Sony was already no stranger to remasters during the previous generation. They took some classic games, bumped them up from 480i to 720p and put them in a collection. Jak & Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly Cooper all got excellent trilogy collections on the PlayStation 3. These brought hours of great gameplay and entertaining worlds to gamers for a fraction of their original cost. But there was one Japanese developer that blew the others out of the water.
When it was announced that Okami was getting a remaster, I was pretty surprised. While I had been fond of the game on the PlayStation 2, it did not sell particularly well. Also, its lackluster sales were partially responsible for Clover being forced to close shop. If you don’t know who Clover was, they were the Japanese Capcom branch headed up by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya.
I didn’t expect Capcom to spend any additional money on something that made them fire two of their company’s most talented minds. I suppose it makes more sense that they would try to recoup some of their losses by simply slapping the game on the PlayStation 3 via emulation like the line of PS2 classics, but astoundingly, they didn’t stop there. They hired HexaDrive to give it a complete remastering. And boy, did they.
A resolution of 720p was the standard for the last-generation of games and the PlayStation 3 was absolutely no exception to that. Which is what makes HexaDrive’s work so impressive. They just bumped the resolution up to 1080p and called it a day, right? Nope. They bumped the textures and everything up to 4k and then downscaled it to 1080p.
This is even more surprising when you take into account that the game didn’t get released again until 5 whole years later. That makes me think that Capcom didn’t tell them to aim for 4k simply for ports down the road. It’s just something HexaDrive did because they could.
Okami was already a beautiful game in 2006, but the 2012 remaster was absolutely gorgeous. The higher resolution truly made the game’s lovely cel-shaded art shine. After 6 years of 720p games, the PlayStation 3 had an absolutely stunning 1080p game to display.
Around the time that Okami HD released, a duo of classic PlayStation 2 games also got “remastered.” I put that in quotes because it was terrible. The Zone of the Enders collection was absolutely plagued by issues upon release. Patches made the first game in the series fine, but the developer, High Voltage Software, just couldn’t do the same for the sequel.
Zone of the Enders 2 was the real star of the franchise. In comparison, the first Zone of the Enders felt like a glorified tech demo. It was about 4 hours long and extremely basic. The second, however, was nearly double the length and filled with lightning-fast gameplay and jaw-dropping graphics. And when people tried to play the collection, they were met with tons of slowdown and other graphical problems that rendered the game practically unplayable.
This wasn’t the first time that Konami had severely botched a remastered collection. Earlier that year, the Silent Hill Collection was released and it. Was. Terrible. And to make matters worse, they never really fixed it. So fans were worried. They’d spent their money to be able to play a souped-up Zone of the Enders 2 and they didn’t want to get Konami’d again.
That’s when Konami did something surprising and got HexaDrive to come in months after the collection released. They were just there to give a simple helping hand on a patch to fix the game, right? Wrong, again. HexaDrive went back to the drawing board and gave the game a brand-new, beautiful remastering nearly an entire year after the collection initially launched.
Unfortunately for customers, only the PlayStation 3 version was “patched” with this new version of the second game. Xbox 360 players were stuck with the ugly, broken version, so they got Konami’d anyway. But the new remaster was really stunning.
Zone of the Enders 2 was a graphically complex game on top of all that, hence High Voltage simply being unable to fix it. But this version was breathtaking. HexaDrive had done it again and put out a stunning 1080p product on a machine that was mostly still relegated to 720p.
With Okami HD being re-released and Zone of the Enders 2 getting one later this year, I find it particularly admirable that HexaDrive’s work was able to endure like it has. Their remasters were so impressive that they could just get released again half-a-decade later when any other PlayStation 3 remasters would have needed more work.
Sure, when looking at the grand scheme of the PlayStation 3’s 7 year life-cycle as a current-gen console, these two games aren’t exactly a huge deal and are certainly not the only 1080p games on the console, but HexaDrive gave console-gamers a bit more of what the future was going to hold on a console that other developers seemed to think couldn’t handle it. That on its own is worthy of some admiration.
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises. Please do not throw rocks at his window. That is rude. He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie. He does not like sports games unless the sport is Baseketball.