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Everything About The Video Game Remakes You Didn't Know Were Being Made

Games don't age like other media. After all, an author will never need to remake a book—for the most part, words don't go out of date. Hollywood loves remaking popular movies and TV shows, but no matter how bad the new versions are, it won't change the original. 

But video games are driven by technology, and tech changes fast, and many well-regarded games don't have the same impact that they did five, ten, or 20 years ago—if modern devices can even play them at all. And so, we get remakes. Whether they're reviving lost classics or giving overlooked gems a new chance to shine, video game remakes aren't just cynical cash-grabs. They're a means of preserving video game history, and making sure that every fan, not just older ones, has a chance to play some of the best games ever made. Bring 'em on.

System Shock

If you like Deus Ex, Bioshock, or Prey, you have System Shock to thank. Under the guidance of Warren Spector, Looking Glass Technologies and Origin Systems took the flexible and non-linear style of gameplay from its Ultima Underworld series, rounded off the edges, and transplanted it into a cyberpunk setting. It was a massive success, and with good reason. In System Shock, the developers present the players with obstacles and give them a number of tools, but there isn't a right or wrong answer. It's up to you to figure out how to proceed. If you can think of a solution, chances are it'll work.

These days, that's a clever piece of game design. In 1994, it felt like magic. System Shock's influence can be seen in games ranging from Thief to Hitman to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and it's high time for the original System Shock to make a comeback. Fans agree. In July 2016, Nightdive Studios released a short demo and launched a $900,000 Kickstarter campaign to bring System Shock to modern machines. A month later, the campaign wrapped up with $1.35 million from 21,625 backers, and development began in earnest.

This isn't the same game you played back in the '90s, however. Writer and designer Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas, Planescape: Torment) is refining System Shock's narrative, while Nightdive plans to add some revamped features—like an updated map system—to make System Shock more palatable to modern players. After all, System Shock might be a classic, but it'll have been 24 years since the original graced our PCs when the remake launches in 2018.

Resident Evil 2

Capcom remakes Resident Evil all the time. In 2002, the company released a remastered version of the first Resident Evil game for the Nintendo GameCube that eventually made its way to the Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. In 2005, Resident Evil 4—formerly a GameCube exclusive—made its way to the PlayStation 2. A motion control-enabled Wii port followed in 2007, while a mobile edition came out in 2008. More recently, Capcom released high-definition versions of Resident Evil and its prequel Resident Evil Zero on Windows and seventh and eighth-generation consoles. 

And why not? You can never have too much of a good thing, and Resident Evil 2 is indisputably the best of the classic Resident Evil games. With a branching storyline and cinematography that successfully apes George Romero's classic Living Dead trilogy, Resident Evil 2 delivered on everything promised by the original Resident Evil and then some, laying the foundation for the zombie-fiction boom that followed (the horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead was inspired by an episode of the British sitcom Spaced, in which one of the main characters hallucinates a zombie invasion after an all-night Resident Evil 2 session).

The Resident Evil 2 remaster doesn't currently have a release date, but producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi promises that the upcoming remake will "recapture the spirit of the first game." Hirabayashi says that Resident Evil HD Remaster, which launched in 2015 to positive reviews, will provide the model for the next edition of Resident Evil 2. That means a revamped control scheme (no more clumsy "tank" controls), better graphics, and widescreen support, although many of the game's quirks—like, say, the fixed camera angles, which both give the game its cinematic flavor and make it considerably more challenging—will likely remain. After all, it's not Resident Evil 2 without 'em.

Outcast

Don't feel bad if you've never heard of Outcast, the 1999 open-world PC game made by Appeal. According to the game's sales figures—only 400,000 copies were sold worldwide during Outcast's initial release—most other people haven't heard of it either.

That's a crime, too, given just how ahead of the curve Outcast ended up being. Two years before Grand Theft Auto III made 3D open worlds a video game staple, Outcast dropped players onto a planet called Adelpha and let them explore to their hearts' content, performing side-quests to earn the trust (or enmity) of the local alien race while searching for a lost scientific probe. As in modern survival games, Outcast players start with nothing, and must craft (or buy) everything they need, while state-of-the-art AI and a flexible faction system make Adelpha feel like a place that's populated by real, living people.

Maybe the second time will be the charm. While a 2014 Kickstarter campaign failed to raise the $600,000 needed for a full HD reboot, some of the game's original developers pressed on anyway. The reformed version of Appeal hasn't said much about what will change when Outcast returns, although a new control scheme is apparently a given, and the defunct Kickstarter promises fully-voiced dialogue, improved graphics, and a soundtrack performed by an 80-piece orchestra. At the very least, the trailer confirms that the game will look better than ever when Outcast: Second Coming arrives this fall, and—more importantly—protagonist Cutter Slade gets to keep his name for Outcast's encore performance, so at least the folks over at Appeal have their priorities straight. We're excited to learn more.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

In the United States, Persona might be the most successful—or at least the most well-known—piece of the Megami Tensei franchise, but the hit role-playing game is only one part of a very large and complex whole. The core of the Megami Tensei franchise is actually made up of the Shin Megami Tensai games, which debuted back on the Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo), and which have graced the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS over the series' long and storied history.

The fourth entry in the Shin Megami Tensei line, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, came out in 2009 in Japan and 2010 in North America, and despite its solid pedigree, didn't sell as well as its publisher, Atlus, had hoped. And so, the company is trying again. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux moves the Japanese role-playing game from Nintendo's long-since deceased DS portable to its successor, the 3DS, and brings with it a handful of enhancements.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux should look and run better on the 3DS' more powerful processor, of course, but that's not the only improvement that's coming when the remake arrives in early 2018. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux will introduce a new character, a new ending, and fully-voiced Japanese dialogue to the game, while preserving Strange Journey's quirky gameplay.

As in the original edition of Strange Journey, the game's Redux edition has over 300 demons for players to bargain with, fight, and recruit (and more to discover via the game's "fusing" mechanic, in which monsters combine in order to create entirely new creatures). If you haven't played Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the Redux will keep you busy for close to a hundred hours—and if you have, well, there's enough new content here to make you fall in love all over again.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Forget the prequels. As anyone who's played it will tell you, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the only early '00s Star Wars adventure that you need. Set thousands of years before the first Star Wars film (A New Hope, if you're nasty), Knights of the Old Republic tells the tale of a Jedi order that's struggling to survive against Darth Malak, a former Jedi gone bad and the protege of the missing Sith lord, Darth Revan.

Not only did Knights of the Old Republic's dialogue-based role-playing and branching storyline lay the foundation for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but for the first time, the game told a Star Wars story worthy of the feature films themselves, filled with big action set pieces and plot twists that rival Darth Vader's paternal confession. Unfortunately, kind of like the original Star Wars trilogy, Knights of the Old Republic hasn't aged gracefully on a technical level, and some dedicated fans have decided to give the classic RPG a special edition all of its own.

Apeiron isn't an official remake—as much as fans would love it, BioWare seems busy with its Star Wars MMORPG and its original franchises—but it might as well be. According to Apeiron's website, the upcoming remaster will feature "added content, new worlds, missions, HUD, inventory, items, and companions" while preserving Knights of the Old Republic's original audio recordings and orchestrated score. Apeiron doesn't have a release date, but the project is updated regularly (Poem Studios posts new screenshots on its Twitter feed every week). Even better, when Apeiron comes out, it'll be entirely free—all you'll need is a copy of Knights of the Old Republic (currently available on both Steam and GOG) and you'll be good to go.

Shenmue

If you're well-versed in classic Sega games, you should be familiar with Yu Suzuki. The veteran game designer is responsible for a number of Sega's biggest critical hits, including Space Harrier, After Burner, and Virtua Fighter. However, Suzuki's manga opus is Shenmue, an open-world murder mystery that mixes hand-to-hand combat with a highly interactive world (especially by 1999 standards) that operates independently of the player.

If you want to visit a store to pick up groceries, for example, or stop by the local arcade to play classic Sega games, you'll need to make sure that they're open. Businesses close at night, while the town's citizens go about their business whether or not the player intervenes. Shenmue (and its sequel, Shenmue II) mixes the mundane trivialities of day-to-day life with big, explosive action scenes to great effect. It's not for everyone, but once Shenmue gets its hooks into you, it's a hard game to put down.

And yet, while Shenmue remains a cult favorite, it's also almost 20 years old—and, amazingly, it's never been upgraded or rereleased. That might be changing. While there's been no official announcement, the CEO of Just Add Water, a company that specializes in remaking old video games, responded to a NeoGAF post about a rumored Shenmue remaster, saying "Oh, it's real." In addition, Sega of Europe recently registered web domains for "ShenmueHD" and "ShenmueRemastered," while Sony's senior director of third party production and developer relations Gio Corsi recently posted a picture of himself, Suzuki, and a Shenmue game case on Twitter.

Maniac Mansion

The adventure game revival is in full swing. On one side, you have the remasters of classic games like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. On the other, there's been a steady stream of brand new adventure games that mock both the look and feel like the beloved titles from days long gone (Thimbleweed Park) or adapt the traditional adventure game structure into something new and different (Telltale's The Walking Dead, Oxenfree, Broken Age, and many, many others).

In other words, it's the perfect time to revive Maniac Mansion. In 1987, Maniac Mansion revitalized the graphical adventure game by removing all of the guesswork associated with text-based interactions and replacing it with a streamlined point-and-click interface. SCUMM, the engine that LucasArts' engineers developedto power the game, went on to power classics like The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Sam & Max Hit the Road. It's not a stretch to call Maniac Mansion one of the most influential games of all time—after all, it wouldn't be the first time

Thankfully, fans are on top of it, and Night of the Meteor is much more than a simple visual update. The team behind Night of the Meteor claims that it's adding "more puzzles, more dialogue, more animation, and more sound and music to this classic adventure," while updating the graphics to tie the game closer to its sequel, Day of the Sequel. Ultimately, the team says, the goal is to create an experience that's fresh and new even for people "who know the old Maniac Mansion inside out." If that sounds like you, check out the official website. An official release date isn't available yet, but with any luck, one will pop up relatively soon.

Shaq-Fu

Sports stars headline video games all the time—they're just usually, y'know, sports games. For a brief period in the '90s, that wasn't the case: hence, Shaq-Fu. In Shaq-Fu, Shaquille O'Neal wanders into a dojo while visiting Tokyo, finds himself in another dimension, and decides to battle it out Street Fighter-style in a tournament featuring mummies, cyborgs, and oddly sexy rat ladies. 

But, surprise, Shaq-Fu is not very good, and when Big Deez Productions productions decided to remake the game, they threw out everything out and started over. Like the original game, Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn stars 15-time NBA all-star Shaquille O'Neal. That's where the similarities end. Big Deez Productions describes A Legend Reborn as "Streets of Rage meets Street Fighter meets Devil May Cry." Over the course of Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn, Shaq will travel through gritty, destructible levels, fight dozens of different types of enemies, and "learn hundreds of moves and battle techniques."

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, Shaq himself is heavily involved with the game. Not only did O'Neal provide a number of customized rewards for Shaq-Fu's $450,000 Indiegogo campaign (one backer paid $35,000 to have Shaq travel to their house to DJ a party), but he's helping fund the title, providing motion capture, and is supposedly involved in every step of the game's production. Look, the big man needs to do something between Street Fighter tournaments and NBA 2K18 cover shoots. Might as well be this.

StarCraft, Warcraft 3, and Diablo 2

If you'd like, you can play the original StarCraft right now: Blizzard is offering the original version of the game on its website for free. If you can, wait. Soon, the company behind Warcraft and Overwatch will release StarCraft: Remastered, which offers all of the same alien-on-alien action that you've come to know and love, but with refreshed graphics, redone audio, and modern multiplayer features (because, let's face it, Blizzard's online network Battle.net was revolutionary when it launched back in the mid-'90s, but online multiplayer has gotten much, much better since StarCraft debuted in 1998).

And if any game deserves an overhaul, it's StarCraft. What started as a simple sci-fi spin on Blizzard's popular Warcraft games (at its first public showing, observers called StarCraft "orcs in space") emerged from its troubled development as the most important and influential real-time strategy game of all time. The United States military used StarCraft to teach strategy planning and teamwork. In Korea, competitive StarCraft became so popular that people started playing professionally, laying the foundation for the modern esports market.

And that's just the beginning. According to a job posting on Blizzard's website, Blizzard classics Warcraft 3 (which birthed Defense of the Ancients, the first MOBA) and Diablo 2 are also slated for the remake-treatment. For fans, that's great news. Blizzard has a stellar back catalog full of compelling characters (for proof, just look at Heroes of the Storm's awesome roster), and we can't wait to go on more adventures with some old friends.