Lost to antiquity: Games that have aged badly

Some games are utterly timeless. Super Mario Bros is still perfect. Soul Calibur 1 is still beautiful. But this is GR’s Week of Hate, after all. So here are the once-great games that might shock you if you play them today.

Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast, Gamecube)
“One day all games will look this good but right now, only this does”. That’s what Charlie Brooker’s review of Sonic Adventure said in the Official Dreamcast Magazine, and we dared not believe it. The quality of the textures, the lushness of the scenery, the speed and the imagination on display... how could it get any better?

How wrong we were. We loaded up the superior Gamecube port recently and couldn’t believe our eyes. Everything’s so... primitive. The cars on the street are mere boxes, the NPCs look like they’ve just stepped out of Final Fantasy VII and every special effect like reflective windows now looks tacked on and wholly unconvincing.

Above: Even Sonic's wondering where all the detail went

It’s glitchy as hell, too, and while we could overlook it back then because of the ambition and thrill of a 3D Sonic game (ahem), in the harsh light of 2008 it’s a mess. If you loved it like we did, do yourself a favour and leave it be. It’s better that way.

Mortal Kombat II (Mega Drive, SNES etc)
What’s best? Super Street Fighter II Turbo or Mortal Kombat II? Well, clearly the former. But have you played MKII recently? Maybe, like us, you bought it on PSN cos it was cheap and you fancied a nostalgia hit. Big mistake. Its punches have zero sensation of contact. Ridiculous splashes of red fly everywhere and the digitised sprites look (surprise!) like photos of people in cosplay.

This is the eternal problem for cutting edge ‘realistic’ graphics. As soon as technology moves on, they look hopelessly outdated, whereas for games like SSFIIT, quality artwork will always be exactly that.


Above: It looks fine in static screens because the sprites are digitised photos. But you'll laugh/cry if you see it moving now


  • TitaniumDragon - June 21, 2014 7:19 p.m.

    I have to disagree with Mario 64's appearance here. I have indeed played it semi-recently (I actually tried it again after I played the first Super Mario Galaxy, to see if I was right about stuff), and, well, I have to disagree with your assessment of the situation. It is true that the environment is blocky and low res, and it doesn't look great, but it doesn't look anywhere near as bad as PSOne games did. It does have early 3D game syndrome, but... On the other hand, the assessment of the gameplay is wrong. Mario 64's worlds are much more cleverly built than Super Mario Galaxy's, and the fact that you could genuinely go for almost all of the stars right off the bat - being rewarded for exploring, and actually being ABLE to explore, which are both vital in 3D games - was huge. Super Mario Galaxy is very linear and tightly constrained, while Mario 64's more open-ended environments made the game feel a lot more open. Super Mario Galaxy may be "3D", but Super Mario 64 IS 3D. It allows you to explore and go off in any which way (well, almost) and to do stuff out of order. There are shortcuts and sidecuts and ways backwards in the level and it all feels very built up, whereas Super Mario Galaxy feels much more unnatural and very linear by comparison. Not to say that Super Mario Galaxy doesn't have better graphics - it does - but as far as gameplay goes, Super Mario Galaxy is the inferior game. Super Mario 64 isn't perfect, but it is a lot better than its successor.
  • Urameshi - February 6, 2010 3:21 p.m.

    Of course Sonic Adventure is aged, now that's been over 10 years since its release! ¬¬
  • werten32 - July 22, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Well people still seem to think its one of the best games in existence.
  • Chiropteran - November 24, 2008 1:01 p.m.

    I played Tempest. I thought it was great ... then. Sigh. I still have PS1 games I haven't tried yet. Makes me wonder if I really want to. Except for those features which praise some old games for being so great. Some of which I have. And haven't played yet....
  • blammm - November 25, 2008 12:31 a.m.

    It sounds to me this author doesn't know how to appreciate old games. Not all of the games here have "aged badly". If it weren't for Tomb Raider, 3D Puzzle Action performers we have today wouldn't be as we know it. I enjoy playing Tomb Raider even as of today. And Double Dragon? CRAP? Yeah, I question your taste.
  • werten32 - July 22, 2014 11:51 a.m.

    He isn't insulting old games hes just saying these games are harder to play for one reason or another. When a game has aged badly it does not mean its bad. For example, i still think FF7 is a good game, but the graphics have aged badly so its harder to play
  • tre3 - January 26, 2009 3:04 a.m.

    Why is Orcarina of Time not mentioned, that games is great but, it's starting to get hard to look at
  • MitsuharuSan - December 23, 2008 8:59 p.m.

    MK2 on this list? BLASPHEMY! Damn, it's even way better than the 3D MK games. I'm even willing to say that MK truly died when it became 3D! Really. PS.: I remember going nuts with the non-ending Gauntlet.
  • Stabby_Joe - January 13, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    Erm... Oblivion? Riiiiight...
  • Ravenbom - January 12, 2009 5:25 a.m.

    Yeah, I fired up the old PS2 a couple months ago to play a PS classic, Twisted Metal 2, and I couldn't even tell what the hell was going on. This article is mostly showing how graphics don't age like fine wine, but some older games are almost unplayable because they hadn't figured out standard 3D control schemes. Especially before dual analog controls. The first Armored Core has probably the worst control scheme ever made, but up until Resident Evil 4, that series had some of the worst controls ever. And MGS still has some of the worst 3D controls, and until MGS3 Subsistence, had the one of the worst 3D cameras, and we still forgive Kojima. Of course, we probably forget because we're watching more than we're playing.

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