With decades of gaming spanning different consoles, platforms, and countries, even the greatest video games are a mixed bag of aesthetics, mistakes, and questionable stylistic choices. Like the fashion choices of the early 2000s or the extreme hair of the 1980s, some games have graphics that astound, confuse, and will go down in history - for nearly ruining a bunch of really decent games.
As any gamer knows, bad graphics do not necessarily make a bad game. For some games, the narrative and gameplay elements outshine even the darkest, jerkiest, most boring visuals. What this teaches us is that it doesn’t always matter if you can’t tell the difference between a tree and a person as long as you are having fun.
These games are not bad games. They are good games, fun games, that are plagued by a legacy of ugliness. The lack of flashy graphics that comes with just being outdated doesn't cut it here; some of these games even looked bad relative to the competition at their release. These are games that could have (and should have!) looked better with the technologies and resources available to them. If you can get past the flat landscapes, depressing color palettes, and blocky animation, these games are worth playing. Still, at the end of the day, these games are weighed down by awful visuals that hamper the experience.View article on one page
When you boot up the early Animal Crossing games, the graphics are painful. We could all go back to feeding our long-dead Neo Pets for our cute animal game fix, and the graphics would not be noticeably different, which is a sad reality for hopeful Animal Crossing fans.
Originally released in Japan as an N64 game, it doesn’t seem like much was updated. Luckily for Animal Crossing, the people who love it aren’t playing for the graphics and aren’t phased by the low frame rate. The social aspect of the game will always have a strong draw, especially for the all-ages crowd. Plus, the style lends itself to some pretty cute Amiibo.
So, Animal Crossing comes out successful, but the graphics could have easily sunken this adorable woodland ship if the game had not been so undeniably fun.
14Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2
The Star Wars games are a mixed bag. Luckily, a few people have heard of Star Wars — so the games don’t need to be beautiful to succeed. This game is full of fun and memorable battles, but the Jedi are not skilled in the ways of good game graphics. The creative team decided that a good way to make up for the clunky appearance would be to cleverly disperse live-action cut scenes. This resulted in a confusing movie/video game experience that no Jedi Mind Tricks could ever erase.
However, with the draw of a real first-person Jedi experience, the good reputation of the first Jedi Knight game, and the irresistible lure of the Dark Side, Star Wars Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2 overcame its painful early 3D graphics and proved to be a fun addition to the Star Wars gaming universe.
Fable: The Lost Chapters sets up a rich, creative world just waiting to be explored in hours of endless gameplay. Honestly, though, the visuals for Fable: The Lost Chapters should have stayed lost. With the amount of world-building and lore-crafting that went into this game, it should have been beautiful. However, the graphics leave so much to be desired that it detracts from the gameplay and the story. When you are staring for hours at flat graphics, jerky movements, and textureless backgrounds, any interest you once had in the story begins to fade into the sad, beige ground you walk on. Finding your way around on the rough maps doesn’t make it easier.
Luckily, Fable is one of the games that woke up from this bad graphics nightmare and became Fable Anniversary, which had all the great gameplay of its predecessor, but with the updated HD graphics the story deserves.
12Forza Motorsports 2
Forza is nothing but fun. But for this installment, that’s pretty much all the game has going for it. The graphics are not the worst, but there is nothing special about the look of the game. Flat landscapes, drab backgrounds, and a lack of detail tank the quality of the visuals. The lack of an in-car view makes the racing game less of an immersive experience, which fails to outshine later iterations of the game. When compared to other games of the time, like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsports 2 fails to hit the mark.
Luckily, the Forza name (and fun races) were enough to keep this game afloat. It’s not pretty, but it’s a classic racing game that stands up to its competitors on gameplay and enjoyment. When you’re driving around in circles or racing down the track, speed and excitement weigh heavier than good-looking trees and shiny cars.