Remakes and remasters have always been an important part of the games industry, because while it’s obviously important to look to the future and understandable to get excited about what’s on the horizon, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun to be able to enjoy modernized versions of excellent games that have come before. In 2019, there was no shortage of re-releases, remasters, and remakes, and many of these were amazing – hell, some of the best games of the year were re-releases of some sort. So here, we’ll be listing the nominees for our award for the best remake / remaster of the year, before we pick out a single winner from that category.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE LEGND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
The Legend of Zelda as a series has a long history with remakes and re-releases, and it’s almost never failed to do justice to the games it attempts to modernize. This year, Nintendo and developers Grezzo went back to the whacky world of Koholint Island, and remade it in excellent fashion. Link’s Awakening faithfully recreates every nook and cranny of the original Game Boy classic exactly as we remembered it, and in doing so, it keeps the atmosphere, design ingenuity, and personality of the game intact. At the same time, it also does so with an absolutely adorable art style, making this one of the best looking Zelda games of all time- and that is no short praise.
Often referred to as one of the best visual novels ever made, Steins;Gate was made even better with this year’s Steins;Gate Elite. Keeping the jaw-dropping, genius story of the original intact and actually making it even better with the addition of anime content – which, by the way, is blended with the game itself seamlessly – Steins;Gate Elite is a rollercoaster from beginning to end. Full of surprises, excellent writing, unpredictable twists, and excellent characters, this is a game that you absolutely need to play if you’re looking for a good story.
For years, fans have been begging Capcom to bring Onimusha back, and though we may not have got the full-fledged sequel we’ve been waiting for for so long, we did come a step closer to it. Right at the beginning of this year, Capcom released Onimusha Remastered, and it served as a perfect reminder for why we all love this classic so much. Tight, methodical combat combines with solid level design in this timeless classic, which is brought into the modern age with revamped controls and upgraded visuals. Here’s hoping this is a sign of things to come, and that Capcom are ready to invest in Onimusha once again.
MediEvil might not have been the most high profile game in the PS1’s beloved library, but it had its fair share of fans, so the prospect of a ground-up remake was an exciting one for many. And the PS4 remake is a great reminder of the charm and whimsy of the original that appealed to so many people. MediEvil remake’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness- that it sticks to the original almost a bit too close. So while it’s respectfulness of the source material is appreciated, it can, at times, also feel a bit outdated. But for fans of the PS1 original who’re looking to re-experience it once again, there is no better way to do so than MediEvil on the PS4.
TALES OF VESPERIA: DEFINITIVE EDITION
Often regarded as one of the best games in the Tales series, Bandai Namco made the excellent decision to remaster and re-release Tales of Vesperia for modern platforms earlier this year, giving a lot of people the chance to experience it for the first time. Vesperia is a dream come true for fans of traditional JRPGs- it’s got engaging combat, excellent characters, and a long, winding story in a fantasy setting that takes players across a vast variety of wondrous locations. Happily, the Definitive Edition also lives up to its name, and is easily the best way to experience this classic.
HITMAN HD ENHANCED COLLECTION
IO Interactive’s Hitman series is now comfortably into its second era, but though the rebooted series is doing very well, it’s worth remembering that some of its best games came before it wiped the slate clean. We got to experience one of them earlier this year once again in Blood Money, which ranks as one of the greatest stealth games ever made. Its completely open ended gameplay still holds up, and being able to play the game in 4K at 60 FPS elevates the entire experience significantly. Oh, and also, the collection had Hitman Absolution.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Capcom tried something very bold with the Resident Evil 2 remake, to the extent that the game almost feels like an entirely new entry rather than a recreation of an old one, and they deserve all the credit in the world for having done so as successfully as they did. Resident Evil 2 is not only a fittingly excellent remake of one of the best games of the series, it simultaneously also feels fresh, new, and exciting. It is, at the same time, an excellent ode to the series’ storied past and a rousing sneak peak at what looks like a very, very bright future.
ASSASSIN’S CREED 3 REMASTERED
Assassin’s Creed 3 is often considered to one of the black sheep of the series, but though the game certainly has its fair share of issues, there’s still plenty to like here. This year’s remaster of the game was an excellent excuse to jump back into the game and experience all of that- and better still, experience it all with noticeably improved visuals, including a resolution boost, improved lighting, upgraded character models, denser crowds, and more. On top of that, some smart quality of life improvements also make for a smoother gameplay experience.
CRASH TEAM RACING NITRO-FUELED
Activision’s excellent revitalization of the Crash Bandicoot franchise continued this year with a remake (which they choose to call a remaster, for some reason) of Crash Team Racing, and it’s just as impressive an effort as N. Sane Trilogy was in 2017. The excellent track design of the original is, of course, intact, and is in fact made even better by absolutely stunning visuals. Even on its own, Nitro-Fueled is an excellent package, brimming with addictive and enjoyable content and boasting of tight, skill-driven mechanics.
AGE OF EMPIRES 2: DEFINITIVE EDITION
Age of Empires 2 is often regarded as the greatest real time strategy game of all time, so the chance to play it once again in any form is one that millions would immediately jump at. Definitive Edition, however, goes above and beyond, because not only does it come with visual improvements, it also brings various improvements to the gameplay and the AI, while also adding an all-new meaty campaign. More than anything else, Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is a reminder of why this game is as widely beloved as it is- not that we needed one.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Resident Evil 2 is pretty much the perfect remake, because it strikes the perfect balance between being a loving homage to a classic, and being a major step forward for its series. It feels like a culmination of everything Resident Evil has ever been about, blending elements from all three distinct eras of the series into a single experience, as it recreates the fixed camera Resident Evil 2, with the over-the-shoulder perspective of the third person era, while retaining the tone and atmosphere – thanks in large part to the RE Engine – of the first person Resident Evil 7. More than anything else, Resident Evil 2 is also conclusive and irrefutable proof of the fact that both Resident Evil and Capcom are back to their best.