Gaming has always been about pushing the boundaries of the hardware. Whether it was 3D on the Sega Saturn or too many sprites on screen at one time in Gradius III on the Super Nintendo, developers have consistently pushed the envelope. Sometimes these are awesome games such as Star Fox on SNES but other times they are just jumbled messes, like the titles we are featuring here in this article.
Duke Nukem 3D on the Game.com hand held
Duke Nukem 3D was a phenomenon of sorts in gaming. The only home console port was for the Sega Genesis and that was only released in Brazil. Over in the mobile world though, the Game.com from Tiger Electronics received a version of Duke Nukem 3D. If you thought the Sega Genesis version (which is to see a wider release soon) was lacking then you haven’t seen anything yet. The Game.com version is rough, and that is being generous. For those that don’t know, the Game.com is a black and white hand held with very limited graphics capabilities, slightly better than the original Game Boy but not as good as the Game Boy Color. Animation is jerkier than the original and the play area seems to be “layered”. The turning animation and doors opening is slow and rough to take in this day and age. If you are a diehard Duke Nukem 3D fan you will want this version in your collection but for everyone else, this is hell in videogame form.
Doom on 3DO
Doom, the iconic first person shooter that set the PC world ablaze, didn’t do so well on the 3DO. This was a gaming travesty of magnificent proportions that the gaming world has, thankfully, not seen since. Doom was not a game that pushed the graphics all that hard but the 3DO version made it seem like it was an amazing feat of the programming gods to even be running on the hardware. Keep in mind, around this time, Doom hit the Super Nintendo (!) and Sega 32X, both of which are better ports. The only port worse than the 3DO version is the Sega Saturn version of Doom but that was bad not because of hardware problems, that was sad for a whole different set of reasons.
Vortex for the Super Nintendo
Okay, the Super FX chip was supposed to improve our gaming lives by giving developers a fair bit of more power for their games which should have translated into better games for us to play. Right? Wrong. While Nintendo was able to pull out a decently playable game in Star Fox using the Argonaut Software developed Super FX chip. Vortex, unfortunately was not helped by the fact that Argonaut Software was the developer. Yep, the people that created the freaking chip couldn’t turn out a decent game using it. The draw distance nearly destroys Vortex, it is almost as close as Duke Nukem 3D on the Game.com hand held. This could have been due to the fact that the allotted memory for Vortex was cut in half prior to release but still, there were problems with Vortex that screamed pushing hardware too far.
Dragon’s Lair for the Nintendo NES
What do you do when you want to port a full motion video (FMV) game from the arcades to a console that has trouble stringing more than a few frames of partial screen animation together? Why, you change the format of the game completely and then over animate it to the point that the NES was choking hard to keep up so the game has an overall feel of being SLOOOOOW. Had CSG Imagesoft released this on the Sega Genesis or later on the Super Nintendo then it would probably be a lot smoother. The NES simply could not keep up with the overwhelming amount of animation it had to sort through. Couple that with deadly precise timing and you have a recipe for a bad game that simply pushed too hard on its cartridge confine.
Just about every game on the Game Boy
It may sound like a cop out using a console as the final entry in this article but for retro gamers out there that are new to the scene, this is one to watch out for. The original Game Boy is dirt cheap but that screen is the worst. Anything that moves even a little bit will be blurred to the point of nearly recognizability. Sadly, there were a lot of good games released for this hand held from Nemesis II by Konami to the Batman games by Sunsoft, and other companies. If you are new to retro gaming, grab a Game Boy Color instead of the original Game Boy so you can enjoy the black and white games the right way.
There you go, our five choices for games that pushed the hardware they were on to their limits. Do you have a list of games that pushed harder than the hardware could? We want to hear them!