The 10 best video game remakes
Let’s give that another go.
Video game re-releases come in two flavors: remasters and remakes. A remaster simply puts the game on better hardware, with better graphics, performance, and sometimes a bit of new content. Remakes, however, fully rebuild or re-imagine a game, turning it into something brand new.
There are tons of examples: Sid Meier’s Pirates saw its true potential fulfilled nearly 20 years later, Toys for Bob fully reconstructed the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon trilogies, and Insomniac created a totally new version of its own game, Ratchet & Clank. Most recently, The Last of Us Part 1 released, bringing the first game more in line with the sequel’s branding.
You’ll notice we haven’t even started our list yet. None of those games made the cut (though Sid Meier’s Pirates is one of the best pirate games out there), and there are so many to choose from. We’ve narrowed it down to our picks for the 10 best remakes, listed alphabetically.
Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake was a showpiece for the PlayStation 5’s launch. Not only did the team recreate the 2009 experience, but it also managed to make it absolutely stunning, with particle and lighting effects that are second to none. Bluepoint put its own special touch on the game too, introducing a new Penetrator armor set for fans to seek out.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Fire Emblem Awakening was a resurgence for the series, and its success led to the current wave of highly praised entries. One of those was actually a remake: Shadows of Valentia is a modern version of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game in the series. With the remake, new players could enjoy not only classic tactical combat, but also a dose of dungeon crawling.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t a single adventure, but one part of an entire saga. Remake is the first chapter, to be proceeded by Rebirth in 2023. As it stands, Remake retells the events of the Midgar arc of the original RPG, adding in new details (and big changes) and modern action-packed battles. Those looking for an even deeper dive can try Crisis Core: Final Fantasy Reunion (a remake itself) in December; that will provide a prologue to the events of Remake.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Straight up, Link has never looked more adorable than this. The Nintendo Switch remake of Link’s Awakening gives the game a cutesy claymation art style, putting it in the same league as Wind Waker — a game that will always look good. In addition to revitalizing the original Game Boy game, this remake also introduced a dungeon-maker, a first for the series.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metal Gear Solid is on our list of games that need a remake, but it did get its first one on GameCube six years after the original. Twin Snakes made the game look a lot prettier, and it mixed in gameplay elements from MGS 2 like a first-person aiming option. There’s also a batch of all-new cutscenes featuring the original cast with re-recorded lines.
Metroid: Samus Returns
In some ways, Metroid 2 was a downgrade from the original. The Game Boy follow-up was a bit claustrophobic due to a smaller screen and a shorter adventure overall. Samus Returns made good on the original game’s promise by totally rebuilding it on 3DS. This was the first 2D Metroid game to allow free-aiming, and it also introduced Samus’ powerful melee counterattack.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
10 years after Pokémon’s second generation debuted, it received new life on the DS. The anniversary releases of Gold and Silver followed in the footsteps of FireRed and LeafGreen, giving the games a whole new look. New features included a companion Pokémon that follows you around and a Pokéathlon minigame that let your ‘mons compete in various events.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 was already a classic, but this remake elevated it to one of the best survival horror games of all time, period. It’s still the story of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield trying to survive inside the Raccoon City Police Department, but it transformed the experience with the over-the-shoulder controls introduced in Resident Evil 4. The goliath Mr. X has never been more terrifying.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus has the distinction of receiving a remaster before getting a full remake. Before Bluepoint remade Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5, it brought back Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 4. It’s a gorgeous game all around — the fur on the various Colossi’s bodies has never looked more real. Just as Demon’s Souls included a new armor set, this remake featured a secret sword never before seen in the original game.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM changed hands a few times throughout its life, but Firaxis’ take on the tactical series is the best way to play nowadays. It preserves the nail-biting battles of the original with permadeath for all your brave soldiers, while updating the turn-based systems for the modern era. It’s not only a solid remake, but also a must-play strategy title in general.