/ Technology

Remastered, repackaged, resold… rejuvenated?

Crash bandicoot

Gaming memory lane is now adorned with 4K trees and plants, photo-realistic skies and 5.1 channel surround sound. It’s just like you remember, but are these remastered retro games really any better?

This week sees the release of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. It’s a PlayStation 4 remake of the original three Crash Bandicoot games released for the PlayStation between 1996 and 1998.

I grew up playing these games, and they’re rightly regarded as classics – all three feature in the top 15 of the best-selling PlayStation 1 games ever. From the gameplay environments to the music, everything about them reminds me of rushing home to play them after school.

But, in comparison to the games that kids are playing now, they’re pretty dated. No one’s going to pick them up and play them in 2017 – and that’s where Vicarious Visions’ remake comes in.

Game changers

Recreating the past with modern tech is nothing new. We’ve previously discussed on Which? Conversation the HD remasters of popular TV shows and even the digital insertion of deceased actors into the latest films.

But this Crash Bandicoot remake is a little different – it’s not a straight re-release with higher resolution textures and graphical content (known as a ‘port’), but a complete reworking from the ground up – the new game contains none of the original’s code.

As such, this ‘remaster plus’ (as Vicarious is calling it) was a phenomenal amount of work to put together. The team wanted to remain as faithful to the originals as possible while taking advantage of the latest hardware and adding in their own art, animation and audio where they felt it was needed.

Despite this glossy new makeover, can a game like Crash still be as popular now as it was 20 years ago? Games these days bear more resemblance to Hollywood movies than they do to the old platformer games, so it’ll be interesting to see what a new generation makes of a better-looking Crash, but one that stays so true to its roots.

Remaking retro games

So this all makes me think that the initial target market must be a nostalgic one – people with fond memories of the first time round. In other words, me.

So, what did I think? Well, I’ll be getting my hands on the game when it’s released on Friday 30 June, so I’ll let you know my first impressions soon.

Could similar remastering/rebuilding of the past become the norm? Is it right to upgrade entertainment in this way, or would you rather see better preservation, rather than reimagination? With older franchises guaranteeing a certain level of interest and technology improving all the time, it’s a question we’ll find ourselves asking more and more.

So, which retro games would you want to be remastered?

Jack says:
28 June 2017

I agree with your statement of games being more like Hollywood Movies now! Far too many cut scenes with button prompts, takes the excitement out of playing the game, as developers now want you more involved in the story than really playing it. Crash was always a fantastic game that let you discover it all for yourself, no tutorials or in game ‘NPC’ to walk you through what buttons control what action, just get out there and spin those crabs and jump on those piranha plants!

I think you’re right when you say that “this all makes [you] think that the initial target market must be a nostalgic one – people with fond memories of the first time round”. Is the original version of Crash available anywhere apart from second hand in eBay, pawn shops etc, ie far away from the forefront of the mind of most? Would anyone who knew the game even think of playing it again if it weren’t dangled in front of them all shiny and spruced up?

If the team added in their own art, animation and audio where they felt it was “needed”, they didn’t remain as faithful to the originals as possible.

Taking advantage of the latest technology is restoring old black and white films, digitising them, not colouring them.

EnergySave is on Watchdog… for conning their customers. Which? Trusted Trader. Tut Tut.

Absolutely agree
I doubt if I want to use so called trusted traders that allowed these dreadful people in Energysave to be a Which trusted trader in the first place.
I would like to hear how on earth this happened

Thanks for your comments, although these aren’t strictly related to this discussion (please visit our off-topic discussion on The Lobby in future https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/the-lobby/), I would still like to respond to your concerns here.

Please rest assured that regular assessments are made to ensure ongoing compliance with our high standards. Where we find problems we will tackle them quickly and take action.

We investigated EnergySave and had already suspended the company from our scheme when Rogue Traders got in touch. The company’s endorsement was then terminated.

Could you advise when the suspension took place Lauren.

And is there a list of traders, when they paid to join , and date of suspensions [why not expelled].

Out of interest I have had a look on the web at three of games I used to enjoy playing, namely Kye, Herman and the Falling Rocks, and Wolfenstein 3d. (I expect they will look pitiful compared to the games discussed above, and will age me too…)

I wish they would update Kye and Herman a little but not go as far as dysneyfying them like in your illustration above , and I wish they would make them easily and safely available for us to download. Unless I’ve missed something and they are ? I’m on Windows 10 by now, and I stopped being able to play the copies I’ve got a long time ago.

I have had a look at the Wolfenstein series on Wikipedia and I’m totally put off by the updated, very realistic graphics of the newer series.

I guess my point is, updating, yes, depends how far you go graphically as it will depend on tastes, and yes, please keep up with the technology.

By the way, can nothing escape disneyfication/infantilisation these days?? They even had Peppa Pig invading the Radio 4 airwaves the other day with an excruciating clip featuring her wishing good luck to Andy Murray. Please!!! Another matter, I know, I may stick this last bit in the lobby.

I had Kye, brilliant little game.

I have never had a games console, all my games have been on PC. I used to be into Dungeons and Dragons type games starting with Return to Krondor. It was released again for a later version of windows but was dire.

I don’t enjoy the more recent games as they are so dumbed down. They might look excellent graphically but the content and gameplay is boring and too predictable.

I’ve never owned a console, but I do have a gaming PC, based on hardware dating from around 2009. For games, its OS of choice is Windows XP. I guess that now makes it a “retro” games PC.

As a legacy of previously competing in target shooting sports (including many now outlawed in the UK), I do enjoy a few odd “first person shooter” type games, including ones that require good tactics and battle plans. For me it is also great if they come with nice graphics and scenery and if they aren’t too demanding in terms of keyboard/mouse dexterity etc.

As I have a railway family background, I do also enjoy train simulators and similar god sims, including Lego Loco. The kids like that one too – but find most of my other favourites too difficult for them.