Written by: Frank Cirinna
With the announcement of Final Fantasy VII getting a remake, the video gaming world lost its collective mind. Final Fantasy VII is hailed as one of the best RPGs of all time, but is it really? I would say yes, but I only played it over a decade after its initial release, going into it knowing I was supposed to love it. Same holds true to classic Pokemon games, Chrono Trigger, and many more.
Yes, these games are inherently good, there is no disagreement there, but what happens when gaming moves on. Being born in 1993, I got to experience the huge boom of the N64/PS1 era, but my first real console generation was Xbox/PS2/Gamecube. Final Fantasy VII came out when I was still a toddler, and that holds true for the fast majority of modern gamers. While there are a largely growing number of gamers in their 20s and 30s, what about all the youth who never experienced these games.
This is where remakes are golden. I experienced Pokemon R/B/Y, but just barely, so when FireRed and LeafGreen came out, I had a gamergasm. At the same time, I lent the game to my younger cousins and friends to ensure they got to experience the magic of those original games. But remakes only go so far.
Right now with movies, we are seeing our third incarnation of Spider-Man in 10 years, second (arguably 3rd or 4th) Superman and Batman in 10 years, and even more. Did we really need a modern remake of Arthur? And this is where video games need to be careful.
The modern reboot of Tomb Raider was amazing, but when they rebooted Prince of Persia, no one applauded. Reboots for the most part, stem from the consumer desire to re-experience something in a modern format. Unfortunately what this means is that modern classics don’t benefit from reboots as much as older classics, even with the passage of time, unless a new technological leap makes it so. With the HD generation of gaming, we are slowly running out of technical innovation. Yes the PS3/PS4 Xbox360/XBone leaps were noticeable, but I don’t truly think anyone cared all that much. The next big tech leap is 4K, and maybe its tablets as controllers, or VR, or motion sensors (again), but without that innovation, modern classics need not be touched.
Final Fantasy VII and its comrades in that generation are all ready and primed for remakes because of the huge technological leap between them, BUT should only be endeavored upon if the consumers want it. So no, don’t remake Xenogears, even though fans want it, the consumer base does not, but YES, remake Chrono Trigger because Chrono Trigger has become ingrained in videogame culture as the pinnacle of 16bit RPGs.
That being said, so many people refuse to play them because of accessibility, graphical limitations, lack of voice acting, or even just a lack of engagement. But I guarantee that if Chrono Trigger was remade in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy VII HD the world would collectively, once again, lose its mind.
So that being said, where do we stand on remakes for videogames? The truth is, we need to reconcile the difference between consumer wants, what consumers will actually purchase, and the almighty dollar. Game developers need to be careful on what games they remake, and what games they simply make a sequel for. Sometimes “fresh” is actually something old. Not all old things are rotten and not all new things are fresh. Find a genre, a niche, a style that we are lacking in modern games, and modernize the franchise.
It doesn’t even need to be a remake. Looks what Deus Ex did. There are millions of people who played Human Revolution and will play Mankind Divided who don’t even know about all the other games in the series. It’s all about being fresh. Take something old, something loved, and throw some paint on it, everyone is let down. Take something old, something loved, rework it from the ground up, modernize it, and make it new, and profits will surge and consumers will be thankful. But what do I know, I’m only a consumer.