Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Ten 'classic' games that did not age well

4:00 PM on 11.07.2009 // Jim Sterling

Videogames are a constantly and rapidly evolving medium. While this means that amazing advances in gameplay and graphics consistently surprise us, it also means that those very same advances are destined to look rustic, quaint or simply atrocious in the short space of a few years. Just take the PlayStation era. The move from sprite-based gaming to 3D was hailed as a masterpiece, yet most of the PSOne "classics" of the day are regarded as rather sub-par now. Many of today's great-looking games run the risk of a similar fate.

To stand the test of time is a rare and special feat in the games industry. Some games have remained ageless due to impressive gameplay that nobody before or since has attempted, a simple graphical style that relies more on artistic beauty than graphical horsepower, or simply being damn good at what they do in ways that modern games can't even match.

That said, there are a fair few games looked back on fondly today that have not aged as well as everybody believes they have. They may have been groundbreaking, brilliant titles in their era, but going back to them now reveals a shockingly poor experience that one's rose-tinted specs have attempted to deny. These are the games we shall name and shame in this feature, so come with me as we look at a number of "classic" games that did not age well.

Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation)
Developer: Naughty Dog
Released: 1996

When he first spun his way onto the PlayStation in 1996, Crash Bandicoot hoped to do for Sony what Mario had done for Nintendo or Sonic had done for Sega. He had all the makings of a classic platformer mascot, and while he never failed as hard as Bubsy or Bug, he did not become the hugely successful face of PlayStation that had been expected. Nevertheless, his game was considered a classic of its time, and going back to it these days really lets you understand why Crash is not a very popular guy.

The controls were bad enough. Crash Bandicoot has no concept of DualShock thumbsticks, and navigating the 3D platforming sections on a D-Pad is horrendous. Crash is difficult to control, and it's not helped by a rather crap camera that usually portrays the action from a very awkward angle. These two elements conspired to create frequent deaths as the player attempted to get a bulky, hard-to-move, ugly jumble of polygons to jump onto small surface areas surrounded by huge chasms. It was also nearly impossible to jump on crates or time the spin move properly to attack enemies.

It's no surprise that Crash Bandicoot's more successful stages are the old-school 2D platforming ones.

Pitfall (Atari 2600)
Developer: Activision
Released: 1982

Most of the truly retro games have managed to age surprisingly well due to one thing -- simplicity. The less bells and whistles you put on a game, the less chance you have for something to look bad later, and this is why games like Pac-Man and Tetris have weathered the trials of time quite successfully. Pitfall is a similarly simple game, but unfortunately, it has not managed to survive the dating process at all.

Pitfall is a horrible, horrible game. It looks like shit, and plays like shit with blood in it. Pitfall Harry's adventure through the Mayan Jungle is a horribly bleak and messy platformer in which logs, crocodile heads and and scorpions must all be dodged with a terrible jump mechanic that usually sees the poor bastard land directly on top of the thing he's trying to avoid.

Also, let's not forget the horrible sound effects. Pitfall sounds like what I imagine two pixels having sex would sound like if pixels were capable of forming sexual relationships and generated noise independently. Pitfall? More like Shitfall.

Mortal Kombat (Arcade)
Developer: Midway
Released: 1992

Mortal Kombat is a game that succeeded due to one thing and one thing only -- violence. Acts of brutality inflicted on "realistic" human characters typified by sadistic Fatality finishing moves in which people were beheaded, impaled and incinerated ensured that this would be a game to remember. It famously inspired the creation of the ESRB, a system that now rates every commercially available videogame in North America. Yeah, it's actually pretty rubbish.

The digitized characters were described in promotional material as "so real it hurts!" It certainly hurts, but not because it's realistic. It just looks incredibly silly nowadays, not helped by the poor animation and poorer costumes. The gameplay itself isn't much better, outclassed even back in the day by Street Fighter II. All Mortal Kombat had going for it was the violence, and that's pretty tame in comparison to what we have these days, with Gears of War offering full-on chainsaw action and Grand Theft Auto allowing us to snipe the heads off of cops. Outmatched both as a fighting game and a showcase of violence, Mortal Kombat has nothing to offer the modern world.

Oh, and the Fatalities are all crap, too.

Wild Arms (PlayStation)
Developer: Media.Vision
Released: 1997

Although by no means a bad game, Wild Arms is certainly dated. It was released in North America the same year that Final Fantasy VII was, and the difference between the two is clear. Wild Arms looks worse, using so-so sprite-based graphics for towns and maps, and inexplicably switching to an inferior 3D battle screen for combat. Say what you will about VII's dated graphics -- at least when it switched to battles, it looked better, not worse.

Wild Arms is decent enough, and is still worth playing, but it did not stand the test of time and, even back in the day, did not do all that it could have done in the face of Square Enix's approaching behemoth. While we're here, I might as well tell you that Final Fantasy VII is not on this list. It's still very playable, even today. You might want to skip right to the comments section now to complain about that.

Altered Beast (Arcade)
Developer: Sega
Released: 1988

Altered Beast is a curious one, because it's hard to say that it aged badly. In truth, it was never a good game, even back in the eighties, yet somehow it has managed to trick everyone and be regarded as a classic while inspiring a wave of undeserved nostalgia among retroheads. Quite how this crime against humanity got to be remembered so fondly is beyond me, but hopefully we can look back on it nowadays and objectively agree that it is total crap.

Everything about this game is bad. The slow, plodding, side-scrolling combat is dull at best and frustrating at worst. The bosses are a shambling mess of button mashing and spammed attacks, the digitized voice "acting" is a joke and the graphics look like someone smeared bacon over a child's drawing of ancient Greece. The big selling point, being able to turn into a mythical beast, is stupid. Playing as a werewolf or a dragon is even more boring than playing as a semi-naked corpse, since you just hit the attack button and watch the ludicrous assortment of enemies run into your kill zone.

Rise from your grave? More like rise from your stupid bad game that sucks!

Silent Hill (PlayStation)
Developer: Konami
Released: 1999

Radio ... what's going on with that radio?

Silent Hill 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, yet the original Silent Hill is a title I can barely stomach playing anymore. Sure, it introduced us to the deeply disturbing world of psychological horror, providing a more cerebral counterpart to Capcom's B-movie-styled Resident Evil, but unlike Silent Hill 2, which aged well thanks to amazing storytelling and an atmosphere that made up for its archaic survival horror trappings, the debut of the franchise just isn't up to snuff.

It looks awful, it's acted badly, and the story is nowhere near as well crafted as its sequel's, with questionable dialog and a plot that really wasn't all that intriguing. Its stumbling survival horror gameplay was not improved over Resident Evil in the slightest, and that game was three years older. At least with Resident Evil, it has an aforementioned B-movie style that gave it charm and made the inherent crapness of the game much more tolerable. Resident Evil survived through being laughably bad, but Silent Hill took itself far more seriously and, in attempting to be a more dark and realistic game, it failed to withstand the raising standards of the modern age.

Brilliant opening theme music, though.

Tomb Raider (PlayStation)
Developer: Eidos
Released: 1996

Wanking over Lara Croft. Everyone's tried it once. Never quite works.

Metal Gear (MSX2, NES)
Developer: Konami
Released: 1987

Before Metal Gear Solid, there was Metal Gear, and it was bloody horrible. The stealth genre has its fair share of problems, but this debut of Konami's "tactical stealth action" gave birth to most of them. Trial-and-error gameplay has never been more intense, with deaths ready to swoop in at the player completely without warning. The idea is to sneak around, but enemies will often gladly spot you and you won't even know why, while the game's many traps have been put into the game for no other reason than to ambush the player. Trapdoors are triggered without any indication that they were there and without any chance to escape. The whole thing's a mess.

Add into that the fact that it's badly translated ("I feel asleep") and full of puzzles and areas that gamers would need some form of ESP to navigate, and you have yourself one bad game. Fortunately, Metal Gear Solid came along and undid all the harm, but this was a terrible start, no matter how big a classic people think it is.

Half-Life (PC)
Developer: Valve
Released: 1998

I love Valve, and I love the Half-Life series. I also have a great respect for the original Half-Life and what it did for the FPS genre, especially the way it told a story completely from the perspective of the player. However, like many PC FPS titles from the nineties, Half-Life has not aged well and now, over a decade after its release, it's simply not a very good game. Back in the day, it was a revelation. In this day and age, you're better off watching it on YouTube.

Aside from the poor graphics, outdated engine and annoying, imbalanced combat, Half-Life's gravest sin is the idea of first-person platforming. The amount of jumping about and guessing where your feet will land is intolerable, and by the time you get to Xen, if you have any hair left, the last remaining strands will more assuredly be torn out.

You'll never catch me diminishing Half-Life's achievements as an experience. As a game, however, it leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully those desires were fulfilled in Half-Life 2, an infinitely superior game that, fortunately, has indeed aged well.

GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64)
Developer: Rare
Released: 1997

It's hailed as one of the best FPS games ever made, an unrivaled multiplayer experience and a hallmark of N64 excellence. Let's face it, though, it's not really that good, and if it ever did make it onto Xbox Live Arcade like everybody hopes, it would quickly disappoint.

GoldenEye has been eclipsed by so many other games that it's not even funny. Halo, Killzone 2, and Call of Duty provide superior multiplayer experiences nowadays and I don't know why, outside of the James Bond flavor, anybody would have to go back to Rare's effort, which was fine at the time, but really can't hope to hold up against today's standards. I last played GoldenEye a few years back and was shocked at just how bad it really is. It's a classic case of people using their old happy memories to convince themselves a game is still good. You may think you want to see this game re-released, but trust me, you really don't. At best it's a novelty, at worst it's a horrifically dated FPS that should not be played anymore. 

Doom is better.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of course
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumption
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^T
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
So I received a mysterious box in the mail today. When I opened it I was blown away...The friends I've made here on Destructoid are amazing (More pics in the comments).
Parismio avatarParismio
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Woe is me. This month's Cblog theme is basically an excuse to draw pretty girls, and here I am with no time.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -