Today is the age of remakes and remasters. More and more developers are hopping on the bandwagon to release remade versions of past games to cash in on that sweet, sweet nostalgia. That’s why we put together a list of our top 10 best video game remakes & remasters!
While not every remake and remaster is a hit, you’d be foolish to say that none of them knock it out of the park. Our list will be going over and ranking our top 10 favorite games that capture the feeling of their original game(s) while modernizing the graphics and controls for a better experience.
Criteria for the Best Video Game Remakes & Remasters
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, we should define a few terms. This is important as there is a lot of debate as to what constitutes a remake vs. a remaster. In some games, the line between the two is blurred. We’re not saying out definitions are the definitive “correct” ones, but they are the definitions we will be using for the entirety of this article.
Firstly, what is a remake? A remake is when an older game is completely rebuilt from the ground up with brand-new assets and textures. Remakes can try to emulate the older game as closely as they can, or they can take some creative liberties and change some mechanics around for the sake of improving and modernizing the game.
Remasters are where you take the old game’s assets and textures and simply update them to look more modernized. It’s not completely rebuilt from the ground up, and simply given some new bells and whistles to improve what is already there.
Top 10 Best Remakes & Remasters, Ranked From Good to Best
So with that lengthy introduction out of the way, let’s get right into the main article!
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle For Bikini Bottom — Rehydrated
First up on our list, we have the 2020 game Spongebob Squarepants: Battle For Bikini Bottom — Rehydrated! This was a remake of the original Battle For Bikini Bottom game released back in 2003. I absolutely loved the original game as a kid, so revisiting it on the PC with a brand new coat of paint was nothing short of amazing. Overall, the remake is just as good as the original, but it could have been better in a few ways (more on that in a minute).
The game looks absolutely beautiful, and Purple Lamp Studios did a fantastic job of re-creating the game for a modern audience. It’s a very colorful game, which matches the aesthetics of the recent episodes of Spongebob. For the most part, I like how vibrant it is, but there are some parts of the game that I wish had stayed more true to the original (i.e. the rocks at Jellyfish Fields are pinkish-purple when they should be bluer).
There are also a few missed opportunities the game could have benefited from. For example, they could have removed the loading screens when moving from one part of a level to another. They also failed to get Clancy Brown to do the voice-over for Mr. Krabs. Most disappointingly, they failed spectacularly in trying to bring back cut content through the new multiplayer mode, which many agree is not that fun.
Halo 2: Anniversary
Up next, we have Halo 2: Anniversary! The original Halo 2 was released back in 2004 and quickly became one of the most beloved first-person shooters of all time. The game continued the epic story of the Master Chief and his struggle to fight against the Covenant and their attempts to wipe out humanity and activate the Halo rings. The anniversary edition of the game tells the same great story but with a few new bells and whistles.
Firstly, this is a remaster and not a remake. While the graphics aren’t to die for, they are still a significant improvement. One thing I really like about this game is the fact that you can toggle between the new and old graphics at any time with the press of a button! In addition to new graphics, they’ve also added a bit of new content to the game. The redone multiplayer in this game is just to die for.
My personal favorite new feature in Halo 2: Anniversary is the redone cutscenes. No longer are they made using in-game assets and models. Instead, each and every cutscene has been overhauled and animated to create stunningly gorgeous visuals. They really add to the epicness and charm of Halo 2’s story. I just hope that one day they give the same Anniversary treatment to Halo 3!
Shadow of the Colossus
For our next spot on the ranking, we have the action-adventure game Shadow of the Colossus. This is an action-adventure game with puzzles and platforming elements. Players are given access to a vast open world to explore. You are tasked with seeking out and defeating giant enemies known as the colossus. The game is incredibly fun to play, and it has my recommendation if you love open-world adventure games.
This remake really does the game justice, treating players to a set of completely overhauled visuals. The game is very pretty to look at, and it really makes owning a PlayStation 4 worth the money. Thankfully, the remake stays very true to the original’s gameplay. This is definitely a plus for those of you looking to bask in that nostalgia from when you played the original.
The only thing I disliked about the game is that at times it feels a bit like it’s missing the art style of the original. The world felt more atmospheric and dreary, whereas this remake can look very bright. Not to mention the lighting in the original was better, in my opinion. It’s still a really solid game that I recommend you buy if you loved the original game.
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
Up next we have Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy! This is a remade collection of all three of the original Crash Bandicoot games made by Naughty Dog. The originals for the PS1 were known for their challenging gameplay, which the remake does a fantastic job of recreating. Gameplay-wise, this is a very spot-on remake that perfectly recreates the precision platforming from the original games.
This game was so popular upon its release, many people attribute its success as being the reason why remakes of 3D platformers are so popular. I can’t say that they are wrong, because this game really does knock it out of the park. In addition to remaking the base games, they also included cut content into the game as bonus levels. One example of this is the incredibly difficult level Stormy Ascent! More content is always a plus in our books, and cements this game’s position on our top 10 best remakes & remasters list.
However, one thing that I’m not really a big fan of is the art style. While it is still very cartoonish, it also looks like it was trying to go for a slightly more “realistic” look for the characters. The fur just doesn’t look that good in my opinion, and I think the game would have been improved without this particular art style. Thankfully, Crash Bandicoot 4 brought us a much-improved art style that I really love.
For spot number six on our list, we have the fan-made remake of the original Half-Life! The original Half-Life took the gaming world by storm when it was released back in 1998. It was a fantastically innovative game that really set the stage for what a first-person shooter can be. So how does Black Mesa pay respects to that innovation? Does it capture the essence of the original game?
In a lot of ways, Black Mesa is less of a remake of Half-Life and more of a re-imagining. The game feels different from the original in a lot of ways. A lot of the levels from the original are completely different, and if you go in expecting the same game with a new coat of paint, you’re going to be very confused. This isn’t a bad thing, just something you should keep in mind. I recommend playing the original Half-Life first before trying out Black Mesa if you want the authentic Half-Life experience.
My absolute favorite thing about Black Mesa is the way they re-designed Xen. They’ve somehow managed to make Xen an absolutely beautiful and visually appealing landscape while still capturing the creepiness and isolation that the original made you feel. It’s honestly worth playing through the game just for that step-out moment of seeing Xen for the first time.
Demon’s Souls is the next game on our ranking. This is a remake of the classic PlayStation 3 title first released back in 2009. The game is made by the same masterminds who brought us the Dark Souls trilogy, and more recent titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Elden Ring. As you can imagine, the game is just as good as you’d expect! The remake is without a doubt the definitive way to enjoy this classic title and a worthy addition to our top 10 best remasters & remakes list.
The game is an action RPG in the same vein as Dark Souls. You get to create and customize your own character, and you can pick from a variety of different classes before building them up to create your own unique playstyle. You’ll get to explore five unique “worlds” that you can play in any order that you want. This is unlike Dark Souls, which is more linear in how you progress through the game.
The game is absolutely stunning on PlayStation 5. It is easily one of the best-looking games that have come out in recent years, really taking full advantage of the PS5’s hardware. Not only does the game look great, but the loading times are significantly reduced from the original. It is definitely worth picking up a PlayStation 5 console just so you can get your hands on this action-RPG masterpiece.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
For our next pick, we have my personal favorite out of this list, and one of my all-time favorite games. It’s Spyro: Reignited Trilogy! This is a complete remake of the original Spyro games made by Insomniac. The development studio Toys For Bob took everything we loved about exploring fantasy worlds as our favorite purple dragon and cranked it up to eleven in this remake. This game really set a high bar for remakes and remasters, and it’s a bar that is very hard to beat.
You play as a young dragon named Spyro in this 3D platformer. You’ll travel through dozens of unique realms across three different games, collecting treasure and various other items. It’s a very pretty game with a cartoonish art style that makes you feel like you’re watching a Pixar movie! The overhauled visuals really add to the game and make it that much more enjoyable for you to play.
The animations that have been added to the game are my favorite. Each cutscene just oozes with detail, and the characters all feel so alive! I especially love how in the first game, the dragons that you interact with have completely new designs, with unique clothing and accessories. It really gives them a lot of personalities, and it shows just how much love and care Toys For Bob put into developing this game.
Resident Evil 2
For our next pick on our list of the top 10 best remakes and remasters, we have the game Resident Evil 2! Released in 2019, this is a complete remake of the original horror experience from 1998. This game is a survival horror, first-person shooter that pits you in the middle of a zombie outbreak. If you are someone who is faint of heart, then this isn’t the game for you.
This game is pretty much a re-imagining of the first game, instead of just a straight-up remake. The story is different this time around, and it uses a third-person camera instead of the fixed camera angles found in the original. Resident Evil 2’s horror elements are incredibly well done, and the zombies are especially horrifying! The sound design in this game especially sells the spooky atmosphere it is going for.
Graphically, this is one of the best games out there. It is incredibly stunning, and the new camera angle makes this game much more enjoyable to play. Combine its incredible graphics with the horrifying designs of the creatures you’ll encounter, and you have a game that looks great while also keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Now for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition! This is a game that many players — myself included — were incredibly hyped up for when its release was announced. The collection is based on the original trilogy of games. Remastering this game was very much appreciated, especially thanks to the lukewarm reception of Mass Effect: Andromeda. The Mass Effect series is known for its huge variety of choices, and its compelling and grand story set across three distinct games.
The remastered trilogy does an excellent job of making the game look up to date with modern releases. It features new textures, lighting, and a host of other changes to make the game look its best. And if that weren’t enough, there are plenty of improvements to the clunky combat in the first Mass Effect game! This is truly the definitive way to play the trilogy, and I recommend it to all fans of the RPG genre.
One thing that I was disappointed by is the fact that they didn’t include multiplayer for Mass Effect 3. While it definitely doesn’t break the experience, it still would have been great for new players who haven’t experienced it before to try it out. They were also unable to implement the DLC Pinnacle Station due to corrupted code. It’s perfectly understandable why they couldn’t include it, but it still is a shame.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Finishing off our list as our number one pick for the top 10 best remakes & remasters is the 2020 remake of Final Fantasy VII! The Final Fantasy series is one of the most recognizable and beloved JRPG series of all time, so it’s no wonder they decided to remake this game and bring it to modern audiences. The game is incredibly fun to play and does a good job of keeping fans of JRPGs entertained with its engaging combat and gripping story.
The combat for this game is very satisfying and intense. It manages to combine tactical, well-thought-out decision-making with fast-paced action. If you are a fan of 3D action games such as Devil May Cry, then you will find plenty to enjoy with Final Fantasy VII.
As great as the combat is, the story and characters are what really makes this game worth playing. It is a science-fantasy adventure that tells the tale of a huge corporation that has taken over the planet of Gaia. You play as a mercenary fighting alongside a team of eco-terrorists fighting against the corporation. The characters are incredibly well written, and there are a lot of great moments to be had.
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