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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews a slew of remastered games.

Transcript Edit

Ah, spring is in the air; the daisies are in bloom; the mild April breeze is bringing the sweet smell of rotting flesh that emanates from the vacant lot full of disinterred corpses that the winter snows once mercifully preserved, which is as good an explanation as any for why so many fucking remasters have come out this month. So if you're one of those idiot millennials who think Halo 1 counts as a retro game, then there's never been a better time to educate yourself in a couple of old classics and start the long, slow, difficult road to becoming a tolerable human being. Having said that, some of the "old classics" on display this month are playing a bit fast and loose with the definition of the word "classic", and for that matter, "old".

Bayonetta's just been released on Steam, and I've got skid marks in my underpants that are older than Bayonetta. Although, fair's fair; this wasn't so much as remaster as a port, PlatinumGames finally bringing an old console exclusive to PC in accordance with the basic law of the universe that all matter must eventually gravitate towards a point of maximum sensibleness. A better example would be the Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, that actually does posture itself as a "remastering" and not merely a port to Steam, which is just as well, since vanilla Bulletstorm was already on Steam, or rather, had been before this thing showed up. But hey, it's only by getting the Full Clip Edition that you can have the original intended Bulletstorm experience, by which I mean "pay full price for it".

Besides that, you get your graphical improvement (but it was only one generation ago, so it's the kind of graphical improvement that's like hanging a slightly nicer chandelier over an orgy), and there's a new mode where you can play through the game as Duke Nukem. I'm guessing Duke Nukem was the only one to return their phone calls, 'cos I can't imagine the Bulletstorm devs sitting down saying, "Right, who can we add to our game who embodies in our audience's minds success, high quality, and having a realistic understanding of one's value and capabilities?" "How about Duke Nukem?" "What an excellent suggestion, Crispin! Let's go with that! Obviously, I'm being sarcastic, and since it's so obvious, I'm going to omit this sentence from the official transcript of this meeting."

But anyway, let's move on to remasters of games that are actually both old and classics, such as Full Throttle Remastered, a scene-for-scene remake of the classic Tim Schafer adventure, now with a pixel resolution that doesn't make all the characters look like they're having their identities protected, 'cos he'd already done that for Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, so the only one left to do was the dodgy one. Tim Schafer has stated that Full Throttle's shorter length makes it a better fit for 2017 audiences; a surprisingly candid statement, effectively saying, "What a relief that everyone's standards are so much lower these days!"

Now that's not fair; Full Throttle is by no means a bad game. It's a fun, fluffy little yarn about the leader of a biker gang in a proto-Mad Max near-future battling evil industrialists, the voice cast is basically a Batman: The Animated Series reunion, and really, how can one not admire a point-and-click adventure game whose standard commands are not "Look", "Talk", or "Use", but "Look", "Talk", "Use", or "Kick in the Bollocks"? Unfortunately, the metaphorical monkey on Full Throttle's back (or perhaps I should say Monkey Island on its back) is that it has to be compared to the other classic LucasArts adventure games, among which it would be the runt of the litter, if it weren't for The Dig staggering around on its one functional leg leaking on the carpet from every body part that can leak. I never had a problem with Full Throttle's length; it was more that most of the gameplay was shit, so complaining about the length would be like complaining about someone vomiting on your pie because they could only manage two heaves.

Story traditionally steers the adventure game motorbike while gameplay sits behind to offer the occasional reach-around, but for some reason, Full Throttle is obsessed with breaking things up with arcade minigames, most annoyingly the bike combat that's like trying to play Cookie Clicker while riding a unicycle. But even disregarding those, the puzzle design just isn't up to the usual classic LucasArts standards; wherein Monkey Island, you get puzzles that balance cleverness, good writing, and world-building, like the insult swordfighting business, Full Throttle has a prolonged puzzle centered around staring at a crack in a wall. Perhaps there's an inherent issue with making an adventure game - traditionally a more thoughtful genre about characters who can't brute-force their way through situations - about a dude who uses brute force like it's a brand new SodaStream that he's trying to convince himself wasn't a waste of money. It makes you wonder why we suddenly have to craft some artful means of distracting the souvenir stand man when smashing people's faces into the dirt has been so reliably fruitful thus far.

So let's move on to another new remaster: Planescape (HRUUH) Torment (HRUUH) Enhanced Edition, a CRPG popularly considered to be one of the best of its kind. Full disclosure, I cannot confirm because I could only ever play Planescape: Torment for about an hour before the combat gets too much for me. Not the combat combat, which is a load of sticky bollocks on a cold serving tray; I'm talking about the relentless battle I find myself in with the fucking text window, as it remorselessly disgorges endless spiked subclauses and paragraphs and conversation trees with more branches than Wells Fucking Fargo.

I've heard Planescape: Torment described as "the best book you'll ever play", but sadly, I'm not a book critic, 'cos you need actual qualifications to be one of those. I like games, with narrative woven into gameplay, and only prefer books when I'm in specific sorts of moods, you know, like when I'm on a long-haul flight or when my thumbs have been pecked off by crows. But hey, I fully admit to having a low attention sp-- oh, I'm bored of this sentence. Let's talk about something else!

The last remastering I'd like to bring up this week is perhaps the definitive example of aging poorly, second only to a fruit bowl in direct sunlight. I give you PaRappa the Rapper Remastered on PS4, which some people seem to remember fondly, but which look to me like a string of cutscenes that couldn't be enlarged beyond native PS1 resolution (and as such, you could miss entirely if a medium-sized fly lands on your TV screen), broken up by a total of six gameplay sections consisting of the crumbs of gameplay that fall off a modern game if you hold it upside-down and shake it vigorously.

I thought I'd like this, since I could hold my own in Guitar Hero and the principle of "press the button when we say so" is one that the last ten years of AAA combat engines has been keeping me well-practiced in, but the rhythm in this rhythm game is being monitored by a narcoleptic mountain goat! I could not, for the life of me, get past the fifth stage; I pressed the buttons when it said to, but the game wasn't having any of it. Then, experimentally, I tried playing as awfully as I thought I could get away with, and somehow, that had a slightly better success rate. One of us clearly has something badly wrong with them, PaRappa the Rapper, and I know it's not me, 'cos I got my test results back from the STI clinic. What the fuck do you want?! If you tell me to crack, crack, crack the egg against the bowl one more time, I'm going to crack, crack, crack your head against a plinth!

Addenda Edit

  • Remaster and recommander: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I got confused playing Planescape because I spent the whole time wondering when we were going to start escaping from the plan
  • But when are they going to remaster E.T. for the Atari 2600
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time

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