Nostalgia is a tricky thing. We can look back on something with fond memories, but in reality, those things tend to age poorly. This can be seen across many forms of entertainment, such as with special effects in movies or TV. And video game consoles are no different. What seemed advanced and groundbreaking back then undoubtedly was. But with the way that technology has advanced, there are certain elements that just seem so primitive in comparison.
Many retro consoles are still considered classics for good reason. What they were able to do at the time pushed the medium that so many of us love towards greatness. But that doesn’t mean that some features would have any place in today’s gaming world. Here are 20 old console features that everyone laughs at today.
20 Memory Cards
While SD cards do exist in order to increase a system’s memory, actual memory cards are certainly relics of the past.
Now, game data can be saved directly to the console. Or you can utilize Cloud saves and just retrieve your data later. Also, memory cards could sometimes become corrupted, making you lose valuable data.
19 Game Boy's Link Cable
Wi-Fi really is a godsend. For the Game Boy line, Nintendo released a link cable so friends could play with one another.
Some of the most popular games it was used for were Tetris and Pokémon Red/Blue so you could battle or trade creatures. The things we had to do without the internet…
18 Xbox DVD Remote
On the cusp of consoles becoming more than just gaming machines, the PS2 also became a DVD player. Microsoft’s first console, the Xbox, wisely followed suit. But there was one disadvantage.
You couldn’t access DVD playback without a specific, separately sold remote. For some reason, you couldn’t use the regular controller to operate the DVD.
17 The N64's Rumble Pak
Every game includes a rumble feature now. Even the indie ones. It allows for players to better feel what they are playing. But the technology didn’t exist until the mid-90s.
Though it was an achievement back then, the N64’s separately sold rumble pak is a strange thing to look back on.
16 Disc Drive Add-Ons
When disc-based media was blossoming in the 90s, Sega released the Sega CD add-on rather than releasing a new console since the Genesis was still relatively new.
It’s a weird, clunky thing that became obsolete when other disc-based consoles began releasing. Nintendo tried something similar for the N64, but it was only released in Japan since it bombed. Hard.
15 Restrictive Controllers
Because games themselves really only allowed for movement and one action, controllers for old consoles were incredibly restrictive.
Those for the Atari 2600 were simply a joystick and a button, and the classic NES controller was just a d-pad and two buttons. These days, it’s only indie games that benefit from these types of controls.
14 Virtual Boy's 3D And Portability
One price of constantly trying to innovate is that not everything works out how you envision. Such is the case with one of Nintendo’s biggest failures, 1995’s Virtual Boy.
The technology behind the idea just wasn’t there. It was meant to provide 3D graphics by looking through a visor. But all it did was cause eye sores and headaches. The “Boy” moniker implied portability but just look at the thing.
13 The Super FX Chip
The Super FX chip was a coprocessor used in select SNES titles to give the impression of 3D graphics. One of the most famous games to utilize it was the first Star Fox game.
Innovative at the time, yes, but it hasn’t aged nearly as well as other games on the platform, whose 16-bit sprites seem timeless.
12 The N64's Graphics Expansion Pak
Nintendo has never been a graphics first kind of company. Even on Switch, some big third party games receive graphical downgrades in order to run.
But for the N64, even some of their own games needed some help. A graphics expansion pak, which was inserted directly into the system, was released for bigger games like Majora’s Mask and Donkey Kong 64.
11 Oddly Shaped Controllers
While controllers for the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch have small differences, they’re mostly the same in order to appeal to a wide span of gamers, but controllers went through many steps to get here.
The Sega Dreamcast’s bulky controller looks unlike anything else I’ve ever seen and the three-pronged N64 controller seems stranger with each passing year.
10 Early 3D Models
There are several reasons why many titles from the beginning of 3D gaming are being remade, and graphics are definitely one of them.
Flat models from earlier consoles have aged better than many early 3D games. They usually featured models made out of strangely shaped blocks, and trying to be more realistic hurt them in the long run.
9 RCA Connectors
It’s a minor inconvenience having to plug three different cables into three specific TV spots as opposed to the one HDMI cable we’re used to today.
But setting that aside, the evolution of HD TVs has actually made all consoles that used RCA cables look blurry. If you’ve ever tried playing an N64 on a modern TV, you know this to be true.
While some peripherals still exist today, they’re not released nearly as frequently as they used to be. Nor are they as bizarre.
Many of them easily landed themselves on several “Worst” lists, such as the NES’s Power Glove that essentially didn’t work. Other weird ones are the Sega Dreamcast’s fishing pole controller and the unwieldy chainsaw-like PS2 controller released for Resident Evil 4.
7 GameCube's GBA Link Cable
If a modern game hid certain features behind a specific peripheral as well as a handheld console, people would riot, but the GameCube did exactly that with its GBA link cable.
I never once got the chance to use the Tingle Tuner found in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker because I never owned a GBA. And as a kid, that was a really big bummer.
6 Disc Trays
Disc trays are flimsy, nervous-inducing features that I’m glad are gone. Now, games slide easily into a console. But even strong consoles like the PS2 and the Xbox 360 used disc trays.
These could often get broken or jammed, meaning you’d have to go searching for ways in order to get them unstuck.
5 SNES's Early Online Capabilities
1995’s Satellaview was a satellite modem attachment released for the SNES only in Japan. It allowed for the console to contact a radio station’s satellite for online capabilities.
Players downloaded different games, magazines, and other materials— but it was only available during certain times of day. Everything would be stored on memory packs which would be rewritten when more content was released. Online gaming has certainly come a long way.
4 Anyone Could Make A Game
Before Nintendo saved the home video game market with their first console in the '80s (and made it so each game had to be approved to work on it), anyone who wanted to make a game could.
This led to an over-saturation on Atari’s consoles of straight-up trash. This also led to the home video game market crash, partially led by an abysmal E.T. adaptation.
3 Cassette Tapes
Cassette tapes, in general, are laughed at by most of us today. They have yet to come back around the way vinyl has. Before the NES, some consoles used cassette tapes to store games.
One of the most famous was the Commodore 64, though it was also a home computer. And these games apparently took a painful amount of time to load.
2 No Save Feature
Can you imagine not being able to save your game progress today? You might not even bother with playing the game at all. But before The Legend of Zelda, that’s the way things were.
In digital versions of their old games, Nintendo has put in save states so players won’t lose progress. That’s nice considering how unquestionably difficult old games are.
1 They Could Only Do One Thing
These days, consoles are used for a lot more than just playing games. Nearly everything has online capabilities now, even if the game is a single-player adventure. Even digital versions of old games implement new online functions, such as with the Switch’s online service.
But you can also stream just about anything you want by using a console.