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Terrible PC ports that ruined great games

PC gaming is great. If you've got a decent rig, your favorite games will look better and play smoother than your Xbox and PlayStation-owning buddies can possibly imagine. Thanks to frequent deals on sites like Steam and GOG, it's easy to amass a solid PC gaming library for only the fraction of the cost of a similar line-up on consoles. Besides, have you ever seen a console player cruising around Los Santos on top of a dragon? Yeah, we thought not.

But, as with everything, that kind of freedom comes with a cost. While PC editions of games can be superior to their console counterparts, developers need to put in the work to ensure that their big titles run well on home computers. That doesn't always happen. These are some of the very best games ever made, but they didn't make the transition to PCs gracefully. If you want to play, suck it up and pull that Xbox or PS4 out of the closet. The PC editions aren't worth your time.

Dark days for Dark Souls

Instant classics don't come around very often, but Dark Souls definitely fits the bill. Ever since FromSoftware's brutally hard role-playing game hit shelves, the game industry has been flooded with so-called Souls-likes. Do you like Nioh, Salt & Sanctuary, or Dead Cells? You've got Dark Souls to thank.

You wouldn't know that Dark Souls is a big deal from its PC port, however. Oh, the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition is absolutely playable — and it's still just as fun as it always was — but it's also missing a number of standard features. Unlike almost every other PC game on the planet, the PC version of Dark Souls doesn't let you change the resolution (it's locked at a paltry 720p), is limited to 30 frames per second, and doesn't include any way to remap the keys. It stutters occasionally while running, and the keyboard and mouse controls are terrible.

The lack of care and polish is intentional, too. FromSoftware's Takeshi Miyazoe tells Edge, "Our main priority was to get the game onto the PC as fast as possible." He elaborates, "We did know there were PC-specific features ... but it would have taken too much time for us to implement it." Thankfully, fans have stepped up with homemade patches that resolve many of the problems (including an update that finally makes keyboard and mouse a viable control option, five years after the game's PC debut), but that kind of blatant inattention from developers borders on inexcusable, especially for a game as important as Dark Souls.

Bad things happen at Knight

You may not know exactly how bad Batman: Arkham Knight's PC edition was. After all, for a big chunk of 2015 — right when Arkham Knight hype was at its peak — you couldn't play it at all. See, Warner Bros., Rocksteady Games, and Iron Galaxy managed to do what the Joker, Hugo Strange, Ra's al Ghul, and the Arkham Knight himself couldn't: they managed to defeat the Batman for good.

It's all thanks to a bad PC port. While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One editions of Arkham Knight, Rocksteady's final entry in its super-popular series of open world Batman games, seemed to work just fine, the PC version suffered from low framerates, stuttering graphics, and many of the other usual suspects. It's worse than just that, however. Sometimes, textures failed to load, while running the game with special effects enabled slowed the game down to a crawl.

Naturally, Bat-fans weren't happy, and Warner Bros. heard their complaints loud and clear. Just a couple of days after the Arkham Knight's release date, Warner Bros. suspended sales of the game's PC edition and pulled Knight from digital storefronts. A few days later, word leaked that Warner Bros. had known about Arkham Knight's issues for months and decided to release a flawed game anyway. That revelation pretty much sealed the game's fate. Warner Bros. and Rocksteady re-released Arkham Knight a few months later, but it still didn't work very well, forcing Warner Bros. Interactive to offer refunds to angry fans.

Problems occur both NieR and far

When you're playing NieR: Automata, it's hard to tell if the weirdness on screen is a feature or a bug. After all, this is the game that kills you instantly if you remove your character's operating system, lets you fight against Japanese game company executives, and turns the end credits into a save-game deleting shoot 'em up. We'll make it easy for you: if you're enjoying NieR on PlayStation 4, whatever's going on is probably happening on purpose. On PC? Probably not.

It's easy to tell that NieR: Automata's janky frame rate and occasional stutter aren't intentional. The rest of it isn't as clear. The mouse cursor that keeps reappearing in the center of the screen, distracting you from the action? That's not a clever reminder that you're viewing NieR through the eyes of a software-driven android. That's just a bug. Those white screens that pop up every ten minutes or so, freezing the game? There's nothing postmodern or fourth wall-breaking about 'em. They're mistakes, plain and simple.

Despite its flaws, NieR: Automata managed to move over 800,000 copies on PC in its first year on the market, and yet no patch has arrived. At this point, it doesn't look like one is going to. Maybe the folks at Square Enix can't be bothered, or maybe they don't realize that anything is wrong. After all, the developers left a bug in the game instead of fixing it because it felt "Nier-esque," so some confusion seems perfectly reasonable.

Assassin's Creed: Origins is too hot to handle

Sometimes, it's not the game itself that's a problem. Sometimes, a big title runs just fine until some outside force comes along and ruins everything. Allegedly, that's problem plaguing Assassin's Creed: Origins, Ubisoft's well-received reboot of its flagship franchise. Unlike, say, Assassin's Creed: Unity, which was broken out of the box, Assassin's Creed: Origins runs just fine — until Ubisoft's anti-piracy measures get in the way.

According to a cracker who goes by the name Voski, Assassin's Creed: Origins uses not one but two types of DRM, or digital rights management, software in order to foil would-be pirates. On one level, Origins uses Denuvo, a popular "anti-tamper" technology that regularly causes all kinds of problems for legitimate customers. On top of that, Ubisoft's also implemented VMProtect, a piece of software that's designed to protect applications from hackers. Voski says that the combination of the two programs is "tanking the game's performance by 30-40%," maxing out many users' CPUs and making their PCs overheat.

Now, Ubisoft denies these claims, saying that Assassin's Creed: Origins "uses the full extent of the minimum and recommended PC system requirements" by design. Either way, it's not great: either Ubisoft is punishing paying users in its attempts to crack down on piracy, or it's overheating machines on purpose. Thankfully, there's a solution, albeit an illegal one: recently, hackers managed to remove all of Assassin Creed: Origins copyright protection. Whether or not that fixes the problem remains to be seen, but so far, so good.

The Blue Bomber bombs on DOS

It's not just new games that suffer in the transition from consoles to home computers. Shoddy PC ports have been a thing since the very beginning, as PC-bound Mega Man fans know all too well.

In 1990, three years after the Blue Bomber's Nintendo Entertainment System debut, Hi-Tech Expressions brought Mega Man to home computers — kind of. While Mega Man's DOS port looks kind of like the NES original, it's actually a completely new game. It's not a great one, either. Hi-Tech Expressions' take on Mega Man was developed by a single engineer, Steve Rozner, who decided to make a Mega Man port on his own while working as a manager at Capcom.

Rozner rebuilt the game from the ground up (Capcom didn't give him any of the original code or graphics), and while you can see Mega Man's influence on Rozner's loose adaptation, it's not the same product. It's ugly, the keyboard-based controls are loose and floaty, the sound sucks, and the game is unrelentingly hard. Rozner's follow-up, Mega Man 3 (there is no Mega Man 2 on PC) is even weirder: it started life as a totally different game, and only got released because Rozner added a Mega Man skin before publishing.

Officially, Capcom won't acknowledge Mega Man DOS at all, but despite the lackluster implementation, some players still have a soft spot for it: dedicated fans are currently hard at work on an unofficial remake that brings Mega Man closer to its console brethren. If you're curious, you can download it on Steam right now.

Quantum broken

If you've made it this far, you might've noticed a trend: when publishers deliver subpar PC editions of otherwise good games, fans often step up and fix things. If you're holding your breath waiting for hackers, crackers, and modders to make Quantum Break playable, however, don't bother. You'll suffocate before it happens.

Quantum Break's PC port suffers from all of the usual problems that affect these ports: substandard and inconsistent frame rates, low resolution graphics with no way to change them, and occasional crashes. In this case, the problem is compounded by an incompatibility with Nvidia graphics cards — you know, the hardware that's in roughly two-thirds of the gaming PCs on the market. Heck, the PC edition of Quantum Break is so half-baked that it doesn't even come with a way to quit the game.

But that's only half of the problem. The other half is the Universal Windows Platform. Ostensibly, UWP is a way for developers to create applications that run on many different devices using the same code. Game industry veterans like Epic's Tim Sweeney, however, say that UWP is "a fiasco" that's designed to cut out retailers like Steam, Origin, or any digital distribution platform that isn't run by Microsoft. In Quantum Break's case, UWP's limitations mean that there's no way for users to step up and implement their own fixes. Microsoft made things a little better, but Quantum Break still isn't perfect — and, at this rate, it's never gonna be.

Sonic's not-so-excellent adventure

Ostensibly, a director's cut is supposed to make things better by giving creators a second chance to fix some of a game's lingering problems. Sonic Adventure DX, however, made Sonic Adventure much, much worse — twice.

In 2004, Sega released an updated version of Sonic Adventure, which debuted six years earlier on the Dreamcast, for the Nintendo GameCube and PC. It wasn't great. The original Sonic Adventure had its fair share of bugs, but the new and "improved" ports doubled down on the glitches, especially on PC. Characters appear where they're not supposed to be, walls and floors aren't always as solid as they look, Sonic and his pals move in unexpected ways, and so on. In fact, Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut has so many technical errors one intrepid fan has created a whole FAQ dedicated to the game's glitches alone.

Then, Sega did it again. In 2010, Sega released a port of Sonic Adventure DX for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as part of The Dreamcast Collection, and later released a port of that for PC. Somehow, it made things even worse.

Chrono triggered

Squaresoft's 16-bit role-playing games weren't just good for their time. They're some of the very best games ever made. At the same time, unless you've got an old SNES and about $100 lying around, they're not exactly easy to play in their original forms. Re-releasing those games on PC seems like a no-brainer, especially since modern computers are hundreds of times more powerful than old consoles, and — spotty translations aside — the games are already great to begin with.

So, naturally, Square Enix mucked with the games and made them worse. Look at the PC version of Chrono Trigger, for example. It's not a port of the Super Nintendo game. It's a port of the mobile port of the Super Nintendo game. That means that it's got an interface designed for touch screens, misaligned graphics, and a font that robs the game of a lot of its charm.

At least it's not Final Fantasy. Square Enix's PC versions of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI (which originally made their way to the west as Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III, respectively) don't just have clunky mobile-friendly user interfaces. They also have brand new graphics that replace the classic sprites — which, as the Super NES Classic Edition proves, still hold up today — with blurry and bland character art that undermines the games' sense of style. The games still play more or less the same, of course, but they feel very, very different. Frankly, these classics deserve better.

There's nothing super about these Mario Bros.

Not everyone grew up with a Nintendo Entertainment System. Some of us had to voyage to friends' houses or save up enough cash to rent an NES from the local video store if we wanted to take a trip to the Mushroom Kingdom. So, you can imagine how excited NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 owners must've been when they learned that they were getting a port of Super Mario Bros., and how disappointed they must've been when they actually played it.

Super Mario Bros. Special wasn't made by Nintendo. Hudson Soft, the company behind Bomberman, Bonk, and Adventure Island handled the port. It shows. Instead of a straight-up remake, Super Mario Bros. Special is a scaled-down version of the NES classic that features different levels, new power-ups (including Mario's hammer from Donkey Kong), some enemies lifted from Mario Bros., and a limited color palette. It's a difficult game, full of invisible blocks and puzzles that'll keep you from progressing unless you do things just right.

Most crucially, however, the game is confined to a series of individual screens. It doesn't scroll. Given that side-scrolling platforming is Super Mario Bros.' whole gimmick, it seems safe to say that Hudson Soft missed the point. Overall, Super Mario Bros. Special isn't particularly fun to play, but if you want to give it a shot, it's available online — or you can fire up Super Mario Maker and enjoy a fan-made remake that's a little easier to digest. It's up to you.

Dishonored and disrespected

If you have a high-powered rig, don't worry. You'll be able to fire up Dishonored 2 and enjoy your adventures in Dunwall and Karnaca just fine. If you don't have a top-of-the-line machine, because maybe you need to save some money for things like food and rent, you're in for a world of hurt.

According to some users, Dishonored 2 suffers on medium and low-end machines, even ones outfitted with fancy graphics cards. While playing, frame rates fluctuate wildly. So does the refresh rate, which can make the whole experience nausea-inducing, even if the overall frame rate is okay. The mouse sensitivity changes randomly while playing, which makes Dishonored 2's finicky stealth sections even trickier, and the whole game looks blurry. As critics note, Dishonored 2 is a good-looking game, but it's not that good-looking. A moderate computer should be able to handle it just fine, leading many to assume that a lackluster port is the real culprit.

At least Bethesda is listening. After customers review-bombed Dishonored 2's Steam page, the publisher promised to look into the game's deficiencies and come up with a solution. While review-bombing can be a problem, there's an idea here for how to stop bad ports in the future: complain loudly and complain often.