Remakes, ports, HD Editons, Collector’s Editions, Game of the Year Editions, combo packs, ported portables… There are plenty of ways to release a game you already released. Game companies know this, and they also know that they’re not making money off used copies of Final Fantasy X, Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Tales of Symphonia. So what do they do? Remaster what’s succeeded in the past, plug in a few bonuses, add shrink wrap, and convince you that you can’t live without it.
Re-releases are part of the biz. They serve as a second chance for game companies to score money off their AAA titles, whether they be classics or last year’s big thing. In some cases, like with the just-released Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, companies use re-releases as a form of advertising. Nothing says, “Hey, it’s time you considered a Wii U” like a brand new Zelda. Even if it isn’t brand new.
The trend these days is HD Editions of games that don’t need HD Editions. Honestly, whether you loved or hated Wind Waker’s art style, you definitely never punched a wall over the fact that you couldn’t play it in high-def. And no one threw a fit over standard-def Final Fantasy X. Same goes for Tales of Symphonia, Kingdom Hearts, Silent Hill 2 and 3, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, and every other HD update out there. Still, people continue to fork over thirty or forty bucks for games that could show up on PSN or Nintendo’s eShop for $10 in their original forms.
HD updates are one thing, full-on remakes are another. Some remakes are absolutely stellar (Metroid: Zero Mission); some fix the original’s errors (Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions); others divide fanbases (Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes); and still others prove to be rather unnecessary (Final Fantasy IV Advance).
The one thing they all have in common? People buy them.
And as people buy them, they clamor for more. In 2011 Nintendo released a 3DS version of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A year later, this fake trailer for a Majora’s Mask update hit Youtube. Suddenly everyone and their kid sister wanted a Majora update. Then–just weeks ago–Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma spiked interest in a Majora’s Mask remake, getting the whole fanbase warm beneath the belt. Meanwhile, the game has been available on Nintendo’s eShop for ten buck the entire time.
Before you call me a killjoy, answer me this: Why obsess over a remake when you can push for a sequel, spiritual successor, or spinoff? You’re telling me Majora’s Mask HD is more important than Majora’s Mask 2 or a spinoff starring Fierce Deity Link? C’mon, now.
A lot of people are quick to point out that there’s no need to complain about re-releases. Yes, they keep our favorite companies afloat. Yes, they introduce younger gamers to the classics we enjoyed years ago. And, yes, we don’t have to buy them if we don’t want them. But the truth is, they’re multiplying wildly and masking a lack of AAA-production from Nintendo, Square Enix, Konami, and others. Wind Waker HD and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 aren’t 2013 releases. They’re excuses. Stopgaps. Attempts at staying relevant. And if we can’t stop the spread of them, can we at least quit asking for them?