Monday, December 28, 2020

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2020 Awards - Top Five Remakes & Remasters

Remakes and remasters are common in this industry more often than in others.  It makes sense as games end up being lost to history and stuck on old platforms. Technology also allows older games to rise from their ashes like a Phoenix and present players with new visuals and perhaps even new takes on beloved classics. This countdown and awards category as part of SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2020 Awards lists the greatest of these types of games that launched in 2020. Note: Some particular gaming outlets didn't get their hands on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series console, so certain games might not be on their lists... Not naming any names, though! 

Let's get to the countdown with the Top Five Remakes & Remasters!

5) Resident Evil 3 (PS4, XB1, PC)

Despite removing some content from the original, I argue that Resident Evil 3 is still a remarkable remake. It's similarly an intense, pulse-pounding, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride filled with scares and fun alike. In that sense it's just like Resident Evil 2, a game I listed as one of SPC's Games of 2019. The only difference is that while RE2 got a little long in the tooth on repeated playthroughs, Resident Evil 3's remake was a shorter experience, encouraging multiple playthroughs that were more enjoyable--at least for me. There is a fair number of downsides to Resident Evil 3's remake, but for me, the positives far outweighed the negatives, making for a truly terrifying survival horror shooter that made my heart pound and hands sweat from beginning to end, especially on the higher difficulties!

4) Trials of Mana (PS4, NSW, PC)

Whereas many remakes on this list changed things up considerably compared to their originals, Square Enix's Trials of Mana played it a bit more cautiously, remaking a game that feels like a relic of the golden age of gaming. This time, though, the major difference being that the beautiful 2D sprites and worlds of the original Trials of Mana were fully realized in glorious, colorful, vivid 3D. The action on display offered simple but effective--and most importantly fun--combat that required paying attention to enemy tells and red area of effect targets to avoid damage. Exploring the world was an immense joy and pleasure, searching for hidden treasures and secrets alike. Being able to choose from the cast of six protagonists to join your three-person party meant that multiple playthroughs were encouraged to fully enjoy this already exciting and engaging remake. And, that's exactly what I did with Trials of Mana, a remake that didn't reinvent the wheel, but what there was already was so good that it didn't need to do so.

3) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PS4, XB1, PC)

It's time to trick out with Tony Hawk with the remake of both Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and Pro Skater 2 with the appropriately titled Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. Like past remakes from Activision's team of developers (Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled), so much love and care was poured into this game. Right away my muscle memory from decades ago came back almost immediately, as the controls are just as tight, precise, responsive, and feel as good as they ever have. The levels were also lovingly restored with new visual touches, making old, familiar playgrounds (or in this case, skate parks) feel brand spankin' new. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 finally gave the Birdman prominence in gaming once more and is a true testament to the developers for making a game that lives up to the legacy of the originals.

2) Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (NSW)

Getting SuperPhillip Central's coveted (your mileage may vary on that) Game of 2012 back when this awards ceremony was structured differently, Xenoblade Chronicles returns to SuperPhillip Central's Best of Awards with a definitive edition releasing this year on the Nintendo Switch. With updated character models and environments, looking absolutely fabulous and more beautiful than ever before, as well as remixed and rearranged music, Xenoblade Chronicles has never looked or sounded better. The quality of life improvements added to the game's menus and systems made a great game even better as well! The addition of Future Connected, an epilogue story with a previously cut area from the original game, featured the same "wow" factor and sense of discovery as the main Xenoblade adventure. All in all, it was a true treasure and wonderful pleasure to be able to have an excuse to play through Xenoblade Chronicles all over again, this time with the definitely definitive version of the game.

1) Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)

So many of the remakes of 2020 stayed true to the formulas that the original games constructed--and I no doubt adore them for that--but one game--one remake--that totally took a tremendous risk that ultimately paid off for most players like myself was Final Fantasy VII's glorious remake. I was hesitant to learn (but understood the reason) that the legendary RPG was being split up into parts and that the first part would only take place in Midgar. While some of my hesitation was well founded due to some padding in some chapters of the game, Final Fantasy VII Remake ultimately works because of the additional character interactions and story content the developers included with the game. No spoilers here, but like the decision with the game's story, it was also so very bold of the developers to create an action-RPG focus first with Final Fantasy VII Remake's combat. It overall worked out in the end, as Final Fantasy VII Remake wasn't just a magnificent achievement, but it unquestionably earns the right to be listed among the top remakes of the year--or in this case, at the very top as the best remake of 2020.


Tomorrow evening, the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2020 Awards continues on with more categories and more winners (and some losers, too)! I hope you'll join in on the fun!

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