Main content and articles

The road to Hell is paved with well-intentioned remasters

23 Nov, 2017, 15:05 | Posted by: Jason | Source: Rock Paper Shotgun

Rock Paper Shotgun published an interesting article yesterday about the artistic merit of remastered video games. Ron, Tim, and Brian Moriarty are all on hand to weigh in on the technical and even ethical pitfalls of "upgrading" a classic:

“We had limitations back then” recalls Gilbert in an email interview, “and the artist worked magic to make the game work within those limitations. They often turned working within those limitations into an art all its own. When classic games get ‘hi-resed’, you lose all of that.”

[...]

“It’s true that you can often switch back to the original graphics,” he says, “but that is also true of colorizing black and white movies.

“You can always watch the original, but that doesn’t make colorizing it any less of an artistic sin. Saying you can switch back to the original art feels like a cop-out.”

Harsh! But Ron has a point. And as we've seen, the "original version" you can switch back to often isn't the perfect recreation it purports to be. After all, the only "classic" version of Monkey Island 2 that anyone can buy has vertical scrolling effects removed and some dialog altered. My grandkids will grow up without the "white slavers" line, so I hope you're proud of yourself, Craig Derrick!

What does everyone else think about this?

Reply in this discussion | Not registered?
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Remi | Posted 01 Dec, 2017, 06:56 | Quote

    Jennifer

    Beneath a Steel Sky Remastered.



    That exists? If so, they should give it to me for free after being stuck in in on the Amiga 23 years ago because of a bug.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jennifer | Posted 29 Nov, 2017, 19:28 | Quote
    Remasters can be done right - ie: Day of the Tentacle Remastered, Full Throttle Remastered, Beneath a Steel Sky Remastered, Grim Fandango Remastered. What made these work is that it was the original team that improved things, so they kept the spirit of the original in-tact. And for the last two on the list, they improved minor things with the art, and had improved audio but the main game looked pretty much the same.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 29 Nov, 2017, 15:56 | Quote
    I was just thinking about this very subject and then I come to Mojo and there's a whole conversation about it. There is a brief window where up-ressing has SOME merit, but after a while has passed you hit the limitations of the game itself -- and all the graphics in the world aren't going to make it feel modern: It feels like an old game with slightly nicer graphics/sound.

    Once that happens I prefer the original artwork -- which the exception of 3D. The newly rendered 3D in Full Throttle looked a million times better, and the better shading (and controls) REALLY helped i Grim.

    Otherwise the pixels are what the game is supposed to look like. Rendering Maniac Mansion in realistic 3D isn't going to do anything for anyone.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jones Jr | Posted 28 Nov, 2017, 22:27 | Quote

    Remi

    Jones Jr

    That's why I choose Mojo.



    You had me until that.



    Yeh, thought it needed a punchline :)
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Manbrush | Posted 28 Nov, 2017, 06:05 | Quote

    Jones Jr

    Pixel art is an interesting subject though. Not sure (and to be blunt don't really care) what the mainstream feeling is on this. Seeing as every successive technology is about more pixels it makes sense to up-rez the art to bring the next audience in. But it makes most sense to have as many of the original team involved to make it as faithful to the original as possible.



    I can agree with that. The problem with the MI special editions is that we already have reference for what the up-rezed graphics should look like - the painted cover art by Steve Purcell. Instead they took it off in a wildly different direction in SOMI, making some bizarre choices, and while MI2 was less bad, the care just wasn't there. It's little things, like how erect Guybrush's posture is, or how stubby they made LeChuck's legs. Whereas in the original, Guybrush is standing much more casually, almost slouching, and LeChuck is tall and imposing.

    You can write these off as nitpicks, but design choices like that absolutely affect how we perceive the characters and the impact of the game. Since when is Guybrush an upstanding young man? He's standing straighter than Captain America. Why has LeChuck gone from a fearsome 7ft corpse to a stunted cartoon? It frustrates me.

    Look at those backgrounds too: the pixel art has such a grit to it, it feels more tangible than the high-res, smoothed out special edition artwork. The original feels crafted, the SE feels rushed.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Remi | Posted 27 Nov, 2017, 23:51 | Quote

    Jones Jr

    That's why I choose Mojo.



    You had me until that.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jones Jr | Posted 27 Nov, 2017, 11:37 | Quote
    Changing the dialogue in a game is on the nose for me - similar to how guns were swapped out for walkie talkies in E.T. - if the property is worth updating, do the whole thing or not at all. I can understand fixing errors (like in the recent Terminator 2 re-release how the windscreen popping out of the truck in the chase scene was fixed), but surely if you are bringing the content back to the market as a revered classic then the content should stand.
    And this is the point of difference.
    With Grim, DotT and Throttle, the content was back with the creator to update.
    Not so much with the Monkey Island updates - and it certainly shows. While there was a bunch to like about it, there were also a bunch of stuff that had me scratching my head. That hair!! Why is the voice over reading out that recipe SO LOUD???
    Pixel art is an interesting subject though. Not sure (and to be blunt don't really care) what the mainstream feeling is on this. Seeing as every successive technology is about more pixels it makes sense to up-rez the art to bring the next audience in. But it makes most sense to have as many of the original team involved to make it as faithful to the original as possible.
    Am I fan of special editions? Not necessarily. I am a fan of things done right. That's why I choose Mojo.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Javier Tolstoi | Posted 26 Nov, 2017, 12:27 | Quote

    Manbrush

    I love those. I don't think it's pure nostalgia, I think there really is something to that art style. It's like it's real enough for me to get invested in the game, but there's also room for my mind to fill in the gaps.



    Yes, I completely agree with you/Ron. I think the thing about pixel art is the level of abstraction (of shape and colour) it has. That's what you said about your mind filling in the gaps. I really like it, and I'm overall glad Ron and you guys share my opinion on the Special Editions, because I always thought they were super hyped by the other people and I'd be a lonely nerd. (Which I still am, though...)
    Anyway, I'd love to know how many people did participate the latest (most liked game ever) poll. Could anybody tell me?
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Manbrush | Posted 26 Nov, 2017, 01:13 | Quote
    I completely agree with Ron. It's not such a problem for Day of the Tentacle, where they were able to really keep it true to the original style, but the Monkey Island special editions have not aged well.

    And there is just something magical about pixel art, something that is lost when you res it up. Just look at the Seinfeld and Buffy adventure game fan artworks.

    I love those. I don't think it's pure nostalgia, I think there really is something to that art style. It's like it's real enough for me to get invested in the game, but there's also room for my mind to fill in the gaps.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: jolly_old_saint | Posted 25 Nov, 2017, 10:25 | Quote

    Jason

    Ron Howard: But they did get Cam Clarke back as Meathook.


    https://i.imgur.com/pfHsmtf.jpg
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jason | Posted 25 Nov, 2017, 03:21 | Quote

    jolly_old_saint

    Having said that, screw them all for not getting Cam Clarke back as Meathook.



    Ron Howard: But they did get Cam Clarke back as Meathook.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: jolly_old_saint | Posted 25 Nov, 2017, 00:52 | Quote
    I originally played Monkey Island 1&2 without any sound, since the music from the combo cd wouldn't even play on my old computer (except for the harddrive beeps that would play MI1's intro). Same deal with Sam & Max, it had some music but the voices wouldn't play. So I, at least, enjoy the worsened versions of the music quite a lot.

    I think these kinds of arguments have always been common, since emulation started. And they really undermine the amount of work put into either porting or remaking a game, particularly the lucasarts remakes he's talking about. Shit on Baldur's Gate all you like, because those re-releases cost twice as much and practically nothing was changed...but saying stuff like "man, in my day, we only had a handful of pixels from map to map. And sure, we can still play that way, but it feels like a cop-out they throw in willy-nilly to keep me from whining"...that IS whining. And belittling of the people who worked hard to make those remakes as good as they could be. I mean, for pete's sake, there's developer commentary. Full voice acting. Extremely reasonable price points. Your kids can play it. What are you complaining about?

    Having said that, screw them all for not getting Cam Clarke back as Meathook.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: jp-30 | Posted 24 Nov, 2017, 19:36 | Quote
    Gimme back my Stump Joke.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jason | Posted 24 Nov, 2017, 14:14 | Quote

    Zaarin

    The Monkey Island 2 SE classic mode also has completed fucked up music.



    Yeah. By the same token, the EGA version of Loom is the definitive one, and it isn't the one offered. My mantra to people getting into these games is increasingly "Buy this version, but play this version I'm about to give you."
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Zaarin | Posted 24 Nov, 2017, 09:09 | Quote
    The Monkey Island 2 SE classic mode also has completed fucked up music.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Remi | Posted 23 Nov, 2017, 17:41 | Quote

    Rip

    Oh! I didn't know they changed the dialogues. I can't find any info about this.



    Believe they changed it to "ne'er-do-wells".
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Rip | Posted 23 Nov, 2017, 17:15 | Quote
    Oh! I didn't know they changed the dialogues. I can't find any info about this.

Add a comment

What!? You're not registered?

UsernamePassword

Message

Allowed bbcodes:

[i] - Italized text
[b] - Bolded text
[url=http://example.com]Name[/url] - Creates a hyperlink
[quote=author]Quote[/quote] - Creates a quote box
[del] - Strikethrough

Hosted sites