Do you remember the first time? The moment you realised you could go off grid in GTA and do whatever your twisted id desired? The day you stumbled across the Lightning Gun in Quake and gibbed a room full of fiends with electric death? That time you cleared a full screen in Tetris, with no time to punch the air as the next block fell?
All these moments will be lost. Like tears. In rain. If only you could go back and discover your favourite game memories again, for the first time.
Well - you can! All this soppy wallowing has been a cynical set-up so that we can say the following: Ladies and gentlemen, this really is a golden age for game remakes. And why not? Remaking games isn’t like remaking movies. You don’t have to recast or write a new script. You just have to rebuild on the old foundations.
Hardware changes, graphics get better, audio gets more surroundier - but what made a game good in 1984 still makes it good in 2014. Game play is what makes a game great. Character, mechanics, level design and story. These are the things we fall in love with.
To prove it, we’ve rounded up 16 of our favourite game remakes. Games reskinned, rebooted or remade from scratch. Each one is based on a genuine classic and each is as good, if not better than the classic game it was inspired by.
These are the 16 game remakes that you have to play:
1. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Is it possible for a remade game to achieve perfection? The 2009 special edition of 1990’s The Secret of Monkey Island makes a persuasive argument.
Of course, Monkey Island is an ideal candidate; a heavily scripted point and click adventure with a series of static screens and rudimentary character animation. But let’s not take anything away from the achievement.
Already regarded as a classic, the 2009 version does more than simply polish here and resize there. It’s a recreation of the original that retains everything that worked and sumptuously updates everything that has stopped working.
All the bits that “wake the dreamer”, like the original’s 256 colour palette and 8 bit audio, have been replaced. Hand drawn illustrations, a remastered soundtrack and freshly recorded voicework take their stead.
The Secret of Monkey Island frequently features in reviewers lists of all-time favourite games for its zany humour, balanced gameplay and compelling storyline. The Special Edition, which is available on almost every platform there is, ensures that it will stay there.
2. Doom 3
To be pedantic, 2004’s Doom 3 was a reboot rather than a remake. One that many critics thought failed to live up to the hype. How could it? The original, 20 year old Doom was a revolution for First Person Shooters. To match the innovation of its source material, Doom 3 would have needed to laser project Cacodemons directly onto the retinae of its players.
But, here’s the rub. Doom 3 is now nearly 10 years old and it retains all the claustrophobia, creepiness and chaos you remember from Doom while, quite frankly, looking awesome - especially in the recently released BFG edition for PC, which tweaks lighting, sound and textures for modern systems.
Some critics moaned about the corridor battles and jump scares; the moments of panic where a once unoccupied room would crackle into darkness and spit hostile NPCs at you. Well, duh - so did the original. It’s Doom. That’s the fricking point.
More after the break...
3. Legend of Grimrock
Spawned in a golden age, Dungeon Master was the Atari ST classic that combined brain taunting puzzles with brawn testing battles as you explored the bowels of a Mediaeval castle.
The ‘80s RPG and its similarly loved sequel Chaos Strikes Back boasted 3D environments, rendered in 2D. Though your four-strong party’s movements were restricted to 90 degree turns on a step by step grid, you never felt less than completely immersed in a world where animated skeletons, poisonous fungi and murderous mummies could be hiding around any corner.
2012’s Legend of Grimrock for Mac and PC owes everything to Dungeon Master. Though the level design is different, the gameplay is re-crafted from the bottom of its boots to the top of its helmet. There’s one key difference; though the grid is retained, Grimrock’s environments and monsters are 3D.
Torturously hard, even on medium - but rewarding you with nostalgic warmth in every level - Grimrock is how remakes should be. A little bit of homage and a lot of innovation. And if you really want to play Dungeon Master again, you can do that with an add-on mod.
4. Tomb Raider Anniversary
Tomb Raider was ambitious back in 1996, with its cavernous arenas, nascent use of polygonal 3D and Lara Croft’s pointy assets. There’s more emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration than you might remember, probably because you were hypnotised by the aforementioned pointiness. As for shooting stuff, though Lara has since euthanised species across seven continents, there wasn’t as much of that in the original game. It was better for it.
A grand total of nine other entries have been made since, but only two are genuinely worth revisiting - 2013’s recent full reboot Tomb Raider and 2007’s Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
A near complete remake, with a new engine and enhanced mechanics (developed for the seventh game in the series, Tomb Raider Legend), it somehow clones the memory you have of playing the original.
Every location is present, but there’s more to explore, with environments you can shimmy around and ropes and poles to climb. And, of course, Lara is a little more rounded as a character - both physically and intellectually.
5. Elite: Dangerous
I make no apology for including a game that’s still in development. Though experience tells us that high levels of expectation are often mashed into a stinky paste of disappointment, this is Elite we’re talking about. This is the unsurpassed, open world space exploration game that made it compulsory to own a home computer in the 1980s.
It did 3D space flight simulation, trading, combat and near-infinite world exploration - all in 49 KB . It was GTA III a full 17 years before GTA III. In space.
After many years of muttering, grumbling and licensing spats between the game’s original authors, Elite is coming back on the PC. Crowd Funded on Kickstarter, Elite: Dangerous is set for release on March 2014.
Marketed as a sequel, initial video peeks depict a 21st century version of Elite. The attention to detail and real world physics that made the original such a compulsive playing experience are now enhanced by a graphical realism undreamt of in 1984. If you really can’t wait, you can join the alpha program and start playing now. It’ll only cost you £200...