cashing in on nostalgia by revisiting a famous endeavour by using new technology and techniques, in order to recreate the original story with better visual and audio impact. This is also technologically impressive, as the same title arrives in the modern age with all the bells and whistles of the current generation. Resident Evil II being a great example of such a venture.
The remake, as a tradition, demands that the story is told again with a new spectacular look; it bears repeating that the theme of aesthetics and effects is the most obvious aspect. The fact of the matter is that the new art direction can have a tremendous impact on the audiences, far more than just from updated textures and animations. That and no studio will turn away the opportunity to make something that is guaranteed to sell.
That said, sometimes, remakes are often unwanted too. They are poor attempts at revival of fan favorite classics.
Why are remakes popular?
- They revive an old classic- many old classics are no longer playable, as they were originally released on consoles that just don’t work anymore; technology has become too advanced.
- They revive a forgotten gem/hidden gems; oftentimes, during the heyday of a console, many console releases are forgotten and overshadowed by bigger and popular titles. They are good games that deserve to re-released and get the recognition they deserve.
- Adding much needed twists and mechanics sorely missing in the original aka adding mechanics by popular demand- There are, after release, demands for popular mechanics that ‘should have been a thing’ but either were not introduced or basically
- Revive a genre- sometimes, genres like hack n slash games get out of fashion. An old popular title remade with new technology and visuals can bring back a genre’s popularity. It just has to be done to the current tastes and popular mechanics. Crash Bandicoot Remake, for example, brought back platforming action in the modern era, retaining the original flavors while upgrading the style, art and textures to modern levels. It is quite a treat for both old and new players.
- New engines allow innovative gameplay: Resident evil 2 switched to over-the-shoulder camera, and introduced new aiming and dodge mechanics, as well as item degradation, ammo sparsity and tougher zombies and basically rebuilt the game in a completely new way, redefining how it feels to play. It was not the same game, but it was a new game with old characters. This brought about a scary new depth to the survival horror aspect.
- Making a return of a series//putting them on the map unlike an older engine; some games were released on consoles that ultimately were popular but due to the console being short lived or replaced quickly, some games fade quickly into obscurity. A remake could bring back the game.
- Fixing the game idiosyncrasies//poor design decisions: some games just have bad design choices that ultimately turns promises to… well, trash. So, a remake could be a corrective one too, redoing the entire game with new and better mechanics, while upgrading poor story moments too. Better mechanics always means a better playable game.
- Spreading the game to other consoles/ports: some games were only released to one console, and as such, was not played as the players dud not own that console. New remakes, which are easier in modern Unity engine, for example, could bring the game to a much wider audience.
Why are Remakes hated?
- Money grab- A remake typically is of a popular title, so it has made a lot of money. Remaking the game is just a fancy version of making consumers buy the same product. It is exploitative, especially considering that games have gotten very expensive and selling something which is just a shinier version of an existing product is a bad move at best.
- Waste of resources; a new game could be made with that much effort. Generally speaking, new games are much more welcome than ‘rehashes’ of some old titles. This applies ESPECIALLY to popular titles, who can do with a remaster instead.
- Bad quality- some remakes are really bad. For example, some games end up being remade into mobile games, with free to play elements that essentially lock progress unless a lot of money is forked over. This almost always ends badly. Dungeon Keeper went from an interesting innovative title to a pay to win cookie cutter and forgettable app.
- Unneeded/pointless- some games don’t need remakes, as the original can still be played or the remake stud
- Utterly new platform that fails to capture the original spirit- or trash it all together.
- Bomberman remake is a good example-the original game is with cute little stylized anime characters and the overall theme, music, and audio is generally upbeat… even if the game is about using bombs. A remake trashed all the upbeat and cutesy aesthetic, and made it into a gritty post apocalypse free for all deathmatch… thing. It didn’t go well, and it severely damaged the Bomberman name.
- “mobile” remakes are not a good example of a remake- the point is that it’s a game that is complete on launch, not free to play needing funding injection
- It is far too soon for a remake– releasing a ‘remake’ when technology has not advanced enough is basically just a fancy remaster. It is considered in bad taste (by the most important people, the BUYERS) that these kinds of remakes are just skeevy money schemes.
- Microtransactions; let’s say I buy a game, and I have expectations of all items in game to be there and also reasonably easy to unlock. Microtransactions are introduced to basically ‘ease up’ some game mechanic that makes it impossible or incredibly difficult to do certain in game things. A good example of a micro transaction is a ‘fridge’ item from Fallout 76. Normal players have to buy this item in order to keep their food from rotting, which means lost resources. However, not every player is willing to throw money for a game they bought at full price. The same kind of microtransaction can appear in a remake, where a previously unlockable item becomes financially hostage by the company. Microtransactions also ruin the experience, and is considered to be done so maliciously towards vulnerable people that it is banned in Europe by the Belgian competition commission
A remake also sometimes does not surpass its past- and that is where the stink of failure really rises up. Generally speaking, we find that making a remake just isn’t simple. The remake is not a remaster, it is not just better graphics and better-quality voices. It is a complete remodel; and as such, many games get it wrong.
One of the best examples of a remake in the last year is the Resident Evil 2 remake. This game boasted a completely new look and style of play, and managed to change the gameplay to be both similar to its original version, as well as introducing new mechanics, enough to change the whole experience. The next generation looking graphics as well as the models & geometry gives it a stunning sense of horror atmosphere, gore and sheer panic that the original title simply could not bring to bear.
On to Fallout
Now that we have made our case for remakes, we bring forward the case of fallout. Sometimes, a series strays from its roots. The post apocalypse genre has taken the world by storm, with many books, video games and shows being made with their own various interpretations of how the world would end. There are multiple prominent games where the apocalypse has decimated human civilization like The Last of Us, Metro series, Mad Max, Wasteland, fallout, Stalker and many smaller titles.
In particular, Fallout is one of the longest running series of games (since 1997), itself inspired by Wasteland (1988). The premise of a lonely set of people in a world ravaged by nuclear destruction trying to make the world a better place while fending off against dastardly humans and strange creatures truly captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Fallout managed to capture the exact spirit of Wasteland while retaining its own identity. The reason is tow fold; the first was that fallout needed to be its own thing and secondly, that Interplay could not get their hands on the Intellectual property of Wasteland, which belonged to Electronic Arts at the time.
Over the years, many titles of the series have been released, with mostly resounding success. The latest iteration, Fallout 76 (2018) for example, an online only experience that is a sharp contrast to the isolated experience player driven choice-based model of the previous games. Not only this, but Fallout 4 (2015) also ground the game such that its Role-playing aspect was flattened in order to appeal to a wider variety of audience. This was also not very well received, even though the game went on to be a commercial success.
However, the quality that once marked the series for its high-quality shine and magnificence has dwindled away. The series called out with tongue in cheek, parody and satire, unrestrained nationalism, centrism, jingoism, warmongering, immigration politics, racism, and unregulated capitalism, and decried how violence hollows out those who use it excessively. HOWEVER, in the latest iteration of the series, there are nuke themed trinkets and items for sale in the store, in lots of colors.
Where the series called out the hyper nationalist military industrial complex, the store sells army themed prints and smaller items. This is akin to someone loudly talking anti-sugar propaganda, only for them to later become a large sugar based confectionary seller. It is ridiculous. That’s why there is a need for the spirit of Fallout to make a return. There are other games that have done fallout better.
For example, a game called Atom RPG, which was SO MUCH ON THE NOSE that critics could not decide whether it was a homage, a rip-off or even a remake. It lived and breathed so much of the Wasteland and Fallout experience that at times it felt it was a Russian Fallout game. Wasteland 1988 redefined the genre of open world, with it having the first open persistent world, multiple branching storylines, and multiple endings. Years later, Fallout hooked into the same niche with resounding success. But that success has brought us to the present day, where a remake is NEEDED.
The atmosphere is ripe for a new fallout game; the Outer Worlds has proven that such RPGs are popular and well received. A remake of the fallout classic games (1 & 2) would achieve the following:
- Revive the series in its original form- the form that really put the series on the map.
- 2020 level of gameplay innovations would mean an entirely new experience of gameplay. Even if the series sticks to the isometric gameplay, the updated 3D visuals and level of detail (and a zoom function!) would be wonderful. It would be real eye candy too, bring the strange horrid beauty of the wasteland to the fore.
- The originals remake would help stave off the price decline of the Intellectual Property of Fallout.
- Here is a thing; fallout 76 has strayed from its path. While profitable due to players constantly using the microtransaction system, and rich players using the godawful “service”, it is definitely not a single player RPG. The online aspect of the game has also not worked, as its endless playability is not the original unique selling point.
Fallout as a brand is falling behind in terms of value and recognition; better RPGs are EASILY filling the gap left by fallout. Fallout needs a way to recapture the hearts and minds of the people again. As a brand, the loss of value would mean the loss of reputation of the company. As indie game gets easier to make with the Unreal and Unity engines, Fallout has its competition cut out for it. The best example is that the Outer Worlds is made on the Unreal engine, which is pretty run of the mill once you consider a LOT of titles use Unreal. But what The Outer Worlds did better that instead of the engine being mod-able, the game provided a wonderful story.
Fallout’s engine is very old, and it is not at all on par with the latest new engines; perhaps its time to reconsider what it is about the engine that keeps the games the way they are. Gamebryo engine needs to change. The problem here with the engine is that it is just a remake of an older engine, and therefore also prone to bugs and glitches. Here is the thing too; it shouldn’t be considered a good thing that mods have to be installed in order to make the game finished. An unofficial patch has to be updated regularly for FREE shouldn’t be a thing that one pays full price. In many ways, for years the customers of Bethesda have had to contend with broken products dubiously cited as full and complete.
This practice needs to change; fallout needs a revival that current titles cannot simply achieve. A remake for fallout 1, 2 and well, maybe Fallout Tactics (considered semi canon by Bethesda for some reason- maybe it changes things too much) in a brand-new engine would also achieve a seemingly impossible pipe dream- a game that is as mod-able and feature-heavy as it is a complete new IP with features that are complete.
A remake would also be a good opportunity for a soft reboot- and allow the series to move to a different type of style. For example, in the last two iterations have gone for an aesthetic that puts a premium on showing just how much the world has gone to radioactive dogs; everything is in a state of disuse, rubble and general trash. The “Jewel of the Commonwealth” Diamond city has shanty town aesthetics… because people ignored the buildings outside and didn’t want to tear them down for bricks and mortar? The aesthetic doesn’t make sense, and also does not show that the people are rebuilding. A new aesthetic could push the new “Renew, Rebuild” theme with the new technology of the 2020 decade.
All in all, there is a LOT of potential to reach for the skies for Fallout. Just like Resident Evil 2, the Fallout series could surpass the past with dazzling efficiency and fanfare. Remakes, overall, get a very mixed rep in the industry, due to mixed results from remakes. Many times, studios are better prepared to make new games than remakes. Some studios specialize in remakes, like Bluepoint. Remakes do mean good things, though, and a remake can really do well in the current market, given it does not drown out other IPs.