James: All right, it's time for the next question on tonight's
roundtable. With handheld systems sprouting up like wildfire and home
consoles becoming more and more backwards compatible, we have been seeing
an upswing in the amount of remakes and re-releases we find on our local
video game store self. Is this just an indicator of the game industry's
age or have developers found another popular market? What are your thoughts
on remakes? What qualities should a good RPG remake have?
Mikel: Remakes are swarming all over the Game Boy Advance, and
companies are doing little to improve on the experience from the past.
Gamers have evolved since the days of the Super Nintendo, yet a lot of
what we're getting in the market is cut directly from one cart to another
with little or no improvement. When Enix did the Dragon Warriors for the
Game Boy Color, they made you want to play through the game all over again.
That should be the goal of a remake.
Henry: I think that designing RPG remakes should be pretty straightforward.
Keep the dialogue for the most part, and give the graphics and the engine
a major overhaul. Add in some secrets for people who played the game in
the first place, and send it off. The most important thing is to keep
the style of the original game. If you lose that, people who played the
original game won't accept it.
Shawn: From what I've seen, the flood of handhelds is part of
a life cycle. Nintendo releases a new generation, people clone it, the
clones go for a while and die out, and Nintendo will still have a monopoly
on the market when the next handheld comes out.
Mikel: How is two handhelds a "flood"? The Wonderswan and the
WS Color against the GBC/GBA. Not much of a flood.
James: It's a shame, really. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was really
not a bad system. It had a great library for a handheld that was around
for about as long as the Jaguar.
Henry: Especially before the GBA game out.
Shawn: You forget the GP32 and other Korean handhelds.
Henry: GP32 seems pretty dead in the water to me, unless some
great independent games come out for it.
Mikel: The Koreans? I know they have a nice system, but I don't
see one at EBgames, do you?
Shawn: The GP32 won't make it out of Korea, agreed, but I was
just reinforcing my word "flood."
James: We North Americans don't see many Korean products, yes.
But this is an international site.
Doug: First, any true portable system that doesn't say Game Boy
is pretty much useless to talk about from a market perspective. As for
other older RPGs, it is both a cheap way for game makers to make money
and RPGamers to either experience "old school" RPGs for the first time
or relive them, depending on how long they've been playing. I wouldn't
mind seeing more quality features and facelifts, though.
Mikel: So what defines a remake from a port? I always thought
a port was when you took it from one system from another while it's still
around. When you do a remake, it's from the past, and therefore should
be reworked for today's gamer.
Michael: There is a huge difference between remake and port. In
a remake you overhaul the graphics, possibly alter the gameplay to make
it fresh, fix any translation snafus, etc... Ports are simply the original
game copied over to a new system. I hate ports, honestly, and I only see
them as a cheap way to make money. Remakes require time and effort to
be put into them, which is why I have more respect for them than a simple
port. I was very disappointed by Final Fantasy Anthology in that respect.
It had new features, yes, but the core of the game was a direct rip from
the SNES cart.
Doug: I, on the other hand, love Anthology. Despite the poor performance
of the game, I have a PSOne and screen, making it almost a portable system
in its own right, and I love playing FF6 (my second favorite game of all
time) on the road. I even had it at E3. You have to be careful about remaking
some games, too. One game that was "remade" for modern gamers was the
port of the NES classic "Crystalis." The guys behind the port completely
butchered the ending, though, and the classic game provided a worse experience
than the original version.
Shawn: That remake was blasphemy to many fans of the original.
Mikel: The story is the one thing that shouldn't be touched, unless
you made pop references from the past that wouldn't make sense now.
Michael: You always have to leave in the classic lines, though,
like "You spoony bard" or my personal favorite, "You son of a submariner!"
Henry: Just to please the hard-core crowd, yeah.
Mikel: That line is a classic, as it was never intended. It really
takes the attention of the company to keep in things like that. Something
I think Square should be commended for.
Doug: Then here's a question for you guys. What would you think
if you found out, say, Final Fantasy IV was being remade with the Final
Fantasy X engine? Full voice, full 3D, full works.
Henry: I was thinking about that exact same thing, only with Final
Fantasy VI in mind. I'd prefer no voice though.
James: I think that such a big jump would really change the whole
experience. Right now Final Fantasy IV - with its simple graphics and
written dialogue - is many things to many people. However, if you update
it that drastically you would make the game a lot more "static."
Everyone would experience more or less the same thing.
Mikel: Doug, I feel that would be awesome, as long as they made
Michael: Completely modernizing something like Final Fantasy IV
or VI is insane. You completely kill any feeling of nostalgia in the process.
That's the main draw of ports and remakes, the nostalgia of the game.
Henry: Remember the early N64 Final Fantasy demos with Final Fantasy
VI characters? Those could've been interesting, if they had been made
Mikel: I thought that was just a project to show off SGI hardware.
Doug: Nintendo seemed to think differently until they announced
FF7 for PlayStation.
Henry: There weren't ever any real details about it.
Shawn: It was an impressive display for its day, too.
Doug: I believe the experience would be worth it. Just as Star
Wars got a Special Edition once the technology was there, so should these
games that we love. If you don't like them, stick with the original.
Henry: I think if you repackaged FFVI (full remake, like Doug
said) and called it FFXII, gamers who hadn't played FFVI wouldn't be able
to tell the difference.
Shawn: And probably some who had played it wouldn't be able to
Michael: I'm sure you would be able to tell the difference had
Mikel: Of course, because the only thing left after a full remake
that ties it back to the original is the story, and its parts. Final Fantasy
has been cliché in story for some time now.
Michael: Unless they rip out the guts of the plot, in which case
it's really no longer a remake.