A while ago, I happened upon an article about the Mona Lisa. Yes, that Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the strange woman with the eyes that follow you around the room. He completed this artwork in the early 1500s. Now you may wonder what an ancient painting – even the most famous one in the world – has to do with gaming. But, hear me out…
In 2018, some 500 years later, the Mona Lisa is mostly a combination of various hues of brown. Despite the fact that this darker and less detailed Mona Lisa is how we all know her – Da Vinci likely painted a much bolder, bright canvas. His bright blues and reds are now washed out and dulled with the passage of time. Today, there are calls for the Mona Lisa to be physically restored – cleaned and touched up to reveal the artist’s original intention. Sounds reasonable right? Who wouldn’t want this brighter, more colourful Lisa? Well, turns out, this idea is rather controversial.
Many feel that ‘cleaning it up’ would inevitably mean removing some of Da Vinci’s original brushstrokes. Those responsible for the restoration may even ‘over-restore’ allowing their personal opinions about how the artwork ‘should be’ to taint the process. We may then land up with a completely new (read fake) version of the priceless piece.
Restorations also happen in the gaming world. At first, everyone always seems so keen to have their favourites ‘cleaned up’ and, using modern technology, get the games to look like what their creators’ had originally envisioned. One of my favourite games of all time – Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped has recently received this treatment. On the 10th of July it will be released on the Nintendo Switch in a bundle including all three original games and I am really looking forward to getting back to playing Crash again.
Despite the fact that remakes and remasters have been out for some time, recently, titles like Crash and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy are being released. The games arriving with a new gloss of paint now are the games that had the most formative impact on me growing up. The funny thing is, when we play games in our childhood and then grow up, the games somehow become fixed at that point in time; our feelings and experiences of the time become intertwined in the gameplay elements. Over the years – our favourites tend to become much better in our memories, sometimes more than they ever were in real life.
Like the Mona Lisa, these old games – whether in reality, they were objectively great games or not – become our very own masterpieces. So much so that we can’t help but want to capture the magic of the original when we are older. So restorers come in to change the now dull brown hues of our ageing prized artworks to bright reds and blues… and purples.
However, when we go back to those worlds – even if they are now beautifully remastered in 1080P – the worry is that they will not be the same places we remember. Will our expectations be met? Sometimes the idea of a game in your head – is just as good as it’s going to get.
Remakes and remasters aim to replicate what the original creator had in mind when designing the game, but there is always the possibility that when such changes are made, they lose the very essence of what made those games special in the first place. If this happens, you may lose your Mona Lisa. So is it worth it? Or would it be better to leave your childhood favourites as they were?
Well, despite my concerns above, the truth is that as soon as July comes around I know I will be getting the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on its day of release. Going a step further – thinking that a game like Crash Team Racing could get a remaster in the future and look even a little like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe does today – gets me supremely excited. I can’t help but feel that despite the risks, I want all my favourites remastered/remade. I want me some of that cake and I want to eat it too; I want the nostalgia and I want a modern look and feel.
But, what about you… Do you think we should we leave our favourites in our memories where they will always be priceless masterpieces? Or, do you want all your childhood favourites restored? If so, which ones?
Let us know in the comments section below.