It only takes a few words from Hideo Kojima to set the internet ablaze, and he duly did recently when he toyed with the idea of having someone remake the original Metal Gear Solid. Again. Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty developers Just Add Water has already publicly petitioned for the job.
We'd urge him to rethink his words. It's not that Metal Gear Solid can't be remade - it already has, of course - it's that it probably shouldn't be (again). Or, at least, not without substantial reworking - which has its own problems.
Take the last effort, 2004's Gamecube exclusive MGS: The Twin Snakes. Arriving on a crest of hype - GameCube exclusive, developed by Silicon Knights before it went totally Kurtz, and overseen by both Kojima and Miyamoto (the games industry equivalent of Audioslave, as it turns out). It also had redesigned and directed cutscenes by famed Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, and incorporated systems from Metal Gear Solid 2.
The best game ever, right? On paper, it's not too far off. In practice, it was apparent that MGS 2's mechanics - first person aiming being the primary one - didn't suit the original game's stages, which were built for a top down view. By aiming down the sight, players could simply shoot their way through the game with a silenced pistol, before hiding the bodies in lockers. (Boss fights became exceptionally easy as well, reducing the level of tension that the original game cranked up so perfectly.)
Sure, you didn't need to shoot everyone - you could instead sneak past guards, much the same as before. The problem, however, was that it wasn't the same. For MGS fans, every little change from the revered original irked. Musical cues were changed thanks to copyright disputes, Naomi Hunter lost her British accent, and the new cutscenes went down like a fart in a crowded cardboard box - this one in particular seemed to offend pretty much everyone.
So, how would Kojima ensure that any re-remake didn't fall into the same traps? Well, the easy answer is to make it exactly, exactly the same, but with shiny new graphics. But then, many will moan that it's too old-school. Change the layout of the levels to fit in with new mechanics and it won't be MGS, and you'll still have the problem, like in Crysis 2, that one-shot kills with the silenced pistol make it the best weapon in the game, breaking the weapon progression (granted, that's less important here, but still).
Remaking for nostalgia's sake never really works, because invariably some things change - just look at Tony Hawk HD, which lost some of its music (and just wasn't very good). Others have faired better: Zelda 3DS worked, and the anniversary editions of Halo/Tomb Raider where also well received.
The king of all remakes, of course, is Resident Evil, also on Gamecube. But there's a reason for this: it took an already scary game, and made it scarier still via the confines set by the original game: pre-rendered backgrounds, static cameras, tank controls. That framework enabled Resi to easily be updated: simply replace lower-resolution backdrop with new, higher resolution one, add a few new puzzles (that are still in keeping with the ones that came before) and you're done. Capcom could do that now.
Remaking MGS, on the other hand, will require more than jamming new into the old - what's there simply can't support it. It'll have to be a reimagining, to incorporate modern systems and graphics into a game that is, for all intents and purposes, played on a 2D, grid style system, at heart if not in actuality.
Either way, it's a tough job, and one I suspect might not be worth all the effort.