Nostalgia clouds our memories in all sorts of ways. As a society, we always yearn for the past. The past was always better than the present, whether it’s culture or entertainment.
Video games are no exception. People always tend to think that the best games are behind us. Our favorite games are almost always ones that we played ten years ago when they took over our lives for months at a time. We think they could go toe-to-toe with modern games, even though we haven’t played them in a decade.
Unfortunately, many of these games don’t hold up today. Sure, the graphics aren’t there, but that’s not the only thing that determines whether or not a game has aged well. Mechanics and gameplay have to be engaging to overcome the bad graphics, and many great games of the past simply don’t.
The controls, voice acting, storytelling, or depth just can’t compete with modern games. You may have been able to overlook the flaws at the time, but now they’re too apparent to ignore.
We advise you leave them safe in your memory instead of tainting them with modern eyes.
These are 16 Loved Video Games That Have Aged Terribly.
16. Grand Theft Auto 3
You might remember logging hundreds of hours in Grand Theft Auto 3 when it first came out. The game’s open-world style bordered on revolutionary for the time, and the fact that you could go anywhere and do anything offered players a freedom they hadn’t seen before in gaming.
If Grand Theft Auto 3 holds a special place in your heart, it’s best to leave it there rather than revisit the game. Unlike Vice City and San Andreas that came after, the storyline in GTA 3 is almost painful to play.
The main character never talks, which is a storytelling obstacle that the studio soon abandoned. The mechanics of the game are poor, which is something that flies under the radar until you pick the game back up. You can’t even move the camera with the right stick!
15. Silent Hill
While Silent Hill 2 remains one of the best horror games out there, the original Silent Hill doesn’t hold its value. Silent Hill 2, while dated, keeps its relevancy through engaging storytelling and dialogue, but the first game in the series falls far short of current expectations.
Silent Hill was released as a more serious counterpart to the Resident Evil series that had begun three years before. The first Resident Evil isn’t a great game either, but the format is more tongue-and-cheek than Silent Hill, making it more bearable to a contemporary audience.
Silent Hill has terrible visuals by today’s standards, but that isn’t the only thing that makes a game age poorly. The storytelling and voice acting are just bad. Resident Evil can get away with it through comedy, but Silent Hill takes itself too seriously. If you want to get into the series, we advise starting with Silent Hill 2.
14. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
For best nostalgic results, play “Superman” by Goldfinger while reading this.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater dominated the landscape of skateboarding video games for nearly a decade. Tony Hawk was on top of the world, and the video game that bore his name was owned by every gamer when it was first released in 1999.
Since then, the subsequent releases of Tony Hawk video games have clouded the memories of many gamers, distorting what the original title offered. Seamlessly stringing combinations together wasn’t possible in this game like it was in the others. The maps weren’t as immersive and there probably aren’t as many of them as you remember.
Picking up the first THPS again will probably be a disappointment. It laid the foundation for future titles, but you’re better off playing the second release if you want the nostalgic elements mixed with the mechanics you once loved.
13. Final Fantasy VII
Many Final Fantasy fans remember Final Fantasy VII as one of the best games in the series. While the first six cemented the series in video game history, if you revisit the seventh game you may be a bit disappointed.
Final Fantasy VII does a lot of things right. The soundtrack is still phenomenal, and the hidden areas, materials, and Waster eggs were relatively groundbreaking when the game first launched. Final Fantasy VII isn’t a bad game, but it doesn’t hold up under today’s standards.
The characters in the game are a bit cliché, and the combat mechanics leave something to be desired. These elements were addressed in later FF releases, but Final Fantasy VII doesn’t stand the test of time like some of the other games in the series.
NES games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda usually hold-up under modern eyes. These 2D games were revolutionary for their time, and they still offer the same enjoyable challenge that they did when they were released.
Metroid, on the other hand, provides too many hurdles for the player to overcome. The game was ambitious at the time. It offered an open world and ability unlocks that were innovative for NES games. Its ambition was handcuffed by some quality of life problems that made the game a headache for players, especially in 1986.
There’s no map in Metroid, meaning you’ll have to remember everywhere you’ve already gone. You can get around that now with the help of the internet, but the fact that there’s no internal saving, so players are forced to enter a 24 character password every time they respawn.
11. Resident Evil
We mentioned the positives of the original Resident Evil while discussing Silent Hill, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe from criticism. Many people seem to remember Resident Evil giving them a legitimate spook back in the day. If you play it now, though, you may find yourself laughing more than ever being truly scared.
The voice acting is terrible, giving way to cutscenes that alleviate tension rather than create it. The controls are clunky and awkward, and even though the fixed camera angles can add some jump-scares, it’s not a great tradeoff.
The Resident Evil remake addresses a lot of these problems and is worth picking up if you haven’t played it. Just don’t go back to play the original, as you’ll probably be disappointed. The graphics are revamped, which adds the element of horror that’s hard to get from the pixelated mess of the first game.
10. Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 was released in the golden age of 3D platformers. It was a hit at the time and used many of the core mechanics that made 3D platformers great. The game offered unique ways to traverse the maps, but it fails to hold-up under modern scrutiny.
Donkey Kong 64 has too many headaches to still be considered a good game. If you played DK 64, then you know that you’d have to go through a map five times until you can consider it finished.
Once you get to a spot with Donkey Kong, you find an area where you need to switch to Lanky Kong. From there, you have to run past waves of enemies to get to a barrel where you can switch characters. Then you get to the same spot with Lanky Kong, only to realize you need Diddy Kong for the next spot.
9. Call of Duty: Finest Hour
While Call of Duty: Finest Hour wasn’t the most popular game of its time, it still received a lot of positive feedback when it was released. In reality, it was one of the nails in the coffin of World War II video games in the early 2000s.
The game suffered from sub-par graphics when it was released, and in today’s world, they’re even worse. The game is plagued with bugs, which makes combat feel wonky and ridiculous. It’s hard to get immersed in a game when you see an NPC teleport through a wall and start shooting.
The storytelling of the game also leaves a lot to be desired. The campaign is relatively short, and you follow six different soldiers overall. This means that you’re switching characters every few missions, and it’s hard to grow an attachment to any of them.
8. Mass Effect
The reception for Mass Effect: Andromeda has left many fans remembering the great Mass Effect games of the past. Mass Effect 2 was probably the best game in the series, and Mass Effect 3 was able to capitalize on the storytelling elements – apart from the controversial ending.
The first Mass Effect does a phenomenal job with some elements. The fact that you feel as though each statement – each decision – is important adds an immersion that’s hard to find in video games.
If you play Mass Effect today, though, you’ll probably be disappointed. The game was still trying to find an identity, and the combat skewed more towards a fantasy RPG than a shooter. The most annoying part of the game is the waypoint system. You’ll likely spend hours searching for where you’re supposed to go, getting stuck in caves, and retracing your steps.
7. Gran Turismo
Gran Turismo was the gold standard of racing games when the first version came out. Since then, it’s been completely replaced by sequels that offer users better gameplay, enhanced graphics, and more car options.
We’re not saying Gran Turismo wasn’t a good game – it was. Even today, Gran Turismo is the highest selling franchise under the PlayStation name. Would you have fun if you picked it up and played it today, though? Probably not.
Much like early sports games, there’s no reason to go back and play the original. Newer versions offer better overall experiences. Sure, it holds some nostalgic value, but this game is better remembered than it is experienced. If you want some Gran Turismo nostalgia, pick up the second or third game in the series.
6. Diddy Kong Racing
While it’s true that Diddy Kong Racing expanded on the Mario Kart model, Mario Kart 64 has aged far better than Diddy Kong Racing. The complexity of Diddy Kong Racing is actually its downfall.
It’s much easier to jump into a game of Mario Kart and zoom around – which is what people really want to do when they play one of these video games. Diddy Kong Racing is more complicated and requires a refresher before you’re even able to play.
Elder Scrolls is one of the most beloved RPG franchises of all-time, and that fact is hard to argue. Elder Scrolls has done a fantastic job building an immersive world for gamers who want to sink hours into a game, develop a character and take on the world.
Oblivion is a great game – but does it stand the test of time?
Although the story is great, the repetitive nature of closing Oblivion gate after Oblivion gate gets incredibly boring. There’s also a quest in the Thieves’ Guild line that, if completed, expels you from the Mage’s Guild (unless you’ve already completed the Mage’s guild questline). If you’ve ever been kicked out of the Mage’s Guild, you know how hard it is to get back in.
4. Star Fox
The original Star Fox for SNES had some fans when it was initially released, and isn’t a bad game overall. The real reason it’s aged so poorly is because of its sequel: Star Fox 64.
Star Fox 64 took the elements of the original Star Fox and brought it to the next generation. The pixelated mess is gone and replaced with fluid controls and movement that’s still fun to this day. Star Fox had some things going for it, but if you revisit the game you’ll probably be disappointed.
3. Tomb Raider
Games that tried to have realistic graphics suffered the most from the passage of time. Cartoon graphics like Mario and Donkey Kong can get away with it, but there’s nothing like seeing Lara Croft’s noodly, pixelated arms to make us remember how far graphics have come.
It isn’t only the graphics that are the problem, though, it’s the combat. The game is just far too easy. If you aim your weapon with an enemy in the area, you’ll immediately lock-on to them. All you have to do is shoot and roll and you’ll beat the game.
2. Sonic Adventure
Like Donkey Kong 64, Sonic Adventure was released when 3D platformers were all the rage. SEGA wanted to capitalize on the market, and they did with two successful Sonic Adventure games. Though there were some visible problems back then, if you played these games you probably had a good bit of fun.
Also like Donkey Kong 64, playing Sonic Adventure has turned into a chore. While Mario and Zelda remain top-notch video games today, the other 3D platformers leave a lot to be desired.
The voice acting is cringe-worthy and the story is lackluster. The controls are the opposite of intuitive and the camera angle is frustrating at best – unplayable at worst.
GoldenEye might be the biggest beneficiary of nostalgia in gaming. Some people put it as the greatest shooter ever made. Once you plug in an N64 and start playing, though, you’ll quickly learn the truth.
The Nintendo 64 controller was not meant for first-person shooters. Aiming in GoldenEye is a complete mess. Invisible enemies snipe you from across the map as you struggle to make-out a bad guy from the scenery. If you want to play with friends, the lag makes the game virtually unplayable.
PC emulators fix the controller problem, but GoldenEye is in desperate need of a remastering touch. The game was fun at the time, but it probably has one of the biggest reality vs. memory discrepancies in the history of gaming.
What other beloved video games have aged badly? Let us know in the comments.
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