Most video games and consoles gradually disappear from the market, but some companies recognize the timelessness of amazing games. Through remakes, remasters, and ports, developers carry old games to new consoles. This pleases fans but also makes games available to new players, allowing every generation to enjoy classic titles. Many of the games on this list survived for years thanks to developers and the fans who supported them. Companies either ported these games or updated online gameplay; however, these noble efforts eventually ended.
Half the games below can no longer be purchased or downloaded in any form. If you bought these games before they fell out of the market, you can still play them. The other games on this list had features that nobody can access today—even if you own the game. In most cases, the developers shut down online services, leading to missing features and terminated games. Some of these games have been remade by dedicated fans, but we’ll never be able to buy or download the original games ever again.
Whether companies quit producing these games or permanently removed them from the online market, the world suffers without them. Here are 15 spectacular games that—despite their popularity—are no longer available.
Most Halo fans consider Halo 2 the greatest game in the series. While the campaign had a mixed reception, critics and fans loved the multiplayer mode. Halo 2 influenced online gaming with quick matchmaking, amazing levels, and brilliant multiplayer modes.
Microsoft shut down Xbox Live in April 2010, but fans loved Halo 2 too much to let it die. By signing in before shutdown and never turning off their Xbox, fans kept Halo 2 alive for another month, when the final player was kicked off the server.
We can now play an altered version of Halo 2 online through Halo 2 Anniversary, but it’s not the same. Technical problems, poor matchmaking, and changed graphics make Halo 2 Anniversary an entirely different experience.
Marvel vs. Capcom sounded like an odd combination before 1996, but Capcom magically put their video game characters and Marvel’s comic book characters into a crossover franchise. Combining multiple Capcom franchises (such as Street Fighter and Mega Man), Marvel characters (like the X-Men and Avengers), and a few original characters, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 packs endless fun into its simple structure. The fighting game pits two teams against each other—which can be controlled by either a player and an AI opponent or two competing players.
While Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is as highly rated as its sequels, it dominated the market far more than its successors. Released as an arcade game in 2000, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 gradually spread to the Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, and even iOS devices. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 finally died in 2013 when Capcom ceased porting the game and removed it from all online stores.
We enjoy moving through Four Swords with our friends, but we sadly can’t play through the game on our own. Nintendo resolved this issue with the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, a free download game for the DS and 3DS. The remaster included a single-player mode in which you switch between two Links (similar to the three Links in Tri Force Heroes).
The Anniversary Edition also included new stages designed like early Zelda games (Link’s Awakening, A Link to the Past, and the original Legend of Zelda). We loved the new stages, and we appreciated free access to a remastered game. Unfortunately, Nintendo no longer offers the Anniversary Edition. The remaster was only available during two short time periods: from September 2011 to February 2012 and for a single week in 2014.
Though it lacks the text that helped make the Scott Pilgrim comics so great, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game captures the satirical humor of the comics through gaming references. The game combines great humor with spectacular retro music and arcade-style gameplay. You fight your way through hordes of enemies, all while performing smooth, fun combos. Up to three friends can join you for teamwork and shenanigans. You can play in the streets of Toronto or make your way through castles and subspace highways to the challenging final boss, making Scott Pilgrim a perfect game for both casual and hardcore gamers.
Scott Pilgrim released digitally in 2010—there are no physical copies available. Its four-year contract ended in 2014, when the game disappeared from the PlayStation Store.
Phantasy Star Online brought online cooperative gameplay to a new level. In addition to amazing combat with a variety of character classes, Phantasy Star Online included multiple communication options. Most cooperative online games focus on language-based servers, but Sonic Team encouraged international gameplay by transcending language. You could type out messages via keyboard or communicate through Symbol Chat—which used symbols to convey emotion and strategies—and Word Select, which translated certain words into other languages.
Although we can still enjoy the offline mode, online gameplay no longer exists for Phantasy Star Online or its sequels, Phantasy Star Online Episode III and Phantasy Star Universe. The most recent installment, Phantasy Star Online 2, still features online play, but the game is only available in Japan.
Whether you played After Burner Climax in a moving arcade cockpit or on your couch at home, the game was a blast. After Burner Climax carried players through beautiful stages with excellent combat and thrilling flight simulation. Originally released in 2006 as an arcade game, After Burner Climax—like its prequels—placed you in a chair that moved according to directional inputs. For example, if you tilted your plane upward, your seat tilted backward.
Sega AM2 carried After Burner Climax beyond arcades in 2010, when they ported the game to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Even though we miss the interactive arcade machine, we appreciated the game’s spread onto home consoles. Sadly, the game dropped out of both online stores and is no longer in production as an arcade game.
Mario Kart Wii introduced tremendous mechanics and items to the franchise—some of which didn’t survive in later games. Bikes first appeared in Mario Kart Wii, where they move faster than karts on straightaways (whereas karts move faster on curves). The two vehicles added a wonderful dynamic to the franchise: they expanded players’ strategies and playstyles. Some players dislike the inclusion of bikes in Mario Kart, but they can’t deny how fun the bikes are in Mario Kart Wii.
Nintendo ceased online services for all Wii and DS games in 2014, including Mario Kart Wii. We can still play the game offline with our friends, but online competition—which worked immensely well—no longer exists. We can now play Mario Kart 8 online, but we’ve lost one of the greatest parts of Mario Kart Wii.
OutRun Online Arcade plays a lot like other racing arcade games online, but single-player includes an amazing mode called Heart Attack. As you drive, your passenger requests difficult stunts like long-lasting drifts, avoiding all obstacles, and driving against oncoming traffic. Players have always loved such challenges, but Online Arcade requests particular stunts and actually rewards your efforts. We love all the OutRun games, but none match the thrilling mechanics and modes of Online Arcade.
To give players a unique experience, Sumo Digital acquired rights to include ten Ferrari models from real life. You’d enjoy the game no matter what, but reckless virtual driving is even more thrilling in a beautiful Ferrari. The contract backfired, though: two years after release, Online Arcade disappeared from Xbox live Arcade because the agreement with Ferrari ended.
Handheld games still thrive on devices capable of playing multiple games, but Tiger Electronics’ handheld devices completely disappeared. These devices only played a single, built-in game—and the games were absolutely fantastic. Tiger used pop culture to create unique games like Star Wars shooters, Mega Man platformers, and Batman adventure games. With relatively low prices, these games predate cheap phone games and probably helped inspire the movement toward phone games. The single game on each of Tiger’s “consoles” may have been inconvenient, but we loved the physical design of each game.
While the singular games in arcade cabinets survive through modern arcades and console ports, nobody’s taken the time to port Tiger’s games. Although all children deserve these games, only a single generation of kids got to enjoy Tiger’s handheld devices.
Originally released on the Nintendo DS, Metroid Prime Hunters returned on the Wii U Virtual Console. However, only the single-player mode truly returned: online competition was not renewed with the game’s virtual release. Like Mario Kart Wii, Hunters lost online services in 2014, and the Wii U version released a year later.
Even though we enjoy the single-player campaign, we primarily love Hunters for its online gameplay. Nintendo built off the poorly received multiplayer in Metroid Prime 2, creating an exciting, fluid experience. With seven unique characters, Hunters likely influenced the unique character system in Overwatch. Whether you’re destroying enemies as Samus or an equally powerful bounty hunter, you’re guaranteed to enjoy Hunters’ multiplayer. You sadly can’t enjoy the game online anymore, but local multiplayer still works on the DS, and both the DS and Wii U include multiplayer with bots.
After Tetris released in 1984, several companies recognized the game’s potential, including Nintendo. Nintendo ported the game for Game Boy, releasing their version of Tetris in 1989. This version remains one of the most entertaining forms of Tetris—but Nintendo’s game is no longer available. Nintendo ported their 1989 game from one Nintendo console to the next for 25 years. In 2014, the Tetris Company established a partnership with Ubisoft. With legal rights to the franchise, Ubisoft now develops Tetris games and forced Nintendo to remove all Tetris titles from their virtual consoles.
We still have access to multiple Tetris games, but few match the ingenuity and originality of the first game. Hopefully, Ubisoft will make up for this loss with amazing new Tetris games.
We’ve enjoyed a lot of games about rolling a ball across stages, but few surpass Marble Blast Ultra. With beautifully designed levels set in surreal worlds, Marble Blast Ultra entertained casual players—but it also pitted hardcore players against one another. Whether you battled in the 8-player multiplayer mode or raced for record times on single-player stages, Marble Blast Ultra guaranteed thrilling competition. The game tested speedrunners around the world with power-ups and difficult shortcuts. Even without competing online, players could always challenge themselves in 60 different stages.
Released for Xbox Live Arcade in 2006 and later for PC on InstantAction’s website, Marble Blast Ultra only existed online. Because InstantAction’s site terminated and the game was delisted from Xbox Live Arcade, nobody can play Marble Blast Ultra today.
Most MMOs receive updates and changes due to their online nature, but few have gone through as many updates as World of Warcraft. Released in 2004, WoW now differs greatly from its original form. The vanilla version of WoW placed you in a harsh, lonely world where you encountered more players than NPCs. Fewer quests and smaller rewards made leveling up a difficult but worthwhile struggle. In order to complete harder quests with greater rewards, you had to combine forces with other players. Today, the MMO ironically lessens the significance of cooperative multiplayer. You can now level up alone through simplistic, easy quests.
We’ll never have access to Blizzard’s original product again, but you can play a similar version called the Elysium Project. This free, fan-made adaptation of WoW follows the design of the vanilla version.
Because it functioned as a demo rather than an independent game, P.T. was only temporarily available on the market. We loved the game and would have loved an expanded version of the demo, but Konami canceled the final game, Silent Hills.
If Silent Hills had included P.T. or anything half as scary as P.T., the game would have been spectacular. The demo placed us in an L-shaped hallway that never ends—every time you enter the door at the end of the hall, you return to the beginning of the hall. By trapping players in a creepy, changing hallway that sometimes has a murderous ghost around the corner, P.T. terrifies us with our own imagination.
P.T. became so popular during its short lifespan that PS4s with the demo now sell for hundreds of dollars.
We love any opportunity to play as powerful, well-designed superheroes. That’s why we miss City of Heroes so much—the MMO brought the superhero genre to a whole new degree. After customizing your superpowers, costume, and backstory, you can explore Paragon City (a fictional city set in Rhode Island) alongside friends and strangers. The game perfectly captured the thrill of superheroes through fun powers and enemies.
If you bought the City of Villains expansion, you could take the game’s immersive roleplaying to the next level. City of Villains allowed players to battle each other as heroes and villains, letting superhero fans live their childhood fantasies. Sadly, NCsoft shut down the MMO’s servers in 2012, eight years after the game’s release.