Resident Evil 4
Image via Capcom

The 10 best video game remakes of all time

Perfecting a remake is a tough task, but these managed to hit the nail on the head.

We live in a golden era for video game remakes, with many studios re-examining their back catalogs to see which beloved titles from the past can be brought to modern hardware with a shiny new coat of paint. The hotly anticipated Resident Evil 4 Remake is just around the corner, with the recently released demo wowing fans of the original and new players alike.

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So, with consoles bubbling over with remakes of all kinds, which are the 10 best out there?

10. Resident Evil (2002)

In 2002, the 1996 PlayStation/Saturn Resident Evil was already looking outdated, with subsequent sequels refining the formula and improving the graphics. Creator Shinji Mikami decided it was time to rework the S.T.A.R.S. team’s fateful trip into the Arklay mansion with this incredible GameCube re-imagining. The result combined stunning pre-rendered backdrops, high-detail character and enemy models, and a ridiculous amount of atmosphere, resulting in a title that still looks great 20 years on from its original release.

Although initially a GameCube exclusive, this has been re-released on modern platforms as Resident Evil HD, and is often available at ridiculously cheap prices. If you want to take a trip back to the origins of Resident Evil the remake is the place to go, and even after so many other titles, this might still be the scariest.

9. Live A Live (2022)

Sometimes it’s easy to greet remakes with a shrug; after all, despite any modern bells and whistles, this is still ultimately a game you’ve played before. Not so in the case of Live A Live, which brings an ultra-obscure Japanese-only 1990s Square RPG to the West for the first time in style. Though Western fans had been able to play Live A Live via fan translation, the 2022 Switch release massively overhauls the graphics in a winning “HD-2D” style, combining sprite art with 3D environments.

The result is a stunning, charismatic, and unique RPG with a killer soundtrack, with its aesthetic a perfect fit for the relatively low-powered Switch. We’re hoping this will eventually get ported elsewhere, though if you’re hungry for a new Switch title, we can’t recommend it highly enough.

8. TxK (2014)

British indie genius Jeff Minter has been remaking the classic Atari game Tempest for nearly 30 years over various platforms. These are the pinnacle of psychedelic shooters, and the formula has been polished to a mirror sheen with the 2014 PS Vita release TxK. This takes the 1981 arcade game and cranks up the intensity to eye-blistering levels, providing a killer techno soundtrack and more flashing colors than you can shake a stick at.

TxK is one of the finest Vita titles, but it has since been reworked as Tempest 4000 on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. This represents one of the purest gameplay experiences around. If you like shooters it’s a must-play, and every gamer worth their salt should try at least one Llamasoft game, as they’re some of the most addictive and mind-bending around.

7. Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)

This is arguably a reboot or even a sequel rather than a straight remake, but seeing as it’s got “Remake” in the title, we can’t ignore it. Long-teased by Square, this first installment of an ongoing effort to bring the all-time great RPG Final Fantasy VII to the modern era is a labor of love from start to finish. The first installment adapts just the opening Midgar chapter of the game, ending as you leave the city and head into the wider world.

What were once low-res pre-rendered backgrounds are now fully 3D and intricately detailed, with the LEGO-like Gouraud-shaded 1997 characters as emotive as any animated feature. This expands the story in interesting new ways, while remaining broadly faithful to the game it was before. Beyond that, the remixed soundtrack is to die for. We can’t wait for the story to continue in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth sometime over the next year.

6. Demon’s Souls (2020)

Bluepoint Games has a well-deserved reputation for bringing classic games to new platforms. Its work on HD remasters like the Metal Gear Solid series, ICO, and Shadow of the Colossus is highly regarded, but even the company must have known it was taking on an enormous project by revamping FromSoftware’s 2009 cult classic Demon’s Souls as a PlayStation 5 launch title.

The original game kicked off the Soulsborne genre, and eventually resulted in the all-time great Elden Ring. But, if you want to go back to the series’ roots, the Bluepoint remake is the best way to do it. Here, the muddy and often rather ugly PlayStation 3 original is rebuilt from the ground up while preserving the tense and deadly gameplay. Even two and a half years after the PlayStation 5’s launch, Demon’s Souls remains one of the best-looking games on the system, and is still one of the few truly exclusive games on the platform. A must-buy.

5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (2020)

By 2020, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise was a relic of the past, killed off by an over-saturation of iffy sequels and the ill-conceived skateboard RIDE peripheral. In 2020, it returned in this awesome remake that made 90s kids everywhere grin like idiots. While the creaky PSOne-era graphics were fully updated for the modern day, the great soundtrack stayed (largely) intact. Zipping around the School level, jumping gaps, and combining tricks to Goldfinger’s Superman? It doesn’t get any better than that.

This masterpiece was Vicarious Visions’ final project before being merged into Blizzard Entertainment, and is the definition of going out on a high. Our only moan is that we know remakes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and 4 were planned, but will now never see the light of day…

4. Super Mario All-Stars (1993)

It’s worth remembering that video game remakes have always existed in some form or other, and 1993’s incredible Super Nintendo title Super Mario All-Stars is one of the best 90s examples. This is a graphical overhaul of the NES-era Mario games, combining remakes of Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. The gameplay and physics remain intact, though the increased color palette and graphical heft of the 16-bit console make them look gorgeous.

The collection is still very fun to play to this day, and is currently available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online’s classic games library. These titles are some of the most foundational releases in the history of gaming, and while the original 8-bit versions aren’t without their charm, we’ll always love the All-Star versions.

3. Dead Space (2023)

The 2010s saw Electronic Arts making money hand over fist through multiplayer games loaded with microtransactions and loot boxes. That success came at the cost of a lot of goodwill, with the publisher’s former reputation for single-player excellence taking a beating as they shifted focus. Recently it’s been trying to make amends, with the recent Dead Space remake a love letter to horror gamers.

The 2008 original isn’t exactly obsolete, but the 2023 version cranks up the graphical fidelity and makes exploring the Necromorph-infested Ishimura even more terrifying than it was before. Along the way, there are some smart alterations to some clunky original mechanics and a very minor change to put-upon space mechanic Isaac’s personality. It adds up to a great package, and we’d love to see Dead Space 2 get the same treatment soon.

The 1993 Link’s Awakening is a technical marvel, squeezing a full-blooded Zelda adventure onto a tiny Game Boy cartridge. That game got a remaster of sorts in 1998’s Link’s Awakening DX on Game Boy Color, but this surreal and engaging adventure was completely remade for Switch in 2019 and the result is dazzling.

This preserves the classic top-down Zelda gameplay, but with a brilliantly toy-ish, diorama aesthetic. The tilt-shift camera technique makes it feel like you’re peering down into a miniature world. Link’s Awakening has a well-deserved reputation as one of the greatest Zelda games around, though the 8-bit original is perhaps a little too retro for most modern gamers. With the Switch remake, this classic will live on forever as we can’t imagine this art style ever aging.

1. Resident Evil 4 (2023)

With Resident Evil 4, Capcom cemented its position as the undisputed master of the video game remake. The original is rightly lauded as one of the finest of all time and has aged remarkably well, but so many were skeptical about whether it was even worth going back to and slapping on a fresh coat of graphical paint.

Those naysayers have now thrown up their hands and admitted they were wrong, as 2023’s Resident Evil 4 takes everything that was great about the original and beautifully refined it for the modern era. The graphics are stunning, the action gameplay is compulsive, and the plot has been subtly tweaked for the better.

The 2023 remake also does the impossible in making the constantly kidnapped Ashley Graham a much better character, maintaining her vulnerability but expanding her character and cranking up her charisma. Hell, even the iconic Merchant is better in 2023. Resident Evil 2 and 3 are also fantastic remakes but, for now, this sits atop the pile as the finest video game remake of all time and we suspect it’s going to sit on this throne for some time yet.


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Author
David James
London-based writer of anything and everything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about 'Metal Gear Solid' or 'Resident Evil.'