I recently reviewed the original Tomb Raider game on the SEGA Saturn and, while there is still some sort of charm to these older classics, some just did not age all that well. It’s always very easy to look through your rose-tinted glasses and recall a game from memory by adding in some stunning textures and lighting effects that never existed. Below are 10 games that have unfortunately not aged with grace, like some of their peers might have. These are the games that in your mind you remember being classics, but look and play nothing near as good as you might recall.
Sonic Adventure (SEGA Dreamcast)
Sonic’s move to 3D saw its first big take on the extra dimension with the release of Sonic Adventure (I’m going to imagine that Sonic Jam and Sonic R do not exist). It was the first time Sonic really took on the 3D world and back in 1998 the wonky camera was forgiven for getting speed right in a 3D Sonic game. Play it today and the camera is something that can just not be forgiven. Some of the levels are playable, but as soon as you enter the open-world area that requires exploring, it falls to pieces. Thanks to the Dreamcast controller hosting only one analogue stick it’s not easy to work with the camera at all and makes it a chore to play in the modern age. Thankfully the graphics aged pretty well, when compared to…
Gran Turismo (PS1)
Look at any racing game today with some sort of simulation bone in its metal chassis and you have to consider that the original Gran Turismo inspired many of these games. The first game on the PS1 came out of nowhere and allowed players, for the first time, to drive a car they might own. You could upgrade your engine and tweak it to your heart’s content. Play it today and it feels nothing like a simulator. The heart is still there, but thanks to racing games evolving to what we have today it just feels exceptionally unplayable by comparison. The cars feel twitchy and graphically it’s one big mess of pixels. The frame rate is no good and the draw distance even worse. It served a great purpose for the racing game genre, but it’s a classic that’s not aged very well.
Primal Rage (Arcade, SNES, SEGA Mega Drive, PS1, SEGA Saturn and more)
What could be more exciting than dinosaurs beating the snot out of each other? Primal Rage was all the rage in the 90s. It released around the time when Mortal Kombat made stop-motion animation the next best thing in 2D fighters and, for the time, it became an instant classic thanks to the blood, gore and, again, dinosaurs. Unfortunately, unlike Mortal Kombat, it never quite had the staying power and with time the stop-animation also looks rather terrible. You can just about count every frame when punching, kicking or pulling off a death-defying move. Also, it’s just not any fun all these years later, which is a shame.
Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
Alright, I’m expecting some of you to lash out at me, and that is fine. I’m a massive FFVII fan, but I too can admit when a game I adore hasn’t aged all that well. You only need to play FFVIII to realise that it’s not held up visually as the sequel did. The cartoony characters look like something out of an N64 game and that’s perhaps because it was originally intended for that format. The gorgeous pre-rendered backdrops just don’t gel with the very colourful characters, which makes me all the more excited for the remake that’ll fix that.
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PC, PS1, SEGA Saturn)
When Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy launched I saw many players pleading for a Croc remake. They’ve either not recently played it, or they’re hoping the remake fixes all the flaws. Croc in the modern era is just about unplayable. Croc launched in 1997, just before the PS1 received an analogue controller that comes with a second analogue stick to move the camera. Instead, you’re tasked at pressing the R1 and L1 buttons to swing the camera (ala PSP) and it is the most frustrating thing to contend with all these years later. The game itself is also nowhere near as fun and the platforming is exceptionally flawed as the detection of platforms aren’t anywhere as precise as you might recall it being. The world also looks exceptionally empty. Don’t let the cute croc fool you.
Mass Effect (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
I love the second game and don’t even have an issue with the third game, but that first game… no people, it’s nowhere near as good as you recall it being. We were all starved for an epic space exploration game and when it arrived it obviously pulled the blanket over our eyes as there are some serious flaws that rear their heads these days. The over-heating weapons, the uncontrollable Mako sections and okay’ish missions will remind you that it’s not quite as great as your brain has you believing. Other than setting up the story elements for the sequel, there is no reason to ever play this game again.
Tomb Raider (PC, PS1, SEGA Saturn)
The game that kicked off the thought of this list to become a reality. Where to start? Tomb Raider was the first game to REALLY attempt to get a third-person game to work in the three-dimensional realm and for the time did a fine job of pleasing gamers. Today the controls are clunky, the gunplay is primitive, the puzzles are mind-numbing difficult and it looks absolutely shocking. The frame rate on the SEGA Saturn version, which I played, was well below par and overall it’s a game that would struggle to be considered a decent Indie game in the current age. Thank goodness Lara has moved on from this old formula.
Metroid is a much-beloved franchise around the world. There is always a debate whether Super Metroid or the Prime series is the space adventure to own (it’s Super Metroid, just for the record…), but if you recently picked up the Mini NES then you might have noticed that the Metroid game included is… well… okay? It’s that game where the world **MEGA SPOILER** finds out that Samus is a woman at the end of the game **END OF MEGA ‘NOT SARCASTIC AT ALL’ SPOILER**. It’s just plain boring. The platforming is rubbish. Her arm cannon bullets can’t even reach across the screen, so you need to be up close to enemies to kill them and it just doesn’t look that inviting, not even for an NES game. I’m not sure how it spawned one of the best sequels ever, but I’m glad it did.
Pandemonium (PC, PS1, SEGA Saturn)
So, my little story goes like this – years ago I saw Pandemonium on Cybernet, which had me run out to buy a PS1 just for this game. The graphics at the time bowled me over and I couldn’t get this game fast enough. Play it today and it’s basically an okay 2D platformer wrapped up in make-believe 3D world. The jumping mechanics and basic attacks have not aged very well, which makes it tough to play when the world around it is not quite as believable as it was 22 years ago.
GTA 3 / Vice City / San Andreas (PC, PS2, Xbox, Mobile)
Sorry fans, but each and every GTA game of that era has not aged very well at all. Even for its time the GTA games never looked like a graphic marvel when compared to the other games on offer, as it was the open-world and missions that stole the show. Start it up today and the graphics will make you bleed from the eyes. To aid its bad visuals is a very messy camera and controls that, shall we say, isn’t as gangster as it once was. The right analogue stick isn’t used to swing the camera around CJ or Tommy and is pretty useless. To look to the left or right of a vehicle you’re driving, you need to tap the L1 or R1 buttons (on the PS2) – it’s just a right mess. How we got around all of this, I do not know. There is at least one redeeming factor, the soundtrack for both Vice City and San Andreas are still ace.
Let us know if there are any other games that you think have aged badly.