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Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by Ben Rueter


Re-Mastered Editions Can Do Better

An HD re-make just isn’t enough anymore.


Playstation 4 and Xbox One are rounding out their first year on store shelves and so far the biggest hit released early September; Destiny from Bungie.


The PS4 and Xbox One are lacking in new video games and the void is partially made up in HD collections, HD re-releases and PC ports.


A close-to-the-original version of The Last of Us released in July and according to VGchartz.com, The Last of Us: Remastered is the ninth best selling game on the PS4 bringing in over one million copies worldwide. Furthermore, it has been able to stay in the top 10 selling titles into September, even after Destiny and Madden released. Diablo 3 has raked in a combine half-a-million copies sold between the PS4 and Xbox One.


From July to Christmas, Destiny, Alien: Isolation and Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U are a few games from a small crop of standout performers building hype on the modern hardware. However, sprinkled in between those release are Last of Us: Remastered, Metro: Redux, The Walking Dead: Game of the Year Edition, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition, a next-gen GTA V and another version of Minecraft.


The majority of those titles are ports to new hardware with marginal changes and in the instance of The Last of Us: Remastered, it’s re-packaging of a still fresh Game of the Year title. It’s hard not to see this crop of re-makes as a way to fill a hole in PS4’s and Xbox One’s release schedules.


Look back at last generation. It was the first time developers were able to take advantage of HD graphics. As a result, we saw stacks of HD collections. Jak and Daxter collection, God of War collection and the Metal Gear Solid collection are all series that saw an HD overhaul.


It was a novel trend at the time. HD is standard today, yet HD collections are still shoveled out. People still want them and it most likely has everything to do with nostalgia.


Nostalgia used to be considered a “neurological disease of essentially demonic cause” according to the Swiss doctor Johannes Hoffer in the late 1600s. Since then we’ve been able to see the benefits and downsides of nostalgia.


Going back and playing my favorite game(s) again in HD has given me a sense of melancholy for the good ol’ days. The New York Times writes piece on nostalgia noting that a North Dakota State University psychologist, Dr. Clay Routledge, and other psychologists created a series of experiments for English, Dutch and American adults.


One of the experiments involved playing hit songs from their past. These participants afterwards said they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living.”


If an HD collection of our favorite video game(s) from our childhood can make us feel “loved”, it can’t be that bad, right? The problem is that re-releases and re-mastered editions are capable of giving the consumer more than aesthetic upgrades.


A research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Science found that nostalgia can essentially exploit someone to spend money on something they already or used to own. The same study also found people were not likely to spend money when they thought about the present and/or the future.


Co-authors Jannine D. Lasaleta, of Grenoble École de Management in Grenoble, France, Constantine Sedikides, of the University of Southampton, U.K. and Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota were responsible for the study. The said study was conducted in a series of experiments were the participants were displayed a willingness to spend cash on something when thinking about their own experiences.


They noted that, “In 2012 alone, nostalgia was cited as a top trend in products such as toys, food and even Oscar-winning movies.”


There is more to video games than the visuals.


343 Industries’ Halo: The Master Chief Collection could be a new standard for re-mastering video games. At the same time, it could be a missed opportunity to re-introduce Halo to the masses.


On the surface, the collection is Halo 1-4 with an HD overhaul and some bonus Halo 5 content. Looking further down the bullet list of features, you find that this is not only a love letter to Halo fans, but also an introduction to Halo. The standout feature is its preservation of Halo’s multiplayer in one concise package—glitches and graphics included.


“It’s a huge amount of navigation for the player if you think about it like a box set,” says 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor told USA Today. “We were worried about that because we knew that people are going to want to sample things and people are going to want to have a fresh experience even though there’s a nostalgia element to it.”


343 appear to be going beyond what is expected of a traditional collection. To use an analogy, re-touching The Last of Us and Diablo 3 is like repainting a 2012 Camaro when people at a car show want to see the refurbished 1969 Camaro. They are not re-imagining the original concept. These games aren’t old enough to leave our pop culture conscience and as a result are nothing more than a cash grab, despite the quality of the product.


Yet, The Master Chief collection is a collection none-the-less.


Film director John Sturges took famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese ronin film, Seven Samurai and re-made it as a western. The Magnificent Seven stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Buchholz tasked in protecting a village from bandits. Seven Samurai, as you can guess, tasks seven samurai in protecting a farm village in Japan 1587.


It’s the same concept but re-imagined from the ground up. I would have been brilliant to see 343 re-imagining Halo as a new sci-fi epic. Think Battlestar 1978 vs. Battlestar Galactica 2003.


Developer Grin nailed re-imagining Bionic Commando for the NES by creating the same game with a modern look and feel. Bionic Commando: Rearmed’s pays homage to the original but modernizes levels, music and boss fights without breaking from the NES’ fundamentals.


Re-mastering and HD remakes may all be the result of a video games lack of preservation as well. It remains to be seen, but it’s possible services like Playstation Now and EA Access could kill lackluster HD remakes.


There are more effective ways to preserve classic games while still making them appealing by today’s standards. Sales truly drive these HD collections and it’s my hope the Master Chief collection sells through in hope that maybe publishers and developers will be willing to spend more time and money before shuffling a classic series together as an HD collection.






About the Author

Ben Rueter has been writing for a number of years ranging from video game pieces online to traditional journalism articles as well. Every since he got his hands on an Atari 2600 and learned his way around DOS, he’s been keeping up with all kinds of video games. Ben is also an avid movie fan from classic Sergio Leone to Charlie Kaufman movies.

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