Your favourite games but not as you know them. Join us as we take a look at the 3 best video game demakes of some of our favorite modern games!
As much as I love retro games and find myself gravitating towards them potentially more so than new releases, I am also very passionate about modern video games too.
Some of my favourite games of all time released in the last ten years, so although I am a retro game enthusiast, I’m not exclusively a retro gamer.
Because of this, I’ve found myself very interested in the concept of the video game demake, essentially taking a modern game and deconstructing it and rebuilding it as if it were made for a retro console.
A lot of the time when you’re looking for these demakes, you’ll come across screenshots or even videos of games like this Uncharted demake*1 or even the clip of God of War Ragnarok *2 in our accompanying video.
This is all very impressive and fun to see what some of these games would have looked like if they released on previous generation hardware, but what I’m even more blown away by is when these demakes aren’t just videos or still images basically existing as a proof of concept, but an actual playable game in their own right.
So, join me today where worlds collide as we take a look at three of the best video game demakes of all time!
1. Super Smash Land (2011)
So, the first game we’re taking a look at is Super Smash Land, a demake of Super Smash Bros created by Dan Fornace 3* which takes the Smash we all know and love and crams it into a Game Boy!
Now, although this is replicating the style of the Game Boy, it isn’t actually playable on the Game Boy itself and is actually available on PC. Of course if you’re interested in playing this game or any of the others in this article for yourself, links will be in the description in the the accompanying YouTube video.
Portable DMG Smash Action
Right off the bat, I love the title for this one, taking the convention of handheld Mario games having the word Land in their title and then implementing that into Super Smash Bros gives it a feeling of authenticity and that feeling persists even into the game itself.
Several modes from the main series can be found here, including the single player focused Arcade mode, an unlockable Endless mode and even features multiplayer in the form of the Versus mode.
Arcade mode is where I spent most of my time, playing as each of the four starting characters including Mario, Kirby, Link and Pikachu and I even unlocked Vaporeon too which is awesome because as most of you probably know, Vaporeon has never been in an official Smash game before, so the moveset here is completely original.
Getting Up Close With The Characters
I like how the characters here have been carefully chosen to reflect the ones featured on Game Boy hardware too, for example there’s no Fox here because there wasn’t any Star Fox representation on the Game Boy, but Mario, Kirby, Link and Pikachu all had games on the system, so it makes sense to feature them here. Good attention to detail.
The controls have been very much simplified from the main games, with you only having access to a d-pad and two buttons, there’s no grabbing or dodging and each characters moveset has been dramatically altered to work with a single attack button.
Instead of having one button be specials and another be standard attacks, here they’re mixed together with you performing a variety of attacks based on what direction you press as you press the button.
Meanwhile the other face button is reserved for jumping, which I almost feel like was a bit of a waste because up on the d-pad could have been jump and the two face buttons could have been reserved for specials and standard attacks to make it feel more similar to the proper Smash games. Either way though, this is a really fun experience and there’s actually quite a lot to discover here with secret characters and some unlockable stages which all have some pretty cool gimmicks too.
Of course it doesn’t have the same level of replayability that the actual games have, but that’s almost the point, this is a downgraded version of Super Smash Bros that actually ends up making it feel really authentic.
It’s almost a shame that this isn’t actually playable on the original hardware because this goes to show that a Game Boy Super Smash Bros experience could have worked! But no, we had to wait until the 3DS to get our fix of handheld Smash!
2. Halo 2600 (2010)
The second demake we’re looking at is potentially one of the most ambitious demake projects ever created, taking the original Halo released for the OG Xbox and recreating it not for the N64, not even for the NES but for the Atari 2600. Absolutely ridiculous.
Developer of Halo 2600 is Ed Fries, a former Microsoft employee who was actually heavily involved with the companies acquisition of Bungie, the developers of the actual Halo game.
A Demake Worthy Of The Master Chief
At first this project wasn’t supposed to be quite as ambitious as it is and started with just trying to create the main character of Halo, the Master Chief on Atari hardware, however the project grew and grew until it turned into a full game released in 2010 and very impressively is actually playable on Atari 2600 hardware.
It even had a limited run of physical cartridges for the console! Because this was created for a much older console, Halo 2600 feels much more arcade-like than something like Super Smash Land.
It’s a very short game but it’s also quite difficult to compensate for that which makes it easy to play over and over again because you know that with one more attempt you might make it a bit further. The objective here is to traverse each area and find a keycard which opens a barrier to the next level.
While searching for the keycards though it’s in your best interests to be as thorough as possible because you might come across upgrades for your weapon, allowing you to shoot faster or shield items which allow you to take a hit without losing a precious life. And when I say precious, I really mean it, because you’ve got 2 lives to use up and once they’re gone, it’s game over and you start the whole game again.
Downscaling The Master Chief For Those Atari Vibes
Despite this being an Atari game, the character sprites are actually pretty detailed, being crudely animated like we see here with Master Chief’s walk cycle and we actually get a really good variety of enemies, from Grunts, to Elites and later on we even get cloaked Elites and these security towers too.
Not only is this game incredibly charming, but it’s actually legitimately quite good. If this had actually released back when the Atari 2600 was new, this probably would have been one of the greatest games on the system.
Potentially the biggest flaw with it, it that it doesn’t feature any kind of scoring system which would have incentive’s replaying it even more, but I think this was pushing the hardware to it’s very limit as it is. Very technically impressive, surprisingly fun and just insane to see what was considered a groundbreaking game recreated in this way.
3. Bloodborne PSX (2022)
The final game in our article today is one of the more recent demakes to gain massive amounts of popularity and this one is particularly special to me, being a demake of one of my favorite games ever made in the style of my favorite console ever made.
How could you go wrong?
This is Bloodborne PSX, released in 2022 and developed by Lilith Walther as a demake of the PS4 title Bloodborne as if it was a PS1 game. Like Super Smash Land, this isn’t playable on original hardware and is once again available on PC, but that doesn’t at all take away from how incredible this is.
The One Demake To Rule Them All
While you could make a good argument that Super Smash Land and Halo 2600 are fun little novelties that are fun for an hour or so but lose a bit of their staying power after that, Bloodborne PSX is a different beast.
This is basically a recreation of the entire first area of Bloodborne, featuring all of the NPCs, key locations and bosses only, this time with added pixelisation! There’s almost so many impressive things here that I don’t even know where to begin, so let’s start at the beginning.
As soon as the game opens it displays the original PS1 boot up screen with fake game developer logos appearing shortly after, the game features incredible amounts of graphical customization, allowing you to apply many different filters which mimick an old CRT TV, or make the game looks slightly smoother to reflect what PS1 games look like if they’re emulated.
After that there’s a character customization screen where you can adjust the scale of different parts of your body, your voice and your starting stats and then we even get a full on recreation of the first cutscene too. I mean the scope of this game is just ridiculous already and we’ve not even started playing it! When the game begins is where you notice just how special this actually is.
The controls have been massively changed from the PS4 version to reflect how it might have felt with a PS1 controller. The L2 and R2 buttons rotate the camera, there’s no analogue movement instead relying on the D-Pad and having tank controls, the inventory screen looks like it was taken from the Tomb Raider games and the whole thing just oozes with that classic PS1 feel.
All of this is great but then after you start playing for a while, you realize that despite the game featuring all of the classic areas from the proper game, it’s also been heavily modified to include brand new areas and expanded sections in familiar locations too and this breathes new life into a game which I’m already very familiar with and elevates the entire game into something that almost goes beyond a straight up demake.
In case it’s not obvious by now, I absolutely love Bloodborne PSX and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally try it out. If you’re a fan of the original game or just interested in demakes in general and you haven’t yet given this a go, you owe it to yourself to play it, it’s phenomenal and probably one of the absolute greatest examples of a video game demake.
And with that, we’ve wrapped up today’s best video game demakes article!
Let me know if you’ve played any of these games we’ve mentioned today and do tell me if there’s any other video game demakes you think we should take a look at, there’s probably loads out there that have slipped under my radar that are worth trying but these three have got to be some of the best!
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Rob has a particular fondness for the strange, obscure and quirky side of gaming and loves sharing his knowledge with others. He has been creating content on his own YouTube channel for several years and aims to take his passion to the next level with Retro Dodo.