The remastered version of the original StarCraft/StarCraft: Brood Wars went live last week. For $14.95 you can have an updated version of the original 1998 title.
I picked up a copy just to see what a Blizzard remaster felt like.
This is a true remaster, in the same sense that something like Dark Side of the Moon was remastered. There is nothing new to be found in the game, everything that ever was there is still there, from the slow AI to menus that you have to click and hold on in order to select from. It plays exactly the same and you have as much of a view of the world on your screen, even if it now displays in 1600×1200 detail [for me, your resolution may vary] versus the 640×480 limit of the original. Everything just looks and sounds much better. We went from this:
To something more like this:
Graphics were updated, some colors changed, but Blizzard did not mess with game play. It is, so far as I can tell after a couple of quick run, completely true to the individual and all of your favorite maps still work, even the one where you have all those minerals so you can turtle up and never bother expanding. So the remaster is just that, in probably the purest sense of the word.
What is perhaps more interesting to me is that StarCraft also suddenly has a spot on the Blizzard launcher. Older Blizzard games that they still sell… Warcraft III, Diablo II, and, until last week, StarCraft… have been stand-alone affairs, as they were before Blizzard had a unified launcher/sales platform.
Now however, there is StarCraft on the launcher, right down the list from its successor StarCraft II. What does this mean?
It could be simple enough. It might be that Blizzard now considers StarCraft, in its remastered format, to be worth promoting again. They have invested in it, so they no doubt want to sell some copies since it now looks more like a title from this century.
But it is hard not to at least consider this a bit of a rebuke to StarCraft II.
StarCraft II occupies an uneasy position. Nobody wants to be the sequel to one of the best selling games ever. But even though StarCraft II has sold well enough to be considered a success on its own, moving 6 million copies, that still puts it just over half way to the 11 million copies the original sold.
StarCraft II suffered a bit from Blizzard’s conservatism in that they wanted to make a sequel to StarCraft that was different enough to sell, but not so different that it wasn’t StarCraft. So it changes things up a bit, has a few new features, and looks better than the original, but when you play it you still know it is StarCraft. But original StarCraft wasn’t that bad, so why make the move unless you really want another online-only title from Blizzard.
And, of course, StarCraft II never became the cultural phenomenon in South Korea that the original did. Instead, when it comes to esports StarCraft II has to live in the shadows of both the fame of its predecessor and the new wave of MOBAs, such as League of Legends, which are the darlings of esports now.
So part of me wonders if this is a half-hearted attempt by Blizzard to turn the clock back and get the original StarCraft back in front of people so as to reclaim some of its past glory and a bit more of the esports spotlight.
Anyway, I do hope we will see the remastered versions of Diablo II and Warcraft III that Blizzard brought up back in 2015 along with StarCraft.