Game developers love to release remakes of old titles, giving them an HD makeover and taking advantage of new technologies that didn’t exist at the time of original release. In many cases, this is a great thing, and allows developers to more closely realize their original dreams during development.
However, some remakes are just bad. This can be due to any number of things, such as trying to capitalize on a classic title’s popularity with little effort, or original members of the development team no longer being present, or any other number of reasons why a remake can be worse than the original. In this article, we’re going to look at some examples of how not to remake a video game.
Diddy Kong Racing DS
The original Diddy Kong Racing was released in 1997 for the N64 console, and significantly expanded on the kart-racing gameplay found in Mario Kart 64. Players could choose between three vehicle types which were go-karts, hovercrafts, and aeroplanes, and each vehicle had separate strategies and paths to victory for every race course. The game went on to sell around 4.5 million copies worldwide, making it an instant success.
A sequel for the GameCube was planned but abandoned after Microsoft acquired developers Rare, and so Nintendo did the “next best thing” – which turned out to be the worst thing. Nintendo remade Diddy Kong Racing for the handheld DS, with some enhanced visuals and additional tracks, but the touchscreen controls were horrible and absolutely ruined the gameplay experience. The original DKR holds an 88 score on Metacritic, while the DS version sits at 63.
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop – Wii
Originally released for the Xbox 360 in 2006, Dead Rising was praised for its sandbox-style zombie survival gameplay. Taking place inside of a shopping mall, players were able to use nearly anything not bolted to the ground as a weapon, as well as combine items into some pretty bizarre new weapons – like strapping a machete to a toy helicopter to create a flying drone of death by decapitation.
For whatever reason, it was remade on the Nintendo Wii, a console with the weakest hardware of all consoles at the time, and it really showed with significantly downgraded graphics and several gameplay features removed. An IGN review put it best: “Dead Rising had to take a hit in the transition from 360 to Wii. But this isn’t even good looking for the Wii, really.”
It was basically the difference between playing the latest 3D slots on Casumo.com, and using Wayback Machine to visit a 1990s casino website.
Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone
Originally developed for PC using the Unreal engine, and adapted to the PS One, HPATPS received somewhat mixed reviews by critics on initial release. Most criticism was aimed at the easy and repetitive gameplay, but in all honesty, it really was developed for the eight-to-fourteen year old gamer crowd, and provided a great 3D recreation of Hogwarts school.
A remake was developed for the GameCube, Xbox, and PS2 consoles, but overall received even worse reviews than the original, despite enhanced graphics. This is because while the remake was a bit prettier than the original PC/PSX versions, the graphics and voice-acting were actually inferior to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released only a year earlier for those same consoles.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Final Fantasy Type-0 was originally released in Japan only for the PSP, without any localization for Western fans. It was finally brought over to the west four years later, but ended up being a significantly downgraded experience.
As a PSP original, it was given an HD makeover for the PS4, but ended up looking like something stuck between the PS2/PS3 era. To make matters worse, multiplayer was completely stripped out, so this HD remake actually had less content than the original.
Fortunately, we have the latest Final Fantasy VII remake to make us forget Type-0 HD ever existed.
Resident Evil 4 N-Gage / Resident Evil 6
We’re going to call out two different Resident Evil titles here, for different reasons. Resident Evil 6 is often ranked as the worst installment in the franchise, and thus, absolutely no one asked for a remake. But Capcom launched one anyway, alongside the far superior Resident Evil 7, and it just made the RE6 remake look absolutely atrocious, considering RE6 was already bad enough.
Now as for Resident Evil 4, it’s been ported to pretty much every platform conceivable – but in 2006, Capcom ported it to the Nokia N-Gage, which was a hybrid smartphone / handheld gaming console. While the N-Gage was more technologically advanced than Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance, playing a severely downgraded RE4 on a 2.1” 176 x 208px screen was just an exercise in futility and frustration.