As you have likely noticed, we live in the age of remakes. Everything from Aladdin to Crash Bandicoot is receiving remakes to appeal to both young and old audiences, a tactic that works exceptionally well with video games. As a company that dominated consoles in the 90’s, Square Enix has understandably capitalized on this with rereleases and remasters, but it’s only recently that we’ve begun to see full-on remakes become more common. While Final Fantasy VII’s remake is still a ways away, this month’s release of Secret of Mana, a remake of one of the most iconic RPGs on the SNES, may very well mark the beginning of a new era of Square Enix remakes. But is this a good thing?
When the remake for Final Fantasy VII was announced, plenty of tweets, forum posts, and reddit comments called for remakes of a number of different Final Fantasy titles. From 16-bit fan favorite Final Fantasy VI to the more divisive but fiercely defended Final Fantasy VIII, fans of the franchise yearned for their favorite title to be remade (as someone whose all-time favorite game is Final Fantasy VII, I myself was rather content). In an industry as critical as the gaming industry, this lust for remakes surprised me. Typically these sorts of releases could be written off as cash-grabs, but for once, the people wanted seconds. And though this may be a derivative opinion, I think this is a good thing for our ever-changing industry. Hear me out.
There are lots of games that have been left behind by advancing technology. How many times have you talked about a game you love that “hasn’t aged well”? Even the best games begin to show their age, whether it’s through their dated visuals or ancient controls, which is a shame. Remakes are a way to preserve classic games in new ways, making them accessible for those who may not be willing to purchase retro consoles and expensive physical copies. From Chrono Trigger to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the past is full of gems that may not be easy for everyone to experience. To round my point out, one of these games is Secret of Mana.
While it has yet to release, the Secret of Mana remake has already made a strong case for why remakes can actually be a pretty alright idea, at least from Square Enix. From the looks of it, Secret of Mana has managed to honor and keep its visual style while massively upgrading the graphics while transitioning to 3D. In trying to make a remake as similar to the original as possible, the importance of honoring the original game’s style cannot be understated. This visual upgrade comes with new features, like voice acting and accessibility on both home and portable consoles (PS4 and PS Vita). Making an updated version of a classic game available to more people is enormously important, as I’m of the opinion that one of the most essential non-financial goals of a remake is to give people a way to play the classic game.
Of course, there’s still room to be wary. Having not played the Secret of Mana remake yet, I can’t say whether or not it succeeds as a game as well as a remake. But if it is successful, imagine the precedent that would set for future remakes. Final Fantasy VIII and IX remakes could breathe new life into two of the most important installments in the series, while more forgotten classics like Xenogears could once again be brought to the forefront.
Now, I don’t think we should want only remakes. Moving forward is essential in our industry. But here and there, I don’t see anything wrong with giving the people what they want in a way they never expected. So I’m hoping Secret of Mana is great, because it could very well be the spark that lights the way for a new era of high-quality remakes.