Whether you love or hate the idea of HD remakes of classic titles, it’s fascinating reading up on just how much work—and deliberation—there is involved in scrapping a game’s entire visual canvas and starting over.
When a company remakes a 3D game, it’s not that dramatic! We usually see an increase in the number of polygons, maybe some new effects, a higher resolution, texture upgrades, but there’s no doubt what you’re looking at is an improved version of something, not a total overhaul.
Older games employing pixel art, though, have no such luxury. Because they were originally drawn at such low resolutions, when they’re re-released for modern hardware they often need to have everything—from characters to backgrounds to menus—remade.
This Gamasutra post by Lars Doucet gets into the nitty-gritty of the options available to studios remaking the classics, what works, what doesn’t work and what should be applauded.
Here’s a no-no:
Weirdly, Square Enix can get it right (Final Fantasy I, below) as often as they get it wrong:
Some of the stuff in the post might be a little too technical for the general reader, but if you’re someone interested in HD remakes—or, real talk, you mess around with emulators—it’s a good read.