You’ve definitely heard those words with the prefix re- in some context, be it movies or games. Be honest, are you good at distinguishing between remasters, remakes, and reboots? Putting the port aside for now.

The truth is that in today’s fast-paced technology environment, generational changes in consoles and PC components are happening much more frequently than ever before. Now the game is considered old if it is more than 3 years old. Yes, yes, the legendary Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 are already old games, no matter how blasphemous it may sound. Modern games are mostly incompatible with older consoles, and older games are incompatible with newer consoles.

So what can we say about the cult samples of the zero years and the tenths, which in many cases remain the best examples of individual genres? Is the solution really just to forget about them and put up with it? Certainly not.

The developers found a way out and successfully harnessed it, giving players nostalgic joy in a modern wrapping and making a lot of money from it. This way out is remasters, remakes, and reboots. Ports too, but it’s a bit about something else. You already feel like they stand a little apart, don’t you?

While sounding similar, remasters, remakes, and reboots represent varying degrees of modification of the original game. And we’re here to sort things out.

The port won’t be forgotten either, no worries.

What Is a Remaster in Video Games?

A video game remaster is a cosmetic update to an existing game that gives it a more modern look.

Of all the types of game modification, the remaster is the most delicate. Nobody changes the game. We are talking about only minimal updates, for example, new textures for models. The models themselves, the engine, the plot, and the code remain unchanged. Therefore, a remaster is usually applied to relatively recent games that are not quite outdated yet and work fine with modern consoles.

The main purpose of the remaster is to bring the graphics of the game to the modern level and, if necessary, improve its performance and sound. The duration of this process depends on the amount of graphic content in the game and the features of the game engine. The level of model modification is also important – it can be a slight change with color correction or an almost complete replacement of textures or even a partial reworking of the model to increase the level of detail.

Thus, for the remaster, we have such a picture of changes.

 Graphics Changes

(updating textures, adding model details)
Gameplay Changes

(interaction between the game and the player)
Storyline Changes

(main plot lines, characters, quests, cutscenes, etc.)
Game Design Changes

(UX/UI, design and construction of locations)
Remaster

Good examples of remastered games among famous tiles are:

  • Alan Wake (2010) – Alan Wake Remastered (2021)
  • The Last of U (2013) – The Last of Us Remastered (2014)
  • Crysis (2007) – Crysis Remastered (2021)
  • Dark Souls (2011) – Dark Souls Remastered (2018)
  • Life is Strange (2015) – Life is Strange Remastered (2022)

What Is a Remake in Video Games?

A video game remake is a reimagining of an existing game while retaining the main story and core gameplay elements.

A remake is a more radical intervention on the original. Basically, this is a new game that takes the core elements of the original and recreates them in modern graphics with modern mechanics for modern hardware. A remake is a great way to take advantage of the players’ nostalgia for older games and offer them their favorite title in a modern wrapper. This attracts both old players and new ones who are not familiar with the original game.

The main purpose of a remake is to create a new modern version of a game that is too outdated to simply be remastered. Unlike the remaster, the remake is not a complete and frame-by-frame copy of the original, but its modern interpretation. New graphics, a new engine, and new game design elements are combined with the old title, lore, and core story elements.

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Important note. In the remake, the story and gameplay in certain cases can also be changed and adapted according to modern trends and standards. But more often than not, the main plot is still preserved.

 Graphics Changes

(creating new graphics based on the original)
Gameplay Changes

(interaction between the game and the player)
Storyline Changes

(main plot lines, characters, quests, cutscenes, etc.)
Game Design Changes

(UX/UI, design and construction of locations)
Remake//

You may have heard about such well-known remakes that received great reception:

  • Demon’s Souls (2009) – Demon’s Souls (2020)
  • Shadow of the Colossus (2005) – Shadow of the Colossus (2018)
  • Resident Evil 2 (1998) – Resident Evil 2 (2019)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993)
  • Final Fantasy VII (1997) – Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)

What Is a Reboot in Video Games?

A video game reboot is the creation of a brand new game based on the original game universe.

A reboot takes big liberties with the original game. From the remaster and remake, players are still waiting for the predominant similarity with the original in most respects. Reboot gives developers the freedom to change old ideas and concepts, introduce new characters and remove old ones, add completely new locations and stories, etc.

The main purpose of a reboot is to revive the game series to attract new fans and increase revenue. This may be the only way out if the once popular series of games is morally obsolete and frankly lagged behind modern realities. But since the original with all the famous characters has a fan base, the reboot is a fairly safe project in terms of profit – it has a priori buyers who want to meet their favorite characters again.

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Curious fact. The term reboot is used in analogy to the corresponding computer term – the process of completely clearing the contents of RAM by the computer and resuming its work – referring to the fact that the game that reboots the series does not take into account previous games on this topic and starts a new canon. In case the reboot still doesn’t undo the plot of the older games in the series, it’s called a soft reboot, which, however, in many ways starts the story from scratch.

 Graphics Changes

(creating completely new graphics and visual effects)
Gameplay Changes

(interaction between the game and the player)
Storyline Changes

(main plot lines, characters, quests, cutscenes, etc.)
Game Design Changes

(UX/UI, design and construction of locations)
Reboot

Here are examples of well-known titles that received a decent reboot:

  • Doom (1993) – Doom 3 (2004) & Doom (2016)
  • Devil May Cry (2001) – DmC: Devil May Cry (2013)
  • Shadow Warrior (1997) – Shadow Warrior (2013)
  • Tomb Raider (1996) – Tomb Raider (2013)
  • X-COM: UFO Defense (1994) – XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

What Are Ports in Video Games?

A video game port is the process of transferring a game from its original target platform to another platform.

Porting is interesting in that it stands apart from the remaster, remake, and reboot, but includes elements of each of them. It may require redoing models and textures, reworking the code and mechanics, etc. Not at all to improve the visuals or update the gaming experience, but to ensure the performance of the game on the new platform. This usually requires a complete or partial code change.

The main purpose of porting is to ensure the functioning of the game on a new platform. What needs to be done for this is determined by the characteristics of the target platforms. To port a game from PC to mobile, you need to redo almost everything. Porting from a PC to a console requires careful attention to the control features and requirements of the console.

 Graphics Changes

(creating new graphics based on the original)
Gameplay Changes

(interaction between the game and the player)
Storyline Changes

(main plot lines, characters, quests, cutscenes, etc.)
Game Design Changes

(UX/UI, design and construction of locations)
Port///

There is a high probability that you have heard about such well-known ported games.

Porting is a delicate work, subject only to true professionals. To provide players with the same exciting world experience on multiple platforms, it is necessary not only to optimize the game, but also to capture and correctly convey its atmosphere, preserve the main features of the gameplay, and ensure that the game is recognizable both on PC and on mobile or console. It is on these details that Kevuru Games focuses on when implementing game porting. We capture the uniqueness of each game and recreate the original experience in another hardware environment to allow players to enjoy your game on the platform of their choice.

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Reboot, Remake, Remaster, and Ports in Video Games – How Do They Differ?

So, let’s recall.

A remaster is an improvement in the visuals of a game without interfering with its other aspects.   A remake is a redesign of a video game while retaining its key characters and story elements.   A reboot is a new game with a fresh storyline, including some elements of the original game.   A port is the process of transferring and optimizing a game to run on another platform. 
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Important note. Many people often confuse remasters and remakes and put them on a par, creating lists of the best remakes & remasters and merging them into one pile. Be above it – distinguish between concepts.

 Graphics ChangesGameplay ChangesStoryline ChangesGame Design Changes
Remaster
Remake//
Reboot
Port///

Original vs Remastered Game – What Is Better?

As we now understand, a remastered game is a slightly polished version of the original with updated graphics and sometimes sound effects, which nevertheless remains the same original, frame by frame, twist by twist.

Accordingly, without a doubt, the remastered version is better than the original, since it is its improved copy.

An improved version of the game can be compared to the restoration of an old movie. The original material remains the same, but the picture and sound are vastly improved, as are the visuals and resolution.

Wrapping Up

So what have we learned from all this? That a remaster, remake, reboot, and port imply a certain degree of modification of the source material. Their main difference lies in how strong a modification or even a new game based on an old idea will be.

Remakes are the most frequent stories in the gaming environment. They involve partial reimagining, but retain the core story and characters so that the developers don’t have to work nearly from scratch like a reboot does, but they’re not as bound hand and foot by the source material as they are with a remaster. Remakes even made it to the list of top gaming trends in 2023.

Dive Deeper:
5 Most Exciting Gaming Technology Trends in 2023 [+ Special Bonus Trend That-Must-Not-Be-Ignored]

In 2023, we are waiting for a whole series of hotly anticipated remakes. Among them:

  • Dead Space (January 27)
  • Resident Evil 4 (March 24)
  • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (Winter 2023)
  • Gothic (TBA)
  • Silent Hill 2 (TBA)
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (TBA)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (TBA)
  • Max Payne 1 and 2 (TBA)

And while the acronym TBA sounds rather suspicious in a certain kind of fashion for constantly postponing game releases, we’re hoping for the best. In the meantime, our team is ready to work even better for the benefit of our beloved gaming industry. Do not hesitate to contact us if you share our vision and passion.

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