As gamers, we're always looking towards the future, anticipating the next great game and concerned with what we’re currently playing. But as time passes we often elevate certain games that we’ve enjoyed in the past – making them out to be better than they actually were or failing to see how they’ve aged. This often happens with favourites from our youth, as we tend to remember the good while conveniently leaving out the bad in regards to these titles. It’s only natural to have nothing but good things to say about a game you last played as a child, only to revisit it years later and not have it stand up to par with what you remember it being.
The funny thing is, this happens more often than not without most of us realizing it. We tend not to give older games that much attention, and when we do, it’s usually because we either enjoyed it or hated it. In regards to the former, it can often be a case of romanticizing an old favourite or just not knowing how badly a title has aged. Whether a game was always bad and you just never realized because you were too young, or it just can’t match up to its modern counterparts is a different story altogether. Let’s take some time to look at 15 retro games that aren’t as great as you remember them being.
15 Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat is an incredibly big name in the world of fighting games, and while the series has had a resurgence of sorts in recent years, some fans still look on at older entries with a level of fondness. But for this list, let’s focus on the first entry in the series – the game that started it all. Mortal Kombat’s biggest selling point was its violence, and the abundance of which could be found throughout the game. Though it has its place in history for its role in the founding of the ESRB, the first Mortal Kombat is a pretty bad fighter if you were to look at it now. As it stands, it isn’t much to look at as both a fighting game and a show of violence.
14 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
This one might bring backs some memories for a lot of you, and it’d be pretty shocking if you hadn’t spent hours upon hours playing this classic title. Back when Tony Hawk was a big name in the entertainment world, he was everywhere, including the world of video games. While Pro Skater might look good through those nostalgia goggles, it doesn’t really hold up when compared to later entries in the series. In comparison, it’s kind of a stripped down product, which makes sense seeing as it was the first one they made. The combos are short and choppy and the inability to, manually chain tricks together than would be prominent it later games. That alone really shows the games age.
13 House of the Dead 2
Every so often you’ll see a game that at its time, was pretty revolutionary but is now a relic in the gaming industry. House of the Dead 2 is definitely one of those games. The Dreamcast title was one of the best shooters you could get your hands on at the time and gained a good reputation for how solid a game it was at the time of its release – gaining a loyal fan base. But as you’d expect from older titles like this, what was once great is now dated and cliché. It still plays pretty decently, but is nowhere near as good or revolutionary as it once was, obviously, as the passage of time has taken a pretty big toll on this title.
12 Donkey Kong 64
We’re about to touch upon a new topic for the first time on this list of ours. It’s about time we discussed old games that just weren’t good to start with. Up till now, the games we’ve looked at were either bad in hindsight or just didn’t age very well in the decades since they released. But Donkey Kong 64 was never a good game. But it was mainly directed towards children, and as a result, most of its fans will hold it in high regard, or at least find it competent when it’s really not. The game is so painstakingly tedious and bland that it’s a wonder why anyone ever found it to be mildly entertaining. If you’re ever thinking of revisiting this title, just leave it be and save yourself the effort.
11 Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil
Let’s take some time and look back at the Nintendo 64, a great console that gave us a multitude of awesome titles – some of which are still seen as classics. While you can find a good deal of great N64 games, some haven’t aged as well as others. That’s where the Turok series comes in. Most will remember the first Turok fondly as it allowed players to hunt dinosaurs with a multitude of weapons – most of them unique in their own way. But its sequel just feels like a dated lesson in the dos and don’ts of level design. It’s easy to get lost and chew off a little bit more than you can handle, causing you to start over – which is really frustrating.
10 Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
This is a bit of a unique situation that some may find a problem with, but let’s delve into it nonetheless. Unlike some of the games on our list, Abe’s Oddysee isn’t really a bad game. It’s just an old, dated difficult one that might not appeal to the modern gamer – not because of its aesthetic limitations, but because of the difficulty it presents us with. There are a bunch of different difficulties to choose from, each challenging in its own way, but regardless of what you choose, it’s going to take a good deal of patience to get through the game. There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into beating this game, saves are sparse and dying a lot is to be expected. It’s not for the weak of heart.
9 Sonic Adventure
While the older Sonic games were classics that are still solid titles to this day, 3D Sonic titles have had kind of a rough transition and so, have turned out some pretty questionable games. Sonic ’06 aside, we’re going to expand on that with this next entry as we take a look at Sonic Adventure, a game that was initially well received when it first came out but has shown its true mediocre colors in the years since. The game was first thought to have looked fantastic, and that might’ve been true for the time, but it hasn’t aged very well graphically. It looks kind of primitive and ugly, to be honest. Even the Gamecube port is pretty bad and doesn’t really do much to help.
8 Crazy Taxi
When it was first released back in 1999, Crazy Taxi was a pretty big deal due to its open-world nature that at the time was still a new and exciting concept to a lot of gamers. Being able to drive around an entire city was pretty mind-blowing at the time, and offered gamers a ton of freedom that they just weren’t all that used to yet. But a look back kind of quells all that enthusiasm. The city itself is pretty tiny – understandable considering when the game was made, but a noticeable constraint nonetheless – while the gameplay is incredibly repetitive and often lacks any real challenge. It was a fun game 18 years ago, but it just feels so limited now.
7 Wild Arms
Released at around the same time as Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms isn’t really a bad game. But it’s definitely showing its age since its release. Though it isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, Wild Arms is incredibly dated – even by old JRPG standards. One could make the argument that graphically, Final Fantasy VII is the more outdated one, but VII still manages to look better than Wild Arms, at least when it switches to battles. While it’s still worth playing for those of you looking to relive some of your childhood, the game is far from perfect, and the aesthetic can really show Wild Arms’ age. If you’re ok with that, you should still have a good time.
A lot of retro games have actually aged pretty well due to their simplicity. You won’t really hear anyone complaining about Tetris or Pong all that often will you? That’s because they were straightforward games that caught on and thrived off gameplay that’s still enjoyable today. Pitfall isn’t one of those games. Though the game is simple enough, it’s really a horrible title – not really enjoyable in the least, and we wonder if it ever was enjoyable even when it first came out. It’s a mediocre platformer that really doesn’t perform anywhere over subpar and aside from some terrible mechanics, also has to be one of the worst sounding games you’ve played. It's best left in the past.
5 Crash Bandicoot
When it first came out, Crash Bandicoot looked like it would be Sony’s answer to Mario and Sonic in regards to being an iconic franchise and mascot character. But while it started off strong, things didn’t go as planned for Crash. The series never really took off the way Sony hoped it would, and though it never quite reached Mario-level success, it still enjoys a pretty healthy fan base and is seen as a gaming classic. But if you were to revisit the first game you’d see that 'classic' might be a little bit too generous of a word. The controls are terrible and the camera is often placed at an awkward angle, making the game much more tedious than fun.
4 Tomb Raider
Here we have yet another iconic game and character, which is why some of you might remember this title being better than it actually was. You can kind of compare Tomb Raider’s faults to Crash Bandicoot’s. The game, of course, would be the first in many and spawn an incredibly popular franchise. Lara Croft was and remains one of the most popular characters in video games, and the recent remakes have only furthered that popularity. However, if you looked back at the first Tomb Raider, you’d get the feeling that it was hyped up a little too much as the years went on. The controls are pretty bad, and the level design is pretty subpar, to be honest. All in all, it’s a pretty underwhelming title.
3 GoldenEye 007
It might be hard for some of you to swallow, hell some of you might vehemently refuse to admit it, but GoldenEye 007 is not as great as you remember it being. Not by a long shot. The game was one of the best you could find on the N64 for a time, and for the era in which it was released was a pretty solid effort at a first person shooter. But childhood nostalgia is what propels this game to the upper echelons of gaming history. You can find so many better FPS experiences out there right now. GoldenEye has no business being mentioned with games like Halo, Killzone 2 and Call of Duty to name a few.
2 Perfect Dark
Here’s another legendary FPS that benefited from being a revolutionary product at the time of its release but is now anther mediocre title. Much like Golden Eye, Perfect Dark was seen as one of the marquee console FPSs of its time and still enjoys a dedicated fan base to this day. But it seems as though people can’t move past what it achieved in the past and look at it for what it is now. The game is pretty clumsy in how it executes its controls, and you have the N64’s baffling controller to thank for that. All in all much of what was said for Golden Eye applies to Perfect Dark. It was once a great title but has not withstood the test of time.
1 Pokémon Red & Blue Version
The Pokémon 20th Anniversary reminded some of us of just how old we were and what a great world Pokémon introduced us to. Red & Blue served as the building blocks to what would be one of the most popular, beloved franchises in video game history. Many of us romanticize these games because they were our first experiences with video games. While they are still pretty fun to revisit and can really appease your thirst for a nostalgia trip, they probably aren’t as good as you remember them being. Gen II and III are probably when the series really hit its stride. Gen I introduced a number of interesting concepts that were expanded upon later in the series, but it really does show its age decades later.