Special Dei Sepolcri Videoludici: the importance of remake and remastered

Operations like that of Shadow of the Colossus 2018 are necessary, if you consider video games a form of culture, even more than art. And video games tackle the theme of restoration (including remakes, remastered and covers) in unexpected (better?) Ways than art, cinema and music.

You often say that video games are art, without a shadow of a doubt.

Days spent shouting in the comments under some posts, defending your (our) favorite hobby from the accusations of incitement to violence and desensitization, and you blame all those illiterates who believe video games second-class works, intrinsically less noble - indeed, less respectable - of books, music, even films and television series.

In spite of all this you often say that video games are art, but you don't understand how fundamental remakes and remastered are from this point of view.

But why are restorations useful?

It's a lot simple, in reality. Remake and remastered - what we are identifying under the umbrella term of "videogame restorations”- are necessary for the same reason as classical restorations: to allow everyone, regardless of the year of birth, to be able to get closer to the work and preserve it for as long as possible. It is the democratization of art, which does not discriminate - for example - all of us who were born almost two millennia after Christ and still allows us to enjoy works made before his birth.

Yes, because unfortunately time also erodes culture.

How many wonders it already has stolen the weather?

We have lost forever the chance to admire the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes. If you believe that video games are art, you cannot in all conscience accept the possibility of someone tomorrow can't play Shadow of the Colossus. All the more so when two similar operations (and with the same purpose) were dedicated to Shadow of the Colossus but with fundamentally different intentions, given that we have already had the opportunity to see a remastering of it on the shelf and we are now preparing to get our hands on a remake.

Reason why any kind of criticism it makes absolutely no sense.

For those who have not yet clear, between a remake and a remastered there is a substantial difference: the remake, although it may be more or less faithful to the original and take it back as a model, is still to be considered a new product, and is (or at least should) be made bringing the original idea to the present day, allowing her to take advantage of means that she did not have available at the exit. In the case of Shadow of the Colossus, it means that some stylistic choices made by Ueda in 2005 dictated by the PlayStation 2 hardware (for example, the "fog" effect that was used to mask the visual horizon) can be revised. Because now under the hood there are definitely more Teraflops, and because the intent of the operation is bring closer to the original all those who, for one reason or another, did not fall victim to the charm of Wander thirteen years ago. To do this, it is necessary to modernize and risk some more decisive tweaks.

Do you consider it treasonable majesty? All right, play the remastered.

A 15 year old game is old, in spite of everything

Unlike a remake, a remaster is in fact a less invasive operation, more like a traditional restoration. You take the original and it is left unchanged as far as possible, increasing the resolution and cleaning up the whole - the infamous HD versions, which caused so much scandal at the end of last generation and at the beginning of this one - without changing the substance. It is certainly a more faithful and equally important process (the remakes serve to spread the word, but the preservation of the original in its purest form is important and noble in the same way), but which inevitably does not take full advantage of the techniques available today. And the result in any case is not the original 1: 1, as it also happens in the restorations in the History of Art: the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo, originally, had a different color from the one we can observe today. . Likewise the technique gets old: as futuristic as it may be, a game from 15 years ago is old, even from a stylistic point of view. Manual saves, lack of mechanics that now we take it for granted (taking an enemy from behind without alerting the others is now the norm, even outside the stealth genre), very trivially even the level design itself or the HUD and menus may seem anachronistic. Knowing the past is important regardless of these arguments, but starting a novice from the original can be counterproductive: in this sense, having both a remake and a remaster available (or in any case easier access to the original, which is the aspect on which console gaming is further behind than other forms of culture) makes it easier to dissemination of the message. We are sure that several people who decide to play Shadow of the Colossus through the upcoming remake will then be tempted to take a look at the original too, and perhaps also the other two titles of the Uedian Canon (ICO and The Last Guardian).

To learn more:
The Last Guardian

In the world of art (whether architectural, pictorial or sculptural) that of restoration is praxis sacred and inviolable. An immense job to perform the "magic" of leaving as much as possible unaltered, as if closed in a bubble that ignores time, the cornerstones of our culture, the legacy of generations of human beings, artists who with their works have contributed to the evolution of collective consciousness. In their own way, video games also tell about society, they draw inspiration from it, then shaping their essence on a playful level, enriching the player. However, if in art the masterpieces to be preserved are for good or bad the same for hundreds of years, venerated daily in the historic centers of our cities or safe in museums, the video game runs at an incredible speed and the cornerstones continue to be created, released and then forgotten, burned and replaced by even better or simply more mundane ones. You certainly can't remaster everything, and this is where digital delivery and backwards compatibility and Virtual Console come into play for to preserve as much virtual memory as possible. It should be the practice of every developer and will of every major (intended as Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft), to release and encourage the release of true pieces of history, within the limits of the possible (and reasonable), from generation to generation.

To learn more:
Nintendo Switch will not be backwards compatible, and rightly so

Nintendo has been doing it for two generations now, even in a controversial way, of course (problems related to the account with thousands of users who have re-appeared Super Metroid 56 times ... Present!), Giving us the opportunity to recover the great classics of its thirty-year history, Microsoft has recently decided to do playful archeology with the backward compatibility of the first and glorious Xbox, while Sony, a pioneer of the remastered concept, has abandoned backwards compatibility after PlayStation 3 “fat”, without forgetting to restore, from time to time, first the cornerstones of the PS2 era and then the great PS3 exclusives, bringing to light also true pearls of the PSP era such as LocoRoco and Patapon. An attitude, that of Sony, definitely criticized at the dawn of PS4, where the lack of exclusive weight was felt, but a remaster is always noble, because it is like a grandfather who tells an anecdote to his grandson, it is the possibility of knowing an otherwise unrecoverable product, with a Nintendo that is slowly crying bringing all the great titles of the unfortunate Wii U to the Switch, making them known to a finally large and no longer blind audience. Blindness that remainsunfortunately, for titles like Okami ...

but repetition does not always bring justice

If the concept of "restoration" then it can be seen more as the revival of classics "natural“, Exactly as they were on the day of release, with the main purpose of passing on, the remastered finds its meaning when compared to the cinematic universe. Switching from VHS to DVD was an epochal leap in quality, exactly as between the fifth to sixth generation of consoles, with the advent of high definition and the race to the flat screen that most benefited your gaming machine. Almost a leap irreversible, which showed all the limitations of the resolution of fifth generation games only once they had attacked their old console and a latest generation monitor. Here comes the second sense of remastering, in addition to artistic memory: a taste purely aesthetic. 1080p, sometimes even a more stable frame rate if not doubled and consequently the visual justice that a title like Shadow of the Colossus (and ICO) deserved, furthermore enhancing the work of designers and artists, as well as greater cleanliness sound.

But there is also another way to fix a classic in memory. A very common method in the musical field, where the remaster is still a practice for the same technological reasons as above:

the cover

The concept of cover, in video games, rhymes with indie

Axiom Verge is the cover of Metroid, it was developed with this purpose, keeping the same text and sense of the original work, then going to rearrange it, removing an instrument and adding another, perhaps changing its rhythm or even its genre, without, however, affecting its essence. Like Limp Bizkit singing the Who's Behind Blue Eyes, indie developers often borrow the skeleton of the great 80s classics and then play your own melody over it, sometimes creating an even more enjoyable product, others paying homage and bringing back forgotten genres to the public's attention. Just think of the first low-res graphic adventures released on Steam, inspired by the great classics LucasArts, capable of moving a dormant community, on the margins of the gaming industry, bringing us to the situation of redemption we live today, with the peak reached by the return of SMUMM and by Ron Gilbert with Thimbleweed Park. Art is appreciable even superficially, and it is entirely up to the user to decide how enrich your mind, as well as video games.

But those who want to know its history must have the sacrosanct right to be able to play everything and in the best way (and in the most comfortable way), discovering or rediscovering, finding themselves in love with a game that today looks like a rock painting compared to the Last Judgment, but always big bang of the culture of an entire movement, shot of an infinite race of which today we are experiencing a flourishing present. A music lover must be able to listen to the Beatles' Revolver, a budding cinephile must be able to recover Hitchcock's filmography and an art history lover must be able to visit the Uffizi, and then, by train, read the Betrothed. Just as those who have a pad in their hand must be able to discover Super Mario Bros., OutRun and Final Fantasy VII, enjoying it as if it were their day-one.

To learn more:
Piracy and video games: when the future is in the past

One cannot fail to conclude without naming the proverbial elephant in the room, that is the technological aspect (which so far we have only touched upon).

Yes, because no form of expression (or art, or culture, or whatever you want) linked to human ingenuity has ever been so in symbiosis with technology like video games. And beyond all the speeches that can be made when it is said that a well written source code (or a problem solved in a creative way) should be considered art or not in itself, it is obvious that technological progress has an impact. on video games which is much more striking than what it has on literature, music and even cinema.

We are used to seeing our videogame life upset every three or four years: it is natural that, if possible, a creative wants to propose a modernized version of his idea.

There are the means, there is the opportunity and the final result is tremendously different from the original. If we asked a revived Freddy Mercury to arrange a new version of I Want to Break Free, it would still play very similar to that release in 84. In literature this is even more marked: we are sure that (without bothering too illustrious names) JK Rownling called to rewrite his Harry Potter would bring out roughly the same - and magnificent - saga that we have come to love over the years. . For those who work in contact with technology it is different… A half-generation upgrade like that of PS4 Pro was enough and Xbox One X made something move, even more so a leap of two generations (and a half) forward is potentially shocking.

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