When we talk about remastering a game, we mean when it already existed before, but the graphics have been adapted to the present day. This often means that the gameplay and features have been left untouched, and for many, the movement of the characters can be “orthopedic”.
The origin of the word remastering comes from the cinema
Remastering in movies and cinema in general (in fact, in music it’s similar) is quite different than it is in video games. Since its origin in 1892 with the famous 35mm negative tape roll, a resolution of 4096 x 3112 pixels has been used, and the original recording is known as the “master copy”. From this “master” copy, copies were made in the desired quality (first VHS, then CD, then DVD and now Blu-Ray) and the resolution of the master was for that and more, that is. why when I wanted to go from CD quality to DVD quality, for example, I would do a “re-master”, make another copy of the master but at a higher resolution.
So, as you will already assume, the films that reach consumers are tailored to the maximum quality of actors in each era; Obviously, we are now in the age of 4K and even 8K, but you also have to keep in mind that everything is already recorded digitally and does not use these 35mm negative rolls, so the resolution of the “master Is very superior. Either way, the word is still valid, and you already know its origin.
How are PC and console games remastered?
The term “remaster” when talking about the video game industry is actually used throughout the “multimedia” of this ecosystem. Remastering necessarily involves improving the quality from an original master version, but in the case of games it’s just the opposite: it’s about improving the original version to adapt it to contemporary graphics.
This is the rule that applies in the world of PC and console games, the most popular technique being based on fidelity and resolution. In other words, and simply, remastering an old game will make it less pixelated (literally) and more in line with modern high-res monitors and TVs.
Despite the simplicity of this definition, remasters can vary in quality, which is often due to the effort put into each one. The PS3 and Xbox 360 saw a large number of “HD Remaster” games which consisted mostly of ported titles that were not previously compatible with the hardware mentioned above (that of the PS3 and Xbox 360), so apart from scaling the original title to HD resolution, there is nothing else to distinguish them from their original version.
However, remastering a game isn’t just about porting it to new hardware that wasn’t previously compatible or scaling the resolution up, but there are remasters that have been taken care of with more care, like Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, in which revitalized textures, optimized performance and an improvement in the quality of the game’s soundtrack. So, in a remaster as such, it is not only intended that it adapts to a current resolution, but the texture packages will be changed to others with higher definition, better sound incorporated, and of course performance.
Of course, it’s consumers who expect the most from remasters (let’s say Demon’s Souls on the PS5), and the good part is that there are fewer and fewer single ports and publishers have ventured out not just to adapt, but to polish and improve the game they remastered.
Remaster vs Remake, what’s the difference?
Remakes are another buzz word of late, and they are a result of directors running out of ideas for making new hit games and having to look to titles that have been successful in the past. Either way, the word “remake” essentially means that the game is completely new, a “reimagining” of the existing one, although it is true that there are variations on how this is defined.
On the one hand, we have the reconstruction with modern technology; Video game remakes in the classic sense could almost be thought of as a paint-by-numbers process, as many of these projects simply take the idea and mechanical loops of the original game and rebuild them using motors and modern graphics techniques, with better controls. and often better resources. The result is generally an experience we are familiar with, but much more refined.
Clear examples of this are the remakes of Spyro, Medievil, Crash Bandicoot or Shadow of the Colossus, which in their new guise are visual recreations that look suspiciously like their original retro counterparts but are not exactly the same. We also have the Wii U remake of Zelda: Wind Waker, which has a slightly different art style, but for example adds the ability to navigate the sea faster.
Then we have the version of the remakes “same idea, different execution“; They are essentially different games, and even though they use the same story, same settings, and same characters, they are ultimately completely different games. An example of this that we have in the recent remake of Final Fantasy VII, where we have the usual Cloud, Tifa or Barret and it takes place in the same location as the original, but the story is completely different and, in fact, nothing has to do with the original.
The 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake is also designed to mirror the original as much as possible, but instead of the fixed camera angles of the 1998 version, this is a much more modern third-person shooter and contemporary. of the times, not only graphically but also mechanically and visually.
This approach, in the end, gives the player what they are asking for: playing the classic game that seemed so good to us 20 years ago, but with the graphics and gameplay of today. However, remakes can take the license both to introduce changes and not to respect the original plot of the game, as well as to completely reinvent them.