Time is not always kind to videogames. Where accessible, instant classics like Super Mario Bros, Tetris and Sonic the Hedgehog continue to age with grace, other gems have started to fade in the sun.
Now, every game on this list was a classic at some point in time – and we should never forget the colossal, genre defining impact each one has had on the industry over the years.
Hell, I’m sure we all still pick up and play most of these games to this day and love them – but if we put nostalgia to one side and imagine these titles were to come out for the first time in 2016, then it becomes clear that they’ve aged pretty badly.
Sonic Adventure 1 & 2
This hurts me more than it hurts you. I love Sonic Adventure and its sequel. I love Chaos, and Shadow the Hedgehog, and the awful voice acting, and the brilliantly cheesy rock soundtrack.
Unfortunately, I don’t love the awful camera that often cause you to run over edges, the constant glitches that see you running through walls to your death, or the imprecise controls (come to think of it, I’m not actually too crazy about the awful voice acting).
The Sonic Adventure Games had such an impossible job – bringing Sonic into 3D was arguably much harder than doing the same to Zelda or Mario, but SEGA and Sonic Team did a great job – for the time.
To play Sonic Adventure now – especially compared to games like Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations – just shows how much better SEGA has gotten at perfecting the formula in 3D (even if it still isn’t quite perfect).
When people ask for Resident Evil to return to its roots, I sincerely hope they don’t mean they want it to go back exactly as it was – because it’s honestly kind of a ballache to play these days.
Laughably over-dramatic or ingeniously underwhelming were the two settings the voice actors apparently had to go off. Combine that with visuals that have held up worse than wet cake, and those God awful tank controls.
I get that Resident Evil was terrifying (at least in part) thanks to the nature of the camera and controls. When the act of simply turning to shoot an approaching zombie can take an age, the tension is ramped up.
But other games have taught us that you can move like an actual human being in a videogame and still have be a scary experience.
There’s a good reason Capcom decided to include new control options in the Resident Evil remaster, because even they know it’s dated.
Another classic that has been let down by time thanks to the extremely limiting nature of the controls. Tomb Raider was a gem that kicked off an incredible franchise – but the first game really doesn’t hold up.
Even the simple things like jumping, or stopping to pick up an item become a nightmarish gauntlet of angles, timings, and precise button inputs.
We all love a challenge, but every individual action in Tomb Raider quickly becomes outright exhausting.
As time has gone by, inventory management, platforming, and combat of all kinds have all been streamlined and often work with each other flawlessly in modern games.
I know – this is probably heresy to even suggest. However, when you compare Pokemon Red and Blue to their more recent brethren, the originals are slow, ugly, and generally not great to play.
To clarify, this has nothing to do with the amount or quality of modern Pokemon creatures themselves. This is entirely down to how a Pokemon game actually flows – something which has been constantly streamlined over the past two decades.
Here’s what Pokemon has now: Wireless trading and battles over the internet, a much smoother menu/inventory, battles that are actually fully animated and in 3D, lovely stylised cartoon graphics, and battles that run so much faster than they used to.
Yes, Red and Blue is where it all started for a lot of us. It’s just unfortunate that they are objectively the clunkiest games in the franchise, and have been for years.
One thing I will say in defence of Crash Bandicoot before we get into this, is that I think Naughty Dog’s breakthrough title is still quite a nice looking game compared to other PlayStation titles.
With that said, it’s time to take off the the rose tinted glasses and remember that the Bandicoot was actually met with a pretty cold critical reception back in 1996.
Crash wasn’t exactly a dream to control, and using a D-Pad to navigate a 3D platformer felt dirty and wrong. That, combined with a crap camera that had a habit of being as awkward as possible just makes for a fairly lame experience.
With that said, I’m hoping the upcoming remasters can recapture how Crash Bandicoot made gamers feel back in the day, while making sure it’s decent by modern standards.
Super Mario 64
Legend has it that if you say a bad word about the seminal Super Mario 64, Shigeru Miyamoto himself crawls through your mirror at night and steals your soul.
Still, I’ll risk it.
Super Mario 64 is responsible for so many amazing videogames, but Mario’s 3D debut was never a perfect game, and compared to games like Mario Galaxy or 3D World, it just doesn’t hold up.
Where 2D Mario has remained unchanged for over thirty years, it was always clear with Mario 64 that there was room to improve the formula.
Improved technology can now bring the Plumber’s round and colourful world to life in the way it deserves, as well as give us more visually diverse worlds with way more gameplay variety, tighter controls, and a camera that doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.
Surprisingly, the majority of NES games are still remarkably tight and relatively easy to pick up and play. The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man 2 might be immensely challenging, but that’s usually by design.
Not so with the original Metroid – a game that threw you into a 2D labyrinth of very similar looking rooms and expected you to get on with it without so much as a map.
Really, Metroid plays fine, and both sounds and looks decent for the time. It’s the one glaring omission in the form of a map so you can at least see where you’ve been that makes the original such a chore to play.
With that in mind, Metroid Zero Mission is an excellent remake that takes the time to correct the navigational niggles, and the game is much, much smoother for it.
Mortal Kombat was all about one thing back in the day: extreme, brutal, and terrifyingly visceral violence – but what do you do when technology advances, and that ‘realistic’ violence ends up looking ridiculous?
Mortal Kombat was shocking for what it was back in the day, in the same that a Victorian woman showing off a bit of ankle would have caused quite a stir in 1863.
But times have changed, and neither poorly animated sprites pulling each other apart nor the female ankle causes the slightest bit of bother these days.
Basically, all you need to do is compare a fatality from the original to some of the newer (and much more gruesome) efforts. We can always count on the Mortal Kombat franchise to pioneer disgustingly visceral content.
While it might be a bummer to acknowledge that some of the greatest games from our pasts have started to rot somewhat, it is a testament to the evolution of the industry that yesterday’s classics are today’s clunkers.
Maybe 25 years from now we’ll sit around talking about how The Last of Us is dogshit by modern standards because it isn’t controlled via the microchip in your brain – we just don’t know.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.