Boss Rush Banter: What Makes a Video Game Remake Good and Successful?

What makes a video game remake good? Is it the updated dialogue, streamlined gameplay features, or the high-resolution graphics? In what ways does it stay faithful to the original and what does it change? While a fan’s criteria for what makes a remake good may vary, there are recurring elements of the best and most critically acclaimed video game remakes that point to their success.

The Remake is More Accessible for Newcomers

The original Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was released on Game Boy Advance in 2004. Four years later, Square Enix remade the game for PlayStation 2, making it far more accessible for fans of the franchise who may not have owned the handheld console. Eventually, all of the spinoff games would be remade or remastered in some form for the PlayStation 4 collections, reinforcing the hard work that went into the Re:Chain of Memories remake in the first place.

Image Credit: Square Enix

The Remake Features Improved Graphics

Originally released on the Game Boy in 1993, Link’s Awakening was fully remade for the Nintendo Switch in 2019. This remake retains the top-down camera of the original, but takes advantage of modern video game hardware to dramatically transform the game’s appearance. The remake sports bright, bold colors, and HD three-dimensional renderings while still retaining the spirit of the original game through its stylized character models. Link’s Awakening is a great example of how a remake can benefit from modern graphics to breathe new life into the original, but not the point that it’s unrecognizable either.

Image Credit: Nintendo

The Remake Enhances the Story and Characters

Resident Evil 4 Remake enhances the presentation of its story and characters through its smart yet selective changes. What starts as a rescue mission to save the president’s daughter becomes a fight against something much more sinister as the team learns more about the cult that kidnapped her. Where the original game can be quite campy at times, Resident Evil 4 Remake ups the stakes with its dark storyline and presentation. It also does a better job at showing the parasite’s impacts on the infected through Ashley Graham’s mind control and Leon’s hallucinations throughout the game, and it’s very well done.

Image Credit: Capcom

As for its characters, Leon is more serious and mature, but that doesn’t mean he’s humorless either. His quips are now presented as bravado in combat or a coping mechanism for the chaos around him, instead of just cheesy one-liners for the sake of it. Ashley is perhaps the character that benefits the most. Far more likable and capable in the remake, Ashley isn’t just a damsel in distress who relies on Leon to save her all the time. She has a greater role in the story, and the changes to her writing and personality have been so pronounced and positive that it’s changed the way players perceive her and the rescue mission at large.

The Remake Modernizes Gameplay With Quality-of-Life Features

The Shadow of the Colossus remake updates the user interface so it’s cleaner and doesn’t take up as much room on the screen. In addition, adjustments to the controls have helped to streamline combat, but that’s not to say it eliminates the unique experience of playing Shadow of the Colossus either. In addition, new collectible items called Hidden Coins were added in the remake. These coins are scattered across the desolate landscapes and incentivize player exploration, and the reward for collecting all of them is well worth the extra work. Little quality-of-life upgrades and additions like this go a long way to enhancing the player’s experience and enjoyment of the game.

Image Credit: Bluepoint Games

The Remake is Faithful to the Original and Improves on it in Every Way

Final Fantasy VII Remake is an example of a remake that improves on the original in every way. While you can argue that it’s not as “faithful” as other remakes listed above, it improves on the original by being an extension of it. It benefits from better localization, graphics, and storytelling to enhance the worldbuilding and setting of Midgar. What is simply a few hours-long sequence in the original becomes its own complete and cohesive story in the remake. Unlike other remakes that work to “replace” the original as the definitive edition, Final Fantasy VII Remake is made to coexist alongside the original.

Image Credit: Square Enix

The remakes I’ve mentioned above — while some may be better at enhancing the story, gameplay, or graphics — all share the criteria of respecting the original source material while innovating to bring something new to the table.

But what makes a video game remake good and successful to you? Let us know in the comments, or join us at the Boss Rush Discord!

Featured Image: Capcom

The Boss Rush Podcast: The Flagship Podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network

The Boss Rush Podcast – The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, Stephanie, LeRon, and their friends from around the internet come together with other creators, developers, and industry veterans to talk about games they’ve been playing, discuss video game and entertainment based topics, and answer questions solicited on social media and the community Discord. 

New episodes of the Boss Rush Podcast release every Monday morning on YouTube and all major podcast applications like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Patreon supporters gain one week early access

Listen on your favorite podcast application or watch on YouTube!
Anchor | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Twitch | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Stitcher | Amazon Music

Follow The Boss Rush Podcast on Social Media:
Twitter | Discord | Instagram | Twitch | YouTube | Facebook Group | Facebook

Leave a Reply