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Eight Great Games That Didn’t Age Well
Ah, sweet nostalgia. Funny how it works, rendering what some may consider mediocre seem like the greatest thing in the world to us. Video games are no exception, sweeping us back to a time of youth, fun, and laughs, when we weren’t laden with responsibility, bills, or whatever it is that worries us on a day-to-day basis.
But have you ever revisited one of those cherished titles, examined it as objectively as possible, and felt like maybe it isn’t the godsend you remembered it being? Let us take a trip to the past and examine some of those once-great games that have not quite stood the test of time (in no particular order).
Super Smash Bros.
Okay, so Super Smash Bros. is a pretty awesome game. Well, it was for its time, anyway. Like so many we’ll see on this list, the only crime Super Smash Bros. is guilty of is aging poorly. Graphics notwithstanding, the gameplay features a noticeable delay between button input and your character’s action, the roster features a meager twelve characters, and there are a scant nine stages to battle on. Back in the day, I sunk countless hours into this gem. In retrospect, it almost seems to be a massive demo for it’s progeny, Super Smash Bros. Melee. The odd thing is, gameplay-wise, its successors haven’t evolved much, but after experiencing the more refined, polished entries in the series, the original doesn’t hold up too well, even if it’s owed the world of credit.
Remember when you went to the arcade and all you wanted to play was Time Crisis because it was the coolest thing ever? Maybe you didn’t, but for me and my family and friends, Time Crisis was the arcade to play. Ever try your hand at this rail shooter recently? Not quite so glamorous once you realize the technical flaws the game possesses (we won’t even mention the story, ‘kay?). Often switching ammo and/or guns requires shooting an icon on the screen, detracting from the enemies who are trying to obliterate your stunning pixelated facial features with a rocket launcher. The transition sequences likewise don’t hold up, now feeling somewhat jarring and more than a little awkward.
This doesn’t even cover the PlayStation ports. Some things are better left unsaid.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
This one may be cheating a bit on my part, just because I never liked Killer Instinct. Part of the problem there may be I didn’t first play the game until about 2005. Really, it all goes back to controls. They’re dated. And it makes the game unbearable. Also, let’s face it: most fighting games have subpar stories, but Killer Instinct may take the cake. Oh, and it’s one of those rare cases where its console sequel, Killer Instinct: Gold (Nintendo 64), actually featured worse graphics. That’s pretty bad.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Dash Rendar doesn’t know how to stay on the survival side of ledges. That really is enough to award this game mention. Aside from that, there’s the usual crappy graphics that accompany every game pioneering the shift into three-dimensional gaming, as well as some absolutely horrid third-person shooter mechanics. Attempting to revisit this game after almost two decades, it really could contend for the award of worst control scheme. The aiming mechanic leaves me egregious and the wretchedness of the jumping in the game cannot be stressed enough. Seriously, how hard is it to not plummet to your death?
Oh, but at least there was that super easy-to-control speeder chase through Mos Eisley in the middle of the game!
(As a quick note, I realize this game wasn’t necessarily “acclaimed” by critics, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it off this list.)
Have you tried to play this game recently? No, you haven’t, because the mechanics are just that awful. Though the FPS genre owes much to Goldeneye 007 for its tremendous contribution in the way of multiplayer, the title has been eroded by time. Strafing is a pain without a second analog stick, aiming the gun is downright sluggish, and movement is clunky. Of course, switching weapons either requires cycling through until you find the one you want (if you’re carrying a multitude of firearms) or stopping to pause the game. Oh, and while Mr. Bond is overtly extending his arm and then bringing it up to his face to examine his cutting edge watch, guess what? Yeah, you’re still taking bullets to the chest. Also, the Klobb. Seriously, was it even possible to hit your target with that gun?
To be fair, it’s not strictly age that plagues this game. It was also the victim of a flurry of cliche storylines, two distinct battle systems, and a budget. Verily, Xenogears serves as a reminder to all developers not to max out your budget while developing the first half of your game. Between that and deadlines, the second disc in this JRPG is three-fourths the main characters sitting in chairs against a black backdrop literally narrating the events to the player. Still, the game is about as late 90s as you can get. The graphics, like everything from the fifth generation, look atrocious now. The myriad plot threads exploring every narrative trope (psychology, theology, creation, and the danger of machines, to name a few) do nothing to help the game, and while it might have been fascinating in the 90s when you were in high school and knew next to nothing about some of these topics, in retrospect the entire story is overstuffed. Also, the stark difference in battle when using Gears as opposed to controlling the actual characters is a questionable choice at best.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
This one’s a bit peculiar, as it would probably not make this list if it weren’t for its sequel/reboot mutant, Star Fox 64. While I would argue the latter holds up well despite its age, the original Star Fox was ambitious for its time, but both looks ridiculous with its 16-bit graphics and plays pretty terribly. Juxtaposed with its fifth generation counterpart, Star Fox is something of an acerbic experience, with a pretty insane difficulty (on the harder paths, anyway) and evil polygons with fifteen corners shooting smaller polygons with six corners at you. At least the voice acting was top notch…
Sega Saturn, PlayStation
I don’t think a list of this type could be complete without mentioning the original Tomb Raider. The real—and perhaps single—reason this game makes this list is that it controls horribly. Like, really horribly. If you missed out on this acclaimed title back in the day, I couldn’t in good conscience recommend trying it now. Just go play the 2013 reboot. The game will cost more, but you won’t have to replace a controller.