Game remakes and remastered editions have become increasingly popular in the industry, allowing players to revisit their favorite titles with improved fidelity and gameplay mechanics while retaining the core narrative that was enjoyable in the first place.
While there have been hundreds of remakes, one of the most recent and popularized is the Resident Evil 4 remake. The game has reignited interest in the franchise, and Capcom is certainly capitalizing off it, as we can see based on the current hype surrounding the franchise and not just the remake itself.
However, while the Resident Evil series has seen its fair share of remakes from Resident Evil 2 to Resident Evil 4, numerous other games deserve recognition.
This article explores some of the best remakes worthy of recognition not associated with the Resident Evil franchise. The remastered versions of the games listed in this article are not ranked. They are simply listed. The games listed here prove that with improved technology and resources, classics can be enchanted into a whole new game while retaining the nostalgia and captivating old and new players alike.
Remake vs. Remastered
Before we delve into the list of games, it is important you understand the difference between a remastered game and a remade game. Players often tend to confuse the two and conclude they are the same. While there is a blurred line between the two, they are two entirely separate concepts in the gaming industry.
While both revisit the classic titles and improve upon them, the approaches taken in both cases are very different. Mainly the extent to which they change or improve upon the original game.
A remake of a game means completely building a game from the ground up. This usually involves changing and improving the gameplay mechanics, the narrative direction, and the visuals. The main objective of a remake is to completely overhaul an old title to appeal not only to nostalgic fans but also the newcomers. More often than not, the remade versions of the games use new and improved technologies, such as an updated engine to provide a better gameplay experience, improved audio, and better gameplay mechanics and controls. A remade version may include new quests and even features.
A remastered version of a game is improved but to a very limited capacity. In a remastered version of the game, the developers focus on improving certain aspects of the game without making any significant changes to the main story or gameplay. The Grand Theft Auto Trilogy: Definitive Edition is a good example of this. The gameplay is exactly the same, but the graphics are far better than the original. The primary focus of a remastered version of the game is to improve the graphics, frame rates, and resolution.
We believe it is important you understand the difference between the two, as not knowing the difference was one of the main factors that led to the negative reception of the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy. While the games were already marketed as "remastered" versions of the three classics - GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas, players expected a complete overhaul, which is only possible if the games were built from the ground up.
And if you've played the games, you would know there was no way they were built from the ground up. The gameplay mechanics were almost exactly the same, with slight quality-of-life updates for convenience, such as the addition of a weapon wheel seen in GTA 5.
With that being said, in no particular order, let's dive into one of the best remakes worthy of your recognition.
Demon's Souls is one of the first soul-like games known for popularizing the genre. The game first came out for PS3 in 2009 and is considered one of the most brutal souls-like games. Demon's Souls was already a well-established game in 2009, but thanks to Bluepoint, it got even better with the release of a remake in 2020. The Demon's Souls remake completely eliminated all the issues players faced in the original and improved upon it for the next-gen console, PS5.
The game had such a big visual improvement that you would be tricked into thinking it is not a remake but instead a sequel to the classic 2009 version. Demon's Souls is one of the first games released for PS5, and it showed what the future games could look like on the console.
Bluepoint had to remake all the assets, and it did not disappoint. Everything from lighting down to the minuscule details of the textures was rebuilt from the ground up to provide a better visual experience. The remake not only improves the graphics but also features new weapons, items, and even new armor.
It also features some new mechanics related to the weight system, and the music in Demon's Souls is re-recorded with the help of a full-fledged orchestra. It also features higher-quality re-recorded dialogues. If you own a PS5, we highly recommend trying it out.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Final Fantasy 7 is a game that Square Enix can flaunt to its competitors for years to come. The original was released in 1997 and was received extremely well thanks to the story and the turn-based mechanics. However, the remake of the classic has completely overhauled the game with improved graphics and a brand-new real-time combat system.
Final Fantasy 7 remake features a lot of improvements and even changes to the main story. However, the "changes" are more of an addition to enhance the narrative direction of the overall game. There's the addition of Whispers that prevent Cloud's death after falling from Sector 5, a boss fight with Cloud's mom Jenova, a brand new area, Jessie's backstory, side-quests, and of course, the most controversial one revolving around the Cloud's war friend, Zack. We will let you guess that one.
Despite the story changes, the game has really outdone itself. Square Enix has managed to create such a beautiful game that breathes new life into the classic, ensuring they deliver a truly remarkable experience through their visuals and a deeper understanding of the characters and their relations with each other, especially Cloud's.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is one of the most highly-acclaimed skateboarding video games published by Activision and endorsed by the game's namesake, Tony Hawk.
The game series had multiple sequels, including Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5, until a remake of the first and second games came out in 2020 for the newer consoles. The remake of the most popular games features a diverse roster of pro skaters, detailed customization for your characters, and upgraded graphics.
The first and the second games were released in 1999 and 2000, respectively. The remake for both was developed by Vicarious Visions almost two decades later, which got all the nostalgic fans excited for the game.
Besides the obvious graphical improvements, the game also featured nostalgic songs. The songs in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater have been a staple feature defining the game series. It also has a 'create a park' mode that allows players to create their own skate park.
One of the highly-requested features added to the new game was the addition of the manuals. This was not seen in the original games until much later. A manual is a gameplay mechanic that allows players to manually link different combos to create a chain of special combos and score higher.
The players were already used to this gameplay mechanic in the latest games, and it wouldn't make sense for the developers not to include it in the remake version of the classics. And so, listening to player feedback, the developers decided to include this much sought-after feature. It is rare to see developers listening to their player base nowadays.
The game also featured some new levels and added a host of new easter eggs (in addition to the originals) for players to discover and indulge in a nostalgic time pass.
Shadow of the Colossus
Released in 2005 for the PS2, Shadow of the Colossus took the gaming industry by storm, setting a new benchmark for its competitors. Japan Studio and Team Ico did an incredible job developing this melancholic atmospheric land with limited hardware in 2005.
However, while the game was limited due to technological limitations back then, Bluepoint Games saw the potential and decided to remake the classic in 2018. Make no mistake as the game still stands the test of time.
Bluepoint Games is the same studio responsible for developing Demon's Souls remake, and it decided to do the same with Shadow of the Colossus. The studio managed to improve the graphics while staying true to the "source material," making something truly special for the PS4.
All the assets seen in the game were rebuilt from the ground up, while the core gameplay mechanics were retained from the original with the addition of some new control schemes. Bluepoint Games used the same code in the PS2 version to retain the original gameplay mechanics but opted for their in-house proprietary engine for the rest of the work.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Crash Bandicoot redefined the whole platformer genre as it was one of the first few platformers to transition from 2D to 3D platformer and take the genre to a whole new level. Originally, the Crash Bandicoot franchise was a PlayStation exclusive. But, it has branched out to other platforms over the years, increasing accessibility.
Although there have been numerous Crash Bandicoot games, the first three still hold a special place for every fan. And rightfully so. It certainly holds a special place in my heart as well. The first three were classic, and if you owned a PlayStation console in 1999, there's no way you didn't play Crash Bandicoot on your console almost exclusively.
Fast forward 18 years, and fortunately, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Activision decided to publish a remake of the first three Crash Bandicoot games in 2017. Developed by Vicarious Visions, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy offers players an enhanced experience of the most fun 3D platformer.
The remake improves the graphics and overall gameplay mechanics. One of the changes that stood out the most was the jumping mechanic. Each game had a slightly different jumping mechanic from the original three games. However, in the remakes, jumping physics was universal across all three games. The physics used in all three games was based on the jumping mechanics from the third game, Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
The jumping mechanic being universal received mixed reviews from the fans, as the mechanics from the third game were not suitable for the environment of the first game and vice versa. However, you get a hang of it with a bit of practice.
The second remake game also allows players to control Crash's sister, Coco, more often. She has been a fan-favorite for several years.
Speaking of 3D platformers, the next game is closely related to Crash Bandicoot, so much so that they had an in-game Game Boy Advance collaboration. If you guessed Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, you're a true veteran of these games.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
Like the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, Toys for Bob reignited (no pun intended) the spark of the first three games of Spyro. Spyro is a classic 3D platformer that many grew to love and adore. Spyro is a purple dragon who is fierce and cute at the same time and has become a staple icon for Sony's PlayStation. I've been a huge fan of the Spyro series, which played a significant role in my life growing up.
The game's core gameplay mechanics are still intact, but Toys for Bob managed to elevate the game's physics. Spyro's movement physics are much better in the remake, where he can freely glide and charge just like the originals but it gives a feeling of more depth.
The original Spyro was released in 1998, with the sequels (Ripto's Rage! And Year of the Dragon) released in the following years: 1999 and 2000. Since the release, fans have asked for a remake of the originals as they were some of the best memories for kids owning a PlayStation console.
Luckily, in 2018, Toys for Bobs decided to give fans what they requested, and it turned out beautifully. The vibrant colors of the game and the cartoony look give it so much life. In addition to the beautiful graphics, the game introduced many QoL updates, such as the camera controls.
When Spyro first came out for the PS1, the 3D games were still relatively new in the gaming industry. It was still something the studios were getting used to, so the camera could only be controlled using the L1 and R1 (or L2 and R2) buttons. However, in the remake, now that the game is remade with the newest technology in the market, the players can conveniently move the camera around using their mouse (on PC) and their right-analog stick (on a console).
If you've played the Spyro games, you know about the rescuing adventure of other dragons. However, the dragons in the classic were not unique. There were a handful of dragon designs, and they tend to repeat as you rescue more dragons.
Overall, Toys for Bobs has stayed true to Insomniac Games' original game design and core mechanics and improved the game not just for the old fans but for the new ones too.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
This is a classic that was released for Game Boy 30 years ago. Almost three decades later, we get a remake of the first ever game in The Legend of Zelda video game series. The original was an action-adventure developed and published by Nintendo that was a commercial success for Nintendo.
Seeing the original's success, it was only right that the remake of the first-ever Zelda game was released for the Nintendo Switch.
The remake of Link's Awakening was developed for Nintendo Switch by Grezzo and published by Nintendo. It was released worldwide in 2019. The game follows the same isometric perspective and story but now in much greater detail. The remake features a more cartoony and "toy-like" character design, with a world design taking inspiration from a diorama.
The remake was very well received by the fans, thanks to its improved gameplay mechanics while still staying faithful to the original. The layout of the game is still the exact same as the original.
On top of the visual improvements, the game also featured QoL updates and customizable dungeons. Players could create their own dungeons, contributing to the game's replayability aspect. QoL features like map marking, fairy bottles (to avoid death), and better rewards for the final quest are all welcomed additions.
Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the classic Yakuza, originally released for PS2 in 2005 for Japan and in 2006 worldwide. Yakuza Kiwami improves upon the original's flaws, such as the clunky mechanics, which was one of the complaints from the consumers.
Fast forward a decade, and Ryu Ga Gotoki Studio develops a remake of the original Yakuza with improved graphics, framerates, and resolution. This third-person action-adventure game has an open-world environment with slight role-playing elements.
The game's remake takes Kiryu, the protagonist, on multiple new side quests that were not present in the original. This allows players to explore the town of Kamurocho a lot more than they could in the original game. In addition to the side quests, the remake also offers a ton of new side activities introduced in the form of mini-games, such as bowling, pocket circuit racing, pool, darts, karaoke, poker, roulette, blackjack, and more.
Karaoke was one of the widely known features of the game because of the popular meme based on Kiryu singing the song called Baka Mitai. This has unintentionally become a signature "Yakuza OST" due to how popular the meme got over the years following the game's release.
The game is known for combat, and the remake offers an upgraded combat system, one of the most welcomed changes. The primary change in the remake is that in addition to the Dragon fighting style, Kiryu can now utilize all three fighting styles (Brawler, Beast, & Rush).
Dead Space (2023)
When discussing remakes and survival horror games, we cannot forget the 2023 remake of the classic Dead Space. The original was released in 2008, developed by EA Redwood Shores, and published by Electronic Arts.
The remake was developed by Motive Studios and once again published by Electronic Arts in 2023, where the whole game is rebuilt from the ground up but maintains its terrifying environment and haunting aspect from the original.
Motive Studios used Frostbite Engine to fully rebuild the game assets and systems to introduce dynamic and volumetric lighting features. Most importantly, the remake removes loading screens to create a more immersive and seamless experience.
The characters are also more expressive in terms of dialogue, as the whole script was rewritten to give everyone more dialogue. This is especially important for the protagonist, Isaac Clarke. He now speaks more often. I know he speaks much more in Dead Space 2 and 3, but the remake ensures Isaac is heard more often in line with the other games.
There are newer missions with the addition of hidden easter eggs. While newer objectives in the remake bring a fresh experience, it also modifies existing objectives to be more in line with the narrative delivery aspect of the game. Previously the world-building was done through audio and text logs, but the remake encourages players to learn more about the world of Dead Space through the exploration of Ishimura (the spaceship).
One of the biggest changes in the remake is the addition of a secret ending available in New Game+. New Game+ also features new Necromorph types and more. The game has certainly lived up to the hype and continues to captivate newer and older players alike.
The Last of Us Part 1 (Remake)
Finally, this list would be incomplete if we didn't include one of the best remakes of all time, The Last of Us Part 1 Remake. The Last of Us series is a PlayStation exclusive and has been around for almost a decade, with Naughty Dog constantly improving upon its original release.
The first Last of Us was released in 2013 for PS3 and PS4 and gained massive popularity for its brutal post-apocalyptic setting and story. The horrific tale and adventures that Joel and Ellie embark on do not just end with the first game, but a sequel. However, before we even began talking about the sequel, Naughty Dog decided to release a remastered version of the game for PS4 in 2014, which was again received extremely well.
Now, not even a decade has passed, and they decided to completely rebuild the game from the ground up with brand new assets to take the visuals and gameplay of the original Last of Us to the next level.
One year later, the game was also released for PC, allowing more players to try out the game without needing to purchase a PS5. Naughty Dog expanded upon their updated game engine that was used to develop The Last of Us Part 2 and recreate the first Last of Us game. And it certainly turned out well.
Everything from player models to lighting and texture to resolution was rebuilt. The game had highly detailed models and environment, adding more to the eerie atmosphere the game offered originally.
The facial animations, enemy AI, visuals, and accessibility options resulted in positive reviews. Although the PC port was a bit rough, it still managed to rack in many players. Regardless, the issues were solved following hotfixes and patches released by the devs. It is exciting to think of experiencing the Last of Us world with our friends in such details once multiplayer comes out.
That wraps up our list of some of the best video game remakes. Of course, numerous remakes still didn't make the list. But if we were to keep adding more, the list would be crammed with amazing games. Unfortunately, while the other games are also amazing, we had to reserve the spots for the best, relatively.