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Top 20 Video Games That Aged Poorly

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
Not all video games stand the test of time. For this list, we're not saying any of these games are bad – far from it; they're just outdated and difficult to get into now if you didn't play them growing up. Our countdown includes “Crash Bandicoot”, "Mafia", “Donkey Kong 64”, “Assassin's Creed”, “GoldenEye 007”, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Video Games that Aged Poorly


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 20 video games that aged poorly.

For this list, we’re not saying any of these games are bad – far from it; they’re just outdated and difficult to get into now if you didn’t play them growing up. We’ll also be including games with remakes if the reasons the original game aged poorly weren’t fixed in the remake.

Let us know in the comments which one you’re the most nostalgic for.

#20: “Team Fortress Classic” (1999)

Valve has a lot of extremely popular games, all of which have had incredibly impressive longevity; but where “Half-Life” and “Portal” are largely single-player, “Team Fortress 2” still has a very strong competitive scene. That’s not bad for a game series that started out as a mod for “Quake”. “Team Fortress Classic” was the step between the “Quake” mod and the “TF2” we know and love today, but it’s definitely pretty janky if you go back to it now. The “Half-Life” engine in general is looking rough around the ages these days, and though it laid a lot of the groundwork for class-based shooters, you’re still better off playing the sequel.

#19: “Mortal Kombat” (1992)

It was one of the most violent, gruesome, and controversial games of all time. Fighters would execute difficult combos and pull off extreme “fatalities”, ripping out spines and tearing people in half. But “Mortal Kombat’s” notorious ultraviolence doesn’t quite hold up today. It’s still a great game that created an iconic franchise, but most modern players probably won’t even flinch when Sub-Zero rips out somebody’s spinal cord. As well as that though, the original game’s controls are just a little unresponsive, which can make it hard to pull off combos even when you know you did them correctly.

#18: “Crash Bandicoot” (1996)

Recently the recipient of a big remake in the “N. Sane Trilogy” – not to mention the release of “Crash 4” in 2020 – you’d be forgiven for thinking the original version of Naughty Dog’s flagship platformer has aged like fine wine. But the 1996 “Crash Bandicoot”, while still having great visuals and level design, can be pretty grueling at times. It’s known for its difficulty, even among big platformer fans, but a lot of the difficulty comes down to finicky controls. You might have a lot of nostalgia for playing “Crash” in the 90s, but “Road to Nowhere” is one of the most frustrating stages ever in gaming.

#17: “Resident Evil” (1996)

It’s one of gaming’s most successful franchises and has been revamped many times, but the first game isn’t comparable to most of the more recent installments. Even as soon as “Resident Evil 2” in ’98 the series was notably improving, with more scares and even higher stakes. It was remade in 2002, but many of its poorly-aged hallmarks remain – like the bizarre dialogue and hokey voice acting. Yes, the strange quotes like “the master of unlocking” and “Jill sandwich” may endure in “Resident Evil” to this day, but early games are being remade from scratch for a reason, even if they are classics.

#16: “L.A. Noire” (2011)

It’s sad that “L.A. Noire” never got a sequel, and it remains one of Rockstar’s most underappreciated gems. The reason “L.A. Noire” has aged poorly isn’t anything to do with the story, combat, or gameplay, however; it’s those faces. At the time, the technology Team Bondi was using was strange, but set to revolutionize the games industry regardless. But motion capture techniques went in a slightly different direction instead. Replaying “L.A. Noire” is a whole lot of fun, but the faces are still very uncanny valley. They’re definitely useful when you have to work out if someone is lying but can make interview sections pretty uncomfortable. We’re still hoping for a sequel, though.


#15: “Donkey Kong 64” (1999)

Plenty of modern games have collectibles; they’re a great way to include Easter eggs, reward exploration, encourage more engagement with the game world, and create replayability. But there’s definitely such a thing as too many collectibles, and that’s never more clear than in “Donkey Kong 64”, the collectathon to end all collectathons. The simple fact is that “DK 64” has too many collectibles, over 3800 of them, including color-coded bananas that you can only grab with certain characters. To get everything you’ll need to replay every stage multiple times. It’s no wonder collectathons have all but disappeared; they were crushed under the weight of hundreds of bananas in 1999.

#14: “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” (2006)

Any RPG fan loves “The Elder Scrolls” – and plenty of people who aren’t hardcore RPG fans do too. But that doesn’t mean the games aren’t showing their age. Though “Skyrim” has had many far prettier ports since its release in 2011, “Oblivion” hasn’t had this luck. Today, it’s simply dated as a 3D action RPG. It has more of a focus on ending fights through violence than “Morrowind” did and, of course, no shortage of glitches. Though, a lot of these glitches persist all the way to “Fallout 76”. “Oblivion’s” overall jankiness is what can make it both frustrating and charming, often at the exact same time.

#13: “Mafia” (2002)

Yes, the original “Mafia” had a huge remake in 2020; but while that remake did wonders for the graphics and made the game a stunningly beautiful depiction of the 1930s, it still had plenty of mechanical issues. The biggest problems that have remained in the game for twenty years are the checkpoints and the first aid system. You can end up in a firefight surrounded by enemies with no good checkpoints and few health kits, which you’ll have to use sparingly because you’ll be outgunned. The game is still great fun and has an outstanding story, but many of the combat encounters leave much to be desired.

#12: “LittleBigPlanet” (2008)

User-generated content had already existed on PC for a long time, through mods and small indie games, but “LittleBigPlanet” really popularized the idea on consoles. An early title for the PS3, it was absolutely a system-seller and the reason many people bought their consoles – but in hindsight, it isn’t perfect. It’s a lot more limited than its sequels and at times the controls can be very slippery, making it hard to get as much precision as you would like from a good platformer. Although, “LBP” did walk so that “Dreams” could run, and Sackboy remains one of Sony’s most popular mascots, even if the company does often forget about him.

#11: “Sonic Adventure” (1999)

“Sonic” games have been 3D for a long time, but it definitely wasn’t a smooth transition and our favorite hedgehog has had quite a few duds in his long career – “Rise of Lyric”, anyone? The first 3D “Sonic” game was “Sonic Adventure”, and though many will remember it fondly, it’s definitely got a lot of problems. For a start, the frame rate definitely can’t keep up with Sonic himself, which can make navigating stages tricky. Ultimately it just screams of inexperience, which is understandable since SEGA really was inexperienced with 3D at the time. But it’s still got an awesome soundtrack – for the most part – and the revamped character designs have endured.

#10: “Fallout 3” (2008)

At the time, “Fallout 3” was ground-breaking. It brought the isometric “Fallout” series into the modern era with 3D graphics; the awesome redesigned VATS system; and of course, the amazing lore reached an entirely new generation of players. But “Fallout 3” got outdated very quickly because of a few of its design choices. The biggest issue is its lack of iron sights, an ‘oversight’ that was fixed by Obsidian in “Fallout: New Vegas”, which can make it frustrating when you have to fight waves of super mutants. Seven years later, and “Fallout 4” improved the gunplay drastically, which can make going back to “Fallout 3” tedious for people used to the fluid combat of more recent entries.


#9: “Silent Hill” (1999)

Along with “Resident Evil”, “Silent Hill” is one of the most enduring and beloved horror franchises ever made – even if Konami doesn’t seem to realize this. But though “Silent Hill 2” remains a horror masterpiece, its predecessor hasn’t held up half as well. The original game is still a masterclass in building tension – who can forget Harry’s walk through the alleyway into the oppressive Otherworld? – and has plenty of scary moments, but the controls just haven’t aged well. You need to be able to respond quickly to threats to either dispatch them or run away, and you’ll struggle to do that effectively most of the time.


#8: “Assassin’s Creed” (2007)

This is a franchise that’s reinvented itself a dozen times since it debuted while remaining roughly the same at its heart. But the original game became outdated as soon as “Assassin’s Creed II” hit shelves in 2009. It worked well at introducing the concept of the Animus, but the story and characters were definitely a little dull in comparison to Ezio’s escapades in Renaissance Italy. Classic characters like Desmond and Lucy only came into their own in “AC II” and beyond. And it definitely has the worst platforming of them all; making it extremely hard to go back to if you’ve already played the others.


#7: “Star Fox” (1993)

A humanoid fox who’s also an ace pilot might be an odd concept, but Fox McCloud has stood the test of time as one of Nintendo’s most popular – and coolest – mascots. That all started in 1993, with 3D, polygon graphics that would soon become the norm for mainstream games. But it’s true that 2D games age far better than 3D, and the original “Star Fox” is just primitive by modern standards. Still, a plane game of this caliber wasn’t often seen on consoles, so it was definitely an incredible technological achievement for the SNES. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a chore to play if you go back to it now.

#6: “Virtua Fighter” (1993)

Originally an arcade game that came to the Saturn for free in 1995, “Virtua Fighter” revolutionized the fighting game scene in a lot of ways. Most obviously though, it was the first fighting game with fully rendered, 3D characters and backgrounds, as well as a roster of very distinct characters with wildly varying playstyles. But it had an issue: there weren’t any combos. Combos are an intrinsic part of fighting games, and though at the time its simplicity set it aside from the likes of “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat”, the lack of combos means it hasn’t aged as well as its contemporaries. The animations and character models are definitely still impressive, though.

#5: “Kinect Adventures!” (2010)

The Nintendo Wii was one of the biggest and most successful innovations in video games since the advent of 3D graphics – but motion controls ultimately haven’t stood the test of time outside of VR. Released in 2010 the Xbox Kinect, with its most popular game “Kinect Adventures!”, was already outdated since it came four years after the Wii hit shelves. We’re not saying nobody had fun with their Kinect, but it was an add-on a lot of people didn’t want, and “Kinect Adventures!” was the game that happened to be in the bundle. Like everything to do with the Kinect, “Kinect Adventures!” has been forgotten – and ninth gen Xbox consoles don’t even support the device.

#4: “Grand Theft Auto III” (2001)

In 2001, “GTA” burst into the 3D-era of gaming, giving us an unforgettable title about organized crime in the seedy underbelly of Liberty City, rendered in glorious, three-dimensional grime for the first time ever. But the reason “GTA III” has aged poorly is that every single subsequent “GTA” game has been so much better; Rockstar just hasn’t stopped one-upping itself. Claude is one of the least memorable “GTA” protagonists and the controls can be clunky at times. It doesn’t have the stylish aesthetic of “Vice City” or the bombastic heists of “V”. We can definitely forgive this since it was the first to do a lot of things, but that doesn’t make it totally flawless.

#3: “Night Trap” (1992)

Plenty of people absolutely hated “Night Trap” when it was released; it was one of the major causes of the moral panic around video games in the 1990s. But unlike other contentious games from the past, “Night Trap” looks even worse today. In the modern age, gaming is a more diverse industry than ever before, with women making up almost half of all gamers, so it’s no surprise that this game still makes people uncomfortable. “Night Trap” is plain sexist, though it can still appeal to any fan of pulpy, horror b-movies. It’s full of tropes that had already aged poorly in 1992, and since it was re-released in HD, this has only gotten worse.

#2: “Tomb Raider” (1996)

The “Tomb Raider” franchise has been through the wringer, from the series of so-bad-they’re-good movies to a few misfires in the games themselves. It was a series desperately in need of a reboot, and that’s what it got in 2013 when the games were modernized with a new cast and new stories. But the original 1996 title, despite creating one of the most popular characters in gaming, is definitely showing its age. Simply controlling Lara can be extremely difficult – it’s essentially an entirely new skill you might struggle to learn if you didn’t grow up with it. Though, that’s not to say that learning the awkward controls isn’t worthwhile.


#1: “GoldenEye 007” (1997)

We’re sure that lots of gamers have fond memories of playing split-screen “GoldenEye” on the N64 back in the day, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to play split-screen “GoldenEye” today if it just came out. For a start, split-screen in general isn’t always great because you can cheat so easily. But as well as that, even at the time, it wasn’t on the level of other FPSes like “Doom” and “Quake”, which have both endured far better. But “GoldenEye’s” appeal was that it was on consoles, and it heralded the popularity of first-person shooters in the console space for years to come.
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