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Highly rated games that dated dreadfully


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Surely the correct answer to this is Goldeneye, which makes the upcoming remaster/reissue particularly interesting. 

 

I posted the Direct reveal trailer on a Whatsapp group with a bunch of friends who are fairly casual gamers but also exclusively men in their thirties, and so naturally are all people who were obsessed with Goldeneye in their childhood/teens. Four or so people replied and all said they had attempted to go back to the game recently and found it unplayable, and so basically greeted the announcement with a big shrug. 

 

Edit: I've just seen it's the second game mentioned :facepalm:

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I replayed Goldeneye about ten years after the fact and found it held up quite well. Of course ten years is not 25 years, but I’m cautiously excited for the rerelease. 
 

My pick, not so much mechanically but in terms of structure, storytelling, general game design and changing expectations for indie titles -  Cave Story. 

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To be honest the only one I really loved at the time was Goldeneye so maybe I'm not the right one to say, but I'd expand it to a fair chunk of 'peak' Rare's output. Especially the n64 stuff.

 

Jet Set Radio pains me but having tried to go back to it recently, I think it's probably true. Too much of it is just aggravating to actually play. It's been so long since I played Future that I have no idea if the same can be said of that.

 

MDK is a good shout, along with some others from that era of PC games with awkward control schemes that seem very weird to us now. Special shoutout to Crusader: No Remorse which I found very close to unplayable recently. The Ultima Underworld games are influential almost beyond compare and what they were doing was staggering for the time but they're in desperate need of a new source port or something because they're very rough to play today in their original forms. I'd love to see Night Dive or someone get their hands on those.

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2 hours ago, Uncle Nasty said:

 

Games are the only form of entertainment/art that almost never improve with age as literature, film and music do. There are extremely rare exceptions but as this thread will demonstrate, nothing is sacred in gaming. Retro is a lovely little nostalgia escape, but for most of us five minutes of ZX Spectrum loading screens on Youtube is enough to scratch the itch. Games just don't hold up for the most part.

 

 

 

No art really improves or gets worse over time. The context within which it is evaluated simply changes. Many films from people's childhoods for example are being re-examined in modern moral contexts and come across quite badly as a result. Like film though, you can still evaluate and enjoy something in the context of when it was made, and games are not an exception to that.

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2 minutes ago, Novelty Bobble said:

I haven't played it for over twenty years but I remember struggling with the controls and thinking the framerate was shit on Turok 2 (N64) when I was 13 and had no real critical faculties whatsoever. God only knows how bad it would be to play now. 

Nightdive's remasters of 1&2 eliminate those issues, leaving you to find if the game is to your taste. I quite enjoyed playing these versions.

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5 hours ago, Harsin said:

Dragon Age Inquisition.

 

It had glowing reviews and won game of the year awards. But it seemed to get memory holed in double quick time. While it’s not remembered as a bad game per se, its main legacy seems to be oh yeah that’s the one with loads of worthless MMO style fetch quests when people talk about it.

 

I only played it last year and loved it. I think the problem was the Witcher 3 coming out 6 months later, but I hated the latter because the wizard vision or whatever it was called gave me spectacular headaches and I had to give up after a couple of hours. 

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38 minutes ago, Rsdio said:

To be honest the only one I really loved at the time was Goldeneye so maybe I'm not the right one to say, but I'd expand it to a fair chunk of 'peak' Rare's output. Especially the n64 stuff.

 

 

Banjo Kazooie has aged well, I think. Still a great 3d platformer.

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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is my nomination. Massively praised by the press when new, but less than six months later Goldeneye 007 completely showed it up – much more modern and innovative (for 1997!) gameplay and design, and crucially showed that FPSes on the Nintendo 64 needn’t be cloaked in thick fog. The game is barely a footnote in the N64’s history these days, which says a lot given it was considered the big western, third party launch game.

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In the actual spirit of this thread (rather than just telling you all about games I didn't like at the time and still don't like): the early Looking Glass games — Ultima Underworld I&II and System Shock. I mean, I love the games to bits, and they're incredible milestones... But near-unplayable now compared to the simpler dungeon crawlers and FPS's they are contemporaries of. They were pushing the boundaries so far that they are more or less uncontrollable now, and their engines have not fared well (though System Shock's aesthetic actually holds up quite well).

 

It's why I'm glad of the System Shock remake, and would welcome the same for the UU games; they're games which would massively benefit from it. By contrast, no matter what you think of e.g. The Last of Us (or, to take a game I love, Shadow of the Colossus), those are titles that really didn't need remastering to be appreciated for what they are. But these early, clunky, ambitious titles? They're the perfect choices for such treatment.

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4 hours ago, Uncle Nasty said:

 

Games are the only form of entertainment/art that almost never improve with age as literature, film and music do. There are extremely rare exceptions but as this thread will demonstrate, nothing is sacred in gaming. Retro is a lovely little nostalgia escape, but for most of us five minutes of ZX Spectrum loading screens on Youtube is enough to scratch the itch. Games just don't hold up for the most part.

 

 

 

I don't agree with this in general, but specifically I think there's entire genres that once they became established and hardware could run them comfortably became essentially future proof. The more abstracted the game is from the thing it portrays or the more concerned it is with designed mechanics over simulation, the more immune to technological advances it is - so Shmups, fighting games, tactics and strategy games, RPGs, classic style arcade games, rougelikes, platformers.

 

Even when a genre veers more towards realism or simulation over time, I think there's almost always space for older games to still shine. I think NHL 95 and Sensible Soccer are as enjoyable as they've ever been. EA even started putting "anniversary" and "classic" modes in the new NHL games. There's a reason people still play SF2 Super Turbo, Third Strike and KoF 94.

 

So I don't think it's rare exceptions. I think huge numbers of games are as good today as they were when they were made.

 

There is a specific way of appreciating games that's tied up in advancing technology and there's a huge number of people out their who view some kind of holodeck experience as the ultimate end point of gaming. And in that case - maybe a 2D fighting game really does stop holding up after 3D fighting games came along, I remember people saying that back in the PS1 era. And maybe 3D beat-em-ups won't hold up when we have the holodeck. I remember someone on here years ago arguing that turn based games should be done away with as they were only a thing that existed because hardware wasn't advanced enough to provide those experiences in real time.

 

I don't really have an argument against that point of view if that's how someone experiences games. 


And there's always games that by chasing the cutting edge of what was possible - like say, Midwinter or Ultima Underworld or each successive version of Flight Simulator - that risk being made irrelevant in comparison to what comes after them.

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Star Fox and Stunt Race FX are pretty big examples. Both had very positive critical response, particularly Star Fox, which was pretty astounding for a cartridge-based console game in 1993. However, both were eclipsed by games on new rival hardware, making the flat-shaded, low framerate traditional 3D look obsolete – remember for context that Stunt Race FX/Wildtrax was released in the same calendar year as PlayStation Ridge Racer!

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3 hours ago, DualSense said:


Do you mean when your are trapped by the Ferris wheel?  The soldiers arrive the same way you did, through the swimming pool building and are dropped in by helicopter rather than spawning in.   It is relentless and very silly though but I consider it iconic. It still holds up really well against the later cod titles as the core gameplay has remained essentially the same. 
 

now the original Call of Duty on PC..that’s hard work.

The first wave of soldiers that's dropped in makes sense but for subsequent waves there are a handful of points where the soldiers magically appear from. Its one of those things that you can't unsee once you've spotted it and the campaign has a lot of spots like that where the enemy is obviously teleporting into position. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Stanley said:

Luckily they redeemed themselves with Manhunt which still has the best gun combat ...

 

I'm currently revisiting Manhunt for the first time in about 18 years, and I think this comment is worth an expansion.

 

I absolutely adored the game when I first played it, in particular the way that the guns empowered the player, shifting your behaviour from slinking in the shadows and avoiding any confrontation, to being a powerful instrument of vengeful death. At the same time, the enemy was similarly buffed. Getting caught in the open was a death sentence. You still needed your wits, attacking from the shadows or around corners. Instead of feeling like Duke Nukem, you were John McClane - vulnerable, but smart, and more than capable with it.

 

In 2022, I was interested to see how much of that holds up. The controls are clunky with some odd button choices (A for shoot, RT for sprint?), the cover is a little sticky and fiddly to get used to, and there are more than a few points where the game resorts to sticking you and the enemy behind waist-high walls and turning the whole thing into a scene from Police Squad.

 

And yet, armed with a shotgun and stalking the corridors, listening out for the next poor sap who crosses your path, the game still evokes the same tension and thrill as it did back then. I'd absolutely love a modern remake that really leans into the gunplay, because there are few games like it.

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I loved Final Fantasy VIII when I played it as a kid but I tried to go back to it with the remaster a few years ago and boy are there some questionable decisions in that game. The whole mechanic behind junctioning where the game expects you to sit and spam draw on an enemy to take magic out and then junction it is extremely boring. I gave up halfway through after the second time the games magic went up a "tier".

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1 hour ago, Fry Crayola said:

 

I'm currently revisiting Manhunt for the first time in about 18 years, and I think this comment is worth an expansion.

 

I absolutely adored the game when I first played it, in particular the way that the guns empowered the player, shifting your behaviour from slinking in the shadows and avoiding any confrontation, to being a powerful instrument of vengeful death. At the same time, the enemy was similarly buffed. Getting caught in the open was a death sentence. You still needed your wits, attacking from the shadows or around corners. Instead of feeling like Duke Nukem, you were John McClane - vulnerable, but smart, and more than capable with it.

 

In 2022, I was interested to see how much of that holds up. The controls are clunky with some odd button choices (A for shoot, RT for sprint?), the cover is a little sticky and fiddly to get used to, and there are more than a few points where the game resorts to sticking you and the enemy behind waist-high walls and turning the whole thing into a scene from Police Squad.

 

And yet, armed with a shotgun and stalking the corridors, listening out for the next poor sap who crosses your path, the game still evokes the same tension and thrill as it did back then. I'd absolutely love a modern remake that really leans into the gunplay, because there are few games like it.

Thank you for taking the time to post this, I must admit when I commented I hadn’t played it myself for about ten years, so I’m glad it still holds up :)

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8 minutes ago, Hideous Kojima said:

 

I playing Jumping Flash for the first time recently and found the platforming to be surprisingly responsive and well-done.

Quote the entire thing my man:

9 hours ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

As has been said, any 3D title. But even then there are exceptions. 

 

Kula World is the first example that comes to my mind 

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4 hours ago, DualSense said:


It’s expected of the genre thought isn’t it..the monster closet.  Bit unfair to pick out MW for it.  

Its really noticeable in MW once you've played later CoDs. The various CoD developers have gotten really good at hiding stuff like that. 

 

MW probably isn't the best choice for something like this as it's gotten so many sequels and all the rough edges have been smoothed off. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, footle said:

Gran Turismo.

Entirely because of context: 30fps, low res.

 

I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?

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36 minutes ago, Phantoon said:

I disagree with almost all of the "this game is old, therefore all the good has somehow leeched out" nonsense. GoldenEye is still good because it hasn't been superceded; modern shooters do not do what it does at all. Play it on an emulator that sorts the frame rate out and that becomes clearer. Some games do age, but for the classics it's only ever because less original people rip them off but do it better with the benefit of hindsight.

 

I do kind of agree with Turok, but I think it's slightly unfair. It was the first shooter to show that consoles could do FPS - its default controls were the recipe for the future, not GoldenEye's. It also lays the ground for other stone cold classics; many of the people behind it are also behind Metroid Prime and if you squint a bit you can see the DNA there. The jumping is similar, the way the levels are laid out has some similarities too. I think the Nightdive re-release actually gives a good case for it being worthy of respect - in its own way it was hugely ambitious.

 

Now Turok 2 aged quite a bit worse in my opinion.

 

Is the only way a game ages by being superseded?

 

I'd argue that games can age even if they're entirely unique. They can look old. They can feel mechanically tired or sluggish. They can use music of its time that hasn't held up well.

 

At the same time, some games that have been utterly replaced may still not age. To many maybe original GameBoy Tetris hasn't aged a day.

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