One of the consequences of living in the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch era of games means seeing lots of familiar faces again. Since backwards compatibility isn’t really a thing anymore on non-Xbox platforms, different developers and publishers are seizing the opportunity to take past successes and sell them as though they were new and shiny again. And, thanks to sales figures, it’s a practice that is going to keep continuing.
I mean, now that various Q1 2018 investor calls and fiscal results are in, companies are sharing just how well these remasters and remakes are doing. It’s lending credence to the idea that ports are going to be a big part of our lives. Capcom has said the hype for Resident Evil 2 and success of its other ports are going to lead it to explore more remakes and rereleases. Meanwhile, Nintendo posted sales totals for some of its ports. The Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has sold 1.4 million copies worldwide since its launch, while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had 1.13 million sales this quarter and has passed 10.35 million lifetime sales. These things are making companies money. But, there is a need to do things the right way.
Both Capcom and Nintendo are companies that have gotten lazy with their ports. Let’s start with Capcom. Did you ever play any of the Resident Evil 4 rereleases that were supposed to be in HD? Well, if you did, you might have noticed that many of them are not very good. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions in 2011 were essentially direct ports of the PC version, with the only difference being they were now in 720p. The 2014 PC HD remaster was so bad, fans put together a better HD Project mod. Even the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions do not put enough work into making it look okay at 1080p, though the 60fps upgrade is nice.
With Nintendo, you could consider Bayonetta 2 the company’s lazy port. It did not upgrade the resolution in the transition from the Wii U to the Switch. In both cases, it runs at 720p. It does a better job of attempting to run at 60fps, which is more than you could say for the original version of the game. It struggled to hit that mark. Other than the minor changes, it was basically just the game being put on the Switch.
We can only hope that both companies notice the most important part of these reports. The hype is focused on games where major changes are being made. With Capcom, most of the fervor is surrounding Resident Evil 2. This is no simple remaster. It is a full reimagining and remake. People who have played it say it feels like an entirely new game and experience. That is what we want from a remake. We want that sort of effort and attention.
Meanwhile, it seems like Nintendo is learning that major improvements make its rereleases better. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze take the base games and do new things with it. The former started off with new characters, new modes, new item options, and all the original’s DLC, then even added Nintendo Labo support. The latter brought in a friendlier Funky Kong mode for the Switch debut, so people who aren’t as skilled can still make it through the game and have fun. But the biggest development is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Switch’s take on Super Smash Bros. This version of the game will have every fighter who ever appeared in the series, as well as new characters like the Splatoon Inkling and Metroid’s Ridley. Lots of stages are making a comeback. It is truly shaping up to be the ultimate port.
This could all go very well for us, provided companies keep giving us the good sorts of revivals. Ports can be okay, but enhanced remasters with new content and remakes are always better. Let’s hope Capcom and Nintendo offer more Resident Evil 2s and Super Smash Bros. Ultimates, and fewer Bayonetta 2s and Resident Evil 4s.