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Remaster, Remake, Reboot or just a port?

Remastering or remaking a video game is kinda hot nowadays. We see a lot of these classic video games getting a second chance and by a lot I mean like … a lot! But people seem to be confused about whether a game is called a remake, a reboot or a remaster. Or something completely else of course. In this article I will try to settle the debate. I will explain once and for all in which category your newly released old video game belongs to.


We’ve seen these ones quite a lot the last years. With video gaming demographics changing and the rise of eighth generation video game consoles, developers eagerly repackaged their old games from the seventh generation (or earlier) and re release them with some minor improvements and HD graphics. Yep, even when most of the games from the seventh generation were already playable in HD. So you’re pretty much playing the same games with slightly better visuals on newer gaming platforms. Many of these games are bundled with other games from the same series or carry the word ‘Remastered’ in their title. Simple as that! So ask yourself; ‘Does this game use the same engine as the original?’ When the answer is yes, you’re definitely got a remaster in your hands.
Examples: Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered, Bioshock The Collection, The Nathan Drake Collection and The Last of Us Remastered.


Remember that classic game you really want to play again? But with better graphics on a new platform? Well, you can with a remake. A remake is, other than a remaster, a classic game being completely build up from the ground for a new platform. Remakes are hard to recognize, because it feels like you are playing a new game, but it actually is the same experience as the classic one you used to play before… but a little different. Most of the time the remake uses a completely new game engine and boasts better graphics to feel new and fresh again. Remakes are highly anticipated, but also a costly operation for developers. Probably the reason we see more remastered games pop up instead of remakes.
Examples: Resident Evil (2002), Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes.


It happens often that a new sequel in a video game series is defined as a reboot. It therefore carries the same name as that of the first game in the series. Most of the time the series has been absent from the video gaming world for quite a while or the game series just needed a restart after some unsuccesful and unsatisfying sequels. So the new game carries the same name as the first game in the series, but it in the meantime is a completely different game that tries to breath in some new life into the series. Sometimes successful, but often not so much.
Examples: Tomb Raider (2013), Sonic the Hedgehog(2006), Thief (2014) and Medal of Honor (2010).


To be honest, this is the hardest one of the bunch. Reimaginings of video games are newly released games that take an old idea from a classic series and develop it into something completely new. This happens without discarding the original (like we saw with reboots) or being a remake. Because it completely follows its own way of unfolding the video game experience. Re-imaginings are actually reinterpretations of the original concept, but you could also see them as completely new and unique games in the series.
Examples: Silent Hill Shattered Memories, Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Prime.

(HD) Port

When a game is made and whether it is successful or not, the chances are pretty high that the video game will be ported to another platform. Video games regularly are being developed for one specific platform and most of the time if the video game will have a multiplatform release, the porting process will be dealt with during development. However, it’s also very common that the game will be ported to a different a few months or even years after the release of the original.

Sometimes a video game will even be ported to a platform that offers HD capabilities. When the ported video game is just the same game as the original release with a higher resolution of graphics, than we’re talking about an HD port. Other then when textures and models are being slightly upgraded, because then we call it a remaster.
Examples: Resident Evil 4 HD, Silent Hill HD Collection and a lot of the PS3 HD remasters we’ve seen like Splinter Cell Trilogy, etc.


Yep, were not there yet. Apart from all these definitions a spoke about before, there is also the category of rereleases. Rereleases are pretty much gamereleases with a little bit of extra content added. Think about ‘complete’ editions’ or ‘Game of the Year’ editions. Apart from the main game, they contain some extra content to make it the definitive experience. Rereleases are most of the time released about a year after the original release date of the game. However, not every video games publisher follows these rules off course.
Examples: Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, Minecraft Story Mode Complete Adventure and every GOTY edition thinkable.

Bonus: Demake

When a video game is highly successful, fans might consider developing a so called Demake. A Demake is a remade version of the game made for a much less powerful console. Most of the time these demakes are not officially supported, but that doesn’t mean they do not exist. In the last few years we’ve seen projects like Halo 2600 for the Atari 2600, Super Smash Land that looked like an old Gameboy version of the Smash Bros. series and DoomZ, which was a version of DayZ developed in the old Doom-engine.

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