We live in an age of HD remakes, some of which are truly enhanced versions of the classics we played through years ago. Others are simple ports made for a current console, slapped together in a minimal amount of time and packaged with achievements or trophies to make now-a-day gamers content. Basically, some developers are trying to make an easy buck and it usually shows. Just one example of a true HD remake masterpiece is the God of War Origins Collection. The collection consisted of both GOW: Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta from the PSP, upscaling them in 720p, while enhancing the colors, increasing the number of polygons and adjusting the frame rate, all to make the game look visually impressive on a console. This is a perfect example of what all HD remakes should be about.
For the past year, I have contemplated my three top franchises or games that I feel need a true HD remake. This would not only give gamers a chance to replay their old favorites in updated visuals, but also give newcomers a chance to see what they missed out on years earlier if they had not played it.
The Donkey Kong Country Collection
The original Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo was true masterpiece. Debuting in 1994, I purchased it that same month and never realized the impact this game’s graphics and gameplay would eventually have on the entire industry, selling over 9 million copies worldwide. The developer, Rare, had a unique style and technique which involved creating pre-rendered 3D graphics. The result was a game that almost looked like it was being played in 3D. Years later, this art style would become the norm. The co-op portion of the game was another great feature about this classic title that I feel really pushed the fun aspect of DK. At the time, SEGA and Nintnedo mainly had their two mascots that were marketing side by side: Mario for Nintendo and Sonic for SEGA. However, when Donkey Kong Country released, it not only revolutionized graphics as we know it for 16 bit systems, but excelled a generation forward, aspiring other developers to really push the 2D side scrollers ahead of its time and try to develop future titles with this new technology.
Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
What hasn’t been said about Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 already. Two classic genre-defining games released in 1998 and 1999 respectively on the original PlayStation. Resident Evil 2 did more than just continue the story of the franchise, it changed the way games were looked at completely in a variety of ways. Voice acting, which was originally horrendous for the first RE title on PS one, was now bumped up a huge notch to help shape a stronger and more believable story. Graphics saw a great enhancement mainly due to the technology present just two years after RE 1′s release. Capcom designed both games with a certain atmosphere and horror that had never been seen before up to that point. The graphics, gameplay and of course, story were all revolutionary for the time, helping shape an amazing franchise.
The GTA Collection: GTA 3-San Andreas
In many ways, Grand Theft Auto 3 did what Henry Ford did with the Ford Model T. and that was revolutionize a generation. Games made before 2001 were varied and creative but were never rarely mimicked or recreated multiple times by dozens of different developers and publishers. Once GTA 3 hit the scene in 2001, the industry was rocked by an open world, in your face, gritty experience complemented by Hollywood voice acting and movie licensed soundtracks. Nearly one year later from the release of GTA3, Rockstar created an epic masterpiece that, in my eyes, was leaps and bounds above GTA 3 and that was GTA Vice City. Vice City doubled everything from its predecessor: graphics, movie star voice work, overall game length, and of course, map size. Two years after that, GTA San Andreas sought to expand on its previous franchise’s older brothers by furthermore increasing the map size to astronomical proportions, especially for a PS2 title, followed by an Xbox version of the game. Using only one dual-layered disc, San Andreas encompassed nearly three times the size of GTA 3′s map. Of course, there were numerous other enhancements made with each sequel. However, the premise stood the same with all three games and that is build on previous greatness with more quality and in the end, the proof was there.
The HD treatment for all these titles I’ve mentioned above should be done with the same level of care that was originally put into these games during their development. In the case of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, there should be an absolute adjustment to ensure that these games (which were created in a pre-widescreen HD era) are optimized for the new standard widescreen HD panels of today. The new standard, 16:9 ratio, tends to almost always stretch and pixelate older games, especially ones made in the 4:3 full-screen ratio. Adjusting these games to a 16:9 wide-screen image, while smoothing out the picture, is what we call progressive scan, not an HD remake. Progressive scan is simply stretching an older title out and making it an acceptable viewing quality. This process is not a true HD conversion like some developers would have you believe but rather, a halfway step. For these three franchises, I would like to not only see a progressive scan adjustment, but a true touch up of color and visual enhancements that these titles deserve. These franchises helped shape the landscape of a generation of gamers and developers. It would only be fitting to have them touched up in a way that resembles the same level of quality they were crafted from.