In today’s gaming world, it’s important to remember that graphics aren’t everything. The most beautiful game will still suffer greatly if the characters or story are uninteresting or, more importantly, if the gameplay is just no fun. Graphics can help in the “wow” factor, but they don’t normally make or break a game.
That being said, there are some games that have not aged particularly well in that area. The dawn of 3D console gaming features a bevy of titles that look embarrassingly bad now. Even the generation beforehand, which usually showcased wonderful 16-bit games whose looks are timeless, isn’t immune to the passage of time. Such is the case with all technology: looking back will show how far we’ve come.
Some of these games are still fun to play while others were never fun to begin with. Regardless, here are 20 old games that look terrible today.
20 GoldenEye 007
Undoubtedly making everyone’s list for games that haven’t aged well is GoldenEye 007. There’s no denying that James Bond’s adventure served as an introduction to the FPS genre for many and provided hours of multiplayer fun.
But there’s also no denying that this game looks, and controls, pretty horrendously when compared to today’s shooters. The blocky character models, accentuated by big, expressionless heads, stand out against the entirely bland levels.
19 Resident Evil
It’s hard to believe we were all so utterly terrified of this game in 1996. I can remember my heart pounding against my chest as a zombified dog crashed through a window and pursued me.
The series has come a long, long way. Now that dog, along with any other enemy in the game, looks silly thanks to blurry character models. The weird camera angles throughout certainly don’t help.
18 Final Fantasy VII
It’s a good thing this game is currently being remade. Fans may have incredibly fond memories of this entry, but it was also the first to be in 3D. And it’s immediately obvious by the character design.
Cloud’s noodle-like arms look incredibly strange. But the game also utilized environments that were drawn two-dimensionally when their character models were 3D, making them stand out in a bad way.
17 Tomb Raider
I love the Tomb Raider series. Delving into mysterious locations in a game will always be fun. But I have no reason to ever go back and play the first one.
It’s not that I wouldn’t still get enjoyment through the gameplay, but it looks downright awful. Textures of the levels are blurry and there are sharp edges to character models, especially in a certain physical aspect of Lara Croft.
16 Sonic Adventure
The character models of Sonic’s first 3D outing have actually aged better than some. But they’re still pretty clunky. It’s when you compare them to the surrounding environments that you notice how poor the game looks.
The character models have a certain shininess to them, which makes them stand out against the dull look of the levels. It also has some of the worst lip-syncing in cutscenes I’ve ever witnessed.
15 Metal Gear Solid
There are some early 3D games that suffer from expressionless faces on their characters. But at least in those cases, you can actually see their face.
This is the graphical aspect Metal Gear Solid struggles the most in. The characters don’t even have eyes and every other feature is blurred. They may as well all be wearing masks.
14 Mario Kart 64
Some players still defend Mario Kart 64 as the best racer ever made. There’s no refuting its impact and it’s still fun to play today.
But we’re not talking about old games that are still fun to play. And Mario Kart 64 looks like garbage. The character designs, which have fuzzy edges, are unremarkable. And the levels are somewhat blurry, making it hard to know when a turn is coming.
13 Twisted Metal
Okay, I take it back. Mario Kart 64 looks bad but this looks like garbage. And it’s undoubtedly thanks to the more realistic look than anything else.
This mayhem-filled vehicular combat game wanted to be as brutal as it could. So it needed gritty, urban settings. However, these textureless environments are amazingly bland over 20 years later. The blurred buildings feature only a couple of pixels.
12 Superman 64
Superman 64 is one of the most infamous video game bombs of all time. Many games on this list look bad by today’s standards, but Superman 64 looked bad in 1999.
Two decades later and “bad” has turned to “horrendous.” Flat character models are one thing. But obscured foggy environmental aspects through open, content-lacking levels are another.
11 Star Fox
Star Fox 64, while showing its age, doesn’t look nearly bad enough to land it on this list. Its predecessor, however, certainly does.
Released in 1993 for the SNES, Star Fox simulated 3D in a 2D era with its special Super FX chip. Groundbreaking at the time, sure. But now, every object looks like flat, single-colored shapes stuck together.
10 Virtua Fighter
When coming up with this list, I knew I had to pick one of the earliest 3D arcade fighters. The first Tekken crossed my mind, but then I remembered that Virtua Fighter exists.
The way that the characters are comprised of multiple flat edges to give the impression of curvature looks really unnatural now. But even ignoring that, their designs are still very generic.
It’s only natural that any free-to-play game isn’t going to feature the most stellar graphics. I’m sure in 20 years or so, we’ll think Fortnite looks abysmal.
So, RuneScape. Released in 2001, it was one of the most popular MMORPGs around. But it looks like it was created in Microsoft Paint. The graphics are fuzzy, with character models that are not very well defined.
8 Super Smash Bros.
If you take a character model from Super Smash Bros. and compare it to that in the character’s stand-alone N64 game, it definitely comes up short.
The level designs hold up fairly well, as they’re still used unchanged in the newest Smash entry. But the characters all look kind of blocky and unimaginative.
7 Grand Theft Auto
It can be fun to see how a franchise has grown. And in the case of Grand Theft Auto, it’s a really good thing it moved away from the top-down view.
That initial design meant no connection with the character you were playing as, but it also suffered from typical/unremarkable city landscapes and flat looking graphics when it should have felt 3D as it was on the PlayStation.
6 Street Fighter
Street Fighter II is one of those timeless looking 16-bit titles and it’s been re-released multiple times thanks to that and the fact that it’s still fun to play. The first one… is just the first one.
Every character looks basic and boring as do the bland levels. The sequel would improve on literally every aspect tenfold.
5 Body Harvest
Some of you may not remember Body Harvest for the N64, but maybe that’s for the best. It followed a genetically engineered super-soldier who could time travel and had to fight off an alien attack that happened once every 25 years.
It received average reviews, but it was definitely not a great looking game. Its blurry, wide empty spaces look even worse now.
4 Altered Beast
There is a certain nostalgia surrounding this side-scrolling Sega title that led many to proclaim it as a great game. And I’ll admit I used to succumb to it. But Altered Beast is a genuinely bad game.
There are many aspects that aren’t great, but this list is about graphics. And the graphics here are really fuzzy and blurred by 1988’s standards, let alone today’s.
Pac-Man should really stick to mazes. Setting aside how truly unremarkable the gameplay of this side-scrolling arcade game is, the graphics are something to behold.
Terrible, yes, but still something to behold. Almost every object and piece of each level is made up entirely of a single color. Which makes them look less like levels and more like the moving artwork of a five-year-old.
2 Bubsy 3D
There have been few games released that are as painfully awful as Bubsy 3D on the PlayStation. I won’t get into every aspect that makes it horrible, but trust me, it’s literally every aspect.
I’m not sure which is worse: the foggy, empty levels of Superman 64 or the barrage of mix-matched colors seen in Bubsy 3D. And every character model has sharp, unattractive edges.
1 Silent Hill
When it was released, Silent Hill was a horrifying experience. The game relied on isolation and nightmare-inducing creature designs to frighten players.
But, as is the case with Resident Evil, those creatures are now laughably tame and muddled. Though the fog (which is everywhere) was written in as a story element, it was really due to graphical limitations at the time. And it makes the title definitely show its age.