BERLIN: Few things age as fast as video games, with yesterday's wow graphics fast looking clunky. But some games stay with you, with fans fondly recalling hours spent on a particular favourite.
A couple are now being remade as publishers capitalize on that sense of nostalgia and produce fresh versions of the most popular.
1 - "Demon's Souls": Dreadfully hard, yet fun
It's always hard at the start: When small Japanese development studio From Software released action role-playing game "Demon's Souls" exclusively for the PS3 back in 2009, no one imagined the impact it would have on the industry.
It was a hard, merciless spectacle that transported players into a dark fantasy of the Middle Ages and punished them for even the smallest mistake. But it marked the birth of a new genre, which recently peaked with "Elden Ring." Fans crept or dashed bravely through a world riddled with countless dangers, slithering past slimy monsters that could also have been penned by H. P. Lovecraft.
You wouldn't think this concept would work in a video game world where the aim is not to overtax players. But "Demon's Souls" became the cult hit of a whole console generation. So publisher Sony hired remake professionals from Bluepoint Games, who scored big bringing PS2 hit "Shadow of the Colossus" back to life.
Their remake of "Demon's Souls" came out just in time for the release of the PS5, showing off just what the new console can do. Smooth animation, timeless artwork and uncompromisingly hard difficulty levels all add up to a must-buy remake for PS5 owners that will get even "Elden Ring" pros sweating.
Worth playing because: If you can't get enough of heavy action role-playing games after "Elden Ring," then get hold of "Demon's Souls." Bluepoint Software has shined up this cult hit nicely.
"Demon's Souls," Bluepoint Games, Sony for PS5
2 - "Mafia: Definitive Edition"
Action adventure "Mafia" was a game changer in 2001 when action games tended to only be superficial spectacles of violence. That's where former Czech development studio Illusion Softworks proved critics wrong.
Rather than senseless fighting, their third-person adventure also addressed themes like guilt and atonement, the seduction of power and how lonely it is to head a brutal criminal grouping. Hero Tommy was a symbol for many in the early 20th century who strayed from the right path, fleeing poverty and hoping for a better life.
The beguiling combination of "The Godfather," wild action and high-speed car races in the big city was groundbreaking and stood out from rivals with the staging and more complex characters. Tommy works his way up through the Mafia by carrying out simple errands and fulfilling murder assignments. Ultimately, though, his conscience confronts him. His individual missions are not original, but they are exciting and in the remake they are especially spectacular.
Development studio Hangar 13 remade this cult hit right down to the smallest visual detail and it has also been partly re-scored. There was a sequel in 2010 that was set a few years later and told the story of a war returnee with similar success. In contrast, the unimaginative third part from 2016, set in the south of the US in the 60s and 70s, foundered in brutal excess with too much violence.
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
3 - "Final Fantasy VII Remake"
Fans of Japanese role-playing games loved "Final Fantasy" - it was more popular and more successful than any other series. A quirky mix of fantasy and science fiction, it has been enchanting fans since 1987. Of the 15 official parts, the seventh is pretty special. Made in the late 1990s, it was the first to feature 3D computer animation and to advance the story with impressive cutscenes.
With around 10 million copies, "Final Fantasy VII" was the most successful game in the series at the time, heralding a breakthrough for Japanese role-playing games, known as JRPG, in the West.
All that practically forced the hand of publisher Square Enix, which was saved from ruin by the series' success. Now, development studio Division 1 has transformed the original, surprising fans and critics alike by providing new graphics, new dialogue and a new battle system.
They even changed the story in some places, upsetting some loyal fans. But even with all its technical sophistication and will to begin afresh, the remake has its flaws, as "Final Fantasy VII Remake" only contains the first third of the original game. Two further sequels are in the pipeline, set to tell the story through to the end in the coming years.
To console players waiting impatiently, SquareEnix released the "Remake" to the "Remake" last year: the "Intergrade" version offers new content and also neatly spruces up the game for the PS5 and Windows computers.
Worth playing because: If you can handle the release timetable, you can enjoy a whole new and impressive version of one of the most influential role-playing classics.
"Final Fantasy VII Remake," Division 1, Square Enix for PS4/5, Windows
4 - "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening"
The "Zelda" series has been one of Ninetendo's most successful games for more than three decades.
Among the most popular spin-offs is "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening," first released for the Game Boy in 1993.
As always, hero Link must save his world Hyrule from evil, which sees him fighting thrilling pixelated battles from a bird's-eye view and solving devilish puzzles.
In the remake by development studio Grezzo, the classic gets a colourful, comic look. Back in the day, the monochrome game world was made up of individual images, the landscape now scrolls with the players. The widescreen format provides a better overview and the music has been re-recorded. Link has also become a lot more agile and can fight off attacks in all directions.
The far more accessible quick travel function makes it easy to get from one place to another. But when it comes to gameplay, nothing has changed - and why should it? It's great exploring dark caves and temples with Link and searching each and every bush for rupees. If you want, you can now even build your own vaults using the editor to let off some steam. All this makes "Link's Awakening" the perfect package of family fun.
Worth playing because: Timelessly good. The remake of "Link's Awakening" succeeds in balancing a nostalgic old-school look and shiny, appealing adventure.
"The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening", Grezzo, Nintendo for Nintendo Switch
5 - "Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition"
In the early noughties, real-time PC strategy games were hugely successful. Aside from e-sports hit "Starcraft," the "Age of Empires" series soon became a star of a genre, selling almost 30 million copies.
More than most others, AoE required a quick hand and smart planning. Fans moved their armies across the world map at the click of a mouse, coming up with battle strategies in seconds, while they needed the economy and research to flourish back home.
After the huge success of "Age of Empires 2," developer Ensemble had to come up with a sequel but changed little in the original, with fans again setting out on a campaign of conquest lasting for centuries.
Rather than Europe and Asia, though, this time, the plot focuses on colonizing the Americas. From the Aztecs to native American tribes to hostile troops from the American War of Independence, players can explore different strategies in the extensive single-player mode or against other people.
As with the new editions of the two earlier games, the development studio Forgotten Empires has given the classics a higher resolution, better details and a simplified user interface. The "Definitive Editions" also offer all expansions.
"Age of Empires 3" goes a step further too: while racist clichés sometimes portrayed the indigenous population as sadistic murderers, upgraded content now gives us a more diverse and cosmopolitan representation of cultures.
Worth playing because: With higher resolution and a contemporary content update, this classic has lost little in the way of complexity and appeal.
"Age of Empires 3," Forgotten Empires, Xbox Game Studios for Windows – dpa