Friday, June 21, 2013

How to Not Mess Up a Remake

"What's old is new again."

It's a statement that comes up a lot and for obvious reasons - remakes are easy money.  Simply by the flow of time, you have people who just aren't exposed to certain things the first time around and it's just easy enough to repackage those things and sell them brand-new to the folks who just haven't experienced them as well as the people who have and want to see what the 'new' experience is like.  We've seen a lot of the remake and remaster situation this generation because we've reached a point where a -lot- of people haven't been around for as long as we have, or at least not been in it as some of us have, which just means it's easy to capitalize on.  Well, easier since, well, remaking/remastering a game is honestly a very simple process.  Yet...some companies just seem to completely miss the point.  So here's a nice little refresher course on how to properly make a remake.

If you change something big, try to make it optional - Yes, everyone knows the whole point of giving a game a remake is giving it another go while not making it a wholly different game, but that doesn't mean you should change -everything- about it.  Or if you do, then it's a good idea to leave the original there as well to give new and old alike an idea of just -what- you changed and be able to quantify just how much work you put into it.  Dragon Fantasy Book I (which I still need to review >_<) was absolutely wonderful about this, in that the guy remade the map assets and music from scratch to make it better looking and sounding, -but- they also included an option to turn it back to 'retro' to see how the game was in its original state.  (they also patched in the ability to pick between retro visuals and sounds if you were so inclined)  Compare this to, oh say, Chrono Trigger DS wherein Squeenix completely and totally changed the script without including the original.  Also the new script was terrible, thus making it all the more groan-worthy that there wasn't an option to not stomach it.

For the love of God, don't make it worse - This one should be the most goddamn obvious of them all, but it's hilariously sadly one of the ones that gets tripped over the most.  If a game ran like X on this platform, it's just....just a given that you can figure out -some- way to make it run like at LEAST X if not X+1 on more advanced platforms.  Since everything is more advanced now than what you're remaking at the moment.  If you can't, then don't fucking do it.  The more recent examples have been the Jak and Daxter HD Collection on Vita and the infamous Silent Hill HD Collection debacle, but those aren't the only ones.  Hell, it'd take a while to name all the worst ones.  But one of the particularly bad ones, I think, is Squeenix's handling of Final Fantasy Tactics:  The War of the Lions which was a remake of Final Fantasy Tactics.  While I personally didn't have too much of an issue with it, there were many, many folks who complained of some slow-down that happened during magic casting and the like.  It's a valid complaint.  Where it gets egregious is when that slowdown is still there in the next port of it (on the iPhone) and is also still there in the next next port (on the iPad) when that port came six months later.  Did fucking nobody QA this damn thing at any point?

Realize what it is you're doing and market it appropriately - Remakes and remasters can be really, really exciting since you're basically getting new fans while also allowing old fans to relive the fun of whatever it is you're remaking.  But a remake/remaster is never, ever, ever going to be, on the whole, more exciting than a new iteration of the particular game or series.  (Yes, even THAT remake that will never happen, shut up)  So never forget that.  Promoting the announcement of your remake for days, even weeks leading up to said announcement is just the height of cruelty and is completely unnecessary.  I doubt I need to remind everyone about the whole The World Ends With You debacle.  A week-long countdown site for an iOS remake that wasn't even a universal app.  Who in the actual fuck thought that was a good idea?

Give the most complete game you can - If your game released and then you did something else with it, tweaked it, added DLC (which obviously isn't a thing -yet- but will be in future remakes) or whatever, include that shit.  Different regions get different versions of a game meaning some regions don't get -everything- of a game.  So if you're remaking/remastering that game, make every version standard as the version that had the most content.  Never, ever, ever, ever, ever even consider the notion of selling these extra bits of content additionally, squash any rumor that's saying you're thinking about doing it, or at least let people know you're giving them the whole game when somebody fucking asks you about it since that also gives you a chance to explain your strategy.  Because, you know, we always assume you actually have one, being that a remaster/remake is still a release.

I hope this handy little guide helps anyone who is thinking about releasing a remake or remaster of a game in the future.  It's a complicated thing, I know, but it's rewarding and valuable if you put in the right effort.  But if you're repeatedly making big mistakes in your remakes or remasters, then perhaps you should consider either not making those mistakes or not constantly torturing your fans with shitty remakes and remasters.  Of course, it's not like there's any company that is fairly consistent in releasing bad remakes and remasters, right?

this post is very tongue-in-cheek and I am very proud of it

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