Starting Screen: Nothing Wrong With Playing It Again

STARTING SCREEN | Some look down upon the remaster or re-release, but it's really just a chance to revisit an old friend or make a new one.

Article by Mike Williams, .

Depending on who you talk to, the Nintendo Switch is either the greatest system ever and Nintendo's triumphant return to leading the pack, or Nintendo continuing to make mistakes with low stock and a host of game re-releases. The latter is seen as a black mark on the system for some reason.

I can understand that. When you buy a system, you generally want that purchase to be justified by all the great exclusive games that you can't get anywhere else. Nintendo did come out of the gate swinging with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You don't get an more than 1:1 attach ratio without doing something right.

The rest can be harder to justify if you're looking for all-new gaming. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, Shovel Knight, Disgaea 5 Complete, Thumper, the Neo Geo titles, Lego City Undercover, I Am Setsuna, and the upcoming Ultra Street Fighter II are all games you can play elsewhere if the desire arises. The Switch versions may add one or two new features, but the games themselves are largely intact and playable.

There's nothing really wrong with that though. For one, what the Switch tends to bring to the table is the ability to straddle the line. It offers a console level presentation - better than the Wii U and below the current gen consoles - and the ability to take those experiences wherever you go. It is the current defacto successor to the Wii U, 3DS, and PlayStation Vita, something no other console can really call claim to.

You may not get a ton out of buying Disgaea 5 again, but for me, being able to play it on a train, plane, or general commute is a large part of the appeal. Sure, I do most of my work from home, but even within those constraints, I enjoy the Switch. I appreciate the ability to grind out a level in Disgaea or Minecraft while I'm grinding out one in real life on the toilet. The Switch has a docked mode, but outside of review purposes, I rarely use it in that mode.

Beyond that, there's nothing wrong with a re-release or remaster. Those titles are rarely taking up a spot that would've otherwise gone to a new game. They represent a chance for a fan to play a game they enjoy on a new platform or format, or for a game to reach a whole new audience. In the case of the Switch, that audience is currently fired up and excited.

In my interview with Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap developer Omar Cornut, he noted the benefit from being on the Switch early in its lifecycle.

"The nostalgia factor is really high," said Cornut. "For many who had a [Sega Master System], this game was it. It's a game that's really special for them. Plus, being a Switch launch window title probably really helped in getting attention. There was a lot of luck involved."

That extends to the re-releases. Mario Kart 8 sold 8.31 million copies, marking it as the best-selling Wii U title. The Nintendo Switch is already at 2.74 million sold and it still has the rest of 2017 to go, including the lucrative holiday season. We don't know where the Switch it ultimately wash out, but it's pretty clear it'll be ahead of the Wii U in total sales (unless something goes horribly wrong). There's a chance for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to reach a bigger audience than the original did.

Likewise, Shovel Knight is available on everything, but being one of the Switch launch titles still propelled the system to a renewed visibility. Thumper for Switch might not have virtual reality to lean on, but if you missed it the first time around, it's still a great game. I own Binding of Issac on Steam, but I purchased the Nintendo Switch version and that'll be the first time that I've actually played the game. To use NBC's old tagline: If you haven't seen it, it's new to you.

Great games are great games. I understand that we're hip deep in industry speculation in enthusiast circles. I want the Switch to achieve its best and for that to happen it needs a steady feed of new titles from first and third-party developers. It's fine to speculate and worry about that. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Mario Kart 9 launched on the Switch first. The point is offering a great game to owners of a new platform.

Hell, I hope they give other Wii U games a shot at life on the Switch. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Bayonetta 2 need more love.

Kat's Obscure RPG of the Week

Front Mission probably qualifies under this banner despite being a long-running and popular series in Japan. While it's been released a handful of times in the U.S., it hasn't been able to build much more than a cult audience. Its one chance to break into the mainstream was ruined by a truly wretched third-person action game.

Anyway, Front Mission is a tactics RPG that functions as a sort of cross between Fire Emblem and Mechwarrior. Its best known for its heavy customization—its possible to customize every part of your mech—and its political storytelling, which recalls anime like Patlabor.

Front Mission's heyday was on the original PlayStation and the PS2, where it received a number of sequels and spinoffs before tailing off at the end of the late 2000s. Its was last seen in 2010, when the ill-conceived Front Mission Evolved killed it off entirely.

The apparent death of Front Mission is a heartbreaker for Japanese mecha fans, particularly given that Front Mission 5 never made it over to the west. It would be a tremendous fit for both the Vita and the 3DS; but alas, there don't appear to be anymore sequels in the cards.

Still, the series holds up reasonably well, particularly the excellent Front Mission 3. Pour one out for hardcore mecha strategy then do what you can to revisit these gems.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Subterranean (Earthworm Jim 2)

I never played Earthworm Jim 2. I'm not a humongous fan of the first game, either. I found Jim's debut adventure to be more frustrating than fun, especially when I was asked to pilot an extremely fragile goldfish bowl through some narrow passages lined with jagged coral (urrrgh). When Shiny took its passive-aggressive jab at Donkey Kong Country in the Sega CD edition of Earthworm Jim, I wonder if it ever considered that maybe DKC is more popular because it's just the better game.

Anyway, even though I don't like playing Earthworm Jim, I have no problem admitting it has a fantastic soundtrack (or admitting the cartoon series based on the game is pretty great). Earthworm Jim 2 sounds great, too. It was released on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in addition to the SNES and Genesis, which is something that happened often to 16-bit platformers that straddled the '95 / '96 borderline.

The game's music was remixed to suit its CD format, and the boost shines through in Tommy Tallarico's "Subterranean."

Subterranean accompanies Jim as he digs through Earthworm Jim 2's underground level, "Lorenzen's Soil" (Oh '90s pop culture references, will you ever wear out?). It also shows up in the "ISO 9000" level, which is set in a tax office. Odd choice, that: Subterranean is a relaxing track, and tax offices are anything but.

Some people prefer the chiptune iteration of Subterranean for the SNES and Genesis. It's all good, but I just really dig the guitars in the arranged version of the song.

Caty’s AltGame Corner

Deadlines, from Botolo developer Ian Snyder, is a simple one button, two player multiplayer game. Two players situate themselves on either end of a keyboard, holding down “A” and “L” to begin. The game itself, with its neon color palette, gives players a simple goal with their singular buttons: “be the taller line, eat the smaller line, avoid the sides.” The result is a painterly wave of colors growing in size as they attempt to collide into one another. Each round is under a second long. Deadlines isn’t a flashy, complicated multiplayer experience, but a compactly enjoyable one that can be played in just a browser. It’s perfect for wanting to pull up something quick to pass the time on your laptop when loitering in a cafe with a friend.

Matt’s Monday Mornings

A quick look at the Nintendo Switch eShop and you'll quickly realize that there's enough quality titles to make for a good digital library of games. The latest to join Nintendo's neat hybrid console, and a game I've been playing all weekend, is Drool's "rhythm violence game" Thumper.

Although Thumper first came out on the PS4 and Oculus last year, the game completely slipped under my radar. So when I heard it was coming to the Switch I decided to basically wait for it to come out on the Nintendo system. And frankly, it was worth the wait.

Thumper has players take control of a metallic beetle tied to a rail system. The players will then have to time their presses and react accordingly to different obstacles like spikes, and guardrails. Time your presses to the beat of the music and you'll bolster Thumper's industrial as hell soundtrack. Oh and also the game supports the Switch's HD Rumble feature, which I finally understand its deal because it feels really cool in Thumper.

The biggest surprise is how genuinely terrifying Thumper is. The game combines some pretty intense action with freaky boss designs. I'm actually worried what the game might feel like in VR, only because I'd probably get a heart attack from the experience.

So if you’re looking for some extra Switch games, I’d happily recommend Thumper, a kind of scary game that definitely lives up to its "rhythm violence" designation.

Musings on the News

  • Last week, Bungie and Activision finally showed off everything that's going into Destiny 2. I got a chance to play it and I'm feeling good about Bungie fixing the issues that hit the first time. It feels like they've recaptured some of the Halo feeling again. Unfortunately, while the game is coming to PC for the first time, the game will not allow for cross save between console and PC platforms. Bummer.
  • Overwatch is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a host of skins and three new Arena maps. While some of the skins are re-releases of the ones that came with the Deluxe Edition at launch, Blizzard did draft up a set of new skins, dance emotes, and voice lines for the event.
  • As of this writing, the new season of Twin Peaks has four episodes released on Showtime and folks are excited. On the gaming side, Caty wants folks to know that there will never be a "Twin Peaks of Video Games". No one else makes film quite like David Lynch, and the same is true in video games. There are folks that strayed close, like the early-era of Suda 51, but to Lynch is to be weird, thoughtful, and emotional at the same time.
  • Life is Strange is getting a sequel! Dontnod's episodic adventure is one of the few games in that style that didn't come from Telltale Games. It worked quite well, wrapping up with some great endings. There's no word on whether Max will star in the game again, but more is coming!
  • If you're going to be playing Arms on a regular basis, now's the time to strengthen that upper body. Do some bicep curls. Rock some push ups. Nintendo is ready to give you a workout.

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Comments 25

  • Avatar for Roto13 #1 Roto13 5 months ago
    There are a bunch of Wii U games I didn't buy (or bought and didn't play) and I'd be fine with Switch versions of them. There are also tons of games, for Wii U and other consoles, that I'd gladly buy again to have a version I can play on a handheld.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #2 cldmstrsn 5 months ago
    Remasters have come a long way since about 09 or 10. I always love them. I have been able to catch up on so many gems that I missed.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #3 SatelliteOfLove 5 months ago
    Front Mission 3 was boss as hell. Smart near-future world, politicking, grim "Wanzers are only cogs in the machine of war, even more than men" melieu, great cyberpunk OST, loved how it was a SRPG that took advantage of the fact these were robots in mind to combat, and activating that double shotgun skill was so damn fine. *shhk-chkk BOOM* *shkk-chkk BOOM*

    I think my only gripe with the game was that Alisa was an annoying flake. 4 was almost completely a weaker game outside of the fact that melee wanzers ain't half dead weight in it (pile bunkers are fun).

    Behold folks, more reasons Tallarico should have stayed composing instead of half-baked reviews.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #4 riderkicker 5 months ago
    @SatelliteOfLove I spent a summer playing Front Mission 3 on the PSP. Really fun, and I thought the main character was hilariously edgy. I have to finish the game though.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #5 touchofkiel 5 months ago
    I love remasters (so long as they're at full price)... hell, I even love the PS2-on-PS4 games, and FFXII is my most anticipated game this year. Just recently I was playing through the Ezio collection, and soon enough I'll be playing through all the Kingdom Hearts games on my PS4. Looking at my PSN account on PS4, I see remasters like The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, Diablo 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, DCU Online, Sleeping Dogs, Street Fighter 4, Marvel vs Capcom 3, and a slew of PS2 games. Almost all of these are upgraded ports from last gen. (It should be noted that I didn't double dip on most of them).

    But really, this is all incidental... absolutely none of them sold me on the system itself, and that's sort of the problem with MK8 on Switch. It should not be flagship title... simple as that.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #6 NiceGuyNeon 5 months ago
    I like remasters (and ports). They let me play games I missed back when they released or update stuff I love. I didn't mind buying Halo Anniversary because I love Halo and got to play it with shiny new graphics.

    I played Valkyria Chronicles for the first time thanks to its pc port and found one of my favorite RPGs. I mean, I played Bulletstorm and Vanquish when they released, love both, and I'm pumped for their remasters/ports because I can now talk about them with more people.

    Besides, Switch is a new system. It needs a library aside from Zelda. We know content like Arms, Splatoon, and Mario are releasing this year: so why freak out about remasters and ports? They fill out the library; pick one you've never played, park your bare ass on the toilet, and enjoy 2017!
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #7 Tetragrammaton 5 months ago
    I agree Mike. People are a bit too concerned with novelty. The Wii U has an excellent first person library. Why not bring those titles to a place where people might find them? The Wonderful 101 could actually find its audience with a Switch port and some QoL fixes. Mario Maker, Color Splash, Bayonetta 2, Pokken, Xenoblade X, Pikmin 3, Tropical Freeze, and even TMS could find moderate-to-great success on the new system. I'd double dip on more than one, and I suspect others would as well.

    Ah Front Mission. Played the first one on the DS and never made any headway. Never understood why.

    Finished Cosmic Star Heroine over the weekend. Sweet Christmas it was perfect. Not putting more here because I need time to get out of the gushing stage. Cannot recommend enough.

    Gave Trails in the Sky a proper chance, got to chapter 1 after hanging up on Esmelas Tower and then the Sky Bandits fight. Playing on hard mode was a bad move since I know nothing about this franchise. A third party member took a lot of the pressure off but I need some new quartz stat. Oh, I also found my PSP copy. Forgot that I picked this up a few months after it came out because of the buzz it was getting.
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #8 himuradrew 5 months ago
    "Hell, I hope they give other Wii U games a shot at life on the Switch. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Bayonetta 2 need more love. "

    This right here. :)
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #9 SuperShinobi 5 months ago
    Opinion has been split regarding the topic of remasters in recent years, with many criticizing the PS4 and Xbox One for having too many remasters. US Gamer for example wrote an article on this two years ago, in which some (Mike and Jaz) were in favor of remasters, while others had more mixed views.

    I love classic video games, so I'm always on the pro-remasters side, as long as the remasters (and remakes) are faithful to the source material. I'd especially like to see HD remasters of classic Genesis and SNES games with CD-quality audio added, but remasters of much newer games are fine too. I'm getting a Switch sooner or later, so having never owned a Wii U, I'd really like to see Mario 3D World, Bayo 2 and Mario Maker rereleased on the Switch.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #10 UnskippableCutscene 5 months ago
    Total honesty: I put up on eBay my PS3 games that have had remasters on PC or PlayStation Now. If I want to play them again, I have options that don't involve hooking up a heavy and loud "Computer Entertainment System".

    In the case of one game, I actually managed to sell my PS3 copy and then buy the remaster in a Steam sale with the proceeds.Edited May 2017 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #11 VotesForCows 5 months ago
    Sam always seemed happy to play it again.
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  • Avatar for Sturat #12 Sturat 5 months ago
    I'm glad I bought a Switch, but I disagree with most of your points.
    - I already paid $72 for Mario Kart 8 and its DLC; I don't think it's reasonable to ask people to shell out $60 for another copy of the same game that doesn't even add any new race tracks. They should have added new tracks, lowered the price, or offered a discount for people who'd already bought the game.
    - I think it's important to recognize how unprecedented it is to be 2 months into a console's life and the only exclusive games are 1-2 Switch, a version of Bomberman, and a couple indie games. (And there are barely any Switch-exclusive third party games on the horizon!)
    - Zelda, Puyo Puyo, Wonder Boy, and Blaster Master are all great on the Switch, but I'm not looking forward to the prospect of choosing between the PS4 and Switch versions of games like Sonic Forces and Dragon Quest XI, which will presumably run better on the PS4 but would be portable on Switch.
    - Why would you play video games on the toilet? First, that's really gross, and second, if it takes you that long to use a toilet you should start eating more healthily.
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  • Avatar for matthewcooley77 #13 matthewcooley77 5 months ago
    One of the things I want out of my Switch (after Nintendo games) is a portable Steam box. (Obviously not literally) I hope more companies follow Bethesda's lead and port older PC games to the Switch, because I would buy the hell out of them. Portal 1/2, Bioshock, New Vegas, Black Mesa, all sorts of great games that could be given new life and run easily on the Switch.
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  • Avatar for FalcoT #14 FalcoT 5 months ago
    My favorite part of Front Mission 3 is the insane, impossible-unless-you-look-it-up method of getting the game's ultimate Mech.
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  • Avatar for matt-b #15 matt-b 5 months ago
    @Roto13 I skipped the Wii U entirely so I'm actually hoping for some more re-releases. I'm pretty anxious to see if Nintendo says anything about Smash Brothers for Switch at E3, be it a port of Smash 4 or a teaser for something brand new. I finally bought Shovel Knight on Switch, I bought Mario Kart 8 too. There are more games I'm hoping will make their way there...Mario Maker, Bayonetta 2, Cosmic Star Heroine...since Switch is so easy for me to play games on (I have 4 small children) I'm essentially in a holding pattern, waiting for games I'm interested in to get a Switch release.
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  • Avatar for mrhumble1 #16 mrhumble1 5 months ago
    The problem isn't the ports themselves. The problem (and it IS a problem) comes in when you realize that +80% of the games on the Switch are ports or re-releases, and many of them are at FULL PRICE. This is NOT OK.

    At least Disgaea 5 is a current-gen release and comes with a ton of DLC. Still, it should not cost $60. Mario Kart 8 is a 3 year- old game. It is insulting that it costs $60, and the bad news is that nobody seems to care. Articles like this reinforce the idea that it's fine for publishers to rip us off and that is not cool.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #17 TheWildCard 5 months ago
    While there's nothing wrong with ports and remasters (it's just too expensive for third-parties to make system exclusive games most of the time) I've already played a lot of MK 8, putting it on Switch doesn't add any value to me. Sure, it may not be aimed at people like me, but if there isn't a new MK on Switch it just means it has less value than what a Nintendo system usually has to me.
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  • Avatar for Jeremiah-Jones #18 Jeremiah-Jones 5 months ago
    MUCH LOVE FOR THE FRONT MISSION LOVE! God, that 1st game nearly had me crying with it's alternate USN story.

    In regards to re masters, I missed out on an entire console generation, and the ability to play all of a series, or a "Game of the Year" version with all of the DLC, and none of the hassle of having to have a high speed connection is a great blessing for a broke man like me. More collections please!

    Front Mission 3 was fantastic. It doesn't get enough credit. 4... Well Wendee Lee and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn had Russian accents, and that was a pleasure to my ears.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #19 Roto13 5 months ago
    @mattb0527 A merged version of Smash Bros. for Switch with all the content from both the 3DS and Wii U versions is my dream. It doesn't even need anything new for me to be satisfied.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #20 Tetragrammaton 5 months ago
    @Sturat Hope you don't mind if I respond point by point. You make a lot of good points and I happen to disagree with most of them!

    1.) MK8D has new battle modes and mechanics. What is your opinion of the PS4/Xbone versions of GTA V, Last of Us, Dishonored, DmC, GoW 3, Sleeping Dogs and (nu)Tomb Raider 1? Some of them had their DLC, others were cheaper. None of them had new content.

    2.) It's not unprecedented, it's standard operating procedure. ALL modern consoles going forward are likely to start out as port machines with a handful of exclusives. Ports and remasters sell, the economics just make too much sense for devs and publishers to do anything else. The Switch at least offers portability as a unique selling point.

    3.) I mean that's a great problem to have. But if you're primarily concerned with performance why bother with consoles? Games are better on PC. :V

    4.) Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
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  • Avatar for ChazCheeto #21 ChazCheeto 5 months ago
    Deleted May 2017 by ChazCheeto
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  • Avatar for ChazCheeto #22 ChazCheeto 5 months ago

    I think the examples you are pointing to are ones that justify their $60 price tags. While 3 years is a bit late, a $60 GOTY edition (MK8) with DLC included is standard for the industry.

    The rereleases I am hoping to see are Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and I am half expecting to see some kind of Zelda HD Collection. If Nintendo packs those together for a $60 download, and offers them individually for ~$40, I would find that fair. They should not end up selling them for $60 each as if the WiiU versions never existed, seeing as Wind Waker is a Greatest Hits style game with a MSRP of $20 and Twilight is constantly marked down to about $25.

    So basically:

    Content unchanged - release at a discount to account for the age of the initial release
    DLC and other content added in - you can rerelease at $60 (I just might not buy it)
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  • Avatar for Sturat #23 Sturat 5 months ago
    @Tetragrammaton Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful response; here are a few reactions:
    1.) I haven't played any of the specific games you listed, but while I agree that MK8D isn't the worst value proposition ever, I think most people will also agree it is below average, especially when there are plenty of games like Gravity Rush and Valkyria Chronicles that included DLC and had MSRPs of $30.
    2.) I agree that re-releases like these are a huge part of the game business, but I think the business will change a lot if consoles continue getting incremental updates similar to smart phones. When somebody buys a Project Scorpio Xbox, they're going to expect it to play all of their Xbox One games at higher frame rates and resolutions without paying anything extra.
    3.) I like the low maintenance and simplicity of consoles, but depending on where the industry goes, a PC might eventually be right for me...
    4.) No. Eww.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #24 link6616 5 months ago
    As someone who is not in the best state of health regarding using toilets, and thus take much longer than most people seem to... I just can't understand how people play games on the toilet unless they are violently ill. (My steins;gate playthrough owes a lot to me getting the stomach flu). Is it REALLY a thing people do, or just a weird repeated hypothetical we all share in?
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  • Avatar for link6616 #25 link6616 5 months ago
    Oh, and on the actual pricing of remasters...

    It's a tricky issue. On one hand, I feel it's important for games not to simply be devalued by simple age. I can spend about as much on disney movies now as I ever could. Games that are classics and holding the test of time, probably don't need to be discounted that much.

    I remember a time on GBA and DS where I payed new game prices for ports of sometimes decade old games. Which isn't ideal, but in practice those games were new to me. And that's where a lot of the difference falls for remasters and ports. It doesn't matter so much if it's new, it's new to that audience.

    It's a tricky balancing act though. Ultimately though, I think it would have been nice if nintendo had worked out a way to at least let Wii U MK8 digital owners get a digital discount of even $20 or so. But, I probably was never going to buy it anyway, so what I am complaining about.
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  • Avatar for CipherStone #26 CipherStone 5 months ago
    I think remasters are great if they offer something new or different. For example, I bought Mario Kart 8 again on Switch again, even after buying it and all the DLC on Wii U, because having a portable version is that appealing to me, as someone who commutes to work on public transit. I'll also buy Final Fantasy XII again on PS4 because of all the Zodiac Job System stuff being added. Meanwhile, I didn't buy the HD remaster of Valkyria Chronicles, even though it's one of my favourite games, since it didn't seem to add anything meaningful and I can play it in much the same way on my PS3 whenever I like.
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