Classic Video Game Remakes That Took The Edge Off 2020

Classic Video Game Remakes That Took The Edge Off 2020
















Image: activision




By Kellen Beck





In a year of endless uncertainty and monotony, where a pleasure as simple as eating out at a favorite restaurant has warped into an inadvisable health risk, video games were there to help us get through it all.


Normally, I’m all over new releases and fresh takes on ongoing series, but in 2020 I gravitated toward a different pool of games: remakes and remasters. It was a year filled with them, bringing a sort of heightened familiarity to many people like myself who were searching for a sense of safe normalcy.


Resident Evil 3, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+ 2 took beloved games of the late ‘90s and early aughts, revamping them into beautiful remasters. Demon’s Souls upgraded the oft-overlooked 2009 precursor to Dark Souls into a 4K PS5 launch title. Super Mario 3D All-Stars brought us barely touched re-releases of the iconic Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy.


They were all like boosted shots of nostalgia, taking my memories of playing older, beloved games and realizing them in beautiful HD. Even the blocky, early-3D appearance of Super Mario 64 that was kept in the re-release is smoother and more attractive in 3D All-Stars


Of particular note is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, which struck the perfect balance of staying true to the originals while updating them for the modern era. Almost in its entirety, the game works the same as the first two series entries did back in 1999 and 2000. It has the same levels, the same objectives, and the same feel. I can make the same hand movements and same timing to do the same things now on an Xbox controller that I did back at the turn of the millennium on a Dreamcast controller.


But the updated visuals, the new music, new tricks, and subtle tweaks and improvements to the game make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 a really stellar remake. It induces this mixed emotional slurry of “Wow, it’s just like I remember it” and “Wow, if 8-year-old me could see what games look like now he’d piss his shorts.” 


It simultaneously sent me back in time while delivering a new experience, which was a perfect form of escapism while stuck at home day after day.


Jumping around as my old pal Mario was a fantastic way to completely empty my brain.


Final Fantasy VII Remake provided many fans of the original game a fun way to relive that experience with a totally fresh spin, implanting the live action and gorgeous visuals of the latest games in the series into what many consider one of the best games of all time.


I didn’t play much of the original, but I knew the gist. With the way games have advanced, plus my own personal dislike of most turn-based RPGs like the original Final Fantasy VII, I didn’t plan on playing it all the way through. But Final Fantasy VII Remake provides a more approachable means of experiencing that story. Even though it isn’t nostalgic to me personally, it still gave me a bit of that classic feeling just knowing the game’s history and impact.


Super Mario 3D All-Stars had a more directed effect by simply transporting my brain to a time before I knew what health insurance was. Bouncing back and forth between Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, jumping around as my old pal Mario, was a fantastic way to completely empty my brain. I knew exactly how to play and where to go even though I hadn’t played either in more than a decade. 


These two games in 3D All-Stars aren’t particularly demanding (for the most part), which makes losing yourself in them even easier. Without much frustration interrupting the action, I can always count on them to pick me up on a particularly tough day.


From the Mario games to Demon’s Souls, there seems to have been a remake or remaster for most video game fans this year. And sure, while new games like Hades and Ghost of Tsushima are great means of escape, there’s something that’s extra effective about games that have a strong connection to your past. (If you don't believe me, just ask clinical psychology about the positive effects of nostalgia in times of crisis.)


This horrible year was a big one for classic games and that was a very good thing. We really needed it.


WATCH: These are the best beginner-friendly video games for your coronavirus lockdown



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Classic Video Game Remakes That Took The Edge Off 2020