Last year, approximately 5,000,000 classic movies, books and TV shows were re-released onto formats they had not originated on. I exaggerate, of course: In reality I have no idea what the number is. Either way, every week it seems there's an announcement that film X or show Y are being given the HD treatment. Blu-ray, 1080p, the whole shooting match. Books get updated with forewords and introductions by the author or, if they're dead, someone speaking for or about them. Mad Men makes the transition from AMC to Netflix. It's the natural way of things.
No-one, unless it's a shoddy up-scaling job or an extras-free attempt at double-dip gouging the idiots, says a negative thing about it. They welcome it, as invariably they should. Yes, there's something to be said about owning the first hardback edition of A Farewell to Arms, or the first VHS release of Star Wars, before ol' George went about ruining your childhood, whatever that fucking means. But despite their value, sentimental or monetary, those things are delightful inconveniences, circumvented by Kindle or being able to stream via every device in your house, including, probably, the toilet.
So why, when it was announced that Capcom was re-releasing the 2002 remake of Resident Evil, was there a howl of derision from certain quarters? How dare Capcom spend all its precious time and money on this, another version of Resident Evil? Where's Resi 7? Where's my new version of Street Fighter IV? Oh, The original animated Transformers movie is out on Blu-ray. Must remember to get that.
On and on it went, as if people were truly affronted by what is, in any other medium, just another day.
This sort of moaning, to me, is utterly baffling. Why wouldn't you want one of the greatest games of all time to be playable on a machine that was made this decade? Why wouldn't you want that game, already excellent, made (hopefully) more so by the upscaling of the (now badly dated) original assets? Why, in short, moan about getting more of a good thing? Do you get upset when classic rock albums make it to Spotify or iTunes? No.
The reasons for these grumbles are varied, and all equally stupid. First up is people confusing remasters like Resident Evil HD, or Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition with 'remakes'. That word conjures up images of a dev team toiling over new assets, environments, and everything else, while staying true to the original 'vision'. This is what a remake actually is.
These games are not in any way 'remakes'. This newer version is only a remake if you consider Heat on Blu-ray to be a remake of Heat on VHS, which is of course total nonsense. Heat itself is based on a film called LA Takedown. That's a fucking remake. Everything else is just a remaster. (The irony, here, of course is that the GameCube version of Resident Evil was a full-blown remake, and it was and still is the biggest and best example of the craft.)
Next up seems to be the argument that developers are spending 'too much time' on these remasters, when they should be working on other things. As if they can only work on thing at a time (although, as Garry Newman of Rust and Garry's Mod fame recently found out, some people do actually believe this. The fools). Don't worry, relentlessly soul-crushing sequel 2,100,047 or inadvisable first new-generation console game will come out, guys. Up-res'ing an old classic won't affect it.
Granted, that this generation has opened with a large number of remasters may cause some to worry that we're going to be flooded with them, as publishers think they can crank out any old shit to make a quick buck. And if that's the case, then we'll call it out, as many other mediums do when someone decides to release a certain 80s action classic on Blu-ray and it's the worst transfer since Marouane Fellaini.
To dismiss the entire enterprise, however, is foolish. Our medium hasn't been the best custodian of its own legacy. If remasters give players a chance to check out classic or influential titles, then as long as they're priced right and aren't phoned in then what's wrong with that?