Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Video games that’ve aged badly

GameCentral readers name the retro games they regret going back to, from Final Fantasy VII to the first Uncharted.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked what old games have aged the worst? Going back to a much-loved video game can be a traumatising experience, as something you remember as being amazing is revealed to have aged less than gracefully, but what’s your worst experience with an old title?

Many people highlighted almost the entire PlayStation 1 generation, the first with 3D graphics, as a problem, with GoldenEye 007 in particular suffering from both old-fashioned visuals and controls.


A game of its time

As much as people ask for a re-release I have to admit that GoldenEye 007 on the N64 has aged poorly. It was an amazing, trailblazing game at the time but everything it pioneered has been done much better since. The control system, with a single stick for moving and rotating and the need to hold a button to aim, now seems incredibly clunky next to the twin-stick controls popularised by Halo a few years later.

The semi-realistic setting with human enemies no longer feels like the radical departure from the norm it once was, now it’s a pretty standard game setting; the once amazing-looking graphics now seem incredibly dated; and the gameplay is filled with the kind of rough edges that have been smoothed out over the last 22 years of refinement.

Honestly, I suspect that the N64/PlayStation/Saturn generation of games is going to be a popular source for this Hot Topic in general. The move to 3D was exciting and hugely important to the history of the medium, but it would be years before we had both the technology that could comfortably run these kind of games and the game design techniques to handle such a fundamental change.
TNG Professor


Awkward replay

Rare Replay was a horrendous gameplay experience for me. I had an inkling I shouldn’t have done but playing all the old games again I don’t think I properly enjoyed a single one of them. Banjo-Kazooie was okay, but nowhere near as good as I remember. Hard Corps, which I remember as being a ton of fun, was just shallow rubbish, and Jet Force Gemini was an absolutely nightmare even with all the new control options.

I know a lot of it is to do with the old tech and the weird N64 controller but I have a sneaking suspicion that Rare are just overrated as a developer. I’ve thought that for a while now, seeing their more modern output, but I had very fond memories of looking forward to all their old games on the N64. Seeing them today though, I don’t think there’s really anything worth going back for.

I’m just glad Donkey Kong 64 wasn’t on there because I remember thinking that was bad even at the time.


You’ve got to start somewhere

Great Topic by the way!

I know this won’t get a lot of mentions but for me the biggest letdown, the game I remembered so fondly, the game I played to competition so many times I lost count of has to be Who Framed Roger Rabbit on the Game Boy.

That game gave me so much joy as a teenager that I would ignore my mother, to her frustration, constantly for hours to play it. I was a bit of a late starter to the Internet (I think I was in my
30s when I finally touched base – I didn’t care for it to be honest but the moment I did I chased this game up as soon as possible. It arrived and It wasn’t how I remembered it, sure it rattled a few memories for me in my head but it was near unplayable as a game.

I don’t want to knock the game too much because of its limited technology and the fact it bought me a lot of pleasure as a youngster but I just wish I had left it where it was because it was great back in the day but not so much now since I’ve played it. Oh well, you live and learn I suppose.

GC: As a point of trivia that was one of the first games Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami ever worked on.


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Never mention the Gummi

In preparation for the third game coming out I went back to play Kingdom Hearts I and II, which I hadn’t done for years, decades properly. I got the remaster collection and… oh boy. Terrible combat that goes on forever against exactly the same enemies time and time again, an incomprehensible story that I swear I remember understanding at one point but now have no idea about, and painful slow pace where you never seem to get anywhere. And don’t talk to me about the Gummi Ships!

I was a teenager when I played the original and I think that’s the audience the game was primarily aimed at, so perhaps it’s not surprising I wouldn’t enjoy them as much now. But it was shock to see just how bad they were. I’d pre-ordered Kingdom Hearts III anyway so I went through with it, but gave up after a few hours. It’s just not for me anymore.


No more, please

Sonic Adventure is the one that comes to mind for me. I have fond memories of loving that game as a kid, even though I knew in the back of my head I was giving it a free pass on a number of issues. But getting my Dreamcast out of the loft a few months ago I put it on again, and… phew, it stinks!

I always remember the first stage as being mind-blowing but it’s just an awkward mix of ‘push right to win’ and really awkward platforming with camera angles and controls you can’t judge properly at all. And that’s the best bit!

Get into the other characters, never even mind Big the Cat, and it just turns into the mess of half-baked ideas that is no fun at all. I used to think I wanted a new sequel, but not anymore.
Alec Trent


True horror

I think one of the worst games to have aged has got to be Silent Hill. This game is virtually unplayable now unless you still have a non-HDTV to play it on.

This game is a classic and deserves a Resident Evil style remake to bring it up-to-date and let the fans enjoy it again in all its glory.
captainbloodsnot (PSN ID)


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The lost generation

There is a certain generation of consoles where I would classify a whole bunch of their games unplayable and technically speaking – and I really mean technically – very much a product of their own time. The 8-bit era can still be played today but look very colourless and probably very difficult with pixel perfect mechanics. The 16-bit era to me was probably my proper first introduction to a lot of highly enjoyable and gorgeous-looking games, where the colour pallet and sound/music was so very much more expanded compared to the previous generation.

Now the next generation is the PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, and the Sega Saturn. The problem with a lot of the games for these systems were the polygons, which to me are the ugliest and near unplayable graphical technology games could adopt. I can’t think of one game I’d replay and enjoy with this style of gameplay anymore. I remember Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, the Die Hard Trilogy, GoldenEye 007, Tekken, Crazy Taxi, and a whole bunch of others of which I could never take seriously now.

We still had pre-rendered graphics, which made up for the rest on the PS1, and I can’t argue with Super Mario 64 and the Zelda: Ocarina Of Time on the Nintendo 64. So it wasn’t so bad. I loved GoldenEye 007 and played it to death on so many occasions, the best thing since sliced bread. But many amazing first person shooters later has just spoilt me.

I think, currently speaking, the games we have now could probably last for many, many years to come and will never be a product of its time. That is until Star Trek’s hologram technology becomes mainstream and creating perfect environments comes along to take over.


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