We are living in a rather interesting time in gaming when we consider the kinds of games we’ve got so far this year. How often is it that we find ourselves looking at a lineup of games and seeing how there are as many remasters and remakes as there are original titles? That is almost unheard and yet we ourselves looking at 2023 as the year we got a remaster of Metroid Prime and the remakes of both Dead Space and Resident Evil 4. We could also list off such titles as Like A Dragon: Ishin!, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp, System Shock, and Silent Hill 2.

Leon approaches a seemingly abandoned house in the Resident Evil 4 Remake.

The Resident Evil 4 Remake is going to be special.

Because of just how many remakes and remasters we’re getting this year, I find myself wanting to take a look back at the recent history of video game remakes and ask the simple question. “Which games would I consider to be the five of the greatest remakes of all time?” We all have our personal favorites, but these five games are those that set the bar high for the expectations that go into remaking a title. Whether it was to give it a graphical update or to overhaul the game completely; these are five of the best video game remakes of all time.

Super Mario All-Stars (1993)

Four games in one?! This blew people’s minds back in ’93.

If we were to consider one of the first games to get a remake, there would be quite a few to pick from since there were a good amount of titles released in the 80s getting remade in the 90s. However, if we had to pick the one that stood out from the rest, that honor would definitely go to Super Mario All-Stars.

It might not sound like much nowadays, but back in the day, people could not believe the leap from the NES to SNES. Nintendo not only put the first three Mario games all on the same cartridge, but also the fabled “Lost Levels” (Which was the true “Mario 2” released only in Japan, but never released anywhere else because it was deemed “Too difficult”). With the updated graphics and the wide range of titles to enjoy, there was plenty to enjoy.

This game was so popular, it would see a re-release that got Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World on one cartridge. Goes to show how important this game was for it to see a remake get a re-release one year later with one of their other big SNES titles.

Ratchet & Clank (2016)

Definitely a step up from the PS2 days, wouldn’t you say?

The Ratchet & Clank series is still going strong to this day after 20 years and around 13 titles. While fans might have a wide selection of titles to say are their favorite, chances are the vast majority will overlook the one that got everything going. Understandable since after the first game, the series continued to make vast improvements and refinements to the gameplay, such as the ability to upgrade weapons to make them even more deadly.

So what is the best way to remedy this problem? Remake the first game!

In 2016, the first Ratchet & Clank game got its remake on PlayStation 4. What was interesting about this “Re-imagining” of the first game was how the game also launched next to the film of the same name. And while the film did not see a high reception from critics or audiences, the game definitely caught people’s attention. While they did “retell” the story to have it match the film, there were improvements across the board between remaking all the planets from the original, carrying over the weapons that originally appeared in the first game, and bringing in fan favorite weapons from other titles.

RELATED  Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth | The Ultimate Queen's Blood Card Game Guide

The end result was a fantastic-looking game that brought Ratchet & Clank fans back to remembering why they love this series. A shame the film didn’t do so well, but at least we got a fantastic remake of a classic for everyone to enjoy. A shame we probably won’t see the other titles get a remake anytime soon…

Shadow of the Colossus (2018)

Shadow of the Colossus setting a high bar for what is expected out of video game remakes.

Be careful not to fall. It’s a long way down.

If there was ever a game that one can argue to be an absolute landmark in the world of video games, it would be Shadow of the Colossus. Back in 2005, it was nothing short of outstanding what Team Ico got away with on the PS2. While the world was big and empty, it was filled with giant Colossi that you would have to climb on and reach their weak spots to take them down. The animations were incredible, the art and graphics were vastly unique and the music tied it all together. Truly a remarkable title if there ever was one.

Enter Bluepoint Games: A developer under PlayStation Studios that specializes in the art of remasters and remakes. They have a wide range of titles under their belt such as the God of War Collection, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, and most recently: remaking Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5. While many would argue Demon’s Souls (PS5) was the better overall product, many would argue the true magnum opus that got them on the map was the Shadow of the Colossus remake on PlayStation 4.

What’s interesting is that back in 2011, they did get to remaster the game already (alongside Ico). But in 2018, they got the chance to remake this game with Ultra-High Definition art assets while reworking the controls. Outside of that, the game did play nearly identically to the original, and the overall presentation was truly magnificent.

Much like the original, the remake of Shadow of the Colossus set the bar high of what was expected out of remaking a game. Bluepoint Games did the impossible in not only remaking this game but giving it the love it deserved to make it truly stand out.

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

The joys of getting to fully explore the Raccoon City Police Department

While it does seem like the Resident Evil 4 Remake will violently take the title of “Best Resident Evil Remake” away from Resident Evil 2 when it releases, we have to pay our respects to the game that started this new wave of Resident Evil remakes.

At a time when Resident Evil 7 was beginning a renaissance for the series, Capcom made the decision to give the fans something they had been begging for almost 20 years: Remaking Resident Evil 2. Considering this was also almost two decades after the original Resident Evil got its remake, fans did hope a remake could follow a similar formula of the fixed perspectives. What we got instead was what would become a long line of titles with a focus on the third-person perspective while also adding story elements that were not in the original.

RELATED  Final Fantasy 7 Anniversary Stream Breakdown

While we did also get the remake of Resident Evil 3, it did not perform quite as well as Resident Evil 2. The reasoning behind this did range from “cut content” to Nemesis not living up to expectations like Mister X. Still, there was no denying that the success of both titles did warrant enough support for Capcom to go and remake Resident Evil 4. Still, the question now becomes: Will we see the remakes of Resident Evil 5 & 6? That could be left up in the air, but chances are we won’t see Chris punching a remake boulder anytime soon either.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake (2020)

It can be overwhelming to be someone who played the original and then to play the remake and see recreations such as this.

If you were to ask people to pick the most impactful Final Fantasy game of all time, chances are they will all point to Final Fantasy 7. It wasn’t like Final Fantasy didn’t have an audience up to that point, but it was the game that brought so many into not just the series, but the genre of Role-Playing Games. Between the visuals of the time, the story-telling, and the overall gameplay, Final Fantasy 7 remains just popular now as it was back then. So much so that people wanted to see this game get a remake.

And boy, did that take a long time before we finally got there! Between the “PS3 Tech Demo,” the PS4 remaster of the original, and other small teases that lead to dead ends, many thought getting the remake of Final Fantasy 7 was going to be an endless dream. But at long last, we finally got the Final Fantasy 7 Remake and the end result was everything the fans were hoping for, and then some.

Rather than the game being turn-based, characters would act independently of each other and attack surrounding enemies. The environments were remade from the ground up, the music saw revisions and remakes, and the overall presentation was nothing short of spectacular. It was the perfect game that brought in everything people loved from the original. All except… one rather crucial detail.

Spoiler Warning for the Remake

To talk about Final Fantasy 7 Remake also means talking about a certain aspect of the game that is very important. While the game is a remake of the original, the story isn’t a 1:1 retelling.

Yes, you do cover all the important key points. However, because of the size and scope of Final Fantasy 7, there is no way you are going to get the entire game remade in one sitting. Rather, the game runs until after you escape Midgar and stops right there. We will see the story continue soon with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, but it will be vastly different from the original.

Square-Enix made the decision that if they were going to “remake” the game, they were also going to “remake” the story. Instead of Sephiroth getting his reveal sometime after Midgar, you see him within the opening hour of the game. Rather than Cloud questioning his origin story around the mid-way point, he realizes he might not be who he is by the end of the Remake. And the person Sephiroth kills in the remake isn’t the same person from the original. He got better. But that doesn’t change the fact that someone who wasn’t supposed to die just did.

RELATED  Resident Evil 4 Remake: Re-Defining the Game that Defined a Generation

In a way, Square-Enix has now set the stage for Rebirth since who really knows how the story will play out now. And it is because of that, many fell in love with Final Fantasy VII Remake for subverting expectations. Regardless if you are a long-time fan, or a newcomer experiencing the game for the first time.

Other Honorable Mention Remakes:

It can be difficult to try and limit yourself down to just five games in total for a list. The problem however is that when you have such big standouts, it can feel like other titles don’t get the credit they deserve, so let’s just run down the list before we wrap things up here.

  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2: The first two Tony Hawk games get a remake and allow the series to enjoy a “back to basics” feeling after the recent set of games left fans feeling underwhelmed. A nice look back to what once was, but a sad look at how we can’t seem to recapture that magic.
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy/Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Putting these two together as Toys For Bob brought back the PS1 classics for the current gen back in 2018. They not only recaptured the magic of the original three titles from both series but also added in their unique touch to make the games really shine. At least in the case of Crash, it did lead to us getting Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
  • Super Mario 64 DS: A remake of Super Mario 64 on the DS that not only brought the original Nintendo 64 title to handhelds but also changed the game with four playable characters. If Super Mario All-Stars wasn’t on this list already, the 64 DS remake likely would have been in its place.

What are your favorite remakes?

Are there any remakes you feel deserve to be, “The best remakes of all time?” Which ones did you enjoy playing? And which games do you hope to see get a remake in the future? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Strangely Awesome for more on the gaming world.

The Resident Evil 4 Remake will release on March 24th and will be available on Xbox Series X/S, PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

Michael Solseth
Latest posts by Michael Solseth (see all)

Leave a comment