Its time for another Dtoid Community Discusses, and this week we are delving into the scary world of crappy games. This week, our panel consists of Elem08, Prof Pew, Yashoki, and Poopface Morty. As always to check out some previous editions, check out the links on my sidebar! Anyway, here is the question I posed to our excellent panel!
“We gamers love talking about games that are great. Bioshock, MGS4, Shadow of the Colossus. Amazing games bring us together as we sing their praises. Games that have great storytelling techniques, great controls, amazing graphics...
This week will NOT be about those games.
This week, no holds are barred as we talk about the games that deserve a 2/10. What are the shittiest games you have played? What made them bad games? What lessons from these games do you think should be written down for all mankind to know what NOT to do in a game?”
Read on for their responses!
Ah sweet, a discussion about shitty games. Well, to be placed in this category are a good 90% of all "movie" games. You know, the kind where developers slap a character from a popular kid's show into some platforming area, and watch as parents around the country purchase them for their unfortunate offspring. If only they didn't sell so damn well, maybe there wouldn't be such a market for them. One game that especially stood out to me was the Fight Club game, back on the PlayStation2. I remember renting this game after seeing that it was a seemingly normal fighting game (my thoughts: how can you mess that up?) and finding a game that couldn't fight it's way out of a paper bag. The controls were absolutely atrocious, the story mode was a joke (text + poorly drawn stills = laughably lame cutscenes), and it was just a general waste of my 8 dollar renting fee.
One of the most obvious things for a game to possess so as not to fall into this category is really solid core gameplay mechanics. If you're making a platforming game, jumping from one platform to another should not be about guesswork, hoping/praying that your character will be able to make the jump. If you're making a fighting game, the fighter better swing his punch the second I press the A button, and not 2 seconds later. I think sometimes too much emphasis gets put on visuals or showing off a label (or sometimes no emphasis gets put anywhere at all) instead of making absolutely sure that the game plays like it was intended to.
Funny you mention MGS4, Bioshock, and Shadow of the Colossus, because I find each of those games in the very 'average' or 'overrated' category. I'm not trying to be really pompous with that declaration, it is just that Bioshrug simply didn't grab my attention as it did everyone else, Shadow of the Colossus is an exercise in shit controls and swallowing some pretentious artsy backstory, and MGS4 was a movie last time I checked and not a game (though don't get me wrong, the gameplay that was present WAS fun...there was simply too little of it). But bear in mind that I am fully aware that a lot of this is personal preference. I can very well see why people like these games, and I don't consider to think of anybody any less just because of their taste in games, but this is part of why I find games to be such an immature medium; it is difficult to dictate what exactly makes a "good" game via critical analysis. There is no universal criteria aside from the typical "graphics", "sound", "gameplay", and "replay value" scoring systems we've grown so used to. Is that really the finality of the critique of video games? I hardly think so. Film, music, and literature have many many years of history behind them...did the literary equivalent of 25 to Life exist way back when? Possibly. I'm optimistic that the industry will eventually find its way, but I'm certain it won't please everyone. Hell, maybe we're already there and I'm not willing to accept it?
In terms of my "bad" games though, I don't have to look too hard. I've been pretty jaded with the titles being pumped out over the past several years. Between the countless and stale shooters, shovelware sports titles, watered down "casual games", licensed dogshit, and--my personal peave--obsessive anime art direction in everything, I've really stopped caring. To me, a bad game is more than just something with sub-par graphics, lousy play control, and no replay value whatsoever. To get my attention, I really need to see some effort in the overall concept and idea. Too many games are lazy in this regard, with extremely abrasive marketing (such as all the viral marketing we're seeing now, which is being executed about as effectively as the war on drugs), completely terrible package design (no games stand out to me at the counter anymore...it all looks like the same mishmash of Photoshop masturbation), conservative ideas (shooter, shooter, shooter, EA Sports game, shooter, RPG that takes 90 billion years to finish, sandbox, shooter), bland level design (hallways with crates...the crutch of all level designers)...I can go on, because there are a lot of abused ideas out there that were good at one time, but I'll be rambling way too damned long and I'm trying to keep this as condensed as possible. And my worst game ever? Probably Pit Fighter for the Super Nintendo. Nothing says 'controller through wall' like starting your fight bowing to your opponent, only to have him walk over and kick the crap out of you mid-bow, and you only regain health with your NO CONTINUES/SINGLE LIFE after a good handful of battles.
I played Fight Club with Elem, and I can attest to how shitty that game was....I tend to always see the best parts of games, (I'm very Chad C. in that aspect) but one game I owned that was pretty shitty looking back was Bart Simpson vs. the Space Mutants. The premise is amazingly bad in that aliens descend on Springfield and want to collect purple objects. Bart discovers this plot and sets out to spray paint all purple objects red.
This game was awesomely bad because, while I loved the premise (:P), the controls were SO HARD to handle. The jumping was very loose, you had instant deaths, and some of the hardest platforming out of all the games I owned. I dont think I ever made it past level 2 since it was so frustrating.....
Ugh...excuse me while I hurl from the memories brought about by this screenshot
I don't know if I have played many old school shitty games. If I did, I probably just forgot about them or deleted them, since I couldn't afford many games for my Master System and Genesis and played whatever I could copy from friends with PC's. The thing is though: looking back, I probably played a lot of shitty games without even thinking about it. Usually I had no idea what was going on when I couldn't read english very well at age 8, and I just liked playing around with the gameplay mechanics.
These days though, 80% of the games I play are probably crap or mediocre. Like Elem08 said, movie games are almost always horrible. And what Morty describes as being bad or sub-par, I just see those as mediocre games. They are playable, but there is just nothing there that would make most "veteran" gamers want to play them.
Even then, there are exceptions. I enjoyed the LOTR movie games a lot, simply hacking and slashing through a familiar environment. The Golden Compass however, will stick with me as the single worst movie game I have ever played. For instance: it goes from mediocre platforming to horrible platforming with changing camera angles that makes you fall off a ledge as you move. I don't really mind if something is mediocre or braindead/easy to play through. But in many of the really bad games, you just come across things that should've been picked up by quality control waaaay early.
Still, I agree: many games can be shitty games but only a few are really really bad. And these games always change per person. For me, Big Rigs Over The Road Racing is a personal favorite, because it is just horribly broken. Half the tracks don't even work, the AI was not implemented when the game was shipped, you could accelerate to INFINITY if you drove backwards, the tail-lights hovered behind the textures for the lights, etc etc. Still, I don't remember having so much fun playing a racing game on the PC or seeing someone play one. So is it bad? Yes. Is it the worst thing ever? No, it provided many lulz and that made it worth playing. All Star Cheerleader for the Wii? Now that is a horrible game: controls don't work half the time, gameplay design is uninteresting, no reason to progress, and no fun to play. [Ed. Note- Pew did the unthinkable and actually reviewed all the Cheerleading games for the Wii....Check his c-blog here
I think that is one of the core elements of what makes a shitty game shitty: even if you know it's shitty, it can still be fun to play just like a shitty movie can be fun to watch in the right setting. If it's not, then it's just plain bad.
I agree with what Prof.Pew said about looking back on the games. I remember playing the Simpson's game Tactix mentioned... and not finding anything wrong with it at all. Back then, I wasn't analyzing whether or not collisions were correct; hell I didn't even know the game had a storyline till Tactix just explained it. Then again, back then I was all of 9 years old. All I can remember from that game was that it was the Simpsons, and the Simpsons were funny, therefore the game was, by association, good.
I suppose that's why the shitty licensed games that come out nowadays do so well. Even though we, now that we've played our share of games and understand how they should work, realize all the things wrong with these games that come out, the 5-10 year olds of today don't realize any of that. I bet a 6 year old girl is going to pick up All-Star Cheerleader and absolutely LOVE it. She'll play it every day after school until she eats up another licensed game, no matter how terrible reviews it might get. I guess ignorance really is bliss =P.
Shitty games to us = fun for 6 year olds?
Yeah, this makes it really hard to rate games for all audiences too. I guess that's why people end up reading some specific gaming sites that "fit" to their tastes and not just all of them. How do you review a game for all audiences? Then again, do kids really read reviews before the age of 10?
When I look at my nephew (14) and niece (7), I made sure my nephew grew up on RTS instead of shooters so he would maybe learn from the management elements. Now he just likes to play shooters, or free games on Steam. Some of the things he recommends me are really horrible, but if he likes them: good for him. My niece just plays flash games and My Sims on the DS. Not exactly very deep games either, but at least she grows up on different gameplay elements for a few years? So even if games are not "good", they can still teach people by exposure. And even now, I really enjoy the mediocre or 7/10 rated games a lot more after playing through some horrible games. I'd rather do that, than to only play "good" games and to feel the need to hate on some good but just sub-par game just because it's worse comparatively.
When it comes to kids and shitty games, they've got it easy. Before I spend my 60 dollars on a game I do the research to make sure those 60 clams weren't spent in vain. I read reviews, look at videos, check screenshots, ask people who've played it all to make sure it's going to be a "good game" and "worth my time". When you're a kid, you give a shit if the game has an innovative combat system. Look at a game like "Shadowrun" for the Xbox 360. For 60 dollars it's a turd spread all over an ass biscuit, but for 4.99 on Amazon? It's a fun shooter with some interesting mechanics that keep it fresh.
Kids know that games are just that. They play, have fun, and move on to the next fun thing. They're not as fucked up as us.
Price definitely has influence over your ultimate opinion of a game, because there's a perceived increase in value as the game price goes down...less risk on your part means a little more room to have a relaxed opinion on the title, and the less likely you feel like being screwed. I don't buy the "if it's a good game, it's a good game, if it's a bad game, it's a bad game" perception. It is more complicated than that. There's definitely truth to fluctuating value in games...but, there is in all other media as well. Unfortunately, no publisher is just going to say "Hmmm, you know, we were thinking $60, but after what came out, we think this game is only worth $20. Have fun kids!"...
Concerning appreciating whatever game you get when you were young, back when I was like eight or nine years old, I was more than capable of identifying a game that was awful based on specific critical areas like control, balance, and the overall gestalt of the game's design. I wasn't going to be fooled by a licensed title; I played those Simpsons games back in the day, and I absolutely hated them. I was like a game designer in the making during those days...too bad I would realize that I absolutely hate staring at code and I don't have near the artistic talent that some of those guys do. Like I mentioned before, Pit Fighter was probably one of the worst games I've ever played in my entire life, and I think I was eight years old when I gave it a shot. Glad I didn't pay for that rental.
Um..ok...so, I disagree....this game was AWESOME in arcades :D
Poopface Morty cont.
To me, as far as appreciating the 7/10 games, or the "mediocre" ones, preference plays a major role in this. One person's 7/10 could be another's 10/10...whether or not it is universally accepted is irrelevant. As I mentioned before, I can't stand Shadow of the Colossus, Bioshrug, and Metal Gear Solid 4 was fun to playthrough though at the same time overrated beyond belief due to the unbalanced movie to game ratio. On the other hand, there are some games I absolutely have a boner over that some people would simply think "eh, it's alright I guess". Killer 7 comes to mind...if anyone stole that from me, I would beat their ass.
One reason I tend to keep a somewhat thin gaming library is my time I invest in the games is limited; my time is as valuable as my money, and I have other interests as well. I thought I was heavy into gaming, then I came here and I could only think "GODDAMN". While many people chime in about the lasting value a game has (particularly, on its first play through), I ignore that and wonder how amazing is the game in the amount of time you are playing it. If a game is long but is a level grinding turd of fetch quests, then I'll gladly pass. But if it is short and keeps me on the edge of my seat, then I'll be there. This isn't some steadfast rule I follow to a T, but is a general guideline for my purchasing habits. I just don't have the patience to invest in games that'll take forever to complete...which is why I bought Rock Band 2, I guess. I suppose I fear I will like a game too much!?
Well, the price of a game matters a lot of course, especially at our age where we read up on things before spending money on them. Then again if you have a ton of money, the price itself becomes subjective as well.
If you pay $60 on a game that turns out to be really mediocre, while you don't make a lot of money or are still in school or something, then of course you'll think it's pretty shitty and feel bad for having wasted it. Or maybe you would try to make yourself believe it's not thaaaat bad (since you already spent the money on it), although I hope that the people here have grown beyond that when it comes to games.
When it comes down to it. There is a lot you can say about what makes a shitty game really a shitty game. For example: pretty much every single JoWood or Dreamweaver published pc game is utter crap and mediocre at best. Yet some people like a few of them or see them as guilty pleasures (Gothic for instance). But honestly, there are some games that are just plain horrible and nothing else. Games like that don't really deserve much discussion because it is common sense, and luckily we have a community here that generally agrees on things like that. Maybe those games can just be best categorized as games that make you raaaaage to no end when you play them, with no redeeming quality to make up for it?
Well, i hope you enjoyed this week's discussion! What are some of the worst games you've ever played before? I'd be really interested to know in the comments! Until next week, LATER!