Some video games feature beautiful art styles that stand the test of time, despite their graphics becoming more and more outdated. Others just look like dumpster fires.
When Sony’s Playstation came out in 1995, its impressive visuals revolutionized home entertainment. For the first time ever, players could lose themselves in meticulously crafted, lush 3D worlds from the comfort of their couches.
It was a big step up from the fake 3D of last generation’s bestseller, Nintendo’s Super Nintendo. Games like Super Mario Kart and Starwing were able to pull off impressive effects, but the PS1 blew them out of the water. A great example is Spyro the Dragon, one of the system’s flagship titles that came out in 1998, featuring well-designed characters and beautiful scenery.
Three years later, and a full six years after the console, Electronic Arts released Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The movie had been an instant hit, so expectations were set high for the game.
But for some reason, the virtual wizarding world was filled with terribly distorted characters, drawing a fine line between a pixelated mess and a provocative work of art.
You know the story — Harry turns up at Hogwarts, becomes friends with Ron and Hermione, and hangs out with Hagrid. After playing some Quidditch, it becomes clear one of the school’s teachers merged with Voldemort and has to be killed. The movie is exciting enough for kids, without getting too scary. The game? It’s absolutely terrifying.
The franchise’s familiar faces look hilariously disfigured at best, but they can glitch to a point where they look like something from a J.K. Rowling fever dream.
It’s really hard for game developers to get audiences to look good, but this gang of undead LEGO bricks deserves a special prize. At least Harry thinks it’s fine.
Even though Hagrid was everyone’s favorite friendly giant in the movie, EA somehow turned him into a blocky monster, intermittently flopping a shapeless limb — his arm? — against his side.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo introduced cinema to the trumpet shot, which can be used for dramatic effect. It’s nice to see the game pay tribute to the legendary director with this horrific shot of McGonagall.
I didn’t like Filch as a kid, and I don’t like him now. But I can’t help but be sorry for what they did to his face.
Who is this Slytherin guy? What is he trying to tell us? Did the animators for this game get fired? So many questions, and they’re all left unanswered.
I don’t even know what’s happening here. But seriously, what the fuck.
Current game graphics have advanced so much that you could never get away with this level of blobbiness anymore, even for a power franchise. But perhaps one day, when everyone has a virtual reality setup in their living rooms, we will look back on some of 2017’s games with wondrous revulsion.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Fred and George Weasley as two Slytherin brothers. (H/T: @Rocker1993)