What Are the Best Video Game Remakes?

Some games are so good, you need to play them again (after a few alterations have been made).

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

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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Comments 27

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  • Avatar for detten17 #1 detten17 3 years ago
    i gotta respectfully disagree with Shadow of the Colossus on PS3 as a great remake, I never played the original on PS2, got it on PS3 because of the hype surrounding it and just the controls alone, specifically for anything not having to do with scaling the Colossi are terrible, aiming the bow and arrow is a complete mess, maneuvering the horse, the camera in general. I know i'll get a lot of flak, with defenders saying it's the seminal title for the games are art discussion but MGS3 had more cinematic moments than Colossus, I truly think nostalgia is putting blinders on people.

    That being said MGS3, a game I like more, is a game that b/c of the controls I had a hard time going back to, tank controls, not being able to crouch and move, are really hard to get adjusted to, but they work.Edited October 2015 by detten17
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  • Avatar for raymondfernandes09 #2 raymondfernandes09 3 years ago
    The iOS version of Sonic 2 is amazing. Christian Whitehead did such a great job of cramming everything you would want from Sonic 2 into it. It's also in widescreen format and looks stunning on the my iPhone 6 Plus. The lack of actual buttons does bring it down a notch, but it is one of the better screen controls I've ever used. I would definitely put this in league with what M2 has done on the 3DS.
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  • Avatar for raymondfernandes09 #3 raymondfernandes09 3 years ago
    @retr0gamer it is technically a remake of the first game even if it is numbered in the series. Still, a bit cheeky. lol
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  • Avatar for Xemus80 #4 Xemus80 3 years ago
    I'd throw in the Lunar "complete" games on PSX, as well as Final Fantasy 4 - 6 on GBA.
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  • Avatar for bastianbrown #5 bastianbrown 3 years ago
    Great list except for the lack of Metroid Zero Mission.

    If only Nintendo would let me buy it on my Wii U
    : (
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  • Avatar for LK4O4 #6 LK4O4 3 years ago
    I agree. The omission of Metroid: Zero Mission and Bionic Commando: Rearmed seems pretty strange.
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  • Avatar for mganai #7 mganai 3 years ago
    Claiming that the multi-directional whip added strategy is ironic given that it negated much of it. (Much less care needed in your approach towards enemies.)
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  • Avatar for Lane #8 Lane 3 years ago
    @detten I agree completely. The controls in Shadow of the Colossus are atrocious.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #9 Roto13 3 years ago
    I don't know how everyone seems to miss the problem with the Shadow of the Colossus remaster. For some reason, it gives Wander tiny baby fingers that break grabbing and climbing. If you're on a colossus and it so much as hiccups, you end up flailing around like an idiot. So annoying. I wish there was a version of this game that had both a non-eye-melting framerate and decent climbing mechanics.

    Also, Final Fantasy Tactics on PSP. None of the additions make up for the awful slowdown. Woe to anyone who plans to use a Mathematician in battle. I actually had to move the analog nub now and then just to keep my PSP from going into sleep mode during Mathematician spells.
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #10 Monkey-Tamer 3 years ago
    I love Final Fantasy Tactics for PSP but had to apply a fan made patch to fix the slow down issue. Not cool. I think the Metal Gear Legacy Collection deserves a spot on this list. Having Peace Walker on the big screen made it feel like it finally arrived where it always belonged. And I must agree, the controls on Shadow of the Colossus have not aged well.
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  • Avatar for Compeau #11 Compeau 3 years ago
    Does Link's Awakening DX count? Color added a lot to the experience, and it's still one of the best Zelda games ever made.
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  • Avatar for Compeau #12 Compeau 3 years ago
    @bastianbrown Oh man, I forgot about Zero Mission. It may even be better than Super Metroid (similar to Aria of Sorrow with SOTN).
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  • Avatar for thomasnickel25 #13 thomasnickel25 3 years ago
    I have to disagree about War of the Lions. Yes, the new cutscenes and the new translation are nice, but the blurry sprites and the nasty slowdown are hard to swallow. I think Tactics Ogre on PSP is superior in every regard.
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  • Avatar for SomeKindaWizard #14 SomeKindaWizard 3 years ago
    The Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together PSP remake is at the top for me
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  • Avatar for nitro322 #15 nitro322 3 years ago
    Nadia, have a really small correction - Dragon Quest IV, V and VI were released for the DS, not the 3DS. I'm sure that's just a typo, but wanted to have you a heads up just in case it confuses any readers.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #16 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    "You can switch between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 sound emulation,"

    What wierdo would switch from the OG soundchip?!?
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  • Avatar for Thad #17 Thad 3 years ago
    Mega Man Powered Up is pretty fantastic.

    Maverick Hunter X is less so, but still pretty good.
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  • Avatar for andrewmayes78 #18 andrewmayes78 3 years ago
    Hate to be "that guy," but with the exceptions of Super Castlevania IV and Pokemon HG/SS, these are all remasters and enhanced re-releases, not proper remakes. A "remake" would be, say, Klonoa Wii VS Klonoa PS1: a complete, from-the-ground-up rebuild of the game. Semantics, yes, but the title of this article was pretty misleading.Edited 2 times. Last edited October 2015 by andrewmayes78
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #19 SargeSmash 3 years ago
    @Xemus80 : Agreed with Silver Star, but I actually prefer the balance of the Sega CD version of Eternal Blue. Not that either are unplayable or anything, and the cutscenes are nice in the PSX version.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #20 Mooglepies 3 years ago
    Most of these are remasters, I would say. My first console game ever was Super Mario All-Stars so I'm not really anti-remaster, but I think there is a key difference that could be highlighted. Or not - ultimately most people will probably view it as semantics.

    Not on the list and probably deserve to be mentioned -

    Metroid Zero Mission (GBA): some peerless level design that allows a huge amount of player freedom while still holding the hand of the first time or more casual player. It's very telling that the speedrun skips most of the game but doesn't really need to abuse glitches or unintended mechanics. Its weak point is that it is, on the whole, too easy, and the bosses are too few and only competent at their best. Putting the difficulty to hard mode helps, but it's not unlocked for a first playthrough.

    Castlevania Chronicles (PS1): A Playstation port of a remake of Castlevania 1 for the Sharp X68000 Japanese Home PC. Much maligned at the time for not being more of SotN, this is a really lovely package if you like classic Castlevania gameplay. They make incremental changes to the mechanics without going overboard (8 way whipping isn't in, but you can whip downwards in the air and modify your jump while in the air), then they add three more levels into the game to round it off. Ridiculously difficult (but almost always fair and consistent) in Original Mode (a straight port of the X68000 version), there's also Arrange Mode available from the start, which offers rebalanced difficulty, new sprites and remastered music. I'd rate it above Super IV (and realistically it feels like more of a remake than Super IV) but it'll probably be down to individual taste.Edited October 2015 by Mooglepies
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  • Avatar for BrianClark #21 BrianClark 3 years ago
    I would hardly call a lot of these "remakes." Many are just HD ports or enhanced versions.
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  • Avatar for docexe #22 docexe 3 years ago
    You know, I do find the controls of Shadow of the Colossus unwieldy, but putting aside that I adapted to them more quickly than with other games with clunky controllers, I think they actually add to the game rather than detract from it: They help to convey the idea that Wander is not really a warrior or adventurer and that the quest to defeat the Colossi is way over his head (and probably a bad decision borne out of desperation).

    On the actual topic, I do think this feature should have been named “best remakes and remasters”. Granted, the distinction might amount to semantics, but merits mention given how some of these games are genuinely rebuild from the ground up (like the GCN Resident Evil), rather than only receiving upgraded textures or features.

    As to possible inclusions... mmm... Does Star Fox 64 counts? I mean, given that Super Castlevania IV is included on the list... Punch Out! for Wii might also be a possible addition.
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  • Avatar for lanmao #23 lanmao 3 years ago
    All of M2's Sega 3D classics are great! Those guys are awesome.
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  • Avatar for aaronban #24 aaronban 3 years ago
    I think that Metroid Zero Mission had to be mencioned as one of the best, is the perfect game to speedrun and is undoubtedly one of the best metroid games and gba games.
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  • Avatar for SevenBones #25 SevenBones 3 years ago
    The slowdown complaints for the PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics always seem so exaggerated to me. Sure the game has slowdown, but the way some talk about it makes one think that the game slows to a crawl for several minutes on end when in reality it was no more then a few seconds at most.
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  • Avatar for Elliot-Gay #26 Elliot-Gay 3 years ago
    The PSP Tactics Ogre honestly deserved the spot more than FF Tactics did, IMO.
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  • Avatar for BlazeHedgehog #27 BlazeHedgehog 3 years ago
    I'd take Christian Whitehead's versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 over M2's. M2 ain't no slouch, and I love the 3DS port of Sonic 1, but it really is second best to Christian Whitehead's mobile remakes.

    Sega really needs to get their act together and put Christian Whitehead's remakes of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 on a platform that actually revolves around a proper game controller. They went on and on about how Whitehead's versions are the "Definitive experience" and then lock them to touch screen platforms.

    It's one of the most "Sega decisions" they've ever had.
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