Persona 4 Golden recently came out on the Vita, which is a remake of one of the best JRPGs of all time, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. This release got me thinking about the nature of remakes and their place in the industry, which obviously led to this edition of Top 10 Tuesdays. Like with movies, as long as someone, somewhere in the world remembers a specific game fondly, there will be those that try to capitalize on those feelings by remaking and re-releasing the game. Like with most things, game remakes have the potential to be either genuinely great or a shameless cash grab. In my mind, the best remakes improve the original experience while also keeping intact the elements that made the game great in the first place. The following ten games are what I consider to be the best remakes of all time. Just a note, HD Collections are an altogether different beast, so to qualify for this list the game must have something new, whether that be new content, added functionality or shiny new graphics; as long as there is something new other than simply running in 720p, it qualifies. Also, Persona 4 Golden is too new to be on this list.
10. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (2008, PS2)
Persona 3 is an excellent game, and Persona 3 FES made some key additions to make the experience even better. The biggest addition is the 30 hour epilogue that may as well be a full on sequel. While most fans agree the epilogue, called “The Answer”, is not quite as good as the core game, the fact that the length of the game (which was already in the 80-100 hour range) was increased by so much makes this one of the most expansive remakes on this list. Aside from the epilogue, FES also had new Personas and social links integrated into the main game. While Persona 3 Portable for the PSP did come out after FES and made some excellent improvements, most notably being able to directly control your party members, the limitations of the PSP hurt the experience. P3 Portable is missing all of the anime cutscenes and has far less freedom of movement, in addition to lacking “The Answer”. So, while P3P had some great improvements, FES is still the superior remake of Persona 3.
9. Metroid: Zero Mission (2004, GBA)
Metroid Zero Mission is a Game Boy Advance remake of the original NES classic; Metroid. The game tells the same story of the original game and takes place roughly in the same locations, but this is so much more than a simple re-skin. Zero Mission is more akin to film style remakes rather than the traditional improved graphics and added features of most video game remakes. What I mean by this is that Zero Mission is a re-telling of the original, but with a more modern production. It takes a lot of the gameplay and design concepts introduced in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, rather than strictly adhering to the exact gameplay and design of the NES original. The result is a game that plays like a more modern 2D Metroid while still maintaining the feel of the original.
8. Perfect Dark (2010, XBLA)
The original Perfect Dark back on the N64 was without a doubt the best shooter available for that console, but it was still limited by the fact that it was on the N64. The remake released on Xbox Live Arcade took everything that was great about Perfect Dark and removed most the limitations imposed upon it by the nature of the N64. The biggest improvement was the presence of modern dual analog controls, but it had slick new HD visuals as well. Multiplayer was a huge component of the original, both with competitive and cooperative modes, and the 360 version brought all these modes onto Xbox Live. All these additions along with the now constant 60 frames per second made the XBLA version of Perfect Dark far better than the original.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (2011, 3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the greatest games of all time, and the remake for the 3DS showed just how well the game holds up today. The core game was largely unchanged from a gameplay perspective, with the real standout improvements being the visuals. The completely redone visuals instantly make the game look more modern, but there are more subtle changes as well. This version of the game includes “Master Quest” which is basically a new game plus mode where the dungeons are rearranged and the enemies are more difficult. Other than the visuals, not a whole lot was done to the game, but with a game this good, it isn’t really necessary.
6. Pokemon FireRed/ LeafGreen (2004, GBA)
The original Pokemon entries (Red and Blue) are some of my favorite games of all time, and the remakes on the GBA were a great addition to that legacy. FireRed and LeafGreen were fairly faithful remakes of the first generation of Pokemon games, but with some improvements. The visuals and music were obviously greatly improved over the originals, bringing them more in line with the other Pokemon games on the GBA. The game also included many features that were present in subsequent Pokemon games, such as double battles, and even added in new areas and Pokemon. The core game remained mostly the same, but the improved presentation and added featured brought these classic games into the then current generation.