The Power of Nostalgia

We often criticize games that blatantly play off nostalgia, usually in negative ways. With so many remakes and remasters of games coming out over the past few years, it is easy to hate on the game's industry (and the movie industry as they are following the same trends) about how creatively bankrupt major studios must be. Yet at the same time we forget how business works, and the fundamental human flaw the majority of us have.

We like things we already know we like. Why are sequels so popular when they are almost never as good as the original? Why are we buying up remasters and remakes like crazy?

Because we like things we already like. Remasters serve as a good excuse to replay a game we liked and still justify it as a new playthrough because of the upgrades the remasters (should) usually have. Remakes even further justify this as they often completely overhaul the game while still providing much the same experience we had with the original. At least ideally.

We've seen the huge popularity with these. Final Fantasy VIII, X, X-2, XII, Onimusha, WoW Classic, and countless more remasterings have been successful rereleases. While Resident Evil 2 serves as only the latest remake that showed how you can fully overhaul an old story to bring it into the new age.

While these things have had their detracters, I think people truly underestimate the value of replaying or rewatching something old recreated in a new way. Let me explain why I've brought this up.

Last week, TeamFourStar made the announcement that they are officially done with Dragonball Z Abridged. If you aren't familiar with it, it is a parody re-telling of the Dragonball Z anime completely rewritten in a humorous but ultimately extremely respectful way. This retelling is a perfect example of how remasters and remakes can put life into an experience you have already seen even multiple times. I have been watching Dragonball since I was in junior high, even before it was release in english I would go online and get the sub version of the show so I could watch beyond what Tunami was showing at the time.

I had the story memorized, and had seen it so many times that the traditional format of the show now kind of bores me. Which is why I didn't care for Dragonball Z Kakarot very much. However the retelling of the show done by TeamFourStar, is something i rewatched over the weekend and I found myself shocked by how hard I was hit by the key moments that watching the normal show dont do for me anymore. Things like Goku going Super Sayien for the first time, Gohan's SS2 tranformation, the extra backstory and references fill into the show to make minor characters more flushed out, DBZA is a remastering of the DBZ saga that gives a show that was burnt out for me entire new life.

That is what nostalgia does. DBZA doesn't change the story, it is at the core the same shit DBZ has always been but I loved that show at one point and DBZA provides enough to tell the same exact story in a slightly new way that it became the thing I loved and seen a million times into something completely new yet not new.

To me that is what nostalgia does for people, and why remakes and remasters are so successful.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is coming out in another few weeks. And that is another game and story that I've torn apart in every possibly way to enjoy and consume all I could. Every backstory secret, hidden meaning, story beat, I know it all. Yet this Remake has proven that I will once again be given a world and characters that I've already come to know and love, and give that experience a whole new life. Not just through gameplay, but through further expansion of the story.

For some people it may not hit as hard for them as it will for me, everyone likes things to different degrees, everyone attaches to things in different ways. Some people never return to things they've already done or seen, and that's fine. But i don't think Remasters and Remakes are bad things, I think they are great potential outlets to not only reexperience things you used to love, but also provide new chances for people who've never gotten to see the original work to see what makes them so loved.

And frankly, I think the Remakes also serve as great ideas for developers and publishers. It gives companies a chance to see what they've lost. It's no secret that companies like Blizzard used to be Kings in the video game space. WoW, Diablo 2, Starcraft, they had these games and properties that were hugely successful, even with Overwatch it seemed like they could do no wrong. Blizzard couldn't make a bad game......until they did.

Wow expansions have been terrible for years, Starcraft is a dead series, Diablo is stuck in a weird limbo where they keep doing seasons but thought the next best idea was to make a mobile game. And Warcraft reforged.....well...I think we've seen the shitstorm that has been.

But then again there is a little ray of hope in the success of Wow Classic. Blizzard was shocked by the raw surge in resubcriptions and demand for Wow Classic. And I hope that they use that resurgence to realize what made them so great in the first place.

In the same fashion Capcom was a giant fuck up for a while. Yet they saw the light and saw what was going wrong in just about every series. Street Fighter, Marvel V Capcom, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Monster hunter. In the last three years, Capcom has seen each and every series make a return to form (except Marvel V Capcom). Resident Evil was brought back to life with RE7 and RE2make, Monster hunter came back from the of niche obscurity with Monster Hunter World, Street Fighter V was a disaster on launch but has since come back to a fairly decent degree, and DMC 5 returned that series into a much better place from the travesty that was DMC:Devil May Cry.

Clearly I'm just ranting. But I wanted to rant about this because I've seen a lot of hate online when it comes to remasters and remakes and i don't think they deserve it. At least for the most part. There are a few clear exceptions in which the remastered was handled in the worse way possible. Fucking Blizzard.

I just read today that DMC5 removed Denuvo DRM, and that its reception is recently overwhelmingly positive on Steam, so it's piqued my interest as an enticing contrast next to all the RDR2 Online I've been playing the last couple weeks. I mean, I still have DS3 and Sekiro to play through, let alone never finishing Bayonetta, but remembering how fun and thrilling the original DMC (and 3) were back in the day has me craving some school action wrapped in shiny new audiovisual splendor.

CritialGaming:
Why are sequels so popular when they are almost never as good as the original?

I think that's pretty debatable. Game sequels are usually an improvement over their predecessors in my experience, at least early on in a series. Course a series's quality can go up and down along the way, but of any game series, how many are there where the first game is the best?

Blizzard couldn't make a bad game......until they did.

Yeah, Justice League Task Force. :P

Wow expansions have been terrible for years, Starcraft is a dead series, Diablo is stuck in a weird limbo where they keep doing seasons but thought the next best idea was to make a mobile game.

I can't comment on WoW, but StarCraft and Diablo? StarCraft is arguably dead, but compared to what? There was a 12 year gap between SC1 and SC2, so if we're marking SC as "dead," which benchmark are you using? 2010, 2015, 2016, or later? Also, it's hard to call Diablo dead when there's Diablo Immortal and Diablo IV on the horizon.

And I hope that they use that resurgence to realize what made them so great in the first place.

Rather have Warcraft IV, but that's unlikely now after Reforged, among everything else.

Clearly I'm just ranting. But I wanted to rant about this because I've seen a lot of hate online when it comes to remasters and remakes and i don't think they deserve it. At least for the most part. There are a few clear exceptions in which the remastered was handled in the worse way possible. Fucking Blizzard.

I haven't seen much hate for remakes, remasters, re-releases, reboots, or other things starting with r. I mean, certainly individual cases (e.g. Reforged), but certainly not general antipathy. That said, there's a point about remakes that I've seen that can't really be refuted, that if you're a making a game from the ground up, why not just make a new game rather than a remake. I mean, look at RE2. Don't get me wrong, I like the original RE2, and I like the remake more than the original, and I've pre-ordered RE3, but I have to concede that the time and resources involved could have been used to make a new game in the series. A game I'd have been unlikely to buy, granted, but still...

Hawki:

I haven't seen much hate for remakes, remasters, re-releases, reboots, or other things starting with r. I mean, certainly individual cases (e.g. Reforged), but certainly not general antipathy. That said, there's a point about remakes that I've seen that can't really be refuted, that if you're a making a game from the ground up, why not just make a new game rather than a remake. I mean, look at RE2. Don't get me wrong, I like the original RE2, and I like the remake more than the original, and I've pre-ordered RE3, but I have to concede that the time and resources involved could have been used to make a new game in the series. A game I'd have been unlikely to buy, granted, but still...

This is exactly most of the compliants I've seen in regards to remakes and remasters. Why put all the effort into this game again when you can make a new game.

The answer to that is, because people already like this game so sinking the money and effort into a game people are almost 100% gonna buy then there is less risk over making a completely new game. And there is some argument to be said that the remake property gives them a comfort zone buffer to which people might like the game better versus the same game in a different IP.

For example. Look at the gameplay for Final Fantasy 7 original versus what the FF7Remake will be. You might look at the combat in the remake and not really be into it, or it might not be your thing. However because this new combat is part of a game you really really want, you are going to be much more likely to give it a try versus that combat system being in some other new game you might not care about.

It let's developers try new ideas while still having the buffer of people's nostalgia for the original to keep them invested despite the gameplay change.

People forget that gameplay is a big part of what people love about older games. Resident Evil got popular when tank controls were a thing, and the change in perspective and gameplay for the RE2make was a big change. Same goes for turn-based RPG combat in the original FF7 that will not return in the Remake. There is a lot of people who are FF7 fans who are not sure they are gonna get the remake because the combat isn't what they were hoping for.

It's not a 1-to-1 thing.

For me nostalgia takes the form of playing games like the games of old rather than actual remasters, though I will every now and then play one of those too. The recent example being the remaster of GoW3, since it was free with ps+ anyhow and it has been a decade haha.

But yeah, few things match the nostalgia vibes I got from Bloodstained and that's more of a spiritual successor than a remaster. I remember things like slicing diagonally downwards with a sword to hit a low plant or things like super moves that are doable with fighting game inputs. Lots of stuff like that which were in Symphony of the Night that I just kinda am used to being able to do since I was a little kid and so I would inevitably try to do them in Bloodstain and they'd actually work! It sure was trippy and fun.

Re-release are mostly done because they're easy to make, just slap on a thin coat of fresh paint on it and you can sell it, even if you don't make much sales, it took cost them a fraction of what a full original game cost.

For a remake, well you already know that the game work, people enjoyed it. So why not re release it, people who played it at the time probably want to play it again and people who didn't (either they missed it at the time or were too young) probably heard of it and feel like trying it, its like free marketing.

So I don't think nostalgia is that strong a force, it's just that remaster/remake are, at worst, no harder to make then brand new game. And there potential audience is just as large as new game.

For blizzard:
Honestly I'd love to see the sub number to wow classic, I'm guessing they dropped pretty fast and in a years or so will be mostly dead.

Starcraft 2, it's hard to talk about as someone who only play SP. I loved the campaign from a gameplay point of view, but holy crap was the story a major step down compared to SC1, especially the expansion. I'm sure there will be a 3rd, but I don't know if I'll care that much.

As for warcraft, I don't think there will ever be a 4, the lore is a freaking nightmare because of WoW, they would pretty much need to do some sort of soft reboot, maybe make WoW it's own separate cannon. WoW itself is really old at this point, they're just keeping it alive while waiting for the end to inevitably arrive (my guess is it'll still make revenue for the next 10 years).

I don't know if they'll ever make a new IP, it's clear most of the magic is gone at this point and I'm guessing a lot of the talent has been quietly leaving over the last few years (especially the last couple of months). My guess is the name blizzard will be eventually removed from "activision blizzard" and the various studio will be merged/shutdown.

CritialGaming:

This is exactly most of the compliants I've seen in regards to remakes and remasters. Why put all the effort into this game again when you can make a new game.

The answer to that is, because people already like this game so sinking the money and effort into a game people are almost 100% gonna buy then there is less risk over making a completely new game. And there is some argument to be said that the remake property gives them a comfort zone buffer to which people might like the game better versus the same game in a different IP.

Well, yeah, but that isn't an artistic argument. Of course a remake is going to have more pull than a new installment in some cases. Heck, I'm testament to that per purchasing RE2 when the last RE game I played before that was RE5, at which point I lost interest with the series.

For example. Look at the gameplay for Final Fantasy 7 original versus what the FF7Remake will be. You might look at the combat in the remake and not really be into it, or it might not be your thing. However because this new combat is part of a game you really really want, you are going to be much more likely to give it a try versus that combat system being in some other new game you might not care about.

Isn't the combat from the remake taken from FF15 though, or at least closely related to it?

Meiam:

Honestly I'd love to see the sub number to wow classic, I'm guessing they dropped pretty fast and in a years or so will be mostly dead.

The sub number doubled that of the current game. I think if you combine the two, the game has subs back over 10 million now.

Starcraft 2, it's hard to talk about as someone who only play SP. I loved the campaign from a gameplay point of view, but holy crap was the story a major step down compared to SC1, especially the expansion. I'm sure there will be a 3rd, but I don't know if I'll care that much.

For me, SC2 was an improvement on SC1 on every level - gameplay, story, etc. That said, I'm skeptical of SC3. Not because there isn't an audience for it, but because RTS is a niche genre, and chances are it'll stay niche.

I hesitate to call StarCraft "dead," because again, there was a 12 year gap between SC1 and SC2, and SC2 got its last expansion in 2015, its last mission pack in 2016, and was still getting content in 2019, however sparse. However, every time Blizzard has tried to spin-off the game into a new genre, they've failed (Ghost, Ares, the StarCraft MMO, whatever Phoenix was, etc.). Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if there's never a SC3. It lacks the mass market appeal that Blizzard's other IPs have, and while there's certainly plotlines you could use for SC3, none of them are what I'd call in need of urgent resolution.

As for warcraft, I don't think there will ever be a 4, the lore is a freaking nightmare because of WoW, they would pretty much need to do some sort of soft reboot, maybe make WoW it's own separate cannon. WoW itself is really old at this point, they're just keeping it alive while waiting for the end to inevitably arrive (my guess is it'll still make revenue for the next 10 years).

Making WC4 and WoW separate canons wouldn't be unusual, the series has already introduced alternate realities. However, one thing I don't see happening is them being in the same canon anymore, since BFA has been called the Fourth War, which to me, was kind of the final nail in the coffin. Maybe if WC4 adapted elements of WoW, sure, but considering the response to Reforged, I doubt it. It was stated that interest in Reforged would determine interest in WC4, and considering the...mixed, reception it's got, I don't see it happening.

I don't know if they'll ever make a new IP, it's clear most of the magic is gone at this point and I'm guessing a lot of the talent has been quietly leaving over the last few years (especially the last couple of months). My guess is the name blizzard will be eventually removed from "activision blizzard" and the various studio will be merged/shutdown.

New IP, maybe. Shut down? No. Say what you want about Activision, but it's bringing in the big bucks. I don't see Blizzard shutting down either, because whatever their recent actions, stuff like WoW and Overwatch is just too profitable.

CritialGaming:
This is exactly most of the compliants I've seen in regards to remakes and remasters. Why put all the effort into this game again when you can make a new game.

The answer to that is, because people already like this game so sinking the money and effort into a game people are almost 100% gonna buy then there is less risk over making a completely new game. And there is some argument to be said that the remake property gives them a comfort zone buffer to which people might like the game better versus the same game in a different IP.

For example. Look at the gameplay for Final Fantasy 7 original versus what the FF7Remake will be. You might look at the combat in the remake and not really be into it, or it might not be your thing. However because this new combat is part of a game you really really want, you are going to be much more likely to give it a try versus that combat system being in some other new game you might not care about.

Unless it's a remake of a game I absolutely love, then I really couldn't care less about it. I think the only re-make/master I've ever played of a game I had already played was Shadow of the Colossus and ICO. I'm playing RE2 Remake because I never played the original but it's really just RE4 gameplay (but actually not as good), which I already played so I still haven't beat one storyline from the Remake.

Nostalgia just doesn't do it for me unless it's repurposed for a new IP like say how 80s Stranger Things is. Don't remake stuff unless you're gonna put a twist on it, change it up. There's no point is say watching the new Lion King or Beauty and the Beast because it's the same story. I've watched the Maleficent movies because they aren't retelling the same exact story. Same reason why I never got people bitching about RE2 Remake's OTS camera, saying it'll "ruin" the game, or keeping FF7's completely antiquated combat system. I feel FF7 should streamline the story vs adding more to it. I don't have faith in Square making a good game really ever, I seriously don't think I've ever really enjoyed a Square game ever. There're going probably make the game some blend of real-time action and turn-basedness that has never worked ever. Just make an action game or a strategy turned-based game instead of trying to make turn-based combat something it'll never be.

Same goes for Skinner boxes for me, I realize I'm only playing to keep the game the same so I say "What's the point?" and put it down.

Dreiko:
For me nostalgia takes the form of playing games like the games of old rather than actual remasters, though I will every now and then play one of those too. The recent example being the remaster of GoW3, since it was free with ps+ anyhow and it has been a decade haha.

Speaking of, in three days time marks the 10th anniversary of the release of this masterpiece of a trailer. I practically wore out the play button on my VLC player replaying it and the IGN Rewind feature pretty much until the game released. MGS4, Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2 were impressive for sure, but God of War 3 solidified the PS3's status as an exclusive powerhouse.

The best part is that this was a time when so many other multiplat games were being shown off in pre-rendered trailers, but Sony rolled theirs out with real-time footage.

hanselthecaretaker:

Dreiko:
For me nostalgia takes the form of playing games like the games of old rather than actual remasters, though I will every now and then play one of those too. The recent example being the remaster of GoW3, since it was free with ps+ anyhow and it has been a decade haha.

Speaking of, in three days time marks the 10th anniversary of the release of this masterpiece of a trailer. I practically wore out the play button on my VLC player replaying it and the IGN Rewind feature pretty much until the game released. MGS4, Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2 were impressive for sure, but God of War 3 solidified the PS3?s status as an exclusive powerhouse.

The best part is that this was a time when so many other multiplat games were being shown off in pre-rendered trailers, but Sony rolled theirs out with real-time footage.

GoW lends itself to this perfectly too because of so many of those QTEs and execution animations are shot from a very cinematic angle so the layout is perfect for a trailer that would have needed to be pre-rendered but has the benefit of touting being in-game.

Dragon Age: Origins had my fav trailers from that time period but GoW3's were definitely no slouch either.

Remakes are fine when effort is put in. The Bioshock and Nathan Drake collections looks and feels great for modern day aging, I'd say Nathan Drake 3 even looks overall better than Nathan Drake 4 due to the smooth as fuck framerate. Ports that run and look the same on way more powerful hardware are generally disappointing though. It's nice to see old work given care and attention with current technology, as long as you don't go all George Lucas on it.

RE2 Remake really went above and beyond what I thought a remake could be. Enjoyed it immensely, as much as the original way back in 1998. It's still unbelievable to me that they actually made it. I always feel like replaying it which is a sign of a great game.

Nostalgia itself can only get a game so far, espescially with their penchant for time commitment. I have massive nostalgia for FF7 but for some reason just can't really get into those old JRPG's anymore. Same as Shadow of the Colossus. Loved it in 2005 but struggled to even complete the (admittedly masterfully done) remaster/remake. RE4 however I still enjoy just as much as in 2005 and complete it atleast once a year. Some games just have this timeless quality and you don't really know until decades later.

FF7 Remake also brings back some of that sparkle. Just the presentation and graphics alone you wish you could send it back to your young self. This rekindling of old magic is nostalgia in the best possible way. It re-envisions what the old games could be.

 

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