It’s often been said distance makes the heart grow fonder. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the booming retro video game industry, with major players such as GameStop recently entering the resale market. Outrageous eBay prices are happily paid by nostalgic fans and collectors eager to relive their favorite childhood classics. Though for many, their revisitations expose their fond memories for youthful misdirection, with older titles failing to live up to past glory. Of course there are plenty of exceptions as some games play every bit as well since their release.
Unfortunately, some developers see modern admiration of classic games as a challenge. If a title was already great, why not make it better? Not to be confused to reboots, video game remakes attempt to replicate and enhance an already existing game to current graphical and gameplay standards. The results range from the critically acclaimed 2002 Resident Evil on the GameCube to, well, everything in the list below. Here are five video game remakes that failed to live up to the originals!
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube, 2004)
1998’s Metal Gear Solid was nothing short of revolutionary. Introducing stealth gameplay to mass audiences with it’s unique “Tactical Espionage Action” style, the game was flooded with awards from the press and industry alike. Six years and one sequel later, Nintendo and Konami partnered together to bring an enhanced version to the GameCube. Developed by Silicon Knights, The Twin Snakes recreated the snowy landscape of Shadow Moses while incorporating the gameplay of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
The remake received mostly positive reviews but many fans objected to the alterations. With the level design and boss battles of the original game left almost entirely untouched, many felt the addition of first person aiming made many portions too easy. Japanese Action Director Ryuhei Kitamura’s lengthy reimagined cutscenes felt more like The Matrix Reloaded than Metal Gear, with eye rolling fight scenes and awkward cinematography. While many have accused series creator Hideo Kojima of the same tactics, The Twin Snakes demonstrated the importance of the auteur to the Metal Gear formula.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD (Multiplatform, 2012)
No one could have anticipated the blockbuster success of Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Rising from the ashes of the failed Bruce Willis game Apocalypse, Pro Skater brought skateboarding into the pop culture consciousness. As one of Activision’s first annualized franchises, the series eventually kickflipped the shark in the early 2000’s before attempting a disastrous return with plastic skateboards in Tony Hawk Ride. It appeared the extreme sports series was finally extinguished after a decade of constant releases.
But Activision couldn’t leave it well enough alone, tasking Robomodo (yes, the same developers of the upcoming THPS 5) with remaking the original title for modern platforms. Built in Unreal Engine 3, Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD faithfully recreated a handful of classic stages in glorious high definition graphics. But it was the new physics engine that dashed of reliving past amusements, transforming the tight controls of the original into a mushy and delayed mess. The HD remake looked to be everything the community had been asking for, but significant this significant misstep caused most players to bail. In the words of Millencolin “You’re close but no cigar”
Flashback (Multiplatform, 2013)
While not as popular as many of it’s contemporaries, 1992’s Flashback was an innovative action-adventure title with a deep and philosophical lore that explored the concepts of identity and purpose. Inspired by the science fiction works of authors such as Philip K Dick and Robert Heinlein, it’s haunting futuristic world and complicated action sequences engaged players of all ages. 20 years later, the cult classic became a favorite amongst collectors and emulator enthusiasts, causing a resurgence of interest in the property.
Witnessing the enduring popularity of Flashback, the original team lead Paul Cuisset contacted Ubisoft to create a remake. Despite a healthy budget, 2013’s Flashback somehow managed to entirely miss the mood and gameplay of the original. Protagonist Conrad B. Hart went from driven hero to snarky quip maker, occasionally announcing his approval with “Awesome Sauce” Sparse tense cover combat events devolved into a multidirection shooting gallery with added enemies invading nearly every location. Tragically unhip, this remake lived up the to its 16 bit subtitle “The Quest For Identity” At least this inferior downloadable title included the original game in it’s entirety as a bonus.
Silent Hill 2 HD (Multiplatform, 2012)
Silent Hill 2 is the game that keeps on giving. Originally celebrated for its truly scary environments and disturbing creature design, Silent Hill 2’s story continues to be the subject of many editorial studies. Nearly 14 years after its original release, Team Silent’s masterful meditation on regret, sexuality, and depression still stands as one of the greatest narratives ever in the medium. Its universal acclaim and passionate fanbase quickly caught the attention of Hollywood, resulting in a major motion picture series as well as dozens of pieces of merchandise.
Yet a HD remastering from Hijinx Studios failed to live up to the decade old PS2 game. Due to hardware limitations, Team Silent intentionally designed large amounts of fog to cover the city streets, adding to a sense of uncertainty and confusion. Now on modern consoles, Hijinx removed the fog and brightened up the city streets to match current graphics of the HD generation, betraying a core design. An entirely new voice cast was recorded to replace the original actors before the negative reception caused Konami to include the 2001 audio. Konami admitted many of the issues were caused from working with unfinished versions of the code, due to the source code being scrapped years earlier. Framerate issues were eventually rectified with a patch, but for many fans and critics the new visuals made this rendition unsalvageable.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time: Re-Shelled
Turtles In Time is a simple game. The four titular turtle heroes battle against hordes of foot soldiers and signature antagonists throughout history. But what it lacked in gameplay ambition it made up for in lavish pixel graphics, exciting animation, and nonstop fan service. Slamming an enemy to the ground or hurling a foot soldier towards the screen remains every bit as entertaining as when it was first released. Considered one of the best beat-em ups of the generation, the game still fetches $50 dollars for a loose Super Nintendo cartridge.
Ubisoft’s attempted to recreate the beloved brawler with Re-Shelled, a 3D rendition with a series of enhancements. Rather than include the additional stages and bosses from the popular SNES version, Ubisoft based this remake off the less remembered arcade original. Worse yet, the new 8-way movement system and alterations to each turtle’s capabilities complicated the gameplay, resulting in a far more limited feel compared to the empowering original. But the most egregious changes came from the 3D graphics, sacrificing wide, colorful backgrounds for bland, under-detailed landscapes and characters. Ironically, the enhanced visuals and gameplay felt far more two dimensional than its 1991 progenitor.
Is this list faith? Or is this revisionist history? Let us know in the comments below!