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1. ToeJam & Earl
ToeJam & Earl is considered the perfect combination of character design, music, and gameplay. But that’s not exactly the truth.
Sure, the designs are neat and the funky music is great. But the gameplay is just a matter of wandering around confusing areas and trying to figure out what the hell each wacky item and character is supposed to do.
Basically, winning this game is like putting together a boring puzzle, but somebody threw away the box so you have no idea what it’s supposed to look like.
2. Ecco the Dolphin
At the time, Ecco the Dolphin seemed like a refreshing departure from typical console games. Controlling a dolphin was neat, and the story (involving strange aliens) was cooler than anyone was expecting.
But your abiding memory of this game is trying to find air for the dolphin with an unexpectedly terrible lung capacity. This, combined with frustrating level design, is like playing a Sonic the Hedgehog game if the entire damn thing was underwater levels.
Even when it first came out, Seaman felt like more of a social experiment than a game. Or maybe just a juvenile trick to make a bunch of teenagers sound like they were saying “semen” when talking about this title.
And Seaman has only gotten worse over time. Simply put, the dubious charm of raising virtual fish has been replaced by a thousand Tamagotchi-esque games and apps. If you want something just as fun as Seaman, go paint your old Dreamcast and then watch the thing dry.
4. Crazy Taxi
If you can actually find a working Crazy Taxi arcade game, then driving feels just as awesome as it did back in the day. The killer soundtrack, vibrating seat, the feel of the gear shift as you executive crazy limits...it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.
Unfortunately, it’s so one-of-a-kind that all the ports are terrible. A controller is no substitute for the original arcade setup. Without that immersive atmosphere, this is just a frustrating racing game with a toe-tapping soundtrack.
5. Altered Beast
Altered Beast was a badass arcade game involving men and monsters. And in the early days of the Sega Genesis, the Altered Beast cartridge was proof that Sega could port these ambitious arcade games to a home console.
But have you actually played Altered Beast lately? As a platformer, it is laughable. As a hack n slash game, it is boring and repetitive. This game may have crawled so later games could run, but it is aggressively annoying to play now.
6. Space Channel 5
Space Channel 5 came back to the forefront of our minds last year with the release of Space Channel 5 VR. Unfortunately, that game was just another reminder that the original Space Channel 5 was not very good.
As a rhythm game, the gameplay is simply “ok.” The graphics and character design really feel like someone phoned it in. And even by the standards of rhythm games, there is just not a lot here to keep your attention.
Seriously: skip this one and go replay Um Jammer Lammy for your nostalgia rhythm game needs!
Shenmue is the kind of game that instantly made history. It combined great graphics with tons of exploration and an immersive design that really brought the world of the game to life.
But when you go back and play this title, exploration and immersion are your biggest enemies. You easily get so caught up in weird sidequests and diversions (like the in-game arcade) that you may never bother with the main storyline.
8. Golden Axe
We use the term “hack n slash” quite a bit to refer to a certain genre of games. But the original Golden Axe arcade game and Genesis port helped to make this kind of game more mainstream.
Unfortunately, the genre has evolved quite a bit past Golden Axe. Compared to similar later titles such as Knights of the Round, this fantasy fighting game is a complete snoozefest.
9. Virtual Fighter
As a kid, seeing Virtua Fighter was like getting a glimpse of the future. All of these other fighting games were in boring 2D while Sega was taking us all into the third dimension.
However, when you get past the 3D gimmick, Virtua Fighter is the kind of game that doesn’t make anyone happy. For casual gamers, the character designs are very boring compared to Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter II. And for hardcore fighting fans, this series wouldn’t have really engaging combat until Virtua Fighter 4.
10. Comix Zone
At first glance, Comix Zone has all the ingredients of a great game. This includes solid character designs, good graphics, and a really sweet premise: a comic book artist gets sucked into his own world and must fight to escape.
But every fight in every panel is basically just the world’s slowest round of Street Fighter. Which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that you only get one life in this game! The only thing keeping it from getting repetitive is the simple fact that you’re not going to make it that far, anyway.
11. Jet Set Radio
When you return to play it, much of Jet Set Radio is still quite charming. This includes top-notch character designs and a truly killer soundtrack.
But the core gameplay mechanic of running around and tagging different areas with your spray cans of paint soon becomes a boring slog. Character handling is very annoying, and the controls (especially on a Dreamcast controller) are much clunkier than you remember.
12. Die Hard Arcade
While they eventually led to some really tedious sequels, the original Die Hard trilogy of movies is rightfully regarded as classic action filmmaking. And many gamers have fond memories of recreating that feeling with the Die Hard Arcade game.
But if we’re being honest, the game had nothing to do with the movies (to the point that it wasn’t even a Die Hard branded game in Japan). And while gameplay had some variety in terms of enemies and multiple weapons, most of the game is like an uglier-looking version of Final Fight that is not nearly as fun to play.
13. TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist
When games got different versions on the SNES and Genesis, there was always constant debate about which version was best. Decades later, it’s time to finally admit that TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist on Genesis is worse than Turtles in Time on the SNES.
The graphics, characters, and enemies are largely the same. But the Genesis version ditches the cool time-travel story for something much, much more forgettable. Playing this version is like watching a sequel to a good movie where everyone involved is just phoning it in.
14. Out Run
Sega was once the master of arcade gaming. And some of their Sega Genesis hit games like Out Run were ports of Sega arcade titles.
However, the Out Run port loses what little charm the arcade game had. While the music is chill and the different possible endings were cool at the time, the Genesis version lacks the tactical experience of sitting behind the wheel at the arcade. And unless you really devote a lot of time to mastering this game, “gameplay” will consist of racing for a short time, the timer running out, and you throwing the controller.
15. Nights Into Dreams
Nights Into Dreams is the closest thing the Sega Saturn had to a signature title. It had fun designs, great music, and interesting level design.With all that being said, it’s tough to go back and play this one.
For all its charms, the game feels like players were asking for Sonic the Hedgehog and mom said they had Sonic at home. Character designs are colorful but not exactly memorable, and the 3D graphics of yesterday haven’t gotten any easier to look at.