The internet likes to bemoan video game remakes, but like many things the internet does, that’s stupid.
For all the complaints gamers have that publishers are “forcing them to play the same games again” (because I guess the publishers are holding them under duress), video games are in a position where they kind of need remakes and re-releases. Video games advance so quickly that many people miss out on certain games. It’s not like movies, which see releases on every new home video platform. Games are at a bigger risk of falling under the radar. Remakes/re-releases not only give video games the opportunity to find new audiences, but they also help preserve video games as an art form.
In short, video game remakes/re-releases are great. And 2018 had some notable ones.
Winner: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)
I flip-flopped between Dark Souls Remastered and the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze as to what should claim this award. As much as I love Dark Souls, I feel like its achievements are already widely recognized, so its Remastered version was more of a means to play it on modern consoles. Tropical Freeze, on the other hand, was a game that fell under the radar in its time, so its Switch release felt more like a second chance to find a proper audience. And seeing as the Switch version outsold the Wii U original in a few short months, I’d say this was a case of a game benefitting from a second chance.
Being a Wii U title, Tropical Freeze was going to have an uphill battle to climb right out the gate, but it also didn’t help that our “good friend” the internet lambasted the game’s existence as soon as it was announced simply because it wasn’t Metroid. Tropical Freeze received quiet acclaim upon its original release, but the stigma of “not Metroid” still restrained some enthusiasm. Though its sales couldn’t match New Super Mario Bros. U, and Rayman Legends initially received more praise, in the years since it seems Tropical Freeze has slowly been recognized for the brilliance and depth of its design, and has become the more fondly remembered modern 2D platformer than its contemporaries in retrospect.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was my personal Game of the Year for 2014, and although it still has something of a cult status, its release on Nintendo Switch has seen it garner more attention and acclaim. It’s now rightfully regarded as a modern Nintendo classic.
Dark Souls Remastered was a terrific re-release, but everyone knew that already. The Switch’s re-release of DKC: Tropical Freeze, however, has made more and more people realize what a lucky few of us have known since 2014: Tropical Freeze is awesome!
Runner-up: Dark Souls Remastered
2017: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe