Games we once loved, but now hate

Phantasy Star

Editor: Matthew Keast

Why I once loved it: Phantasy Star was the first $70 game I ever saw… and this was in 1987 dollars. Somehow, it surpassed even the expectations of such a ludicrous price.

Its graphics were so incredible for 8-bit, I couldn’t believe they were possible. It had first-person, “3D” dungeons. I marveled at the animation as the camera actually rotated when I turned a corner! The game was also impossibly huge. You could explore three entire planets! You had a talking cat in your party that could be equipped with various mouth-wielded weaponry! The final boss was freaking terrifying.

Above: Limping back to the starting town after a grueling bout of giant wasp hunting

Why I now hate it: Phantasy Star possibly invented grinding. I don’t mean that you had to fight random battles to gain experience. I mean the very beginning of the game was hours and hours of fighting the same two damn enemies - a giant wasp and a tarantula - over and over because if you tried to walk more than half a screen length away from your starting town, you would never make it back alive. You were lucky to survive three fights against wasps.

Then there were the amazing-looking dungeons. Every corridor looked exactly the same, and the maps were horrendously convoluted labyrinths, and of course the game provided no maps. I had one save file where I literally was trapped inside a dungeon and never found my way out. I had to restart the game from scratch. Which meant, of course, killing 5000 wasps all over again. And people think children are impatient.

Every Atari 2600 game

Editor: Eric Bratcher

Why I once loved them: Because I was eight years old and therefore stupid. But in my defense, most home consoles in 1980 looked like the unholy offspring of a ham radio and a station wagon and played nothing but Pong in several variations. The Atari 2600 was a whole new world.  It played tons of games that actually weren’t Pong, and they were color instead of black & white. Atari was imaginative and cool – if I saw the Yars’ Revenge box art painted on a mirror at a carnival tomorrow, I’d spend every dollar I had until I got it – and everything else was a pretender.

Plus, the 2600 had Space Invaders – that’s a real arcade game! And you could play it at home! The future was mind-blowing!

Above: A cutting-edge RPG, circa 1980. You are the square

Why I now hate them: Because there’s a reason the controller only needed one stick and one button – these games are soul-crushingly simplistic. Outlaw? Draw your gun faster than the other guy. Breakout? There’s a bouncy ball and some bricks. That is all. Kaboom? Catch the bombs. Even Pitfall, arguably the 2600’s finest game, feels incredibly tedious today. Only a few 2600 games still hold up – Asteroids, Berzerk, Space Invaders – but they’ve all spawned better-playing descendants.

Don’t get me wrong: I cherish my childhood memories of playing Atari, I still think this is awesome, and I still have 2600 cartridges in my garage today. But ten minutes with any of them is enough to make me wonder if all eight year-olds are as dumb as I was.

Mar 23, 2010

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  • meeeeep - March 22, 2013 5:57 a.m.

    Yeah, about the whole every game is a 3D shooter thing, well, that or it's pixelated.
  • 2cute2Bcruel - April 26, 2011 1:18 a.m.

    Phantasy Star wasn't a part of my childhood but I tried to play it in the Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection to get a context for the other games. Those labyrinths are an fing nightmare to play.
  • JosefMotley - April 3, 2010 7:44 p.m.

    totally agree. the JRPG character comparison was brutally effective. never played phantasy star but the first mother game was pretty similar in the not being able to walk more than three steps away from your house for the first five hours stakes. you should have added grim fandango though, for the tragedy of the horrible control system combined with the best presentation of any lucasarts game ever. maybe next time....
  • blitzpoisonpunk - March 29, 2010 3:42 p.m.

    I still love just have to sift through the crap
  • WhiskeyBit - March 26, 2010 8:46 a.m.

    @Howetzer, Amen! Those liberal-commie, socialist bastards can shove it! Can I get a witness?!?! @pikachu2000, Listen up, you might learn something. In general, you don't create accounts to websites that you despise. Food for thought.
  • brian003 - March 26, 2010 2:23 a.m.

    Gah! I've always hated dragons lair, space ace and the rest! But there was a fighter game I liked... when the disc didn't skip.
  • ViolentLee - March 25, 2010 7:53 p.m.

    Every point well made. That said, I'm going to forget I ever read this article, lest I cast out a good 1/4 of my game collection as a result.
  • Howetzer - March 25, 2010 2:38 p.m.

    @ Pikachu2000 I can let dead dogs lie as they say, lol I guess you even may have a good point there to not turn this into a political thing, but I don't hate games, I love 'em, and I sure as hell ain't any kid, I wish kids thought like I did, the problem is...they don't LOL.
  • linkganon - March 24, 2010 11:05 p.m.

    Pokemon, no doubt. used to like them when they came out, i was around 7 when the original came out. quit at age 10, tried to come back to them later and found that there were no changes, just a get rich quick scheme by nintendo. Sheesh, look at firered and leafgreen and you will know what i am talking about, it's just red, blue, and yellow's same old area to scale again. quit it for good at least 7 years ago, and sold most of them/gave the rest to a younger relative.
  • pikachu2000 - March 24, 2010 10:59 p.m.

    So the hate continues: @Howetzer: I was referring to the response that another guy was calling me earlier (a liberal tool) so I call him a GOP Tool (Read the comments earlier for more reference) in response. Let's not turn this into a politicial matter shall we? The last thing we need is realpolitik in a game site. Stick with hating games kid. @Stabby_Joe: These GR idoits just reharsh the same crap over and over again. These guys nothing more than cheap @$$ Daily Radar imitators. They blow hot air just to get some hits and making an @$$ out of themselves as usual. I am the least of your worries. I am just a user commentating on an feature and this will soon get out of hand before the week is over with.
  • bonerachieved - March 24, 2010 10:40 p.m.

    I'm loving this article guys. Definately more personal! keep these comin'!
  • D0CCON - March 24, 2010 9:24 p.m.

    Completely agree with the JRPGs one. I bet if I was alive during the NES days, I would have loved Final Fantasy instead of having it be my second-least favorite game franchise ever behind Street Fighter (could have defaintly been in the article "Games you love that we hate"). I still enjoy some of them. I still play Pokemon and Lost Oddyssy is good, but most are cliched, repetitive, and not very fun. Westerners are so much better. Bethesda and Bioware ftw!!!
  • Evilsafetyboy - March 24, 2010 7:45 p.m.

    I agree that teh JRPGs of the last 15 years were pretty much identical. There are instances where JRPGs have gotten away from the formula. Pretty much anything Atlus publishes, NIS's Disgaea and Sega's Valkyria Chronicles are all awesome examples (so is Okami!-ha!)
  • DarkTone - March 24, 2010 5:54 p.m.

    I'm still a sucker for the old school platformers. I can still pay games like Mario, Sonic, Alex Kidd and more right now and enjoy them like I did back then. Thats where the Wii Store comes into play. OF COURSE games need to evolve as time goes on, but putting together a platformer based on anthropomorhic characters that look like they were designed in 5 minutes (and you know who you are!)won't cut it .........anymore. Mario Galaxy won a lot of awards and rightfully so. If game designers want to make games in this category they can learn from this one, and stop ripping each other off!
  • Zeipher - March 24, 2010 5:12 p.m.

    I would actually enjoy a hate article on western open-world RPGS, since JRPGS got theirs (as they should of). Oblivion and Fallout were good, but they have a lot of flaws, especially after the " I can go ANYWHERE" buzz has worn off.
  • PPhino - March 24, 2010 3:35 p.m.

    when you look back, the memory is classic, but lame.....
  • rxb - March 24, 2010 3:15 p.m.

    Im with Hank. Those arcade games were daylight robbery.
  • TheBoz - March 24, 2010 3:03 p.m.

    Sorry, I meant nostalgic moment. I am still waiting for a nostaligic moment whatever that is.
  • TheBoz - March 24, 2010 3:02 p.m.

    I love this article, one of the best ones for a long time. One thing I do is download abandonware games. Years old retail games for free. Play them, realise how rubbish it is and play another one lol. I have played some of my fave games from the 80s and early/mid 90s and quite a few of them are utter crap. Still fun to have that nostaligic moment though.
  • philipshaw - March 24, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    I used to love the Tony Hawk games but they messed it up since THUG and the old games don't stand up. I have been playing the superior EA Skate series ever since

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