Stuttgart The memory of exciting play hours in the children’s room remains. Publishers use these nostalgic feelings of the fans for elaborate reissues of popular video game hits.
“Demon’s Souls”: Hellishly heavy demon fun
When the small Japanese development studio From Software released the action role-playing game “Demon’s Souls” exclusively for the PS3 in 2009, no one suspected the impact on the video game industry.
It was a hard, merciless spectacle that transported players into a dark fantasy Middle Ages and punished them for every little mistake. A new genre was born, which recently reached a temporary peak with “Elden Ring”. The fans sneaked or ran boldly through a world of a thousand dangers, faced glib monsters that could also come from the pen of an H. P. Lovecraft.
Actually, this concept should not have taken off in a video game world, where it was more about not overextending players. But “Demon’s Souls” became the cult hit of a whole generation of consoles. Publisher Sony therefore hired the remake professionals from Bluepoint Games, who had already brought the PS2 hit “Shadow of the Colossus” to life in an impressive way.
Their remake of “Demon’s Souls” was released just in time for the release of the PS5 and impressively showed what’s in the new console. Butter-smooth animations, the timeless artwork and the uncompromisingly hard difficulty level make the remake a must-buy for PS5 owners, which will drive even “Elden Ring” professionals the drops of sweat on their foreheads.
Worth playing because: If you can’t get enough of heavy action role-playing games after “Elden Ring”, “Demon’s Souls” is just right. Bluepoint Software polishes the cult hit to a high gloss.
“Demon’s Souls”, Bluepoint Games, Sony for PS5, USK from 16
“Mafia: Definitive Edition”
The action-adventure “Mafia” was a gamechanger in 2001. At that time, action games had a reputation for being only superficial spectacles of violence. But the former Czech development studio Illusion Softworks lied to the critics.
Instead of senseless geballer, her third-person adventure dealt with topics such as guilt and atonement, the seduction of power and loneliness at the head of a brutal criminal clan. Hero Tommy was a symbol for many of his fellow sufferers, who at the beginning of the 20th century often strayed from the right path between poverty and hope for a better life.
The mix of “The Godfather”, wild action and fast-paced car racing in the big city was groundbreaking and stood out from the competition with its staging and the multi-layered characters. Tommy works his way up in the mafia with simple errands and murder orders. In the end, he is confronted with his conscience. The individual missions are not original, but exciting and particularly spectacular in the remake.
The cult hit was reworked down to the smallest visual detail by the development studio Hangar 13 and partly re-set to music. In 2010, a sequel was released, which played a few years later and with similar success told about the story of a war repatriate. By contrast, the unimaginative third part of 2016 was lost in brutal excesses of violence against an atmospheric backdrop of the 60s and 70s in the seething south of the USA.
Worth playing because: Spectacular and profound. “Mafia: Definitive Edition” raises the bar for contemporary video game remakes.
“Mafia: Definitive Edition”, Hangar 13, 2K Games for Windows, PS4, Xbox One, USK from 18
“Final Fantasy VII Remake”
If you like Japanese role-playing games, click your tongue at the name “Final Fantasy”. No other series is more popular or successful. Since 1987, the weird mix of fantasy and science fiction has been delighting fans. Among the 15 official parts, the seventh part occupies a special role. It was the first part in the late 90s with 3D computer animations and elaborate cutscenes to advance the story.
With around 10 million copies, “Final Fantasy VII” was the most successful game of the series at the time and ensured the breakthrough of Japanese role-playing games, called “JRPG” for short, in the West.
So much success obliges. Publisher Square Enix, which was saved from ruin by the success of the series at the time, and the Division 1 development studio have turned the original upside down. New graphics, new dialogues and a new combat system with even more action surprised fans and critics.
Even the story has been changed in some places. This did not cause enthusiasm among the loyal fans everywhere. Despite all the technical sophistication and courage to start over, the remake has its weaknesses: “Final Fantasy VII Remake” includes only the first third of the original game. Two more sequels are to tell the story to the end in the next few years.
As a consolation for the uncertain waiting time, SquareEnix released the “remake” to the “Remake” last year: The “Intergrade” version offers new content and also makes the game look good for the PS5 and Windows computers.
Worth playing because: If you don’t mind the publication policy, you will experience one of the most influential role-playing classics in a new, magnificent guise.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake”, Division 1, Square Enix for PS4/5, Windows, USK from 16
“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening”
Simply indestructible: for more than three decades, the “Zelda” series has been one of the most successful titles from the Japanese console manufacturer Nintendo. One of the most popular offshoots is “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening”, which was first released for the Game Boy in 1993.
As always, Hero Link must save his world Hyrule from evil. He delivers exciting battles from the pixelated bird’s eye view and solves tricky puzzles.
The remake of the development studio Grezzo gives the classic a colorful comic look. Where at that time the monochrome game world was still built up from single images, the landscape now scrolls with players. The widescreen format provides a better overview and the music has been re-recorded. Held Link has also become a lot more agile and can now distribute in any direction.
With the significantly more accessible fast travel function, it is comfortable to go from one place to another. On the other hand, nothing has changed playfully. Why, too? It’s a lot of fun to explore dark caves and temples with Link and search every bush for valuable gems. If you want, you can now even build your own vaults using the editor to let off steam in them. All this makes “Link’s Awakening” an all-round care package for the whole family.
Worth playing because: Timelessly good. The remake of “Link’s Awakening” manages the balancing act between nostalgic old-school look and cuddly high-gloss adventure.
“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening”, Grezzo, Nintendo for Nintendo Switch, USK from 6.
“Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition”
At the beginning of the noughties, real-time strategy games for the PC were enormously successful. Apart from the e-sports hit “Starcraft”, the “Age of Empires” series has developed into one of the most successful representatives of a game genre with almost 30 million copies sold.
Like hardly any other game, “AoE” required a nimble hand and clever planning. The fans moved their armies over the world map at the click of a mouse and designed strategies in seconds during the battle, while at home the economy and research had to flourish.
After the huge success of “Age of Empires 2”, the then development studio Ensemble had to follow up. Little has changed in the recipe for success. As in the two predecessors, the fans are embarking on a campaign of conquest that has lasted for centuries.
Instead of Europe and Asia, this time the plot focuses on the colonization of America. From the Aztecs to Indian tribes to the warring troops in the American Liberation War, players can try out different strategies in the extensive single-player mode or against other human opponents.
As with the new editions of the two predecessors, the Forgotten Empires development studio has given the classics a higher resolution, prettier details and a simplified user interface. In addition, the “Definitive Editions” also offer all extensions.
“Age of Empires 3” goes one step further: while the indigenous population was sometimes portrayed with racist stereotypes as a sadistic band of murderers, a few changes in content now ensure a diverse and cosmopolitan representation of this culture. Exemplary.
Worth playing because: Thanks to higher resolution and a contemporary content update, this is a classic that has hardly lost any of its complexity and appeal today.
“Age of Empires 3”, Forgotten Empires, Xbox Game Studios for Windows, USK from 12