What’s the Difference Between a Remake and a Remaster?

In the gaming world, all things and terms are connected. Unfortunately, this aspect is a reason for misunderstandings that confuse newcomers in the game-developing field. It applies to two services that are very important for everyone who takes their gaming future seriously. Today, we are talking about the difference between remaster and remake.

Graphic showcasing cartoon game characters, remakes and remasters comparison,

What is a Remake

Do you know the game The Resident of Evil? This is the perfect example to explain the sense of the remaking process. The first part of the series made in 1996 was fascinating and extraordinary. Over 85% of PS gamers rated this horror game as unique and captivating.

During the next 8 years, they made the groundwork for the survival horror genre and changed the view for shooters in this field. Keeping the main idea and concept, game developers showcased The Resident of Evil 4 and impressed everyone. The modern context of the game, new unexpected plot twists, essential visual upgrading, and filling the game environment with unique characters are not even half of the improvements and ground changes.

Artistic representation of a blonde male character standing amidst a graveyard with zombies

So, the remake is a completely modernized and improved video game version of an older title. It includes using contemporary technologies, graphics, and gameplay mechanics during all stages of the game development. The most significant here is to add changes to the original core story and design. As a result, a remake looks like a new game release rather than a simple graphical update.

Remaster meaning

In this case, a good example is Counter-Strike. The first version was presented to the world in 1999, and 89% of PC gamers rated this game as very engaging. But those days, technologies were developing so fast that two games with a one-year difference between days of release felt completely distinct.

However, the game developers of Counter-Strike were proud of their creation, and they didn’t want to think about a new concept. Instead, they came up with something more interesting. 

Can you guess what they did? Yes, they remastered the first version of Counter-Strike and released Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. They just updated and enhanced an older video game, and improved its graphical quality and performance. 

Counter Strike Condition Zero wallpaper, masked soldiers with firearms, illuminated by a bright yellow background

So, the remastered game is an updated version of the older game with graphical and visual improvements and performance enhancements. The main difference between a remake and a remaster is that the remastered game doesn’t fundamentally alter the game’s core mechanics, story, or content.

Game Remakes Experience

A lot of gaming companies think about remaking their projects because they want to share unique nostalgic experiences and engage a new audience. However, this process is complicated because the adaptation of a video game’s first version to modern reality can be quite difficult. The work includes not only plot improvement or trends analysis but also essentially improving graphics and gameplay mechanics.

Finding a New Narrative

Even if game developers decided to write a new story from the beginning, they still would think about building on the original game’s narrative. It’s not necessary to change the whole story. Sometimes it’s enough to update the elements such as 3D character design, main plot points, etc.

Fighter pilot 3d model with helmet, WW-2 stylized character in vintage leather attire with goggles and harness

Advanced Graphics

New technologies appear very fast, and game companies need to meet the audience’s needs and preferences with every game release. The visual experience is a crucial element in the game’s success, so every detail needs to be observed and improved.

All in-game objects and characters should be detailed and visually appealing. Dynamic lights and shadows should create an immersive and realistic atmosphere. Also, while remaking the game, companies should not reject the idea of using 3D character animation services to reconsider and improve their conformity to modern trends.

Detailed 3D Character Models in Autodesk 3ds Max Software Workspace

Gameplay Innovations

What can be better than implementing fresh and exciting experiences to the game while still paying homage to the original? Nothing!

In this case, the flight of imagination is huge: updating and refining the game’s control scheme to make it more intuitive and responsive. Utilize UI design outsourcing for game redesign to make it more user friendly; making the game world more interactive; even VR support can find its place here.

The variety of gameplay innovations depends only on the gaming concept and the audience’s desires.

2D Casual Game Icons, Royal Match stylized ui/ux, with gameplay screen on the left

Remastered Games Experience

Some developers prefer the remastered game rather than the remake because it offers an opportunity to revisit a classic title with improved visuals and performance. This is a little tribute to nostalgic journeys, a small attempt to save a piece of the past gaming world in reality.

Many gamers enjoy remastered games: they easily connect them with childhood and pleasant memories of being newcomers in the gaming world of 2d video games.

Post-Apocalyptic Animated 2D Scene with Masked Gunmen and Ruined City Background, cartoon style

Upgraded Graphics

The enhanced graphics are always the most noticeable improvement in a remastered game. Game developers use the latest modern technologies to showcase their game in dazzling quality. This implies higher-resolution textures, improved character models, and better overall visual fidelity compared to the original version.

Performance Optimizations

When a gamer used to play video games with outdated technologies, every new game release raises his expectations. So, while remastering the game, it’s significant to reduce load times, target more stable frame rates, and reduce overall performance to take full advantage of modern hardware. Also, new services can be quite useful. For instance, 3D modeling for games can modernize objects and characters in the remastered game by saving their concept but making them look sharp and detailed.

Realism in 3D Modeling, Designing a Racing Avatar from Scratch

The Key Difference Between Remake and Remaster

  • Materiality of changes

A remake is rebuilding a game from the ground up often resulting in substantial changes to gameplay, graphics, and sometimes even the story. Also, the narrative may be expanded or reimagined, adding new elements such as characters or plot twists to the original story. In return, the remaster focuses only on enhancing the visual and technical aspects of a game while keeping the core gameplay and content unchanged. 

  • Interaction with the old content

Remakes can introduce new content, such as additional levels, characters, or side quests, to provide fresh experiences for players. Sometimes, they change the old concept of the game from the beginning, reinventing the whole story. The remastered game showcases only graphical and visual improvements with a focus on the old story, characters, and concept. 

  • Gameplay changes

If we talk about the difference between remake and remaster, both of them have gameplay changes. But the remaster’s gameplay mechanics, controls, and content remain largely untouched. The core gameplay experience remains the same as the original game. The remake often changes gameplay due to modern trends. It can be overhauled or modernized to better align with current gaming standards and audience preferences. 

  • Preservation of the original feel

The primary goal of a remastered game is to preserve the original game’s look and feel but make it more visually appealing and compatible with current gaming platforms. They try to evoke nostalgia, allowing players to relive a classic game with improved visuals and performance. In contrast, the remake aims to preserve the essence and nostalgia of the original game by staying true to its core themes and characters but changing all details, plot, gameplay mechanics, and visual elements.

The difference between remaster and remake can be inconspicuous for newcomers in game development or the game’s audience but in reality, it’s huge. 

Age of Empires Stronghold: Remake or Remaster?

Many people don’t see any difference between remake and remaster, and this may be a problem. Especially if developers use a combination of these two approaches.

Take, for instance, the Age of Empires Stronghold game. Can you easily say that it is 100% a remake? Or maybe it is just a remaster? Who knows, who knows… Let’s take a look.

Is Stronghold remake or remaster, Best strategy game
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    More than 20 years ago,

    Age of Empires: Stronghold was a popular real-time strategy game, well-known for its medieval setting and castle-building gameplay.

    Since the Age of Empires Stronghold remaster in 2019, there hasn't been any news about a remaster or a remake.

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    However, even 5 years later,

    Forgotten Empires hasn’t stopped on visual and technical enhancements. It continues to release new DLC, patches, and challenges on an almost weekly basis.

    Due to these reasons, regular technical and visual updates, newly added concepts and narratives, and other content, we can hardly say Age of Empires Stronghold is a 100% remaster.

    In return, we can truly say in the beginning, developers wanted just to remaster the game but then changed their strategy from a one-moment remaster to a slow remake.

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    And it worked!

    Sometimes developers don't want just to remake or remaster the game. So, they provide players with visual updates and then regularly give new content such as historical battles, missions revolving around William Wallace, and new campaigns exactly like in Age of Empires Stronghold.

As a result, players and game fans have a remake that started its way like a remaster :)
In our opinion, this is the best idea to bring life into the old projects of any genre.

Fallout 4: 2D Isometric Redesign

Forget for a moment about busy reality and imagine a unique reinterpretation of the game with a distinct twist: a 2D isometric Fallout 4 redesign. There are so many mods and fan projects that introduce various changes and enhancements from the isometric view of Fallout 4.

However, an official 2D isometric redesign has not been released by Bethesda Game Studios. 

Fallout 4 as a 2D isometric game, New images reimagine Fallout 4 as an isometric RPG
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This concept is so popular in the Fallout fan community because it reimagines the game from a top-down perspective, reminiscent of classic isometric RPGs. But it’s not the only reason!

With this new camera angle, players would navigate the wasteland differently, strategically planning their movements and encounters. Also, the familiar landscapes of the Commonwealth would be transformed into detailed pixel art, capturing the post-apocalyptic atmosphere in a completely new aesthetic.

Case Studies

In this article, we’ve already mentioned games The Resident of Evil, Age of Empires Stronghold, Counter-Strike, and a few more. However, we want to tell you about two more successful remake and remaster stories.

Remake: Mafia: Definitive Edition

Stylized 2D noir gangster game art in monochrome

The game Mafia: Definitive Edition (2022) is a remake of the game Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven (2002). 

Game development challenges: The remake was built from scratch so it has completely new gameplay and an expanded story. The main game concept and unique gameplay features were showcased in the remake, but they became outnumbered. In return, there appeared a few levels of complexity in the game, new methods of locomotion such as motorbike, and interesting missions (taxi challenges, races, missions with black-white game mode, etc.). 

Fan community feedback: The game received “generally favorable reviews” from critics and many positive reviews from the fan community. They especially pointed out excellent performances and a fantastic driving model as new game mechanics.

What lessons learned: Beforehand analysis of different platforms was very essential. The company rebuilt the game with an updated game engine taken from Mafia III to ensure the game would be suitable for the latest generation of consoles and systems. Also, the designers spent much more time learning the features of New York from the 1920s and 1930s improving the atmosphere and general game experience.

Remaster: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Detailed isometric game environment showcasing remastered graphics of the Legend of Zelda video game

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019) is a remaster of the eponymous game released in 1993. 

Game development challenges: From the beginning, the decision to remaster implied saving the original plot and idea and developing a game adaptation for the Nintendo Switch. Focus on the research of the game world and fights were maintained, and the control scheme and monochrome graphics were deeply analyzed and improved. As a result, the new remastered game contains completely redesigned 3D graphics and gameplay mechanics with one additional feature (the opportunity to create unique dungeons). 

Fan community feedback: Due to paying attention to fan’s preferences, the new release became very successful and received more than 90% of positive reviews. One of the popular game magazines mentioned that the new color version had successfully adapted its magic to the new standards, adding new content and retaining all previously created.

What lessons learned: Almost all fans criticized the old version of the game because of monochrome graphics. The developers considered this fact, analyzed a lot of modern trends in games in this genre, and displayed respect for the audience’s needs in a new quality color gamut and comfortable game control system.

Summary

Remake vs. Remaster: what to choose depends only on the game developer’s desires and the audience’s preferences. But here are some key takeaways to remember while choosing between the remake and the remastered game.

Illustrating the Nuances: Remake vs. Remaster
  • Remake involves rebuilding the game from the ground up, and the remastered game focuses on enhancing the original game’s visuals. 

  • Remake applies significant changes to gameplay, graphics, and sometimes the story. Remaster only updates graphics with higher resolution, improved textures, and better lighting.

  • While remaking the game, gameplay mechanics may be modernized or overhauled. The remastered game applies minimal changes to gameplay mechanics and content.

  • A remake may introduce new content like levels, characters, or quests, and a remaster aims to preserve the original game’s look and feel.

  • A remake reserves the core themes and characters of the original game while offering a fresh experience. The remastered game is designed to evoke nostalgia, allowing players to relive a classic game.

So, the remake is a perfect option for companies who want a significantly updated and reimagined version of a classic game, with changes to gameplay, graphics, and storytelling. In return, the remaster is an outstanding choice to experience a classic game with improved visuals and technical performance while keeping the core gameplay and content unchanged.

Most asked questions about difference between a remake and a remaster

FAQ

What Does a Reboot Mean in the Video Game Industry?

A reboot is a significant reimagining of an existing video game franchise or game series. It’s not like a sequel or continuation of the existing storyline. A reboot involves a fresh start, often intending to modernize or revitalize the franchise. The main difference between a reboot and a remake is that a rebooted game implies starting fresh with significant changes to the IP while a remake focuses on enhancing and preserving the core elements of the original while modernizing technical aspects.

What is Game Porting?

Game porting is the process of adapting a video game designed for one gaming platform to run on another system. For example, the game may be designed only for PS, and then the company adapts it for PC. Game porting is done for various reasons, including reaching a wider audience, maximizing profits, or preserving classic games for modern platforms, etc.

Do Remakes and Remasters Target Different Audiences?

Remakes and remasters often target different interested communities within the gaming industry but they also have some shared target audiences. For instance, both remakes and remasters typically target nostalgic players and fans of the franchise. 

Usually, remakes are interested in such communities as a new generation of gamers and people seeking new experiences. In return, the remastered games target casual gamers and players looking for a familiar but improved experience. It’s about casual design services that are relevant to both remaster and remake developers.