I tend to buy games a lot when I see them for cheap. And considering there’s a store near me that sells them for dirt cheap ($2.50 or $5.00 sometimes), it’s tempting to pick them up. Occasionally (often, actually), there comes a game that I remember fondly as one that I had always meant to play, but never got around to picking up. Then I see a cheap price tag and the mildest bit of temptation is all I need.
But when I go home and play it, I’m almost always disappointed. The fact is, most games from the last generation simply don’t retain their quality over time, and feel stale, dated and derivative in light of some of the newer releases. Many people love older games, but occasionally this love is fueled by nostalgia. In this case specifically, I’m thinking of last generation games you could pick up right now (without having played them before) and still enjoy the heck out of without feeling like they’re really old. Here are a few of those games.
This is definitely near the top of my list for sure. This RPG starring a wolf in what was essentially a giant world inside of a watercolor painting hasn’t dated much since it’s released. However, that’s probably because there is literally nothing else ever released that’s even mildly like it. What makes Okami so unique is not only its lush visual style (which even today looks fantastic), but its combat and puzzles, which revolve around freezing the screen into a canvas and using a virtual paintbrush to paint different moves and powers on it, which the wolf then uses. This game is still fantastic, and can probably be picked up for really cheap somewhere.
Bully is a game that looks dated, but somehow the gameplay is still original enough to warrant a look if you haven’t tried it before. You play as a school bully who’s pitted against various social groups. Some of the missions are kind of derivative, but the ways you can interact with others in the school are plentiful and hilarious (shooting fire extinguishers at people, throwing stink bombs, shoving kids into lockers) and the combat is actually pretty great and supplements a very lengthy campaign. This game technically isn’t exclusive to the last generation either, as Bully: Scholarship Edition is out on the Xbox 360. Still, though I haven’t played it, I’ve heard the changes may not necessarily be worth the price of the 360 version (I could probably find the PS2 version of Bully for $2.50, whereas the Xbox 360 version would probably still be $10 or so). Definitely one of Rockstar’s best efforts outside of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Burnout 3: Takedown and Burnout: Revenge
I love the Burnout series, but really don’t like the Xbox 360 installment of it. I thought it was boring and poorly structured, compared to the fast paced and intense versions from the last generation. Thankfully for Burnout, aside from visually racing games don’t seem to age so quickly, especially arcade-like ones. And Burnout is still just as fun as ever, and probably the best Burnout experience you’re gonna get if you feel the way I do about the new installment. Definitely check these out if you haven’t played them, because for the likely cheap price they now sell for, they offer tons of great content.
Ratchet and Clank and the Sly Cooper series
I feel as though platformers from the last generation have possibly fared the worst, since gaming has just evolved so much since some of the earlier PS2 ones, especially, released. I’ve picked up games like Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and Klonoa 2 to get a platforming fix only to be sorely disappointed at how poorly they play when I’m spoiled on newer titles (though I guess since they were so long ago, that is to be expected). However, I think the Ratchet and Sly series have fared quite well (I can’t say, though, for Jak, since I never got into those games). Sly 2 and 3 still have pretty cool graphics despite being on PS2, and the Ratchet and Clanks are just so clever and inventive with their gameplay. Also, regarding Sly, I still haven’t seen a cartoony stealth platformer come out since, so that’s probably a good sign. These games are still awesome despite being old, and even though Ratchet has some newer titles out too, they don’t change the gameplay so much as just enhance it in small ways. PS2 Ratchet is still great, and Sly still deserves some credit.
Viewtiful Joe 1 and 2
I feel like cel-shaded games definitely have a graphical advantage when it comes to aging because they’re meant to look cartoony rather than realistic. And Viewtiful Joe still looks pretty good and plays fantastically (but that’s mostly because it was a side-scrolling 2D game to begin with, and in my opinion those don’t really get old). For how old Viewtiful Joe is though, there is an amazing amount of cleverness and originality in it that many games today just can’t match. The second one wasn’t quite as good as the first just because its gameplay was virtually identical, but it’s still surely worth a look.
This Xbox RPG from the makers of Mass Effect still retains a ton of charm and some very competent gameplay, despite a dated and occasionally frustrating interface. Town maps aren’t great and it’s sometimes confusing where you have to go or what you have to do, but despite its last generation graphics, I feel like it would still stack up pretty well to some of the more recent releases when it comes to gameplay. It’s also very lengthy and comes with a pretty interesting story, along with some nice atmosphere. Give Jade Empire a shot if you’re looking for an RPG fix – just because the graphics are dated doesn’t mean the whole game is.
God of War 1 and 2
I had to put these on here even though it’s obvious – God of War is still really, really awesome. These games popularized massive trends that are very clearly continuing today (how many games nowadays have quick-time events?), but I would not argue that any recent games have really improved on what God of War started – it’s still just as great as it always was, and though there are a couple iffy design problems in the first one even since its release (back when I played it at first, I thought the game spent too much time in the same environments), both of the games are still great and worth a look if you haven’t played them (or want to play the third one. Please play the 1st and 2nd first. Just do it).
There are many more games out there that have dated well, but these are just a few to aid consumers looking for a cheap game to play without having to settle for something that isn’t good by today’s standards. These games are still really great, and most certainly show that when you have enough creativity and originality to begin with, sometimes that can really stick. Enjoy!