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What's legitimately interesting to me is how the problem of remasters is unique to videogames. How these embiggening projects almost always bear fruit when it comes to album remasters or movies and tv using original film to improve what was previously strictly standard def. One of the best examples of this I can think of is the painstaking amount of work that went into bringing Star Trek TOS and TNG into high def. For me, there's the more personal example of the Twin Peaks blu-rays being impeccable, managing to keep that VCR warmth and fuzziness in its translation of film grain and colour bleed. There may often be cases where music rights were lost in transition, forcing awkward song changes, or the cack-handed handling of an aspect ratio, trimming important visual cues from a piece, awkward colourisation of b&w - but in a general sense, it's very rare for these remasters to be seen as anything but superior. The added visual fidelity, allowing fans to take in more detail like subtle facial acting or the intricacies of set design that were previously blurred, tends to be lauded.
But games are very different. In this tech-head driven industry engrossed in 4k 60FPS and the latest graphics card magic tricks like Raytracing and volumetric fog or whatever, the audience is utterly convinced that HD is the standard. There seems to be an added pressure on publishers to go the extra mile with their remasters of titles from the 6th console generation, as it’s no longer enough to simply do a faithful port of the title to 1080p. In its attempt to please the increasingly discerning crowd, the modern remaster's attempt to improve visual fidelity can drastically shift the base game's artstyle so as to almost be contrasting with what it used to represent. Something as simple as a general shift in colour scheming can be surprisingly effective at making a game feel a certain way, and this remaster noticeably lacks that sunbleached orange I found so characteristic of SA, among too many other minor things to list off. CJ may have a much greater level of visual detail on his character model, but the animations are the same, it's all playing into that uncanny valley thing where the lack of cohesion genuinely seems to make the bigger picture look worse. It’s definitely going to play into why people are feeling weirded out at his hand clipping through doors or contorting incorrectly etc.
Generally, issues with remasters tend to come as a result of these projects being handed to a separate team to the one that developed the original. I for real don't want to begrudge the people making these remasters, nor would I ever pretend to know how these sausages are made; I’m sure it's an enormous task to reverse engineer titles from a generation with infamously poor ethics regarding the backups of source code. It's just... wild to me how this keeps happening. How much more divided people tend to be between the og game and the remake than to film or whatever. Like them or not, it's curious to me to see just how much of a tonal shift is accomplished in remasters like the Shadow of the Colossus one, despite the game sharing what is essentially the same foundation. The way gaps in visual fidelity are filled in by people who weren’t present on the dev team, where the needle begins to slant and the remaster begins to feel more like Bluepoint’s vision than Team Ico’s. It tends to be soundtrack reorchestration that frustrates me the most, one of the most effective ways to belligerently throw a stick of dynamite in what the vibes used to represent. It’s almost expected to have some things lost in translation, and not even just by cultural differences, but through the team’s personal preferences on top of the mandated requirements to use each available teraflop of the microchip. It’s a game of telephone.
Granted, in the case of these GTA remasters, the recent example of XIII and the infamous Silent Hill ones, people seem to share a closer consensus. But what can the average consumer do? Rockstar pulled the original versions from PC storefronts essentially requiring prior ownership or piracy. Until emulation becomes elementary on all hardware, this is the “definitive edition” and you’ll have no say, because they have ambient occlusion now.
Deltarune: Chapter 2
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