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We live in a time when remastering classic games with current graphics is the order of the day, and surely you’ve ever wondered how they adapt those classic games with graphics from 20 years ago to the cutting-edge graphics that we have. nowadays. In this article we are going to delve into the remastering process and we are going to tell you not only how they do it , but also how it differs from another term on the agenda: remakes .
When we talk about the remastering of a game, we refer to when it already existed before, but the graphics have been adapted to current times. This means on many occasions that the gameplay and functionality have been left intact, 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 from how it is in video games. From its origin in 1892 with the famous roll of 35 mm negative tape, a resolution of 4096 x 3112 pixels was used, and the original recording is known as a “master copy”. From this “master” copy, the copies were made in the desired quality (first VHS, then CD, later DVD and now Blu-Ray) and the resolution of the master was for that and more, which is why when I wanted to go from CD quality to DVD quality, for example, I was doing a “re-master”, making another copy of the master but at a higher resolution.
Thus, as you will already suppose, the films that reach consumers are adapted to the maximum quality of the players of each era; Obviously now we are in the era of 4K and even 8K, but we must also take into account that everything is already recorded in digital and not using those 35 mm negative rolls, so the resolution of the “master” copies is very superior. In any case, the word is still valid, and you already know the origin of it.
How are PC and console games remastered?
The term “remaster” when we talk about the video game industry is actually used throughout the whole “multimedia” of this ecosystem. A remastering necessarily implies improving the quality from an original master version, but in the case of games it is just the other way around: it is about improving the original version to adapt it to contemporary graphics.
This is the rule that applies in the world of games for both PC and console, with the most popular technique being based on fidelity and resolution. Simply put, remastering an old game will make it look less pixelated (literally) and more in line with modern-day high-resolution monitors and TVs.
Despite the simplicity of this definition, remasters can vary in quality, which is often due to the effort put into each. The PS3 and Xbox 360 saw a huge number of “HD Remaster” games that consisted mainly of the ported titles not previously being compatible with the hardware mentioned above (that of PS3 and Xbox 360), so apart from scaling the original title to HD resolution, there is little else to distinguish them from their original version.
However, the remastering of a game does not simply consist of porting it to new hardware that was not previously compatible or scaling the resolution, but there are remasters that have been cared for with greater care, such as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, in which revitalized textures, optimized performance, and improved the quality of the game’s soundtrack. Thus, in a remastering as such, it is expected not only that it adapts to a current resolution, but that the texture packages will be changed for others with higher definition, that better quality audio is incorporated and, of course, that the performance.
Of course, consumers are the ones who ultimately expect more from remasters (say Demon’s Souls on PS5), and the good part about this is that there are fewer and fewer simple “ports” and publishers have ventured not only to adapt, but to polish and improve the games they remastered.
Remaster vs Remake, what is the difference?
Remakes are another of the terms that are in fashion lately, and they are the result of directors running out of ideas to make new successful games and having to turn to titles that have already been successful in the past. In any case, the word “remake” basically 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 reconstruction with modern technology ; video game remakes in the classic sense could almost be seen as a paint by numbers process, as many of these projects simply take the idea and mechanical loops from the original game and rebuild them using modern graphics engines and techniques, with better controls and often better resources. The result is usually an experience we are familiar with, but much more polished.
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 bear an uncanny resemblance to 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 option to navigate the sea more quickly.
Then we have the version of the remakes ” same idea, different execution “; They are essentially different games, and even if they use the same story, settings, and characters, they are ultimately completely different games. An example of this we have in the recent Final Fantasy VII Remake, where we have the usual Cloud, Tifa or Barret and that takes place in the same place as the original, but the story is completely different and, in fact, nothing has to see 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, it is a much more modern and contemporary third-person shooter. Times that run, 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 looked so good to us 20 years ago but with the graphics and gameplay of now. However, remakes can take the license both to introduce modifications and not respect the original plot of the game, as to completely reimagine them.