The video game industry constantly propels the medium to new heights through innovative designs and technological advancements. However, the industry also fails at preserving the older games that created the foundation needed for this advancement. Sure, you can’t expect to play every game ever made on a single piece of hardware. But a lot of terrific games are now completely unplayable to the vast majority of the public because of common business practices and a general disinterest in keeping these titles available. Previously, many of these games were kept alive through fan and hobbyist websites, but that pseudo-preservation may come to an end in the near future.
Recently, Nintendo filed a lawsuit against several ROM and emulation websites that ultimately resulted in them shutting down. While Nintendo is entirely within their legal right to file these suits, it also means that it is now much harder to play many fantastic games — officially or otherwise. Hopefully, some of these titles will return in one form or another. But until then, here are five amazing games you cannot play anymore under normal circumstances.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a side scrolling beat-em-up in the vein of Streets of Rage and River City Rampage. It also happens to be one of the best licensed games ever made, offering a fun experience for newcomers and fans of the comic and movie. Sadly, this game was only available digitally on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from 2010 to 2014. If you didn’t purchase and download this title during that time, there is no legal way for you to play this game.
The sale of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game likely came to an end due to its license expiring, meaning that the developers of the game, Ubisoft Montreal, could no longer legally make money off of the Scott Pilgrim property. Sadly this is the fate for most games based on an existing property — although most aren’t as substantial of a loss as this title. It’s too bad this title will likely never see the light of day again.
Dragon Ball Online
The world of Dragon Ball is more compelling and full of creativity than perhaps nearly any other long-running fictional universe. For decades, fans wanted a game that allowed them to explore this exceptional world as their own character — and battle androids and dinosaurs alike. Dragon Ball Online was supposed to be that glorious adventure, but the servers shut down after only three years and never even made it to Western territories.
While this MMO did shut down before it had the chance to reach its prime, elements of these games still influence other Dragon Ball titles. The antagonists of Dragon Ball Online, Towa and Mira, as well as the create-a-character system of Dragon Ball Xenoverse, come directly from DBO. Also, several characters and factions in this MMO would go on to appear in Dragon Ball Heroes. There are several attempts to emulate Dragon Ball Online for English-speaking regions. However, it’s doubtful they will ever reach the same level of adoption as an official release of the game would have.
Final Fantasy XIV
If you enjoyed the original version of the MMO Final Fantasy XIV before it became Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, there aren’t many people who agree with you. While the world and story of Final Fantasy XIV had plenty of potential, the game wasn’t actually much fun to play. Due to this shortcoming, and the relatively small sales numbers, the team behind the game decided to incite a cataclysmic event within Final Fantasy XIV, which allowed them to reshape the game into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
There aren’t really many instances of a game becoming unplayable, its best features preserved, and its most glaring flaws fixed before relaunching as a rebranded version of itself. Usually, these issues disappear over the course of months or years through patches and updates. While this re-creation did allow a better version of the game to reach players more quickly, it also rendered the original game unplayable. Even as storylines and characters are getting reintroduced in A Realm Reborn, it’s still a shame that so much of the original had to disappear to usher in this new game.
You know a title would have been good when it reinvigorates an entire genre of games without ever actually releasing. Hideo Kojima’s P.T. — short for Playable Teaser — had players try to escape from a haunted home while pursued by a ghost. It contained puzzles related to the everyday items within the decaying home. Adding to the horror, players were unable to fight any of the supernatural phenomena that the mysterious protagonist encountered. The game was supposed to be a new entry in the iconic Silent Hill franchise. But sadly, Konami canceled the project and removed P.T. from the PlayStation store and library.
P.T.’s erasure from digital spaces and the cancelation of a new Silent Hill game was a major disappointment to fans of horror games and the industry as a whole. A horror game directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro starring Norman Reedus as the protagonist had the potential to be one of the greatest in the genre. On top of the talent behind the project, the game’s first-person, non-combative design garnered so much acclaim that it’s become the go-to style for many upcoming horror games. It’s disappointing that there is no way to play such an influential game — unless you downloaded P.T. back in 2014 and never uninstalled the title.
The Simpsons (1991 Game)
The Simpsons arcade game is a brilliant and bizarre side-scrolling beat-em-up that set a high bar for subsequent licensed games. While the characters and setting of the game are immediately recognizable as a part of the massively popular The Simpsons television show, none of the events of the show affect this game. In fact, the actions of many characters go completely against their established personalities. For instance, Marge and Lisa are perfectly fine with beating up numerous henchman and other acts of violence, and the conniving billionaire Mr. Burns orders his assistant Smithers to steal a measly diamond as the inciting incident of the game.
Despite diverging so far from its source material, The Simpsons arcade game was a blast to play and one of the best multiplayer beat-em-ups of its time. While the game did appear briefly on digital storefronts in 2012, it’s no longer available online. Today, the most reliable way to play this title is to happen upon a working arcade cabinet. Until then, we’ll continue to dream of the day we’ll once again be able to fight Mr. Burns in his Mecha-Hitler-like mech suit while playing as a vacuum-wielding Marge Simpson.