Endless Zelda remakes are a poor substitute for backwards compatibility

Endless Zelda remakes are a poor substitute for backwards compatibility
Endless Zelda remakes are a poor substitute for backwards compatibility
Image: Nintendo Life/Zion Grassl

Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random topics they’ve been working on. Today, Kate talks about her love/hate relationship with the remakes…


There is nothing more emblematic of our lost and distant childhood than video games. They are one of the few toys that children and adults can play with and remain socially acceptable, so they serve as a rope to tie us to the past. When that cord is cut – when we’re unable to play the games of our past due to declining technology or prohibitively expensive consoles – we can feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves. .

It’s no surprise, then, that the trend in gaming over the past two generations or so has been an endless brew of remakes and remasters. Publishers have their own reasons for wanting to revisit hit titles with a proven sales record, but many of us are complicit in wanting to see new life breathed into beloved classics. We want to stay where it’s comfortable and we don’t want to lose what we know and love.

Image: Nintendo

At the same time, it stirs up a lot of feelings. There’s the feeling of infantilization, as if you can only appease yourself with endless remakes of ghost hunters and Superior gun, like you’re stuck in arrested development over the past two decades and the media cheering us all on with a steady stream of Beige Pablum For Cranky ’80s Babies. There’s the feeling that you should consume something a little more difficult than a game you finished when you were ten. There’s the fear that we’re stuck like this as a society – that all the multi-billion dollar companies are going to realize that remakes have a much higher cost-benefit ratio and we’re never going to get anything right. still original.

Recently, we’ve seen two extreme aspects of the remake debate: the excitement over the possibility of another one Wind Waker / Twilight Princess HD remastered, and the grimaces and rolling eyes in response to the second full price remaster of The Last of Us in less than ten years. The reaction was not unanimous in either case, but that’s the gist online. The reactions are quite different, as you can see in some TLOU reviews:

“The Last of Us Part 1 is a totally pointless remake with gorgeous graphics that only make its dated gameplay even more noticeable.” — Diego Perez, Attack of the Fanboy

“A completely useless remake of one of the best games of the last decade, except with only half the content and at double the price.” —David Jenkins, Metro GameCentral

“At a more competitive price this would be essential – as it stands it’s an expensive upgrade on a bona fide classic.” —Sammy Barker, PushSquare

Now, to be clear, the TLOU remake (which released this week, to a chorus of very positive but sometimes muted reviews) has been largely well received and no doubt has good reason to exist, not least to provide a point refined starting point for newcomers. But it still seems crazy that Nintendo, on the other hand, seems to have endless goodwill when it comes to remakes, and many people are actively clamoring for them ahead of every Direct.

There are a few reasons I can think of. Despite the influx of “Deluxe” re-releases of Wii U games this generation, Nintendo doesn’t do a lot of remakes, really, and the time gaps between the original and the remake are usually much bigger than, say, Skyrim. They’re also not oversaturated in the market – it’s been an age since Zelda was last properly released, and he was universally loved, and most of Nintendo’s great tentpole games take years between sequels.

It wasn’t hard to play The Last of Us on PS5! But playing any Zelda that hasn’t been remade for Switch is an entire quest, unless you already have the setup.

And yes, we’ve had the Link’s Awakening remake since then, but that proves my point – over 20 years have passed since the Game Boy Color DX version added color five years after the original monochrome release. Skyward Sword was ten years old before getting a facelift last year. It’s much easier to like something that you’re not tired of constantly shoving in your face. It doesn’t help that few people are really nostalgic for The Last of Us, either, because it really hasn’t been that long.

And despite its reputation for giving you dozens of different ways to buy and play games like Super Mario Bros., when it comes to making its back catalog readily available, Nintendo’s history is spotty at best. . The Virtual Console service no longer exists, so Link’s Awakening (the Game Boy version) wasn’t playable on Switch in any form until the Grezzo Remake arrived. N64, SNES and NES games are provided to us through NSO subscription, which is basically a rental service. Nintendo obviously doesn’t appreciate you imitating its games, so if you want to play, say, Wind Waker – and you don’t already own it – your choices are to shell out full price + for a GameCube copy on eBay, find a bargain on a Wii U and nab a copy of the HD Remake, or emulate the game and hope Nintendo doesn’t find you and fine you.

To put it another way: if you want to catch up with Wind Waker, you’ll have to pay between $50 and $100 for the privilege, maybe a lot more. You might as well wait for the inevitable remake for Switch, because you probably already have one. And, for the most part, we’ve let Nintendo off the hook, as it has earned a reputation as a benevolent Zelda merchant – despite its sometimes hostile efforts towards gamers wanting to play older games.

The reason people think The Last of Us remake is pointless is because it largely is. It wasn’t hard to play The Last of Us on PS5! But playing any Zelda that hasn’t been remade for Switch is an entire quest, unless you already have the setup. If I felt really grumpy about it, I’d say it’s the indicate. It’s much easier to get people to shell out $60 for a game when you’ve deliberately made it difficult to play otherwise.

But I’m to blame here as much as anyone. The recent news that Wind Waker and Twilight Princess might be coming to Switch is exciting, even though I owned the Wii U version of the first and never played the second for more than a few hours (and didn’t really enjoy it, That is). Why is that? Why do I watch some remakes with disdain, and others with heart in my eyes? Why do we let Nintendo get away with draconian business practices as long as we get a Zelda game every two years, new or old?

Nostalgia is a powerful drug. A drug that costs me 80 Canadian dollars each time. None of us want to cut that golden cord that connects us to our past, and game companies know it. Should we boycott remakes? I do not know! I probably won’t! I don’t think we should be happy with remakes – after all, I’d much rather have a new experience, or a better option for backwards compatibility, than a remake.

But since Nintendo seems disinclined to preserve its stellar gaming history, I guess we’ll have to settle for remakes.


Do you agree with us that Remakes are the best we can hope for from Nintendo in terms of providing easy access to older games? Or should we hold them to higher standards? Tell us in the comments below!

. remakes without end Zelda are bad substitute backward compatibility

. Endless Zelda remakes poor substitute compatibility

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