Nostalgia is all about reminiscing about the great moments of our past. For gamers, we often think about the feelings classic video games invoked in our early years and how it shaped us as adults. Gaming nostalgia is an extremely marketable commodity. That’s the reason why people still purchase classic games on next-generation consoles, and why the NES Classic outsold the Wii U. It is about recapturing the pleasant moments of our childhood.
What are retro games? Games with primitive graphics, simple controls, and gameplay that is difficult enough to cause rage quits. That was gaming back then. There were no training levels or checkpoints. When you died, it was game over. The only remedy was through endless nights of trial and error, and learning to progress farther each time. Certainly, there were some great and monumental classics that we cannot help but remember.
However, we tend to view the past with rose-colored glasses. For every memorable classic, there are ten times the amount of retro trash games that people will never play again. I used to love watching Saved by the Bell as a kid. Now, I couldn’t stomach any of the reruns for more than a few minutes at a time. It's the same with old video games. What was once awesome is now terrible. And even if they are not terrible, they are heavily-dated and rendered obsolete. Here are 15 Super Nintendo games that haven’t aged well.
15 Super Mario Kart
Don’t get me wrong. Super Mario Kart was boatloads of fun, and still is. I just played it with friends several months ago. With so many newer titles in the Mario Kart library, should you ever pick up the original ever again? Released just four years later, Mario Kart 64 was better than the original Super Mario Kart in every conceivable way. The main problem I always had with the original game was the terrible graphics, especially with how racing games improved so drastically in such little time. When you compare Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, it appeared that it was made at least a decade apart, but it was only four years. Though the Mode 7 graphics created a wonderfully fluid racing title, the pixeled sprites, especially when meshing with the rest of the course, made for horrifically ugly screenshots. Because of the graphical inadequacies, it made it very difficult to avoid obstacles. We used to joke that playing Super Mario Kart on a small TV was the equivalent of playing with one hand tied behind your back. It was that hard to decipher.
14 Mortal Kombat
When Mortal Kombat first arrived in the arcade, the hype surrounding the game was unlike anything ever felt by my generation. When it was ported over to the SNES, it was the talk of the schoolyard. The wonderful thing about digitized graphics back in the ‘90s was how realistic they seemed as a 9-year-old. Unfortunately, it doesn’t age well. This is probably why no gaming developers reused this technology anymore. Admittedly, Mortal Kombat 2 and 3 were much better than the first one, graphically and gameplay-wise. Twenty years later, digitized graphics from the original Mortal Kombat is downright cheesy, acting as a novelty more than anything else. The Super NES port was heavily censored, so you don’t even get the gory satisfaction, either. With so many better Mortal Kombat ports and sequels, it would be silly to even think about playing the SNES cartridge now.
13 Final Fantasy II
Known in Japan as Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy II for the Super NES was probably one of the most popular titles in Final Fantasy series until the release of Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation. Containing excellent character development, intriguing plot, and pioneering gameplay, Final Fantasy IV was an incredible achievement and one of the best RPGs of all time. After numerous ports, the game was given a full-3D remake for the Nintendo DS. Due to simplified gameplay and inadequate translation, the Super Nintendo version was passable at best. As someone who has played the original, every subsequent rerelease, and remake, the Super NES version for North America was, by a country mile, the worst incarnation of the game. With so many other options available, I don’t think anyone should play the SNES Final Fantasy II ever again.
There are many simulators that allow you to create, plan, and control your own civilization. Populous was truly unique in that gamers assumed the role of a god who led followers by rewarding and punishing them much in the same way God did in the Old Testament of the Bible. So, it was pretty much Sim City with a deity. Playing Populous on the SNES on a small television made me loathe this version of the game. Without playing through the tutorial, it would be impossible to learn the simple controls and commands. Even after going through the tutorial, it was impossible to achieve the objectives of the game without some outside help or intervention. Remember this was a time when online gaming guides didn’t exist. Populous might be fun for one afternoon, but the charm wore out rather quickly. If gamers want to get their deity-fix, I recommend Actraiser. There was a reason why Populous for the Super NES ended in the bargain bin so quickly.
Before Mortal Kombat popularized digitized character sprites, Atari released the first fighting game to use this graphical style called Pit-Fighter. By no means was Pit-Fighter an arcade masterpiece, but it delivered over-the-top action at quarter-munching prices. However, the Super NES port of Pit-Fighter was an absolute disaster. It was a POS when it was released. The graphics barely resembled the arcade version, the strategy devolved into the spamming of cheap moves, and for some unknown reason, you were only given one health bar through the entire game. Also, it’s not even a health bar. It is just a number that counts down. The SNES version was such an atrocious port, that it consistently ranks as one of the worst games ever made for the console. Pit-Fighter for the SNES was so bad, Shaq-Fu seemed decent by comparison.
Yet another game with digitized sprites, Timecop was actually not the first game to have Jean-Claude Van Damme’s digitized image in it. In fact, developers used another actor, instead. Though it was based on the film of the same name, the game had little to do with the actual plot of Timecop. As with many tie-in games of the ‘90s, this one was doomed to fail. On top of clunky and unresponsive controls, the enemies were robotic and lackluster. No matter the level or palette swap, they acted the exact same way. Thus, the game gets boring quick, even if you manage to get passed the first few levels. Every aspect of Timecop is tremendously dated and doesn’t offer much gaming value other than being used as comedy material for a YouTube playthrough.
9 Star Fox
Though the game contained groundbreaking pseudo-3D graphics through the use of its onboard SuperFX chip, it pains me to admit that Star Fox did not age well. Games that tout technology often don’t stand up to the test of time, as tech is constantly changing and advancing. Unfortunately, Star Fox is not free from this assessment. Looking back on the original title, the graphics are indeed primitive, but it finds its saving grace through its fun factor. Several years later, Star Fox finally got the upgrade it deserved through the Nintendo 64. Star Fox 64 maintains all of the great gameplay with updated graphics that still look hold up today. The original Star Fox may look ghastly by modern standards, but its positive and memorable attributes classify it as a legendary game.
8 Wolfenstein 3D
As the precursor to the Doom, Wolfenstein 3D put id Software on the gaming map. Much of Doom was built around what Wolfenstein was able to achieve in the early ‘90s. It is one of those games that gaming historians love to play and rave about. Honestly, Wolfenstein 3D was fantastic on the computer, one of the best on MS-DOS. The SNES version, though, was another story. The SNES port was loaded with censorship, including the omitting of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler, blood, and attack dogs. Still, it was a pretty fun to play due to surprisingly responsive controls. Unfortunately, this version was inferior to the DOS counterpart. Its blocky graphics made it difficult to differentiate between the enemies and the walls. I didn’t mind the violence being toned down, but the changing of the story took away from the humor and overall feel of the enemies, especially the bosses. No “Mein Leben” meant the Super NES Wolfenstein only existed to tide you over until you could get your hands on the computer version.
7 Rise Of The Robots
Robots are timelessly cool. Super Nintendo had its fair share of robotic star-power with Fulgore from Killer Instinct and the hugely underrated beat ‘em up game Ninja Warriors. So, when the game Rise of the Robots was released, it had all the potential to be commercially-viable title capable of being a classic. It is now known for being classically terrible. The game looked great, and character designs were creative, but strategy consisted of simple punches and kicks because the hardware could not handle complex gameplay. Adding that the frame rates were choppy, Rise of the Robots was doomed for mediocrity. Though the graphics were spectacular for the 16-bit era, it quickly became outdated as soon as the next-generation consoles were released. Without great gameplay, it meant no one was ever going to pick up this title ever again.
Designing a great fighting game is not easy. Having it become a classic is even harder. Ballz is remembered for being a terrible fighting game with dimwitted gameplay and vulgar jokes. There were plenty of games in the 16-bit era that based their plot around toilet humor, such as Earthworm Jim and Toejam and Earl, but at least they were fun to play. Ballz was not. What it did have in its favor was their spherical designs of the characters gave it a pseudo-3D appearance. Sadly, most of the characters looked nothing close to their suggested personas, and the comedic value evaporated as soon as gamers got frustrated with its lackluster controls. The concept got outdated rather quickly, with developers going the route of refining their 2D fighters or expanding to the next-generation consoles with fully-polygonal designs. As bad as Ballz was in every aspect, it did allow their creators to branch out to a wide array of pet simulators a decade later.
5 NBA Live 95
NBA Live 95 was the first release in the NBA Live series, one of EA’s long-lasting sports franchises. Unlike the early Madden and NHL titles, none of the 16-bit NBA Lives are considered retro classics. This is not to say that they were terrible or even pedestrian. They were vast improvements over past basketball simulations. However, NBA Live 95 lacked the innate charms of cult-classics like Tecmo Bowl, NBA Jam, and NHL ’94. There wasn’t some crazy exploit or outlandish gameplay. It was just a solid basketball simulation. Because of that, it was easily forgotten as soon as the newest NBA Live title hit the shelves. As soon as NBA Live 98 was released for the next-gen consoles, the three-quarters views with tiny sprites soon became rather primitive. Thus, it was designated to obscurity.
4 Mario’s Time Machine
Supposedly an educational title similar to Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego, Mario’s Time Machine was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Mario character, much like its geography-based counterpart, Mario is Missing! However, Mario’s Time Machine was not even close to the quality of Carmen Sandiego as an educational game and lacked the essential platforming charm that most Mario games were known for. After answering some historical questions about history’s most famous figures, Mario goes surfing for mushrooms in order to travel back in time to return stolen artifacts to their rightful owners. Your eyes didn’t deceive you. He goes surfing for mushrooms. There’s not even a gnarly time-traveling cutscene where you travel through a wormhole like in Chrono Trigger. Surely, most Mario and Nintendo fans forgot this game even existed. If they did, luckily, they didn’t miss much.
3 Revolution X
Though tie-ins and celebrity endorsements don’t always pan out in the realm of video games, Revolution X was one of the exceptions. In the arcades, the game drew a lot of attention due to its digitized, realistic sprites and speakers blasting Aerosmith hits. In my opinion, it was one of the most entertaining ways to crunch quarters as a preteen with a limited budget. When Revolution X was ported to the SNES, the resulting product was disappointing on so many levels that I could write a full-length academic essay about it. Not only were the graphics downgraded to fit the constraints of the Super Nintendo, the sounds suffered, as well. Worst of all, there was no light gun support, so precision shooting using a cursor was a near-impossible task. That combined with the dated-digitized graphics made Revolution X go the way of the do-do.
2 Super Double Dragon
The popularity of the original trilogy of Double Dragon led to the creation of a comic series, animated series, and a featured film in the early ‘90s. By the time Super Double Dragon was released for the SNES, it was competing against the Final Fight and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Both were vastly superior to Super Double Dragon in terms of graphics and gameplay. The character sprites were minuscule by comparison and lacking the tantalizing colors of newer beat ‘em up titles. Honestly, it already looked outdated when it was first released. Add twenty years to the equation, and the results aren’t pretty. Unsurprisingly, the franchise never recovered after Super Double Dragon. Not even with a crossover with the Battletoads saved it.
As the granddaddy of all first-person shooters, the original Doom had everything from an amazing arsenal of weaponry to memorable character designs. Doom Guy was the archetypal badass before Master Chief, the BFG9000 was the most ludicrous weapon anyone could ever imagine, and Cyberdemons scared the pants off gamers brave enough to battle Hell’s most fearsome creatures. Building from Wolfenstein 3D, the developers at id Software improved the fluidity and mechanics of an already great game and remolded it create a legendary classic. With so many different versions and rereleases of the original Doom, the Super NES incarnation is plagued with inferior graphics and clunky gameplay. It’s still a great game, but should be considered a last resort. The PC version still looks fantastic and amazingly fun to play, much like another timeless classic, Counterstrike. The SNES version, unfortunately, didn’t age too well. It aged pretty badly, to be quite honest.