There are some games that just shouldn't be messed with. You know the ones - the kind that you play through with a visceral zeal. Maybe they got you into gaming. Maybe they happened to be found along the way. Whether they confounded you, challenged you, or made you cry "Mommy!", some games just stick in the subconscious...and even as we look at our mighty 185W graphics cards and our quad-core CPUs, we dream of playing them again.
However, like it or not, time has dulled our palates. The 256-colour, 320x200 graphics of yesteryear are a little hard to look at no matter what the game. So, time and energy goes into developing the sequel. But by definition, a sequel has to somehow be different from the original - as if it needs to warrant a new release. Try as they might, the publishers often can't seem to get a sequel that feels enough like the original to even deserve the same name.
Oh, they try... like necromancers, they stand over the corpses of gaming giants and try to raise a second coming (or third, if the real blockbuster was a sequel). Sometimes they'll even try for multiple incarnations, beating the carcasses of the greatest games of our memories to let the dead walk again. With how hard they try, it's almost a shame that most of these games suck.
You can't blame them for falling short, really - a zombie just isn't as interesting as the living, breathing person. Oh, it may be the same body, but that vacant stare he gives you will remind you that your dear buddy Bob really is dead - this is just his reanimated corpse, smelling funny and avoiding salt like it would be the (second) death of him whilst mumbling about brains. Many times, we're left wishing that necromancer had just left the graveyard alone and let our beloved Bob rest in peace.
No, of course I'm not looking at you guys over at Eidos and Ion Storm... ahem, moving on.
Sometimes, it would be nice to have our buddy Bob back. I want Bob. I liked Bob. But if Bob's been dead a few years, it'd be nice if maybe he could get some new clothes so he doesn't still wear that tie-dye sweatshirt, acid-washed jeans and sweatband. That's all - aside from that, just good old Bob. Not reanimated, regurgitated, redesigned with new and improved this or that. Just Bob in a nice, new outfit. No zombie.
I imagine that would be a lot like the recording industry does with old records. Thirty or fourty years of improvements have really cleaned up sound quality and fidelity, haven't they? We've gone from records to CDs all the way to DVD-Audio. And for some of those oldie but goodie albums, all they need is a little bit of cleaning up of the original material. The scrubbed copy, free of hisses and pops and with stereo added is then marketed as remastered.
That, dear friends, is the premise of this article - a remastered Bob. I want to talk about the games that, if you slapped a new coat of paint on them, would be chart-toppers all over again. The thing is, that's all they need - no new weapon systems, game mechanics, robot dogs from Zimbabwe, three-eyed alien anteaters or anything else. Not even new levels. Just an engine update to bring the graphics and physics up to date. Just Bob, in a swanky new suit.
It turns out, there are a lot of great old games. So let's take a look at some of the ones we'd love to see remastered...