Remakes and remasters didn’t really exist in the world of gaming until the last generation, so it’s understandable that people often get confused between the two, and at times think that they are the same thing. Well they’re not, and we’ll explain below as to why.
Remastered games re-use assets from the older games, but are ported to the new console so benefit from the increased power. What this essentially means is that the models and textures are the same, but the resolution may be a little higher, and because of the capabilities of the new console, the models may look a smoother with less aliasing issues. This remastering process while does take time due to change in engines and development tools, meaning changes in coding, is a quicker process than making a full game for example. The idea behind a remaster is essentially trying to get the original game working on the new hardware with as little effort as possible. Examples of remasters include the God of War remasters, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Classics HD for PS3.
Remakes are a completely different ball game. These are built from the ground up, so you’ve got all new assets such as character models, objects and the levels themselves. The gameplay may be the same, but this has been rebuilt to match the original game. So there may be some slight variations in gameplay, for example the Shadow of the Colossus Remake is said to include an new set of control options as well as the original control options. Remakes take significantly longer to developer because it involves most of the development process that a new game would. The only part that it leaves out is the storyboard element and level design, so time is saved there, but not as significant as it would be in a remaster. Examples of remakes include the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, Shadow of the Colossus Remake and the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake (hopefully in the next year or two).
Now many would argue that remastered games and remakes are simply there to rip off consumers to buy a product twice. There is some validity to this argument, if you’ve paid for it once, why do you have to pay for it again. However, the same could be said for Blu-ray editions of movies that you may have purchased on DVD or VHS previously. You don’t need to purchase, but as technology moves along, you can update your collection. However, these new versions of games, aren’t necessarily for you, they’re mainly for people who’ve never played the game and people that are willing to pay for an updated version of the same game.
I’ve never really gotten in to Final Fantasy VII because VIII was the first one I played and I couldn’t go back, so the FF7 Remake is perfect for me, but it’s not for everyone. Similarly, it’s been years since I played Crash Bandicoot, so the N.Sane trilogy is currently in my PS4.
Hopefully we can put the Renaster vs Remake argument to rest now, they’re not the same thing!