Bionic Commando: ReArmed (XBLA, PSN, PC)
ReArmed is to date my favorite downloadable game on my Xbox 360. It’s very true to the original, while still managing to be it’s own thing. The colorful graphics, nü-retro art style, awesome remix of the original soundtrack, tight controls, and thrilling boss battles come together to make one hell of a remake of the classic Capcom action-platformer.
Doom 3 (PC, Xbox, Mac)
Okay, so this is not a remake per-se, it’s more of a reboot of the Doom franchise. However, the story follows the same premise as the original Doom, and game play-wise it’s like a more horror-infused version, so it earns a spot on this list. Doom was the first fps I ever played, and I remember getting the same kind of thrill when I got my hands on a leaked tech-demo for Doom 3, and later the full game. From what we gather, Doom 4 will be somewhat of a remake of Doom 2, so… yay Doom!
Counter-Strike: Source (PC)
The source engine brought us a lot of great stuff, but my favorite has to be Counter-Strike: Source. I played most of the versions leading up to 1.6 and just could not get enough. While many prefer 1.6, for me - Source is the definitive version. No other fps has consumed anywhere near the same amount of hours of my life.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Xbox 360)
When it released on the Microsoft Xbox back in 2001, Halo: Combat Evolved helped to usher in a new era of console shooters. Since then, Halo has gone on to become Microsoft’s biggest flagship, and first-person shooters are bigger than ever on consoles. Halo’s far-reaching success is evident when playing the anniversary edition of Combat Evolved. Even 10 years later after its release, the game is still able to hold its own against many of today’s games. Switching between the original graphics and the updated visuals at a press of a button is a cool feature, and reliving Master Chief’s first adventure is a blast.
Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)
The NES Mario Bros trilogy, and “the lost levels”, with crisper visuals, all on the same cartridge? Yes please.
The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition (XBLA, iPhone, Windows)
Guybrush Threepwood’s first crazy adventure is as fun as ever in the special edition of The Secret of Monkey Island. The updated hand-drawn graphics look great (although you can play with the original graphics as well), and the added voice acting is nothing short of hilarious. This remake of one of the best point-and-click adventure games is more relevant than ever, in a day and age where the genre is almost non-existent.
Half-Life: Black Mesa
Remakes aren’t always for the fans, but sometimes by the fans! Black Mesa is a project that has been coming along slowly but surely, led by a small volunteer team of Half-Life fans, bringing Valve’s original Half-Life back to life using the Source engine. As of now, the first half of Black Mesa featuring the chapters that take place in the titular research facility is available for download. It’s amazing to play through a game that I hold so dear in a new engine, knowing that it was made by devoted fans. Hats off to you! Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for the “Xen” chapters to see the light of day.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)
A remake of a reboot, Ninja Gaiden Sigma improved the modern ninja hack ‘n’ slash classic for the current generation. A new playable character, new enemies and bosses, Sixaxis controller functionality, and several game play tweaks made for one of the tightest action adventure games on the PS3. Here’s hoping that Team Ninja redeem the shortcomings of Ninja Gaiden 3 in the next installment in the series.
Resident Evil (GameCube)
The original Resident Evil put the series on the map as the leading survival horror franchise (a reputation that has sadly diminished the past few years). When the remake hit the GameCube in 2002 the world was reminded of why Resident Evil became such a hit to begin with. The updated visuals were some of the best that had ever graced a console back then, and the new game play features, story elements, and areas helped make the Resident Evil remake one of the best games in the series to date.
Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)
One of Nintendo’s greatest games on the NES is beautifully re-imagined in Metroid: Zero Mission. Zero Mission’s version of Planet Zebes resembles that of the original, with tweaks to the layout, new areas, new items, and some new mini-bosses to fight. The addition of a minimap made keeping track of your exploration easier, which could be really confusing in the original (I remember drawing my own map as a kid). A great remake of one of the best games ever, that you could take with you wherever you went. So much win.
There you have it. These days HD remakes are fairly common, but I wish that more developers would put more effort into them, rather than just smoothing out the jagged edges and optimizing the game for HD, essentially selling us the exact same game we already played a couple generations back (looking at you Capcom and Konami). There are so many awesome games out there that are so good, that they are still relevant when it comes to design and game play, and could become super awesome all over again with a face-lift and some cool new features. While the industry always needs to move forward, it’s good to look back every now and then, and celebrate the greatness of past generations.