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Ten Remakes that are Better than the Original

4/29/13 1:35pm
tl;dr

I point out ten gaming remakes that are better than the original games that they are based on.

Creating a video game remake is like balancing on a tight rope, you have to keep yourself balanced between two sides.  On the one hand, you have to keep the game similar to the original, so as not to alienate fans of the first game.  If the game is getting a remake, there's more than likely a large fan base that doesn't want to see the game change very much.  On the other hand, you have to do something different to make the game new and fresh.  If you go too far in one direction or the other, the whole project could blow up in your face.  But once in a blue moon, a developer will find that perfect balance of old and new, and create a new experience that is actually better than the original.

In honor of the new Ducktales remake coming to all major consoles, I will be talking about my top ten video game remakes from history. But before we get started, a few ground rules.

1. I'm talking remakes, not reboots or ports. The game has to be trying to do something new with an already established title, without completely changing it.

2. Only one game per franchise.

3. I am saying that these games are better than the original, but that doesn't by any means mean that the original is bad, so if you see a choice in which you liked the original game, I am not putting it down in any way.

Without further ado, let's get this started!

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10. Final Fantasy (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

While this game has been remade time and time again, the remake that I'm referring to is the downloadable version available to all major smartphones.  Featuring the same storyline and level design as the original, this jam-packed adventure boasts redesigned graphics, an updated soundtrack, new areas to explore.  While it lacks the CGI cutscenes of the PSP version, it more than makes up for it in availability, since anyone with a smartphone (or possibly tablet) can get it.  This is truly the definitive Final Fantasy.

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9. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, PC)

While it may not be as high-profile as some of the games on our list, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX goes leaps and bounds above what the original did.  I've never been able to play Pac-Man beyond one or two levels before I get bored, but adding in the sleeper ghosts adds a whole new level of challenge when competing for a high score.  By getting these sleeping ghosts to start following Pac-Man in a trail, you can rack up amazing combos, regularly finishing games with over a million points.  It has multiple levels, modes, and visual styles, and even a special level designed to emulate the original version, this game is a must have for the competitive gamer.

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8. Resident Evil (Gamecube)

Resident Evil was scary when it was released for the Playstation, but scary in a Gremlins sort of way.  It was silly and campy.  Sure it scared you several times, but the fear would wash away during the cutscenes with dialog such as "You were almost a Jill sandwich."  The Gamecube version took all the campiness of the original, threw it away, and cranked the fear factor to 11.  Some of the best looking graphics on the Gamecube, new CGI cutscenes with improved voice acting, new modes, secrets, endings and areas, and this is one game that knows how to creep you out.

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7. Kirby Superstar Ultra (Nintendo DS)

I'm extremely partial to console games being put on handhelds, because it means I can take some of my favorite games with me wherever I go (You'll see a couple more on the list.). With enhanced graphics, sounds, and 3D full motion video cutscenes, Kirby Superstar Ultra has the distinction of potentially being the best game of the series.  While something is lost in translation when it comes to being able to play multiplayer, seeing as both players need their own DS and a copy of the game (unless you want to look off one screen and be limited to one game mode), it more than makes up for it with new modes, such as one devoted to Meta-Knight as the playable character!

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6. Super Mario 64 DS (Nintendo DS)

Mario games have been remade to death, and this was the only case where the "one game per franchise" rule limited me on my selection, but for good reason, as the last four entries would also have been Mario games.  Super Mario 64 DS may not have given us everything we promised (4 player co-op would have been awesome), but damn it, it added some awesome features to an already incredible game.  Four unique playable characters? Check.  New stars to obtain? Check. Multiplayer? Check.  Dozens of minigames? Check.  What's more is that even with all of these added features, the game is still the same at its core, and the levels feel just as epic as they did on the Nintendo 64.

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5. Mortal Kombat (Xbox 360, Playstation 3)

More or less a remake of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat was exactly what the Mortal Kombat series needed to get back on track.  After a less than stellar game which pitted Earthrealm's finest against the best of the DC Universe in a T-rated average-fest, series creator Ed Boon decreed "No more!" and delivered heavy on fast paced action and lots of gore.  Going back to it's roots, Mortal Kombat took out all of the characters introduced after MK3 and focused on tight gameplay, balanced online play, and an engaging story mode that makes you want to keep playing.

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4. Metroid: Zero Mission (Gameboy Advance)

I didn't grow up with the original Metroid, and Super Metroid was the first game in the series that I played.  So when I got my hands on the original, you can imagine my disappointment when I found myself getting lost constantly, and repeatedly having to consult a guide to figure out where to go.  When it was remade for the Gameboy Advance, I was ecstatic.  A small guide system to help you figure out where to go, enhanced graphics, and extended plot and gameplay make this game an amazing remake that should be played by any Metroid fan who wants to get the feel of the original.

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3. Bionic Commando Rearmed (Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, PC)

In a world where every game seems to be copying another, Capcom had the balls to try something different.  In most platformers, you can easily jump from one area to the next, but Bionic Commando took that away and replaced it with a bionic arm to allow you to swing from one area to the next. Featuring gameplay identical to the original NES counter-part, co-op and multiplayer, new puzzle areas, fancy HD artwork and graphics, and (to quote the Game Drunkard) a soundtrack featuring "an overwhelming amount of oontz," this game broke the mold of what defined a platformer back in the NES-era, and today. If only its good name had not been tarnished by a horrible console release and sequel.

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2. Pokemon: Heartgold and Soulsilver (Nintendo DS)

While most old-school Pokemon fans will agree that the earlier games were better, I disagree on which earlier games.  To me, the ultimate Pokemon games were Gold and Silver.  That is, until they were remade on the Nintendo DS as Heartgold and Soul Silver.  Boasting all the features of the original, this game featured improved graphics and sound, access to 493 different Pokemon, new areas to explore, and of course, online functionality, this is the game that got me back into Pokemon after missing a few generations.  This isn't just the best Pokemon remake, it's the best Pokemon game, period.

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So, let's re-cap before we reveal number 1.
 

10. Final Fantasy

9. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

8. Resident Evil

7. Kirby Superstar Ultra

6. Super Mario 64 DS

5. Mortal Kombat

4. Metroid: Zero Mission

3. Bionic Commando

2. Pokemon: Heartgold and Soulsilver

So what's #1?

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1. NBA Jam: On Fire Edition (Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network)

WHAT!? A sports game? I know, and I tried to convince myself to take it off, but NBA Jam is the best remake there is.  It took a classic game, gave it pretty HD graphics, updated the rosters, added online play, and TONS of unlockables, and topped it all off with occasional roster updates, and the original announcer Tim Kitzrow. BOOM-SHAKALAKA!  I don't even like sports games that much, but I cannot get myself to put this one down. And being that I live far away from my hometown, my friends and I can still log on Xbox Live and go head to head.

I hope you enjoyed my list, please let me know if you'd like to see more of this.  I know everyone does top tens, but I try to keep it unique by doing top tens that haven't been done.  Please subscribe and I'll hopefully have another blog out in the next 2 weeks.

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