95% of “hardcore gamers” can be summed up in one category. We all want to see the new games, play the new cool games coming off the shelves. It is the basis of our whole relationship with new games. I’ve been doing something recently in direct contrast to that. I’ve been playing bad games. Games I knew were bad when I bought them, and I still bought them. I’m not attempting to make any kind of point with this article, just to pose to myself the same question all of my friends have consistently asked me since I did it. Why?
One quick tidbit before I start: I will admit I haven’t been consistently buying bad games. I bought one and was given another one for free, but still play it. I am actually determined to finish them both. However it obviously goes contrary to all thought. There are very few movie lovers who watch bad movies because there bad, and i’m pretty sure nobody reads bad books anymore. So why am I doing this?
First, lets name the games in question: I was in the store and saw that Play N Trade had a buy one get one half off on some games, so I looked through it to see what I could find. It had always been a running joke with me that should I ever find Sonic the Hedgehog (the PS3/360 version) for around five dollars I would buy it, to show my friends how bad it was. I was given the game as a gift while at college, and found it to be hilariously bad, but still sold it before I returned. I found Sonic: Ultimate Genesis collection for fifteen dollars. I figured that was a cheap enough price to ride the nostalgia train, so now I had to choose my half off game. I came upon Sonic the Hedgehog, and proudly proclaimed to my friend next to me: “I have to do this. It has to be done.” After getting over the initial embarrassment of walking to the counter with of all things Sonic the Hedgehog in hand, (this included getting stopped by someone who thought I was a Sonic fan, to which I responded no, but this game is so awful I have to buy it. This brought a look of such confusion that it was probably the basis for the article you are currently reading.) I managed to make it out of the store, laughing with my friend on how terrible we both knew the game was. Honestly, what is there left to say about Sonic Team, “I admire they’re tenacity”?
So after the nostalgia had run out on the Ultimate Genesis collection, we then turned to Sonic the Hedgehog. Since we were obviously in the mood for bad things after marathoning “The Tester”, we turned to Sonic the Hedgehog with an almost glee-like anticipation of how hilarious this game would be. And I think that is the first reason. Certain games are so terrible that they are honestly hilarious. Sonic team has more loading screens than the PSP trying to load Tekken 6, and they come so frequently that they might as well be high school freshmen. It just isn’t in any way good. The dialogue is so bad it might as well be on Engrish.com. This aspect provides an endless amount of hilarity for me, (like F.K in the coffee) and at least in short bursts, I can actually say that I want to put myself through that.
A normal phrase that is used when people don’t know how to react is, “What were they thinking!?!?” This is especially prevalent in Sonic games. But the tone is different: I legitimately want to know what they were thinking. You have to know the game your putting out is terrible, it couldn’t have gone through any testing, and how did anyone sign off on the final product? There should have been more red flags than a slalom course on this game, especially because it was supposed to be “the rebirth of Sonic”. Someone was making this game, with all its furry undertones, and thought it was just going to be like the original Sonic game. For those of you who don’t know, Sonic and this princess have this weird relationship that I haven’t figured out yet. Why they felt the need to add a relationship (especially a human one, I’m sure Amy is pissed) to Sonic I still have no idea. The day I see Pikachu and a human in a relationship is the day I declare war on Pokemon.
I think the only concrete reasoning I have for why I want to play bad games is as simple as this: I want to analyze them. Everyday I spend buying and playing the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to games, and I have to spend time researching and evaluating them. But in all honesty, evaluation of a known terrible game opens so many doors on how to evaluate good ones. To a certain extent, you know what your looking for in every game you buy, and you know what is good and bad about it, but after playing such a terrible game, you start to notice things in games that you would have never noticed without them. It isn’t a real tangible effect, either. I’ve even started appreciating my good games more when I play them. If you’ve ever seen “The Oblongs” then you know that Pickles will take a “cigarette break, where she’d smoke a different pack than her regular brand, in order to take a break. The same thing applies to bad and good games.
I recently traded my iPhone 3GS for a PSP, because I’ll be purchasing the iPhone 4. So I was given a used PSP, and about 3 games with it. The games were Sonic Rivals and Crisis Core FFVII. Given the two options, I chose Work Time Fun. (I had it from the last time I owned a PSP) But after a while I popped in Sonic Rivals, because the DS Sonic game was good, why couldn’t the PSP one be? Granted I had not seen or read a review of the game beforehand. Now to be completely honest, Sonic Rivals only has two problems. The story sucks, and the camera is in a 2D position. Since it’s a PSP game (and since it’s Sonic) I don’t really care about the story too much. But every single problem with Sonic Rivals stems from the fact that the camera puts you at the center of the screen on a 2D plane. I can’t see enemies, I can’t see traps, I can’t see holes, I can’t see where I’m going. These things are important when you’re racing. Imagine a Burnout game where the car is in the middle of the screen in a side profile. and there were bombs and angry robots everywhere. It would be kind of difficult. While these games are both undoubtably bad, they still happen to be fun, even in the most basic sense.
Then there is Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. If this game is anywhere near your current location, you should stop reading this and go get it. It is without a doubt one of the most fun games ever created. It is also a terrible game when compared. The voice acting is bad, the characters do nothing but scream, it’s easy to get lost, so many problems with this game. None of them matter. It is literally what would happen if you put Mortal Kombat in a Streets of Rage setting, and it is just as fun. It’s one of the best things about the game industry in my opinion, that fun is the spade set. It’s the one thing that trumps all other aspects. No matter what else is happening, you have to be having fun.
I am still determined to finish Sonic the Hedgehog someday, and it has led me to believe that it’s important, every once in a while, to play a bad game. A fun bad game is better than just a terrible one, but somehow, playing a couple of bad games every once in a while is relaxing. I still look upon bad games with disdain (at the ending of Assassins Creed, I took the disk out, put it back in the case, and stomped on it for at least 20 minutes) but some manage to be charming in their own way.
(Sorry about the large picture, it's the only one I could find)