With the recent release of the new Ratchet and Clank remaster, Game Rant takes a look at some of the best video game remasters and remakes that have come out in recent years.
As good as some games were in their original incarnations, there is always room for improvement. Beyond updating classic games with aesthetically-pleasing graphics, remasters and remakes generally fix any outstanding flaws, and occasionally add some new content for good measure. The new Ratchet and Clank remaster was recently released to critical-acclaim, but that's just the latest in a list of great remakes and remasters.
From old PC classics and Game Boy games, through to contemporary gems and Nintendo favourites, here are what we consider to be some of the best video game remasters and remakes that have been released over the last few years.
10 The Last of Us
The Last of Us was one of the best games of the last generation, so a re-release would have to be something really special. Thankfully, The Last of Us remaster kept all the things that made the original great, and added in a few little, but welcome, features that bolstered the entire package. The new version plays and looks much better than what the original version offered, but the great gameplay remains untouched. With some shiny new graphics in tow, Naughty Dog also added in a new Photo Mode, which allows players to take gorgeous action shots of Joel or Ellie getting the better of a few Clickers.
The cherry on this beautiful-looking cake, however, is the addition of The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC, which is the perfect example on how a stand-alone single-player story is supposed to be done. If the sequel is indeed coming, the remastered edition of The Last of Us has just set the bar even higher.
9 Grim Fandango
Often considered to be LucasArts' best game that doesn't have Star Wars in the title, Grim Fandango was a hit with the critics upon its release, but a flop with literally everyone else. It was a slightly different story when the brilliant Grim Fandango remaster was released last year, and a new legion of fans were introduced to the Land of the Dead. As a testament to the game's timeless qualities, the new remaster keeps Grim Fandango's great gameplay and art style intact, bar for some visual upgrades. For the audiophiles out there, the game's brilliant jazzy soundtrack also returns, albeit in a new re-orchestrated format.
What really elevates this remaster above the original, though, is the addition of insightful developer audio diaries and a director's commentary, with both of which providing a unique perspective of the game for newer and older fans.
8 Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen
With over 300 creatures and three different regions to explore at the time, it was question of when, not if, Nintendo was going to go back and revisit some of its older Pokemon universes. While there was a risk of being nothing more than a cash grab, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen were successful in breathing new life into the old black and white Kanto region. Younger fans got to see what the fuss was all about, and FireRed and LeafGreen's additional content gave older Pokemon fans new reasons to revisit Kanto once again.
It has since become sort of a tradition for Nintendo to remake past Pokemon games, but given how well made they've all been, we're looking forward to what's in store next.
7 Grand Theft Auto 5
Grand Theft Auto 5 is considered to be the masterpiece that capped off the last gaming generation, but it turns out that the game still had much to offer when it was remastered for current gen. GTA has always had fantastic in-game radio soundtracks, but the GTA 5 remaster adds an astonishing 165 new songs to an already-expansive track list. And of course, there's the updated visuals, which make an already-gorgeous game even more beautiful.
Not one to rest on just an expanded soundtrack and graphical improvements, Rockstar has also managed to deliver an entirely new GTA 5 experience by including a first-person mode. Seeing Los Santos through the eyes of Michael, Trevor, and Franklin - literally - makes us feel like we were introduced to the city for the first time all over again.
6 The Secret of Monkey Island
The Secret of Monkey Island is considered a great game, but sadly, time has not done it any favors. Thankfully, the remaster came in at the right time.
While the fantastic story and writing was left relatively untouched, everything else was given a much-needed overhaul. The original 256 color palette was replaced by completely redrawn graphics, and the 8-bit audio was swapped with an orchestrated soundtrack. The best part of this remaster, though, is the inclusion of voice acting.
It's one thing to simply read the jokes on a computer screen, but to finally hear them being spoken by voices just makes the remaster that little bit extra special.
5 Final Fantasy 4
Final Fantasy 4 is a game that helped shape RPGs as we know them, and while everything from the gameplay to the characters still holds up, the dated 2D graphical style has robbed the game of some of its impact. When the long-awaited 3D remake finally came, the immediate reception proved that the creation of the updated version was one of the best decisions Square Enix has ever made.
What makes this remake so special is the fact that it stubbornly recreated every aspect of the original game, right down to all the little secrets. Couple that with the new graphics and additional content, Final Fantasy fans got to relive their childhood all over again. We all loved Cecil, Rosa, and Kain as 2D sprites, but we loved them even more in their new 3D incarnations.
4 Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil was a fun little romp, but the limitations of the PlayStation meant that the game wasn't much more than a corny little horror. But just six years later, we got the Resident Evil remake for the Gamecube, and that campiness was completely replaced with a truly terrifying experience.
Gone were the dodgy graphics and the awkward FMV sequences, and in came some stunning new environments and gameplay elements, including some much-improved camera work . Never has turning a corner in a game been more fun - and life-threateningly scary.
3 Banjo Kazooie
The best part of the Banjo Kazooie remake for the Xbox wasn't the new graphics, the better controls, and the still-solid gameplay. No, that honor belongs to one of gaming's greatest teases: the Stop n' Swop.
The mechanic was pretty simple: collect six eggs and an ice key in Banjo Kazooie, and use them to unlock something awesome in Banjo Tooie. Unfortunately, the Nintendo 64 wasn't up to par for the mechanic to be implemented, and all we were left with was a teasing glimpse of that ice key - which was kept frustratingly out of reach.
Thankfully, the Xbox remake of Banjo Kazooie and its sequels made the Stop n' Swop finally possible, and we've been able to sleep much easier ever since.
2 Super Mario 64 DS
Seeing as how Super Mario 64 is considered to be a highlight in the series, and one of the best launch titles ever, it makes logical sense that Nintendo would try and replicate that formula for its Nintendo DS launch. Rather than a straightforward port, Super Mario 64 DS managed to capture some additional lightning in that bottle this time around.
Whereas the original game was a Mario-only affair, the remake throws Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario into the mix. Couple that with an extra 30 stars, new power-ups, and new mini-games, Mario 64 DS offers up a refreshing take on an old classic. Plus, gamers can easily take the game wherever they go, which trumps dragging a Nintendo 64 console around any day.
1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Given that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is commonly known as the greatest game of all time, how exactly do you improve on a masterpiece? We're not entirely sure, but The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D comes awfully close. The remake looks fantastic, it plays better than ever, the soundtrack still sounds like angels singing, and it comes with a slew of extra features that we didn't even think we wanted.
With the inclusion of the Gamecube version's Master Quest Mode, and a brand new boss battle mode, we thought we couldn't love Ocarina of Time more, but the remake pulled it off.
That's our list, but there are definitely a few remakes and remasters out there that just missed the cut. This is where we throw the spotlight to you. Do you agree with our list? Which remake or remaster was your favorite? Did we miss a great remake? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.