Remakes are a tricky thing in the entertainment world. You’re putting your own spin and giving your own vision to something that’s already been out for a while and, more often than not, has their own rabid fan base ready to pounce on anything they see as an insult to the original version. It’s a careful balance of originality and familiarity, and it’s definitely not an easy thing to pull of.
Video games certainly have their share of awful remakes, but on the other side of the same coin, they also have some fantastic remakes. In fact, there are quite a few remakes that have, by and large, eclipsed the games they were inspired by. In no particular order, here are my picks for the Top 5 Best Video Game Remakes Of All Time.
Resident Evil (Gamecube)
Before it became another run around and shoot everything that moves action title, Resident Evil was the leader of the survival horror genre. The first entry in the series was plenty scary in its own right, but in a B-movie sot of way thanks in part to its horrendous FMV and acting. But the 2002 Resident Evil remake on the Gamecube changed all that. It took away all the camp, cranked the fear factor to 100, and reminded people why Resident Evil was the undisputed master of survival horror.
The biggest thing to note about the remake is the incredible boost in visuals. Even by today’s standards, the graphics are still very impressive, especially considering that this was a Gamecube game. And as previously mentioned, the remake also did away with all of the notoriously bad FMV and dialogue sequences in the original game which, as memorable as they were, took away from the scare factor. After all, it was hard to be terrified by a near-death experience when it’s followed up with lines like, “You were almost a Jill sandwich.” But it was so much more than a simple graphics boost and better acting. New areas to explore, new puzzles to solve, and tougher, even more fearsome enemies to contend with made this return to the infamous Spencer mansion even more terrifying than the first time. Whether you’re a veteran of the series or a newcomer, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to check out this fantastic retelling of where it all started.
Super Mario 64 DS (Nintendo DS)
You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” That seems to aptly describe Nintendo’s theory with Super Mario games recently. Nowadays, Mario games have been made and remade almost to death, which is a shame. But in that ever-growing pile of add-ons, re-releases and repackaged titles, there is one Mario remake that stands out as one of the best: Super Mario 64 DS.
Admittedly, there was not too much added to this remake. Nintendo did improve the visuals and the camera angles, and added new characters, new stars to find and a multiplayer function. But everything else - the fun and imaginative levels, the memorable soundtrack, and most importantly, the solid gameplay - was left completely intact. And for good reason: there wasn’t all that much that needed to be fixed. Super Mario 64 was, and still is, one of the best 3D platformers to date. And with the DS remake, you can take it anywhere you want to go. That alone is enough to warrant a place on this list.
Metal Gear Soild: The Twin Snakes (Gamecube)
To be honest, this one is more or less on this list for personal bias. A remake of the first Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation, The Twin Snakes was my first exposure to the franchise. And I was so amazed by it, I had no idea it was a remake of an earlier game. The Gamecube version of Snake’s exploits on Shadow Moses Island is one of the strongest, and most unfairly overlooked, entries in this venerable franchise, and at least in in my eyes, it is the definitive version of the game.
The best way to describe this particular remake is the story and setting of MGS 1 with the improved graphics and gameplay of MGS 2. And it worked out beautifully. Even the voice acting got re-recorded which, although it didn’t need it quite as badly as Resident Evil, is a nice touch. It’s also worth pointing out that this was one of the few Metal Gear titles to be released on a Nintendo console, and the only one to come out of the Gamecube. But it wouldn’t be the last time Snake and Nintendo teamed up.
Metroid: Zero Mission
The Metroid franchise is one of the most beloved on Nintendo’s franchises (and one that sorely needs an awesome new entry to make up for Metroid: Other M…) While many gamers have nothing but fond memories of the SNES’s Super Metroid, it seems the original Metroid on the NES didn't receive quite as much love. It was still a great game, but the lack of a map and challenging difficulty left many a young gamer unable to complete it. That all changed with the release of Metroid: Zero Mission, a Game Boy Advanced re-imaging of Samus’ first mission on Planet Zebes.
Zero Mission boasts all the usual things you would expect from a remake: improved graphics, extended gameplays, and new items and bosses. It is also the first time gamers get to play as Zero Suit Samus, i.e. Samus sans her trademark power suit. And, by far the most welcome addition to this remake: a mini-map. The lack of an It may be tricky to find these days, given that it’s but if you’re a Metroid fan that hasn’t had the chance to play it, it may be well worth your time to hunt it down.
Bionic Commando: ReArmed (PSN, XBLA)
When it comes to remakes, Bionic Commando is a bit of a unique case. It’s notable for having both a really bad remake, and also one of the best remakes ever. The first example is the 2009 Bionic Commando on PS3 and Xbox 360, a sort-of sequel to first game on the NES that received decent reviews from critics, but was panned by fans for, among other reasons, having one of the dumbest plot twists in video game history.
Bionic Commando: ReArmed for PSN and XBLA, on the other hand, did everything right. It managed to stay true to its 1988 roots while maintaining its own sense of originality. Truth be told, the game was already pretty original for a platform title in its own right. Instead of jumping for one area to the next like most platform games, it instead allowed the character to swing for area to area. This unique mechanic was left intact in the remake, but everything else was improved upon. HD graphics, unique art style, catchy remixed soundtrack, all of them combined to make a very fun and successful arcade hit.