Top 10 Video Game Remakes That Drastically Improved Original Releases

Tags: #remake ,   #ResidentEvil2 ,   #FinalFantasyVIIRemake

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2020-11-16 15:24:57

Nostalgia is strong among gamers, as we all love to return to our favorite classics. That's what motivated developers to give us remakes of popular titles for modern platforms. Luckily, a lot of times, they turn to be good enough to draw even the younger crowd who never played the original. Before we start our countdown, let's just get a few things straight. First, this list will exclude remasters, which add nothing but higher resolutions and maybe better textures. Also, don't confuse remakes and reboots, as we have a separate list for them. With that out of the way, come with us on this nostalgic trip!

10. Super Mario All-Stars (SNES - 1993)

Super Mario All-Stars is the first truly successful remake

Super Mario All-Stars is the first high-profile remake, as it includes the revised version of four Super Mario games for the NES. We've got Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, which was previously a Japanese exclusive. Nintendo did an almost perfect job here, as the updated graphics were a giant step above the original releases.

Direct comparison of Super Mario Bros. and it's remake

The first Super Mario game saw the most significant improvements. It included more detailed sprites and new effects, such as parallax scrolling. However, that's not all! Nintendo also squashed some bugs in the original games, slightly changed gameplay, updated the music and added save and load functions. Oh, and later releases also included updated Super Mario World, making it even better.

9Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch – 2017)

The Dragon's Trap features timeless cartoony graphics

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap was one of the best games on the Sega Master System, combining the platform and RPG elements. It was a challenging adventure where the main character would turn into different animals, all with their specific abilities. The remake stays faithful to the original,  to the point that you can switch to the old-style graphics and music at any time!

You can switch between modern and retro graphics anytime

Still, the developers also made some nice improvements beyond the visuals. Controls are now more intuitive, there are difficulty settings, and you can play as a female character. Finally, there are hidden bonus areas not available in the original! Hand-drawn, full HD graphics look stunning even on a budget gaming laptop, making sure that this remake will stand the test of time.

8. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (PS4 -2017, PC, Xbox One, Switch - 2018)

N.Sane Trilogy changes the gameplay, but only subtly

The first three Crash Bandicoot games for the original PlayStation were massive hits. Still, the later releases all failed to repeat the success. However, the series was brought back to life with a stunning remake that didn't use a single code line from the original. Instead, the developers created all the assets while still trying to stay close to the source material.

Modern Crash looks like an animated cartoon

The results were excellent, as everyone who played the original trilogy will recognize every level or the enemy. However, there are slight changes to gameplay, and additions such as Time Attack mode, which boosts replay value. The team even added two new levels and a better save system. While younger gamers might be shocked by the difficulty, a fantastic presentation and straightforward gameplay make N.Sane Trilogy a must-have!

7. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4 - 2020)

Final Fantasy VII Remake remakes only 30 percent of the original game

Final Fantasy VII defined the first PlayStation, helping it easily beat Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. However, it took almost 20 years for Square Enix to announce the remake. This version is built like a new game, and it uses all the power of PlayStation 4 to bring back the favorite characters and the environments. That's why we highly recommend playing it on the right gaming TV. Luckily, the changes didn't stop there.

There's huge difference between the original and the remake in every way

The game took a risk with the control system, but ultimately, it all worked well. The battles are now real-time, but there's always a possibility to pause the action and change the characters and strategy. However, the biggest surprise is that this game covers only a third of the original game's content, while still ending up having enough to keep you occupied.

6. Black Mesa (PC - 2020)

Black Mesa fixed everything that was wrong with Half-Life

Black Mesa is a unique game on our list, as it's both a fan remake of the original Half-Life and an official release! A team of enthusiasts originally released Black Mesa as a free mod before being encouraged to make it into a standalone game. The whole project took 15 years and a few engine changes, but the final result is astonishing!

Black Mesa remake makes the original obsolete

Black Mesa is built from the ground up, meaning that it looks much better than the original or even flawed Half-Life: Source. However, the developers also changed the gameplay, using the elements from Half-Life 2. This is a much more user-friendly experience, which is fun even for beginners. Finally, the biggest accomplishment is the Xen part of the story's total reconstruction, which was the weakest segment of the original. Thanks to mods, the game continues to receive new content, and you shouldn't miss it!

5. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One - 2020)

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 are still considered as the best

The first two Tony Hawk's Pro Skater titles revolutionized the subgenre of extreme sports games. The arcade gameplay encouraged us to perform insane tricks to clear the level and move to another. The series went downhill since then, so Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 returns to the winning formula.

Gameplay differences between the original and the remake are hard to spot

Developed by masters of remakes Vicarious Visions, this version uses a new graphics engine and implements improvements from the later games. However, the controls are solid, as in the original releases. Even the original soundtrack is back, with only a few songs missing. The team also managed to license all the skaters from the original games and even added new ones. Even the purists will love this title, while it's also an excellent choice for the new players.

4. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube, 2004)

The best version of Metal Gear Solid is still a GameCube exclusive

When Konami announced that it'll remake Metal Gear Solid exclusively for the GameCube, many were stunned. The initial release was one of the best games for the first PlayStation, but the developers managed to make it obsolete with The Twin Snakes. Using the power of the much stronger platform, the remake looks infinitely better, while keeping the level structure of the original.

The Twin Snakes improves every element of the Metal Gear Solid

Still, it's not all about the beauty, as the enemies also got more intelligent. What makes this game more accessible than the original is that you can use the abilities first seen in Metal Gear Solid 2. While that also means that you'll quickly dispatch some of the bosses, the challenge is still there. This is the ultimate version of the Metal Gear Solid and one of the best releases in the series!

3. Shadow of Colossus (PS4 - 2018)

Shadow of the Colossus finally shows its true potential on PS4

Bluepoint Games did a fantastic job with The Uncharted trilogy remake. Still, with Shadow of Colossus, they took things to another level. After a disappointing remaster for the PlayStation 3, the team decided to build the PS4 version from the ground up. Nonetheless, while the graphical improvements are massive, the game never lost its identity, as it keeps the art style of the original release. While the visual improvements would be enough to have the game on our list, Shadow of Colossus has other things to offer.

Graphics comparison between the PS2 and PS4 versions of Shadow of Colossus

The revised control system works better as you climb the colossuses, trying to defeat them by finding their weak spots. As the game supports 60 fps mode on PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5, we highly recommend it. The only lousy relic of the past remains the camera, which hasn't improved much.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch, 2019)

Nintendo made a miracle by transforming a Gameboy Color classic into a modern title

Remaking a Gameboy game for the Nintendo Switch looked like an enormous task. Yet, the developers Grezzo did it without harming the essentials of the original. While the remake kept the top-down camera, the widescreen support made the orientation much better. Of course, the engine was moved to 3D, and it introduces a unique visual style. 

The graphics are radically improved, but the gameplay is very similar

Everything looks like it's created from plastic, making the graphics both retro and modern. Unfortunately, there are slowdowns, but they won't spoil the fun. Like every good remake, this one also improves gameplay by allowing the main character to carry more items and you can also create your dungeons. The game encourages you to complete time attacks by providing you valuable rewards. We can only wish that the other games in the series receive a similar treatment!

1. Resident Evil 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, 2019)

Resident Evil 2 remake drastically improves gameplay

For at least 15 years, fans were begging Capcom to remake Resident Evil 2, just like they did with the original. This title was considered as the best in the series, and a strong improvement of the first release. Thankfully, Capcom decided to ditch the old assets and build the new version from the ground up.

Remake is almost like a new game compared with Resident Evil 2

Using the mighty Resident Evil VII engine, the game brought us back to Racoon City, overwhelmed by zombies. While most of the gameplay stays faithful to the roots, Capcom also made sure to change some story elements and the design to make it a better experience. The game also got rid of the fixed camera and tank controls, opting for a more modern approach. The end result is a showcase of how every remake should be done! We should mention that Resident Evil 3 got a similar treatment, so it's also worth trying.

While some may criticize the concept of selling nostalgia, we love remakes, and we're happy that they are coming in huge numbers. This mix of old and new makes them irresistible to both veteran gamers and even their children who wish to learn more about gaming history.

What are some of your favorite remakes? Which titles would you like to see brought back as remakes? Let's have a conversation in our comments section!


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