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Why Remakes and Retro Collections are Dominating My Gaming Experience in 2023

Upon installing the original Final Fantasy, a game that was released when I was only three years old, on Sony’s latest console, I realized that I have been playing mostly old games this year. It has been a flood of nostalgia, with remakes, retro collections, and re-releases dominating the market. I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed this trend.

It’s not as though these types of releases are anything new. However, what is different is the sheer number of classic releases that have come out during the early months of this year. Two of the most significant blockbusters so far, Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 are remakes of games that are more than a decade old. While their updated graphics are slick and beautiful, what draws me to them is their simplicity. Unlike modern big-budget releases that are full of open worlds and endless quests, these games are straightforward, and I find that appealing. These design decisions can be attributed to the time when they were made, a time with different expectations. I described Resident Evil 4 as “such a video game” in my review of the remake, and I meant it as a compliment.

Over the last week or so, I have noticed this trend more prominently. Capcom released a collection of Mega Man Battle Network games, which I had always intended to play but never got around to. Nintendo launched a remake of the first two Advance Wars games, a series that I sorely missed. Square Enix also brought its “pixel remaster” collection of the first six Final Fantasy games to the Switch and PlayStation. On top of that, I have been replaying the 2D Metroid games and their 3D successor, as well as playing far too much Tetris on Nintendo Switch Online. Suffice it to say, I am drowning in pixels.

I want to clarify that I have played some great new games this year, such as Wild Hearts, Season: A Letter to the Future, and the new episode of Coffee Talk. Like everyone else, I am eagerly anticipating Tears of the Kingdom. I recognize that modern games can still be amazing.

However, many modern games are designed to be all-encompassing experiences that demand a lot of time and effort. While I enjoy games like Fortnite, that is not all I want from my gaming experiences. The classic games I have been playing, whether it’s a complex remaster like Resident Evil 4 or simply watching the opera scene from Final Fantasy VI on my PS5, bring me back to a time when games were simpler and more focused. While Resident Evil and Final Fantasy offer vastly different experiences, they both provide a feeling of a complete journey from beginning to end. This is what I have been missing from many modern-day games.

Playing these old games, whether it’s for the first time or replaying them, has reminded me of the incredible potential of the medium. The biggest modern releases can become indistinguishable from one another, as they often imitate each other. This is why indie releases are so exciting, and why I find myself drawn back to these new versions of old games. I am delighted to see that this trend of remakes and retro collections shows no sign of stopping.

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