I've noticed that remakes of older games have gotten quite a head of steam. "Back in the day" it used to be we could look forward to Avalon Hill doing that. They'd take SPI games like the venerable PANZERBLITZ and FRANCE: 1940, AFRIKA KORPS, CONQUISTADOR, FREEDOM IN THE GALAXY, FREDERICK THE GREAT, etc., old Battleline titles (FLATTOP, WOODEN SHIPS & IRON MEN, AIR FORCE and DAUNTLESS, etc), the occasional outside title or two (Jedko's RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN, OSG's PANZERKRIEG and NAPOLEON AT BAY), and update them. I have to say that, for the most part, these games were improvements over the original.

Since that time, we've seen a number of remake efforts. There have been several major strands that I've noticed with a a couple of others starting to emerge. Are they worth it? Note that I'm not mentioning game companies merely putting out "subsequent editions" or other updates for their games. But consider:

Strand #1: The Excalibur Remakes: You've seen them. Remakes of Yaquinto's IRONCLADS, PANZER, and WINGS. Personally, while I appreciated these coming back into print, I didn't like the graphical treatment or component quality compared to the original. Side angles of ships, tanks, and planes where facing matters just doesn't work well. And maps should fit in the boxes without bending (e.g., PANZER). Some were better--TO THE GREEN FIELDS BEYOND was a workmanlike reissue and I was personally glad to see it.

Strand #2: The Decision Games Remakes of Classic SPI titles. Sometimes these are close to straight reprints with minimal updating (think of some of the S&T magazine reissues of games from old quads like ARMY GROUP SOUTH , reissue of monster WAR BETWEEN THE STATES and such) and major redesigns like WAR IN THE PACIFIC, DRIVE ON STALINGRAD and complete overhauls like WACHT AM RHEIN 2. World At War magazine is taking older SPI titles and redoing them--see Smitty's review of THE SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN in Jim Werbaneth's latest issue of Line of Departure magazine, the premier issue featuring Ty Bomba's redoing of BARBAROSSA (masterfully so, I might add), and the latest Bomba remake of the venerable DESTRUCTION OF ARMY GROUP CENTER. Haven't played the new HIGHWAY TO THE REICH at all, but the revision of WAR IN EUROPE seems to have worked quite well. LUFTWAFFE remake appeals to those who loved the earlier version.

Strand #3: The international games. Compass Games redid BITTER END (I still have my old Hobby Japan version) and MMP/IGS specializes in bringing outside international designs to the U.S. (FIRE IN THE SKY being perhaps among the most famous of their earlier efforts).

Emerging Strands: These are the "onesies" and "twosies" efforts. CoSi did a number of People's Wargames remakes (AACHEN comes to mind which unfortunately were missing some key components). But the reissuance of THE COSSACKS ARE COMING in a 2nd Edition by BroGames is quite welcome for fans of that game. Valley Games did a great job with HANNIBAL. And then there are the real facelifts, such as PANZERBLITZ: HILL OF DEATH by MMP--it's not your dad's PANZERBLITZ, but you can see the lineage clearly enough! I'd also put Avalanche's JOHN PRADOS' THIRD REICH in that latter category. L2 did a great job bringing back RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN and BITTER WOODS in deluxe edition treatments, to say nothing of the incredible 3d Edition of STREETS OF STALINGRAD. I've not seen nor played their WAR AT SEA, so I can't talk to that. Compass Games' reissue of John Hill's YALU, an old Conflict Games title, is much anticipated. And how many times have we seen the HARPOON modern naval miniatures series and the classic science fiction game IMPERIUM redone?

Obviously, I've not listed every remake--and I hope those who like the ones I left off the list will pipe up and let us know our thoughts about them.

What is your take on these remakes? What makes them worth it when they are successful? What makes them failures--to the point where you just wish they'd leave well enough alone?

And perhaps lastly, which games do you wish would be redone? And by which game company? Why?

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Comment by John Kantor on November 29, 2009 at 4:28am
Imperium is a good example of how not to remake a game. Many games suffer from poor development. That is a good reason to do a remake.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 27, 2009 at 4:47pm
Magazine game remakes--boy, there are precious few of those. Certainly we've seen that in the World At War magazine revisions--those games were originally S&T magazine games (BARBAROSSA, THE SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN, DESTRUCTION OF ARMY GROUP CENTER as examples). Outside of that, what do we have? The most recent success I've seen is Against The Odds redoing the old Command magazine game, KADESH. It definitely improved the game both physically/graphically as well as giving the system and order of battle a facelift. Outside of that, most remakes would seem to be old S&T issue games such as FRANCE: 1940, PANZERARMEE AFRIKA, CONQUISTADOR, FREDERICK THE GREAT, PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIANand COBRA--all made into boxed games by other publishers. There's been a LOT of magazine issue games over the years, but proportionately very few got remade and republished if you look at the numbers. I'm not counting boxed editions of those very same games, such as SPI often did.

Why is this? Well, the issue games usually fell into one of two categories--either they were experiments that were intended to debut a system for the more traditional boxed games (SPI's game PANZER BATTLES pretty much debuted MECH WAR 2) or a series of games (PGG, after all, had many spinoffs) or it was a designer's lab for more obscure topics/treatments that might not have the larger sales potentials, but allowed new talent to shine (despite the physical limitations of a magazine format) or gave the old hands some real design challenges that they quite often rose to, even if not to the level that justified a reissue/remake. Of course, there are exceptions to this extreme generalization. And it makes those titles that survived all the more enduring. Some, like PANZERARMEE AFRIKA are fading; others, like FREDERICK THE GREAT, COBRA, and arguably PGG, still seem to endure.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 27, 2009 at 2:59pm
GMT also did a great job on the remake of Avalon Hill's game, SUCCESSORS. While I've not played it, people I know that have played both versions like what GMT did with it. Haven't seen nor played Mayfair Games' 3d Edition remake of the venerable GDW title, A HOUSE DIVIDED. Sure looks good on the website! When games get this kind of tender loving care, it's wonderful to see them make a comeback!
Comment by Ted Henkle on November 27, 2009 at 1:59pm
In regards to Kingmaker, "The Perfect Captain" is working on it's own WOTR game: "A Crown of Paper." It should be a free download once they've finalized it.

Comment by Eric Walters on November 27, 2009 at 11:05am
Now I find out today that MMP is going to do VCS: SALERNO. I guess prayers really are answered! While it's not a revision of GDW's famed AVALANCHE, I think I will somehow manage with this title!
Comment by Eric Walters on November 26, 2009 at 10:24pm
I remember when GMT redid FOR THE PEOPLE, one of the last Avalon Hill games, and rescued it. Some tweaks and improvements since, too. I bet L2 holds off on PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN until the shine wears off on MMP's latest IGS offering, A VICTORY DENIED. Putting out now would be bad timing since both games deal with the Smolensk campaign and--as much as I love PGG--I'd have to go with AVD.

Regarding games I'd like to see back in print, the first one by far would be UP FRONT and its two expansion modules. Am amazed that with all the other remakes, this one hasn't even been talked about. GMT, are you listening? This one is for you. After that would be some GDW titles I'd like to see again, the premier one being--AVALANCHE: THE SALERNO LANDINGS being first and foremost. Would love it if MMP would do it, or Compass Games. The Avalanche Press game on Salerno isn't bad, but it can't replace this title. I have waves of nostalgia for SPI's STARFORCE: ALPHA CENTAURI (played that game incessantly, even with the pain of Si-Move) and would easily get back into it again. Decision Games should do it. Really. And while some will disagree that it deserves a remake, give me AIR ASSAULT ON CRETE by AH again (even without INVASION: MALTA that came with it). I'd see this as a GMT game. What a nail-biter of a game and so easy to teach/learn. Took a long time to play, though. Still, it was a real player and there's nothing that really compares (GMT's OPERATION: MERCURY is a bit more complex and even longer).

Anybody miss KINGMAKER? It probably deserves going back into print since it was multi-player. Another GMT game, in my book.
Comment by Jim Millard on November 26, 2009 at 7:31pm
Another related thing, since Eric has done his homework pretty thoroughly; the 'followon' games; i.e., all the various CDG's done by GMT ...

Also, Fortress Europa is getting an L2 makeover ...

...and did things like 'Blackbeard' get an accounting?
Comment by Chris Gammon on November 26, 2009 at 2:57pm
I've been awaiting L2 Design Group's announced redo of Panzergruppe Guderian since 2004. The game is just a lot of fun, and it's simple. Something my aging rules-addled mind appreciates. Alas it looks like it's one of the last things they're interested in completing.

I consider a remake to be successful when it improves the accuracy of the OOB and mapboard. (Assuming the game was good enough to begin with.) If they clear up rules and fix overlooked problems, then it's very successful.

I'm so happy with the approach Decision Games took with Computer War in Europe II that I eagerly look forward to other titles based on that engine. They have several new games coming out in the next two years that are a mix of remakes and new titles. Of the remakes I look forward to is SPI's Cobra.

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