These days it's hard to browse around game sites and not see at least one article saying that a high definition rerelease of a game or games is coming soon. In the past few months alone we've seen announcements and releases for games like Resident Evil Code Veronica and 4, Final Fantasy 10, Shadow of Colossus and Ico, the Zone of the Enders series, the Metal Gear Solid series, and probably even more.
There's also the endless rumours of game collections getting rereleases like the Devil May Cry series, and gamers wishing and hoping for rereleases of certain series like Timesplitters and Twisted Metal being the front runners on many lists. So with the rising popularity of HD remakes in mind I'm taking some time to look at the pros and cons of slapping some polish on the past and selling it to the present.
There are a lot of upsides to this trend. First and perhaps most obviously is the fact that people that didn't get to play these games the first time around no longer have to scour for used copies that may be more expensive in some cases (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus come to mind more than anything else here). It's worth noting that perhaps some new pack-ins aside and collectors editions, that in game there's no new content, just a higher resolution than things were at before. Still, the games are often released in bundles and at reduced prices. For example you can own both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for 40 bucks, which I'd say is well worth the price in that case. Likewise, the Zone of the Enders collection will include both games, and the Metal Gear Solid HD collection will include Metal Gear Solid 2, 3, and Peace Walker which was previously released on the PSP (I find myself wishing for a port of The Twin Snakes myself, but that's another matter). These bundles offer an attractive incentive to those that haven't played these games and want a chance to without a lot of hassle.
On the flip side of course there's the very real concern that with this many HD rereleases coming out that it's really just a trend to milk gamers out of more money without putting a lot of effort into it. I know that the rerelease of Resident Evil 4 has drawn some fire from people saying that the HD doesn't look very good, but just as many are saying that it's still the best looking version of the game hands down that you can get without modding and the like. The question of course is whether or not you care enough to put down a $20 on it or not. The cash grab factor does play, but again these are companies that are, you know, out to make money; and if people have demonstrated an interest in obtaining versions of old games, then it's really win win for the most part.
Of course one of the larger problems here is the fact that a lot of games are going to be left out in the cold. It's going to be fairly unlikely that we'll be seeing, say, Okami or the Viewtiful Joe series, because those titles didn't rank too highly on Capcom's list of priorities. That's not to say I wouldn't love to see them be rereleased for those that haven't tried them: they are very much worth it in my opinion. It's just that I don't really see it happening anytime soon. And those titles aren't even all that niche. If you're looking for really old titles or niche games like Vectorman or Bomberman 64 you're probably going to be holding your breath for quite a long time. Even fans rallying around games they want to see redone might not help depending on whether or not they can actually be counted to commit their wallets to the cause as well.
Overall, I'd say that HD rereleasing is a positive trend, of course balanced against the fact that we still like to actually play new games of course. Still, there's nothing wrong with seeing what the fuss was about in some cases, or indulging in a little trip down memory lane. The only problem is that your trips are only going to be to popular locations, so I hope you weren't really expecting any niche destinations. That's the way it goes sometimes though.