Updated with Advance Wars. Enjoy!
It used to be the case that, if you missed out on a particular game, your only way to catch up was to buy the original console and the original game. Then, thanks to services like the Virtual Console, you could emulate those old games without having to own any old consoles, for much more affordable prices than the ones you might find in second-hand sales.
Then came the era of remasters, with updated graphics, controls, and sometimes even new content, and it was pretty exciting to be able to play old games on new hardware. But the riskiest re-release of all is the remake, which requires taking a beloved game, giving it a total makeover, and hoping that the end product is not an insult to the players' treasured memories. Very few game developers have taken this risk... but when it pays off, it pays off big.
A lot of the very best remakes and remasters can be found on the Nintendo Switch, and though we don't have the incredible Final Fantasy VII remake or the sexy PS5 remake of Demon's Souls, we're certainly not short of fantastic, polished-up games.
In fact, we've made a list of some of our favourites, and though our criteria got a bit murky (does a port count as a remaster? Does "HD" in the title actually mean anything?), we think we've come up with a pretty solid list of the ones we like most.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)
Link's Awakening on Switch is a supreme overhaul, not just in terms of the stunning new graphics and art-style, but in the reworked score that accompanies them, with the old plinky-plonk Game Boy instruments – which were quite something for their time – replaced by the majesty of an almost fully orchestrated re-recording of familiar old tunes. It’s often surprisingly emotional stuff, revisiting these magical places you’d long forgotten, rediscovering some hidden passage or other; latent memories suddenly reawaken in your mind as this music, so familiar but also now so new and grandiose, takes flight in the background.
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Grim Fandango Remastered (Switch eShop)
The fact you’ve been able to play Grim Fandango Remastered on your TV and in handheld form elsewhere for years doesn’t matter one bit, because this gem of a game is still as enchanting and evocative as it was the first time you popped open that oversized cardboard box back in PC in 1998. Here and now on Nintendo Switch, this port looks and runs noticeably smoother than its fellow portable versions thanks to Double Fine’s deft adjustments, so if whether you’ve already joined Manny on his afterlife odyssey or this is your first time among the dead, Switch is 100 percent better for its inclusion.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (Switch eShop)
The Dragon's Trap is recalled with such fondness today that its popularity arguably eclipses the two subsequent 16-bit sequels, Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV. It has now been reimagined by French studio Lizardcube, a team made up of developers who unashamedly label themselves as hardcore fans of the original. The core game is identical but the visuals and audio have been comprehensively upgraded and a smattering of creature comforts have been included to bring things up to modern standards. This is a remake handled with the care and attention of true fans, and it shows.
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind (Switch eShop)
Famicom Detective Club comes in two parts: The Missing Heir, which first came out in 1988 in Japan, making it almost as old as Mario; and The Girl Who Stands Behind, a sequel which followed in 1989. The two games have never been released in English, other than unofficial fan translations, until now — and the remake, with new art, localisation and voice-acting (only available in Japanese) was a surprise that nobody expected.
The visual upgrades made to these games are above and beyond what you would expect from an under-the-radar remake of two 30+-year-old Japanese titles. The animation technology used to make characters move and speak is reminiscent of how TV show Archer does it — a lot is achieved with a little, and characters will tilt their heads, smile, and toss their hair with convincing personality. As a neat little bonus, you can even change the soundtrack to the original Famicom bleeps and bloops — although the modern orchestral version is much nicer.
Katamari Damacy REROLL (Switch eShop)
In a cynical era where nostalgia is pumped for all its worth with endless soulless remasters, Katamari Damacy Reroll serves up an engaging and rewarding game that hasn’t let any of its original charm or personality be lost in the transition from one platform to another. With support for gyro controls and multiplayer – not to mention a degree of performance that sees it run smoothly in both handheld and docked mode – this Switch edition is easily the best way to play it outside of blowing the dust off your old PS2.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (Switch)
Although the revamped artwork of the original GBA Friends of Mineral Town may be slightly divisive, it's still a gorgeous, loving remake of the game on Switch that's a lot more accessible and satisfying than digging out an old Game Boy. Resolution in both docked and handheld looks nice and crisp, while the framerate holds to an absolute rock-solid 60 FPS throughout. Accompanying this is an upbeat soundtrack chock full of accordions, synthesizers, and steel drums, offering up a nice companion to the visuals.
Though its roots as a handheld game occasionally resurface and there’s not a ton of new content added for this remake, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town more than stands enough on its own as a quality game that deserves a spot in your Switch library.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Switch eShop)
The Ace Attorney series has been ported plenty of times already, so it was only a matter of time before Mr Wright made his way to Switch. Thankfully, these new versions have fared far better than the ones that popped up on Wii, with enough optimisation – including resizing and cleaning up every frame to make them look better than ever both in docked mode and in handheld/TV modes. HD Rumble helps give those shaky moments of exclamation – including Wright’s classic lines, naturally – that extra bit of vibrating heft.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Switch)
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a wonderful love letter to a classic series, keeping everything that made the original games what they were, but slapping on a fresh coat of paint for the HD era. There are a few creaking bones showing their age here and there, but only due to the developers’ desire to keep things as accurate as possible. The Switch version looks absolutely stunning and runs surprisingly well, so if you’re looking for a classic 3D platforming experience, you should definitely give this a look-in.
Notice that New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe wasn't here.
This shows that Nintendo Life actually cares about their articles.
Or maybe I just hate that game too much.
I'm really looking forward to Live A Live being on this list
@HotGoomba I don't understand why people hate on that game. Definitely the best of the New Super Mario Bros. games with its connected overworld and creative level design like the star snow level, the giant beanstalk, and the Van Gogh level.
Will take actual decent remakes any day over Nintendo's lazy full price ports, and remasters are just the same game just hd textures which is another greedy and lazy way to charge people again
Games like trials of mana, final fantasy 7 remake, let's go eevee, resident evil 2 and links awakening are examples of some decent remakes done properly
When Let's Go Eevee came out I did nothing but squeal like a girl when I interacted with Eevee. There I was a 39 year old man at the time, Switch in hand acting like I was a kid again. Oh wait how silly of me, I'm still a kid now, a big kid 🤣
@HotGoomba but that wasn't a remake, it was a port
Xenoblade chronicles definitive edition is the best imo it was made in the XC2 engine (which is not the Xenoblade Wii engine), improved the audio, tweaked gameplay and included new content with important story
Link's Awakening is what really cemented me as a Zelda fan. I had played and loved Link to the Past for the first time on NSO but was worried it was going to be a one and done since the last Zelda game I played (Triforce Heroes) burned me so hard that I was reluctant to even try LttP in the first place. However, LA was on sale for €45 at Smyths about a year ago so I took the plunge and became immersed in the kooky yet surprisingly thoughtful world of Koholint and all the characters it entailed. I'll always hold the Switch remake near and dear to my heart in that aspect and is definitely worthy to be on the list.
And if I were to put a personal favourite of mine here, Pokemon BDSP. It's got PLENTY of issues but the main story was incredibly challenging and satisfying to go through, the roster of Pokemon available to me was great (save for the fact Eevee is post game exclusive why are you like this Pokemon), the music is amazing and the post game is one of my favourites in any Pokemon game. Also, it's my game of choice for shiny hunting which has been my latest addiction as of late. Definitely doesn't deserve to be on the list, but a personal favourite of mine nonetheless.
@Ade117 The visuals are mediocre at best (excluding the Van Gogh level, the whole game should've looked like it), the game is uninspired, and Super Luigi U is better.
And that's just the Wii U version.
The Switch version has terrible touch screen controls, if you're playing with four players, someone will get a free advantage (toadette, Nabbit), and the Switch version is $60 versus the $20 Wii U version WITH Super Luigi U.
@UltimateOtaku91 Fair, but I mean you could also consider it a remaster if you will.
Glad that Pokemon BDSP isn't on that list
I feel like A Boy and His Blob is too much of a reimagining to be considered a remake or remaster. It's more like a reboot sequel. Personally I'd take that off the list and replace it with Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. Regardless of how Monkey Target has been butchered
Edit: or maybe Destroy All Humans?
I sometimes forget the Link’s Awakening remake exists, but now I have the urge to go back and replay it. Such a satisfying game to play.
Why is Sonic colors ultimate on the list
Ninja Saviors / Ninja Warriors Once Again is pure brilliance and a great remake of the SNES original.
“Final Fantasy VIII's remaster proves to be just as weird and polarizing a release”
Indeed, it was VERY polarizing when it first released. I absolutely loved it and I remember a good friend of mine who was also a huge FF fan hating it with a passion. Some of the mechanics were kind of weird, but they were still fun and the characters in FFVIII were great. Google essays sometime regarding how Squall has schizoid personality disorder.
Objectively, NSMBU is the best one if we’re not counting Luigi U. The level design can be really good if uninspired, and the secrets and world map are the best in the series. I think the primary problem is when it came out. I was dead tired of these games when U came out, and I grew up on them! It’s just the same thing that it always has been, and there’s nothing really new added. The original brought 2D Mario back from the grave and introduced ideas from the 3D games, Wii brought back 4-player co-op and decently fun level themes and concepts that we hadn’t seen in a Mario game, and as much as I dislike 2, the coin gimmick was at least something new. U is just a rehash of Wii and 2, with nothing new except for maybe three new level themes that last for 2 levels each. If you were to play the games in reverse order, anyone would prefer U, but it came out at just the worse time for Mario fans.
#1 remaster is definitely the Switch port of Xenoblade Chronicles X. Don't mind it's hypothetical nature.
Seriously, though, this list needs Okami HD, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered and Tales of Vesperia.
As a casual Nintendo fan for most of my life until the Switch, the Phoenix Wright, Crash, and Spyro trilogies all get my seal of approval. I’m really glad that I got to experience the more niche or non-Nintendo consoles via the Switch. Sonic and NSMBU Deluxe are quite nice as well, but both somewhat play itself. I still need to try Zelda and Pokémon, those are the two Switch first-party games that have kind of slipped through the cracks for me.
$40 is a good price for Link’s Awakening (hint - the top end of 3DS game pricing).
No reason it should still be $60 on the eShop. Especially for NSO members.
@anoyonmus Ikr? It’s buggy as heck, and the credits take ages to finish
Could Castle Crashers Remastered be on this list? I know it released originally on Xbox One in 2015 ish but it’s still on Switch.
@HotGoomba i think that super mario bros u is a simple port and not a remastered or remake
@Scapetti I think they are saying that the Switch version of A Boy and his Blob is a remaster of the Wii game. You are correct that the Wii game is a reimagining of the NES original.
Exactly my question.. I loved the original Colours, but they butchered this remaster.
😊I would've mentioned 'Alex Kidd: Miracle World' but TLOZ:LA is DEFINITELY a beautiful game to look at.
I never played the GB or GBC version but I was always interested in this Game and the plasticine/Claymatiom-style look intrigued me.
They were many times I had to stop while playing just to admire the graphics.
No GTA trilogy?
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors aka The Ninja Warriors, deserves a place on the list. As does Outrun and Virtua Racing, especially Virtua Racing.
Don't forget The Legend of Dark Witch on Switch. A remake that happens to be the best version for reasons beyond the Capacity Gauge.
TENGO PROJECT: Wild Guns and Ninja Warriors
@OwenGamer22 it should be removed from this list
@Mauzuri it shouldn’t even be on the list
Shadow man should be up there! it is amazing!
OMG NL BIAZZAUD!!
urgh. Crash trilogy. I hate that game. soo boring and repetitive and worthless controls. glad to have been a Nintendo kid in my youth so I didn't have to put up with games like that.
Good to see a few people giving Ninja Warriors some love…..real old school gamers right there!
@homero_jimeno I forgot about Wild Guns. That definitely deserves a place. Pocky & Rocky is next from Tengo Project.
Trials of mana was amazing, loved it!
I wouldn't even put Skyward Sword on this list lol, there is almost no difference from its wii version on the switch, you might as well call it a port.
I think a problem with alot of these lists is that instead of listing the "best" of said category you just list everything including shovelware and other bad games.
I have a few of these, but I absolutely love the remake of Link's Awakening.
Also, the timing of this article makes me wonder if it was waiting to see if Chrono Cross would make the list (which it didn't)
I'm not a huge fan of Sonic Colors Ultimate (One of the most 2D 3D games ever made but with some 3D jank included for good measure) but I suspect that is the game's fault, not the quality of the port.
i remember sonic colours ultimate having some pretty big issues at launch and iirc even after the patch it still had some issues that weren't in the original such as load times being quite a bit longer, which given how colours is split into multiple small stages it made them quite a bit more noticable.
with FFVIII i remember one of my main issues being similar to what happened with FFVII and FFIX, in that it had high rez character models but the backgrounds were the original psone resolution causing them to clash with it, there were also some more subtle graphical effects missing, i think it may have been based on the PC version like VII which had similar quirks.
The powerslave Exhumed remaster was amazing, it went above and beyond what is usually expected from a remaster (though it is nightdive who have an amazing track record)
I also remember enjoying the SaGa frontier remaster, it adds some QOL stuff alongside the new character fuse whose adventure sheds some light on various plot points.
Chrono cross was dissapointing in that it still sufferent from technical issues that the psone version had (including battles going as low as 10fps) which after the various SaGa remasters and remakes felt dissapointing.
Though speaking of square enix that live-a-live looks amazing as does the DQIII one.
@JakedaArbok i think the problem with the New series is that it feels very stale at this point. I was very disappointed in NSMBUD despite the fact that i had only ever played the Wii game at a friend's house a little bit back in the day. Its a port of the fourth game in the series. It just feels really stale and uninspired.
The only times Mario has ever even had two similar games before were the original and SMB2 (japan release only), and Galaxy 1 and 2. Four games and a port for the New series is just lazy. 2D Mario desperately needs a new style game, the New series is dead from a innovation pov.
The DS and Wii games brought back 2D Mario and it felt fresh and great, they should have stopped there and then done something different for 3DS and U. Now that we're on the Switch 2D Mario soooooo needs a new take on the formula. Like imagine if on the Wii U you were playing Super Mario Sunshine 4... that's the situation the New series is. It is boring and mediocre at this point, and hopefully Nintendo is far along in development on a completely fresh take on 2D Mario right now
Zelda LA, Xenoblade, Tony Hawks and Trials of Mana are the best, imo. Good examples of how to make proper remakes/remasters.
RE: Ports vs Remasters . . . I think it is a case of six of one and a half dozen of the other. But the best is to have both, 'cuz then you get the full dozen.
I've downloaded Link's Awaken on my 2DS. (The DX version for the Game Boy.)
I think it's great that I can do that. 'cause even if I went and bought the cartridge, I don't have my Game Boy anymore. (Given to my nephew years ago.)
There is something cool about seeing those old-school graphics, and really admiring how well they were done and how such little amount of pixels could pull you into the world of Zelda so well.
And then on the other hand, I look at Link's Awakening for the Switch and think, OMG the graphics are amazing! This is a great way to explore this story.
If these new graphics makes the game more approachable to contemporary gamers, then I think . . . more people get to enjoy this story.
I wish with all my heart Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania could have made the list...but it's nowhere near
I still love it to bits...but yeah, I know what I'm playing.
At least Katamari made it. I love that game too.
Holding out hope for a Spyro 4 ♥️
1. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
1a. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Are Splatoon 2 and 3 remakes? Does it count as a remake when you release the same thing three times, with a few tweaks? Maybe it's $60 DLC?
@Moistnado I loved splatoon but splatoon 2 added salmon run. That was much bigger than dlc. I normally love hating on Nintendos pricing or more accurately gouging but this isn’t it.
A Wii port for full price a year after getting a Mario all star collection is where your anger should lie.
@Ade117 its just the burnout i think
Link's Awakening set a standard on how radically faithful, yet different any sort of remake should be. It didn't remove the features added through DX, but it also introduced numerous changes that effectively "modernized" the game outside of just updating the graphics and reusing an engine or mechanics. Supporting the same control scheme as the 3D/HD remasters and ALBW was the best decision one could ever ask for and changing certain items to be more in the background fixed a lot of the same problems that OoT was infamously known for.
I am looking forward to seeing what's next from Grezzo. Whether it be an Oracle of Ages/Seasons remake or another port/remaster, I hope it'll help fill the gap between now and Breath of the Wild 2 (as Age of Calamity and Skyward Sword were previously intended to).
Turok 1+2 and Shadowman
@HotGoomba It is a port, not a remake. Same as Mario Kart 8 or Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
When I clicked the link I thought this article was going to have 20 pages at least….
I think LoZ Oracle games would make a lot of sense being made over in the style of Switch's Link's Awakening.
For a port, I'd like to see Gnomz (the Wiiware game where you fight for the socks) ported to the Switch.
It is one of the games that we still fire up our Wii for.
I played and enjoyed Xenoblade DE, Famicom Detective Clubs and the Zelda rereleases. Links Awakening and Skyward Sword. I like the remasters that fix issues the old version had or sharpen and make it look prettier.
That being said, I hope Grezzo remaking Link's Awakening was a testing if they could work on 2d Zelda on HD hardware and they get another chance to make their own 2d Zelda game. Much like how Mercury Steam got to work on Metroid Dread after proving themselves with Samus Returns which sold way worse then Links Awakening's Remake.
Xenoblade chronicles definitive edition is by far the best remaster ever made.
"Who needs the Virtual Console, eh?"
Hoo-boy, THAT'S a loaded question...
@ModdedInkling i believe Grezzo is working on a remake of Oracle of Age/Season.
@GinMiguel didnt Grezzo developed Legend of Zelda Triforce Heroes?
no Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? That seems like the best of the bunch. The remake has battle mode, labo support, you can get 2 items at once, the resolution is bumped up to 1080 instead of 720, and it includes all the dlc from the original.
Mario 3d All Stars was a great remaster as well, if you were going to play those games again, 3d all stars is easily the best way to play them.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe classifies as an enhanced port rather than a remaster, because it didn't make significant changes to the pre-existing engine other than a few QoL improvements
@ModdedInkling Remasters are all enhanced ports.
Remasters are all enhanced ports. Enhanced ports are NOT always remasters.
@ModdedInkling A remaster is an enhanced port. If you want to disqualify Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you'd have to remove Skyward Sword, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, Katamari Damacy Reroll, and Grim Fandango Remastered from the list also, as they all are enhanced ports with a few QoL improvements.
@Giancarlothomaz They did but that's not on HD hardware.
@ModdedInkling They arguably always are. The enhancements constitute the remastering.
@GinMiguel true, but i wonder what Grezzo is developing next for Switch next? could they be working on a remake of Oracle of Age and Season or a new Legend of Zelda game for Switch this year?
@Giancarlothomaz Could be Ever Oasis 2.
@Giancarlothomaz They said its some medieval stylish action game. Before the winter direct last year.
Pocky and Rocky should be on here.
I have a feeling this list might be in need of an update... 👾🚀
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