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Cutscenes Animated So Badly We Can't Forget Them

Today's gamers expect cutscenes that are exquisitely animated, to the point where Disney probably couldn't make something prettier. But this wasn't always the case. For a while, the typical cutscene looked pretty amateur, with blocky animation, fewer facial expressions than Darth Vader, and characters moving around like malfunctioning robots. Here are some cutscenes that didn't look to great to begin with–and look even worse now.

Zelda: Wand of Gamelon

It takes a lot to make a franchise as amazing as The Legend of Zelda terrible. But Wand of Gamelon for the Philips CD-i pulled it off. The game itself was questionable enough — a side-scroller that played way worse than Zelda II. It's the game's cutscenes, however, that propel the game to legendary–as in legendarily terrible–status.

The example above tells the whole story. Everything in this scene, from Zelda and Link right down to the Triforce, is drawn like somebody was on drugs. It seriously reminds us of nothing else but the Beatles' Yellow Submarine cartoon, only without any artistic inspiration whatsoever. Everything about their movements seems off — why does Zelda flail her arms so much? And why does she pantomime putting on her eyeshadow? And what's with Impa's hands? She's supposed to be a little old lady, but her hands dwarf Andre the Giant's. Even a simple thing like "boat sails across water" seems herky and jerky.

Either the CD-i couldn't handle decent animation, or the game's designers couldn't draw. And the other Zelda game that came to the CD-i, Zelda: Faces of Evil, wasn't any better. Either way, we know now why Link never talks: if he did, somebody might ask him about these abominations and rekindle bad memories.

Muppet Monster Adventure

Who wouldn't love a Muppets game with cutscenes where you're seeing the real, lovable Muppets on your screen? Well, with Muppet Monster Adventure, we got...not that. Instead, we got blocky, sharp-edged Muppets that, even for 2000-era video games, look primitive. Then there's the blank, Uncanny Valley-esque expressions on all the Muppets' faces that you never saw in real life. Yes, in real life they're made of felt, but they still emote better than they do here.

Also, for a Muppet game, the cutscenes are shockingly dark. Yes, it's a game set inside a spooky mansion, and all your friends have been turned into scary monsters, but everything's dark, hard to see, and dreary. "Dreary" should never be used to describe the Muppets. We finally get some color when Robin (Kermit's nephew) enters a transporter, but even then the colors look asinine. It's way too neat for an interdimensional portal, making it look like Robin is traveling between Lifesavers. Muppet Monster Adventure might've been a decent Muppet game, but a pretty first impression it did not make.

Spongebob Squarepants Operation: Krabby Patty

Whoever animated Operation: Krabby Patty clearly tried really hard at making cutscenes that look like the cartoon. That's good. But they failed miserably, creating characters who offer up even more nightmare fuel than before. That's bad.

The scenery is colorful and the characters mostly look like they should. But then the camera zooms in on their faces and you'll want to throw up your Krabby Patty. Nothing about their eyes, noses, or mouths seem right. And when they look right at the camera they actually looks pretty scary. The characters playing their own videogame at the end is especially evil — their faces look like they're undergoing electroshock therapy.

But the scene where Spongebob goes flying through the water propelled by a jellyfish (or any scene involving motion, really) truly betrays the animation's good intent. The animation's motion looks like something out of the CD-i Zelda games, and if that comparison can be made to your game, you messed up but good.

Sonic Adventure DX

Virtually every time Sonic ventures past the tried-and-true formula that is "run fast, collect rings," he falls flat on his face. This was super-evident with Sonic Adventure DX, whose animator has almost certainly never seen an actual, working mouth.

The "fun" starts almost from the beginning, as Sonic looks down from a rooftop and proclaims, "Aw yeah! This is happening!" If you pause at just the right time, his face distorts in a way that makes it look like he's getting ready to eat you. Apparently Sonic has fangs...and they make him look ridiculous, so maybe he should file them down. The same thing happens when yelling at Tails, who's flying out of control in an airplane: "you're gonna crash! Ahh!" And then there's the time he asks, "somethin' bugging you?" to Knuckles, with his eyeballs twitching and fangs bared. Was he trying to look cool and menacing? Because he looks more like he's having a stroke.

Of course, that's when Sonic even has a mouth — whenever he's not speaking, Sonic's lips completely disappear, like they're optional for hedgehogs. And it's not just him — every character loses their mouth when they're not talking, though sometimes Dr. Eggman's mouth doesn't move at all, whether he's talking, laughing, or doing nothing. 

South Park 64

The latest batch of South Park games, Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, have redefined what a game set in the quiet little mountain town can be. With these games, you're basically playing an extended episode of the show, with true-to-show animation, super-tight writing, hilariously inappropriate jokes, and genuine voices from start to finish. For awhile there, however, the game industry treated South Park like most every other franchise they turn into a game: poorly.

The cutscenes in South Park 64 are proof positive of how little people cared about South Park games back in the day. It's the show by way of the Nintendo 64's super-blocky graphics, which looks even sillier than usual because it's not like South Park is expertly drawn. The show's based on animated construction paper, and Nintendo didn't even bother trying to master that. Also, why is everyone always smiling? If they're not talking, they're standing there with wide-eyed grins on their faces, which is pretty off-base for this show–especially for someone as reliably miserable as Cartman. Did the animators think this was a cute cartoon for kids, and so smiles should be everywhere?

Hotel Mario

When Nintendo licensed two of its most popular franchises to Philips, no one could have guessed the results would be some of the worst games to ever. First there was Zelda: Wand of Gamelon, and now we've got Hotel Mario, which somehow managed to make Mario Is Missing look like Super Mario Odyssey.

Awful gameplay aside, the game's cutscenes are as infamously bad as Zelda's. Mario and Luigi don't flail around aimlessly like Link and Zelda, but rather just stand there, hardly moving more than one body part at a time. Sometimes, nobody moves a muscle for over two seconds before literally anything else happens. For example, after you rescue the princess, she kisses both brothers on the cheek, then turns to kiss you, the player. But she just stands there, lips puckered, not moving closer to you at all. After all, animating movement is difficult. So instead, we get a game only slightly more energetic than a gallery of still-life paintings, but not nearly as artistic.

As for the characters themselves, they mostly look how they should, except the pesky plumbers are both fatter than ever. For two guys who run and jump everywhere, they're ridiculously chunky. True, Mario never been svelte, but he looks extra-terrible here, while the usually slender Luigi has clearly been packing on the rigatoni. They honestly look more like real plumbers than ever. So, extra points for realism, Philips.

Animal Soccer World

Animal Soccer World barely qualifies as a game, but it certainly qualifies as pure garbage. In essence, the game is one giant (terrible) cutscene, bolstered by a few mini-games to justify placing it with the Marios and Sonics of the world.

The cutscene, as it were, is actually a full-length movie. Called Animal Soccer World, it never saw a US release, probably because it's laughably terrible. As explained by MoviePilot, the company behind Soccer World, Dingo Pictures, was a blatant Disney ripoff group in the '90s, and Soccer was their own take on Disney's 1970 film, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It might be the worst animation you'll ever see. The watercolor backgrounds are dull as dirt and look like shoddy green screens–which is extra impressive considering it's a cartoon. The animals also move super-stiffly, like their bodies are paralyzed from the legs up. Worst of all, the animals just look and sound boring. There's nary a wacky horse or energetic bird to be found — everyone's lifeless, much like the movie as a whole. 

Soccer qualifies as a "game" thanks to a few puzzles and a painting game, which seems like it shouldn't count. Just download Tetris and Words With Friends, fiddle around on MS Paint, and you've got the Animal Soccer World Experience, minus any crimes against eyes.

Carmageddon II

As you'd probably expect from a game called Carmageddon, its cutscenes are full of hot cars and hotter explosions. They're also full of teeth. So many teeth.

Virtually every time the game zooms in on a character's face, they have a crazy Cheshire Cat grin on their mugs, like they're required to law to bare as much teeth as possible at all times. Their expressions rarely change, whether they're hitting a car or getting hit by one. Even when one car gets smashed so hard it crashes into another car and explodes, the driver maintains his gritted-teeth approach, literally taking it to the grave with him. Apparently, opening one's mouth for any reason, even for eating, isn't extreme enough for Carmageddon.

Also, for no explained reason there's a sheep. At several points in the game's cutscenes, a sheep attempts to cross the road, only to be thwarted by all the zooming warrior cars. The sheep's purpose is never explained, it does nothing for the story, and the animators made it move like one of those battery-powered stuffed toys that shuffle their legs and do nothing else. At least they didn't kill the poor baa machine — that would be the worst animation of all.

Castlevania Judgment

Castlevania cutscenes are usually animated quite well, but with Castlevania Judgment, a fighting game of all things, that quality got whipped straight to Hell. In particular, the above scene, involving young Maria Renard, should never have been written, drawn, or voiced by anyone.

Animation-wise, there's barely any. Maria, Aeon, and any other character they come across hardly move a muscle, save for their mouths. And no matter how loudly they yell, their mouths still only move a tiny bit for each word. In the hands of a true artist, this might be considered "minimalism." Here, it just looks like the animation team rushed to meet deadline.

Actually, something besides mouths do move: breasts. For some reason, Maria — a 15-year-old girl — isn't motivated to fight because Dracula murdered her parents, so much as how much she wants to grow a "woman's body." Whenever she comes across a grown woman, she's mesmerized by their breasts, which naturally get extreme close-ups while they bounce up and down like water balloons. This prompts the teenage Maria to gush about how "they're huge" and "even the vampire's are bigger than mine!" It's not clear when the formula for Castlevania became "less vampire hunting, less movement, more adolescent body issues," but thankfully the trend didn't last beyond this one time.


MDK2 isn't world-renowned for great animation, but for murder, death, and killing (hence the name). But in the cutscene above, they didn't even try. In fact, if you play this in a dark enough room, you might won't even see it.

This scene, in which Hawkins's ship gets invaded by evil alien forces, is one of the dimmest and darkest things you'll ever watch. You can barely see a thing, and what you can see isn't very good. Hawkins, who is a human, looks like a rat for some reason. His body is also blocky as can be. It's the kind of thing that makes us wonder why they didn't just draw this scene like they did the comic book portion of the game's ending. It's just a bunch of pictures, but it's still colorful, bright, and fun to look at. No amount of funny dialogue is worth squinting just to see who's telling the jokes.