Nothing is perfect, which is why no artist can resist fiddling with their work. The "better, faster, stronger" credo gets a good workout in the games industry, where remakes and enhanced collections are already common, and rapidly becoming more popular week by week.
Even great games can benefit from a tune-up, so we recommend the following awesome remakes.
3D Sonic the Hedgehog (Nintendo 3DS)
Sonic's debut adventure was almost as influential to 2D platforming games as Super Mario Bros. It's a big task to point at Sonic the Hedgehog's myriad remakes and say, "This is the one you need to own," but we're pretty confident in recommending 3D Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Nintendo 3DS port of Sonic the Hedgehog is the star of M2's excellent 3D Sega Classics, which gives Sega's old fare new life on Nintendo's handheld. 3D Sonic the Hedgehog is a loving piece of work that offers gentle enhancements to the original game without mucking up the classic formula. You can switch between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 sound emulation, use the Spin Dash (optional), and even regard Sonic's cerulean pixels through a host of screen options that really take you back to the '90s, if that's what you want. Whatever visual tricks you opt for, they work well with the Nintendo 3DS's 3D functionality (remember that?).
3D Sonic the Hedgehog is $5.99 USD, which is an excellent price for such a well-done package. And speaking of Sonic's best remakes, don't forget to pick up Christian Whitehead's re-workings of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic CD on iOS and Android.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (Nintendo DS / iOS / Android)
For a brief, beautiful time, North America received completely remastered versions of classic Dragon Quest titles. Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI arrived for the Nintendo 3DS one after the other, and all was well for fans of the classic Japanese RPG series.
We won't talk about the sleepless nights English-speaking Dragon Quest fans have since suffered while wondering if Dragon Quest VII and VIII for the Nintendo 3DS will ever find their way to our shores. Instead, we recommend that anyone who's even a little fond of JRPGs needs to play Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. Its epic story spans generations, and you can recruit monsters to fight on your side.
When it's time to get to the important business of making offspring, you have three wives to choose from (one more than who was "up for grabs" on the original Super Famicom release). By the end game, you can take down the final threat with the aid of your entire family. Sunday drives are for losers. World-saving quests are what the kids are into these days.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (PSP)
Street Fighter Alpha 3 was a blast when it was first released in 1998, and it's had quite a bit of time for Capcom to poke and prod at it. There are multiple versions of the game as a result, each with new characters, new features, and new challenges.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX, released in 2006 for the PSP, is the most complete and polished version of this beloved fighter. It contains all the additional characters added to the game over the years (plus a bonus appearance by Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution), and out of all the home versions of the game, it probably hews closest to the original arcade release.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX is yet more proof that Sony's PSP died far too early outside of Japan.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP / iOS / Android)
Another game that should have convinced half the world to buy a PSP (but didn't) is Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. This graphical and mechanical update to the original Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation adds a lot of punch to what was already one of the most loved turn-based strategy games of all time.
Loved though it is, the original Final Fantasy Tactics can be hard to find, so The War of the Lions serves as a very worthy substitute. The first game's engaging story and in-depth job system are garnished with cel-shaded cut scenes, improved spell effects, and a completely new translation.
Can't find the game on PSP? No need to blame yourself or God. The War of the Lions is also on iOS and Android.
Resident Evil HD Remaster (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
Capcom had time to get Resident Evil HD Remaster right: It's a remake of a remake that was initially released in 2002 for the GameCube.
The Resident Evil series has become something of a confused and wandering child, so if you're a survival horror fan, going back and spending a bit of time with the title that kicked off the series (and truly validated CDs as a game medium) should be good for your soul.
No need to struggle with the PlayStation game's tank controls, bad cut scenes, and robotic voice acting, though. Grab Resident Evil HD Remaster for an improved interface, HD, and voice acting that won't make your brain liquefy and dribble out your ears.
Though if you're feeling nostalgic for Jill sandwiches, a Resident Evil fan named "Bunny" is working on a mod that replaces the new voice actors with the old cast. What an interesting world we live in.
The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PlayStation 3)
E3 2015 confirmed The Last Guardian lives, and is coming to the PlayStation 4. It's time to prepare.
The Last Guardian's predecessors, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, are two of the industry's most celebrated games. They're inevitably trotted out when the "are games art?" argument swings around with each full moon, and for good reason. Both games feature minimal dialogue, easy-to-grasp mechanics, and simple premises ("Keep a girl safe" / "Slay big huge monsters"), but provide experiences that are immeasurably rich and alive.
The original PlayStation 2 incarnations of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are grand, but the ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection boasts overhauled graphics, as well as improved framerates. Of course, having both games in one spot is convenient too, especially since ICO quickly became hard to find in North America after its initial release. That's what happens when crappy cover art causes people to mistake one of gaming's greatest masterpieces for a straight-to-DVD Pixar ripoff.
Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
Back in the '90s, weird translation witchery led most English-speaking Castlevania fans to believe Super Castlevania IV is separate from the first game, and therefore deserves its own position in the series' timeline. However, Super Castlevania IV is actually meant to be a remake of the very first NES game -- which explains its very simple story ("Kill Drac").
The Castlevania series has many fantastic entries under its blood-soaked banner, as well as some great remakes of those games. But there's literally nothing else in the series that's like Castlevania IV. Simon's ability to whip in eight directions (and -- titter -- dangle his whip) adds a level of strategy and accessibility that's never repeated in any other Castlevania game.
Even the game's soundtrack, which makes beautiful use of the SNES's epic sound chip, stands on its own. Composers Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo evidently love kettle drums, and we're all winners because of it.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver (Nintendo DS)
In 1999, Pokémon Gold and Silver for the Game Boy confirmed that Nintendo's stable of fighting monsters were more than a fad. The second round of games improved on Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green in nearly every way imaginable, and added mechanics that are still staples of the series today, including day-to-night cycles and Pokémon breeding.
In other words, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver is a top-notch upgrade for a pair of already-stellar games. New features include better graphics and sound, mini-games, and online connectivity -- a feature that justifies the upgrade on its own.
Given that HeartGold and SoulSilver lets you journey back into Kanto region to take on its gym leaders as a post-game challenge, this DS duo is a good option for anyone who wants to get into Pokémon, but has no idea where to start.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PlayStation 4)
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is coming in 2016, but you have to slog through a slushy, slimy winter before you can get your hands on it (if you're in the northern hemisphere, anyway). We suggest staving off the winter doldrums via the lush landscapes offered up in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.
Mike goes into great detail about why The Nathan Drake Collection is worth your time and money even though the first Uncharted game, Drake's Fortune, only dates back to 2007. To simplify the pitch, convenience is a big draw: Not everyone owns all three titles on the PlayStation 3, and backwards compatibility is quickly becoming the kind of ancient relic Drake might enjoy searching for. The games' graphics have also been spiffed up, and run at a nearly-constant 60 frames per second.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PlayStation 2)
With Metal Gear comes Metal Gear remakes. Most critics and fans believe Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater showcases the series at its best, thanks in no small part to the story and drama presented throughout the game.
Metal Gear Solid 3's remake, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, brings a much-welcomed fully-controllable camera to Naked Snake's jungle-crawling adventure. It also kicked off the series' online debut. Even better, it includes English translations of the MSX versions for Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, two slightly important games that never officially made it onto our shores until Subsistence's release. No more "feeling asleep" with the NES title; it's time for the real thing.
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