Video game remakes allow developers to remake classic titles with the power of modern hardware. They’re an excellent way for first-time players to experience these games, while also providing a revamped experience for fans of the originals.
In this article we take a look at the best video game remakes that surpass their original releases. While remakes have have been around for some time, we focus here on games you can play on current systems.
Terminology: Remakes vs. Remasters
Before we begin, we should clarify what remakes are compared to remasters.
A video game remake is a new title built from the ground up. These may change the graphical style, gameplay elements, music, and similar from the original game. At its core, whether the changes are drastic or not, a remake serves as a totally reworked version of an older game.
On the other hand, a remaster refers to a touch-up of an existing game. Remasters typically enhance the graphics to take advantage of a more powerful console, and might bundle in existing DLC. But they aren’t complete rebuilds.
We’ve documented some of the best remastered video games worth playing, so check that list for examples of remasters.
1. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
The orange marsupial Crash Bandicoot starred in three beloved platformers and an acclaimed racing game on the PS1. After them, the games unfortunately took a huge dive in quality. Despite this, Crash is still fondly remembered as one of the best franchises on the PlayStation.
The N. Sane Trilogy gives you the chance to relive the classic Crash titles in a much-improved form. They’re mostly faithful to the originals, with some welcome tweaks here and there. These include adjusting the difficulty and saving in the first game, adding time trials to Crash 1 and 2, and two all-new levels to check out.
If you’re a fan of platformers and never experienced Crash Bandicoot, you owe it to yourself to try these games. The collection is a fantastic value, and we hope it spurs enough interest in the bandicoot for an all-new game soon.
2. The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening initially released on the Game Boy in 1993 and saw an enhanced re-release on Game Boy Color in 1998. 2019’s Switch remake replaces the 8-bit graphics with an adorable diorama aesthetic and toy-like characters.
One common complaint with the original was having to constantly swap items, since the Game Boy only had A and B buttons. The Link’s Awakening remaster streamlines this, as it binds certain items to dedicated controller buttons.
Aside from a new dungeon creation feature, a rearranged soundtrack, and some additional collectibles, Link’s Awakening is a faithful remake of the original. The adventure is one of the strangest in the series, as it doesn’t mention Zelda or the Triforce at all.
The Zelda series is no stranger to remakes and remasters. See our guide to The Legend of Zelda series to learn about others.
Get it now: The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Switch
3. Metroid: Samus Returns
While Metroid II: Return of Samus isn’t the most well-known Metroid game, Nintendo decided to resurrect it in 2017 as Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s certainly the definitive way to play the title, trading in the murky graphics and primitive soundtrack of the Game Boy for a modern look and soundtrack.
The remake also includes a new counter-attack option, freeform aiming, and Aeion abilities not seen before in the Metroid series. You’ll need these on your quest to destroy every last Metroid on the planet.
It’s somewhat linear compared to other Metroid games, but definitely worth playing for any fan of the genre.
Get it now: Metroid: Samus Returns for 3DS
4. Resident Evil 2
Over 20 years after Resident Evil 2’s 1998 release, Capcom released a remaster with the same name. It drops the static camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds of the original in favor of a third-person camera. This will be familiar if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 or other games in the series.
The core of the game is the same, but it contains more detailed sound design, smarter enemies, and many other changes for the better. It’s a good starting point for those new to Resident Evil, and makes for a great time if you haven’t played the original in a while.
5. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Along with Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon stood as one of the most popular icons on the PlayStation. And like Crash, reception of Spyro’s games took a significant blow after the PlayStation 1 era. Thus, one year after Crash got his original trilogy remastered, Spyro received the same treatment.
Compared to Crash, this trilogy received few gameplay changes. It packs gorgeously reimagined visuals and an updated soundtrack supervised by Stewart Copeland, the original composer.
If you enjoy 3D platformers, you’ll love Spyro. Each game includes an entertaining cast of characters, big levels to explore, and plenty of objectives to complete. And its soundtrack is one of the best video game soundtracks to help you study.
6. Star Fox 64 3D
Star Fox 64 is regarded as the best game in the franchise and one of the best titles the Nintendo 64 had to offer. The 3DS remake, Star Fox 64 3D, preserves and enhances this masterpiece.
The 3DS remake lets you save between missions, instead of having to complete the entire game in one sitting like on N64. It features enhanced visuals, with optional 3D if you like. You can use the 3DS’s gyroscope to control your vehicle. And the new Score Attack mode lets you beat your best score on a single level.
For those who enjoy arcade-based shooters, Star Fox 64 3D is one of the best ever made. Each run of the game consists of seven stages from 15 total planets. You’ll need to complete hidden objectives in certain levels to change the path you take, making every run unique. Its scoring system will have you coming back over and over to get a high score.
Get it now: Star Fox 64 3D for 3DS
7. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Eevee
Several Pokémon titles have received the remake treatment, but 2018’s remakes of Pokémon Yellow got a heavier revamping than others. They take aspects from the mobile smash hit Pokémon Go and morph them into a traditional Pokémon title.
In particular, Let’s Go removes the random encounters with wild Pokémon. Instead, you’ll see the monsters walking around in the wild and can choose whether to confront them. And in place of battling those wild Pokémon, the game only allows you to catch them. Battles are reserved for trainers only.
It’s a refreshing take on the classic Pokémon formula, making it a great entry point for younger players or newcomers to the series. Either Pikachu or Eevee will follow your character around in the world, which is adorable.
8. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Hot on the heels of the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot’s beloved kart racer also received the remake treatment in 2019. It’s primarily a remake of 1999’s Crash Team Racing, but features a bevy of additional content from Crash’s later racing games.
In addition to everything from Crash Team Racing, it includes tracks, characters, karts, and skins from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. It’s a deep and challenging kart racer, so fans of the genre have a lot to love here between single-player and multiplayer modes.
Unfortunately, Activision added microtransactions into this game shortly after release, despite claiming that this wouldn’t happen. While the microtransaction currency is only for cosmetic items, the fact that the company introduced these after many people had already bought the game is a bad look.
If you can overlook this, you’ll have a lot of fun racing.
Video Game Remakes Feel Like Fresh Experiences
Every game mentioned here originally released in 2000 or earlier. Video game graphics, sound, and gameplay have come a long way since then, making all of these remakes feel like fresh experiences.
Whether they help you discover a beloved title for the first time or provide an all-new take on a childhood favorite, we hope you enjoy playing them.
Are you looking for something else to play? Then why not explore some niche video game genres worth playing.