Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Play It Again, Sam! - Remarkable Remakes - Part One

Fresh off the news of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire remakes for the Nintendo 3DS, we thought we'd take the opportunity to dust off our brains and come up with some of our favorite video game remakes ever devised. These are the ones that made the originals look like student projects in comparison. Whether they updated the visuals, added cool new modes, or threw in extra playable characters, these are the remakes that get our hearts racing with excitement. Now, we don't want to overwhelm you with entries, so we're splitting up this feature into three parts. The other two will arrive on SuperPhillip Central in the following weeks.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

Our first remake is one that many have called one of the greatest games of all time. We're inclined to agree, but this 3DS remake took several annoyances we had with the N64 original and overall made a much better game. Ocarina of Time 3D totally rebuilt the land of Hyrule with completely different assets, textures, and colors to create a more enthralling gaming world. The addition of optional gyro sensor controls for aiming made sniping foes with Link's bow and arrow combo not only easier but more fun too. The touch screen always displayed items, so players could swap items on the fly rather than continually pause and unpause the game, breaking the flow. Yes, equipping those Iron Boots in the Water Temple was no longer a tedious task like in the N64 original.

An unlockable Master Quest, that upped the challenge of Ocarina of Time 3D significantly, as well as introduced elements and puzzles that went against what the original quest had taught players, was a bonus for more skilled adventurers. All of this with a steady frame-rate makes The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D the best 3D Zelda experience to date.

Super Mario All-Stars (SNES, Wii)

Nintendo could have simply taken all four NES Mario games (we're including the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, aka The Lost Levels, in this group) and ported them exactly to the Super Nintendo hardware. Instead, the development team decided to completely update the games visually and aurally. To this day, Super Mario All-Stars is one of the most impressive remakes ever created. If you somehow missed out on this too-good-to-be-true package when it originally released on the Super Nintendo, perhaps you can track down a copy of the ported Wii version, which was made for the Super Mario Bros. series' 25th anniversary. Regardless of which version you acquire, you will possess one of the grandest collections, featuring some of the very best games of all time.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (360)

Halo: Combat Evolved was a surprise hit when it arrived alongside the Xbox at the system's launch, and the Xbox brand's early success can single-handily be traced to this popular first-person shooter starring a helmeted hero named Master Chief. What the original Halo lacked was online play, so exactly a decade after the original Xbox release, developer 343 Industries brought this long desired feature into Combat Evolved's 2011 Xbox 360 remake. Alongside the addition of online play was greatly enhanced visuals, achievements, terminals, and skulls. It was a long wait for Xbox owners to be able to play the original Halo with players across the globe, but the wait was certainly worth it.

Perfect Dark (XBLA)

This 2000 N64 original by Rare was a first-person shooter way ahead of its time, presenting players with an abundant array of multiplayer options and different AI personalities. The Xbox Live Arcade remake by 4J Studios implemented the ability to play matches online with up to twelve players, or if there were any empty slots, spare AI simulants. Unlike the N64 game, all multiplayer options were available right from the get-go rather than needing to be unlocked through combat challenges. In addition to these multiplayer improvements, the visuals received a magnificent upgrade as well. For those longing for the days of console FPS games that don't follow the corridor shooter path that is so prevalent and popular now, one would do themselves well to check out this XBLA update of the sublime Perfect Dark.

DuckTales: Remastered (Multi)

Taking a NES classic from Capcom, developer WayForward created a retro revival and did the original source material supreme justice. Expanding upon the NES original, WayForward added in objectives in the game's levels, remodeled some areas, threw in a script that explained various story elements that the NES original made nebulous, implemented full voice acting with many of the surviving members of the old TV show cast, created a beautiful cartoon world come to life, added two new levels, and tossed in a Jake Kaufman-arranged soundtrack to put the proverbial cherry on top of this delicious and enticing sundae. While some can criticize the heavy focus on story elements, which do break the flow of the game, the overall package of DuckTales: Remastered makes us giddy with delight. We can only hope Capcom and Disney will allow WayForward more opportunities to recreate other classic games. Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, perhaps? Aladdin? Darkwing Duck?

Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)

Not just a remake! No, no! It's an enhanced remake. All turning up our noses at semantics aside, Metroid: Zero Mission remade the highly antiquated original Metroid released on the NES and made one of the best Metroid games released. The development team successfully brought enough new content to make Samus Aran's debut adventure feel fresh while not completely forgoing the feeling of the original Metroid. With the inclusion of better graphics and a helpful map, no longer did players have to experience Metroid by exploring multiple similarly designed rooms, getting lost and frustrated in the process. The addition of story elements were unobtrusive and brought added dimension to Samus Aran's character. (No, not in a Metroid: Other M way either!) The biggest bonus was being able to play as Zero Suit Samus in an extra chapter that players could enjoy after Mother Brain was defeated.

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP) 

Whether you're a newcomer to Final Fantasy IV (formerly known in the West as Final Fantasy II) or have played through the game more times than you can remember, this PSP remake of Final Fantasy IV featured high resolution sprite work that was absolutely gorgeous on the PSP's screen. In addition to the original game, Square Enix included the WiiWare-exclusive The After Years, as well as a brand-new game in the form of Final Fantasy IV Interlude. Throw in a new arrangement for the classic Nobuo Uematsu-composed soundtrack, new CG scenes, and gallery mode, and you have the definitive version of Final Fantasy IV. (And boy, there have been many!)

Bully: Scholarship Edition (Wii, 360)

The PS2's Bully from Rockstar Games was a fantastic title that was a reprieve from the Grand Theft Auto series. In fact, we'd love to see Rockstar return to Bully sometime soon. The remake of the game, Bully: Scholarship Edition, hit the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 on the same day. Both versions feature multiple new inclusions, such as eight exclusive missions, new characters, four new classes, more clothing options, and minor additions to improve the experience. We preferred the Wii version for its engaging and enjoyable pointer controls, particularly in the various classes protagonist Jimmy Hopkins participated in. As for the PC version, we didn't list it as if that port was in school, it would have received a note from the teacher reading "See me after class."

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