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1. Kingdom Hearts
Countless gamers list Kingdom Hearts as one of their favorite titles. And we can’t deny that it was fun to see Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters interact. The fighting system, too, was very innovative for the time.
But if we’re being honest, all of this is just window dressing for an utterly incomprehensible plot. In fact, the “story” (which just means characters babbling about light and darkness in endless cutscenes) is just an excuse for colorful combat, which can be fun, but this all doesn’t add up to a good game.
2. Space Invaders
It feels a bit sacrilegious to include Space Invaders on here. After all, this game helped bring the arcade scene to life. And it was this very game that brought a high-score mechanic to gaming.
But as a shooter, this game isn’t much fun to return to. Simple movement, slow rates of fire, and boring enemies add up to a pretty “ho-hum” experience. Basically, anybody who played Galaga knows how limited Space Invaders really is.
3. Mortal Kombat
As a franchise, Mortal Kombat reinvented the fighting genre. And with its blood and fatalities, it ensured this genre was no longer very kid-friendly.
While later titles got pretty inventive, the original Mortal Kombat looks very bland in retrospect. It plays very slowly, and the fatalities are largely hit and miss. And outside of Goro’s fun design, the villains of the game are pretty bland.
As a kid, I played the hell out of Pitfall! It was one of the best Atari 2600 games at the time, and it helped to show what a gaming platformer can do.
But real talk: have you played this lately? It’s really just a handful of screens, the same few things on every other screen, and some really fiddly jumping mechanics. You can only miss that alligator head jump so many times before you decide to go play a Mario game instead.
5. Double Dragon
Double Dragon is one of those venerable titles for old-school gamers. And it definitely deserves props for helping to pioneer the sidescrolling beat’em up genre.
But like all games of that genre, things get really repetitive really quickly. And once you get past the handful of interesting character and level designs, you are left with a game where you do the same thing over and over again.
The one redeeming factor: that two-player fighting mode was pretty damn cool!
6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has enjoyed its own renaissance in recent years. Players love to praise the unique story and the surprisingly bleak tone of the game.
However, there are many things to make you pull your hair out. This includes repetitive battles, dumb fetch quests, and one of the worst save systems you will ever encounter. No matter what silly mask you throw on the cartridge, this game’s annoying.
7. Super Mario Land
Super Mario Land gets a lot of love for being the first Mario title on the Game Boy. However, that alone doesn’t make this an amazing title.
The truth is that everything about this game screams “Dollar Tree Mario.” The enemies are weird, the controls are too loose, and many of the levels (like airplane and submarine stages) don’t even feel like a Mario game.
8. Mega Man
As a franchise, Mega Man is a victim of its own success. For example, it’s easy to think this is a good game...until you play almost any of the sequels.
The controls aren’t as precise as they are in later games, and the level design alternates between bad and boring. Also, buckle up for some real difficulty: there are wildly difficult enemies and bosses and not an E-tank insight.
Oh, and if you make it that far, fights like The Yellow Devil will definitely make you toss the controller through your TV!
9. Dark Souls
Dark Souls has the dubious honor of being the ultimate “gatekeeper” game. Those who have beaten it pride themselves as being true gamers. And if anyone complains about this game being hopelessly overrated, they are attacked by a truly toxic community.
The truth is that Dark Souls is nothing more than a series of boss fights. Some are cooler than others, and you might even have some fun despite the bad controls. But you’ll eventually long for more than a crumb of story.
And before anyone comments: item descriptions do not add up to a good story. And putting up with an endlessly frustrating game in hopes of seeing a cool item description is just downright sad.
10. Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail should receive plenty of praise as an educational game. It was designed by teachers as a teaching tool, and is easily one of the best bits of “edutainment” ever made.
With that being said, basic gameplay is more like a “choose your own adventure.” Come up with something to do and simply see what happens. It’s obviously funny when your character immediately dies of something like dysentery, but it turns out that many of the scientific and historical lessons in the game are wrong.
So, we’re left with something that is, at best, not fun and at worst, misleading. You’ll be rooting to die in the next attack simply to get out of playing this damn game!
11. Tomb Raider
In terms of cultural influence, Tomb Raider was insanely important. Lara Croft became more than a mascot: she became a household name, even for people who had never so much as looked at a PlayStation.
But in terms of “fun,” the first Tomb Raider game is awful. The blocky boobs are funny for about five seconds...until you realize that all of the graphics are really rough. And the controls aren’t as responsive as they should be, which is a real dealbreaker in a platformer-based puzzle game.
Maybe Lara could invade my own tomb? Because my willingness to play through this title died a long, long time ago.
12. Resident Evil
Resident Evil is pretty much the game version of “you have to learn how to crawl before you can walk.” Once Resident Evil 4 came out, the game design reached new heights of running, gunning, and fighting hordes of monsters.
But those later games help to underscore just how bad the original Resident Evil is. Terrible live-action acting, worse voice acting, and “tank” controls that make you want to throw the controller. Just do yourself a favor and stick with the remake.
13. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire/strong>
For N64 fans, Shadows of the Empire was insanely cool at the time. It brought the Star Wars universe to life in ways that the NES and SNES never could.
But have you gone back to play it recently? Outside of the snowspeeder level, the actual platforming and gunning down Stormtroopers is pretty mediocre. And the later attempts to mix in variety with on rails speeder bike and ship sequences fail, as those are some of the worst sections in the game.
Here’s a riddle: when does success also spell failure? The answer: when you create a game like Shenmue.
On one hand, the game deserves massive props for giving us a cool soundtrack and a world full of so many interactive objects. On the other hand, it’s easy to get bogged down with all the little things and turn this into a walking simulator.
Seriously, have you ever heard a Shenmue fan talk about how cool it is that you can pick up food, flush toilets, and play video games within this game? I can do all of these things in real life, too, and I don’t expect anybody to think my mundane daily adventures comprise some kind of epic tale.
15. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII has a lot going for it. The game helped to bring many new gamers to the RPG fold, and it helped to demonstrate the power of the PlayStation. And it’s worth noting that part one of the remake was one of the best games of 2020.
But there is a lot of baffling stuff going on in this original game. The “Popeye” style character designs are uglier than you remember, and the plot is an incomprehensible mess. And while they are novel at first, the game’s minigames can quickly get annoying, especially once you start breeding those damn Chocobos.
My advice? Stick with the remake and put this old game back on the shelf where it belongs.