Remakes: The Biggest Mistakes – Introduction, The Ghost of a Game – Report

Remakes: The Biggest Mistakes - Introduction, The Ghost of a Game - Report


It’s actually a nice thing when old classics are re-released in remake form. It’s just stupid when developers keep falling into the same remake pitfalls – but which ones are they?

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At some point the time has come and every story has been told, every song has been sung, every film has been shot and every game principle has been explored. What remains to be done then is to lament the death of art. Or you just take the old works, lovingly rework them (more or less) and also rake in a lot of money in this supposedly easy way. Actually, everyone should be happy, right? The fans of the first hour get their old favorites in a drilled version with new features. And anyone who has missed the supposed classic can catch up on it in new splendor. At least that’s the theory.

In practice it often looks very different. Remakes don’t always seem to be made with the aim of doing something good for the fans. Rather, the impression sometimes arises that the studios would exploit the good name of their masterpieces to move even the last toad to migrate from the player’s account to that of the company. There are enough prime examples of what makes a good remake and what cardinal mistakes must be avoided. With this report I want to define what makes a remake bad. Measured on objective points, underpinned by notorious examples, enhanced with a dash of personal opinion and served up in five bite-sized factors.

As for the definition of the term: remastered versions of games do not require any significant revisions in terms of content and are only adapted to modern conditions in terms of technology and control. In other words, it’s mostly porting. Remakes, on the other hand, shake the foundations and screw not only on the technology, but also on other elements. The plot is adjusted, superfluous gameplay elements are removed, new ones are added – it is not uncommon for a completely new engine to be used. Not only is the original look upscaled, but a whole new visual experience is created. In short: the original version is made obsolete. Or not.

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Conker’s Bad Fur Day had a lot of “charm,” but much of it went in the remake Live and Reloaded lost.

Mistake 1: The exorcism

The immortal soul

Believe me or not, video games have a soul, a spirit that resides within them. Especially the classics that we appreciate so much today. Conker’s Bad Fur Day for example, was an asocial, bitterly angry and youth brutalizing work. Behind the sugar-sweet visage of the little squirrel was a drunken, sexist, instinct-controlled pig. But that’s exactly what gave the N64 platformer so much charm back then! If you could somehow draw wrong conclusions from the cover graphics, it became clear after the first few minutes in the game: No, this is not for the faint-hearted. I’m not even sure if it’s for me. And yet I laugh tears!

Admittedly, this extreme example of the soul of a game only applies in special hardship cases. More often than not, the spirit of the software means how well the mechanics mesh, making the title unique, how it outperforms the competition by miles. And here we come to warcraft 3 and its failed remake reformed. The real-time strategy classic and its remake are prime examples of how you can give a game its own soul and rob it again through massive wrong decisions for so many reasons that listing them all would go far beyond the scope of this report.

First, let’s look at what made the original so great. On the one hand, there is the incredibly good campaign, which tells an immensely exciting story about Arthas, the orcs and the undead scourge. The classic base building and the wonderfully balanced real-time strategy gameplay were garnished with role-playing elements. You always had to make sure that your hero got through the battles unscathed, used his unique skills and thus achieved victory. As if that wasn’t enough, there was epic voiced dialogue and render cutscenes that left you jaw-dropping in front of the screen.

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But where Blizzard’s game shone even brighter, that was in multiplayer. Thanks to the almost perfect balancing, exciting matches against friends and in the leaderboard were guaranteed, the custom maps brought a completely fresh breeze to the online games and LAN parties of this world. Tower defense, maps where you lead a simple life as a farmer or the MOBA founder DotA Allstars: Boredom did not arise and Warcraft 3 was a fixture on many computers until January 2020 – until Blizzard’s priests decided to exorcise the devil of gaming fun.

Role-playing elements, an in-depth story and lots of strategy: Warcraft 3 is still at the top of the genre today.

The Reforged Inquisition

Actually everything sounded so nice when Warcraft 3 Reforged was announced in November 2018. The graphics should continue to be based on the beloved comic look, but be brought up to date with revised HD figures and textures. Epic cutscenes were promised, cinematic cutscenes that benefit from the new character models. But not only on the optical side should do a lot. In the world of Warcraft, thanks to World of Warcraft, a lot of lore has happened and so fan favorites like Jaina or Sylvanas should be given more depth. But none of that happened. The graphics have been improved, but not to the extent promised. Worse still, there were ugly technical errors at release, missions wouldn’t start, the sound cut out, the game crashed completely. The problems are now a thing of the past, but have given Blizzard’s image deep notches.

Now you may unken: all well and good as long as the multiplayer part fits. But you did the calculation without the tavern. No profiles, no clans, no automatic tournaments and worst of all: the leaderboard was gone as well. That’s pretty intense now, but at least there’s always the option to go back to the old version. Well, Blizzard just killed them with the release of Reforged. Because of a forced update in Battle.Net you couldn’t just switch back. So the fans have been forced to simply tinker the ladder themselves until the studio itself shows any reaction.

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But she didn’t come. Not long. Not for too long? Many fans have now turned their backs on the game, if only to give Blizzard a lesson. A patch has now been released on the test server that brings back ranked games, the leaderboard and player profiles. But somehow it all feels wrong. You just can’t shake the impression of launching a soulless game. The remake was meant to breathe new life into the classic, much like Dr. Frankenstein did it with his creation. Instead, Blizzard went in exactly the opposite direction, taking cues from Nosferatu and giving life to its game. In exchange for the hope of a few tired marks.

No, Warcraft 3 – Reforged is not that ugly. But it is missing in many other corners.