Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Some people enjoy really bad movies starring Nicholas Cage or books that have a painting of Fabio on the cover. Others have a weakness to certain sweet, savory, and salty snack foods, like pork rinds (Mmmmmm deep fried pig skin!). †As a gamer, I also have had my fair share of guilty pleasures, that is, games that I know are just plain horrible, but for whatever reason, I just couldnít put them down.
With summer we yearn for leisurely activities that are not meant to tax the mind, but rather just purely entertain. †Itís the time of year when the film industry releases big blockbusters starring giant robots and flicks that have Tom Cruise running from things, it doesnít even matter what heís running from, as long as heís running.
If books are your thing, do you really want to be reading some deep thought provoking shit? Hell no, you want to read about Fabio plunging his wang into some sexually repressed librarian or something. AM I RIGHT LADIES!? How else can one explain Fifty Shades of Grey, a best selling series about a man named Christian Grey who fucks anything and everything that moves. (Full disclosure, I havenít read any of the books.)
I remember going on a cruise once with my in-laws. Word to the wise, donít go on a cruise, theyíre horrible, let alone with your in-laws. First off, your boat is a giant floating petri dish in the sea, supporting some of the nastiest bacteria and viruses man has ever encountered. Itís not a matter of if but when you will shit your brains out while on a cruise.
Secondly, imagine the worst of the worst of Wal-Mart trash. Now imagine being forced to be in close proximity with these people for four days and three nights, with the only way to escape is to vault oneís self into the briny deep. Lastly, the food, which your shipmates will go on and on about is not very good, but they serve a fuck ton of it, so you youíll have plenty to crap and puke out when the inevitable norovirus strain firmly entrenches itself into your bowels. I once saw a pack a severely obese people shove children out of the way to get on line for ice cream sundaes. It was a stampede flab and Ed Hardy t-shirts. They were going to get their fucking ice cream sundaes, no matter what.†
Anyway, while aboard the USS Hershey Squirt, I decided to catch up on some reading. My book of choice was a nonfiction work on Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. As I read my book, perfect strangers would walk up to me and ask me what I was reading, as they were confused, since the pages I was reading didnít have colorful pictures on them. When I told them that this was a historical biography, the look of surprise and at times, disgust, on their faces was extraordinary. They were legitimately taken back that I would read a book like this on a cruise. This was some heavy reading, it wasnít about teenagers murdering each other for the entertainment of the denizens of some dystopian future city, nor was it about Christian Grey sticking his hang down into his secretary. Iím a total square apparently to the cruise-taking crowd. Come to think about it, going on a cruise must be a guilty pleasure, because no one in there right mind would think that going on a cruise is in any way, a good idea.
To get back on point, the gaming industry has always been guilty of not releasing enough quality games during the summer months. Maybe they believe that everyone is on vacation, outside getting skin cancer, or shitting their brains out on a cruise ship somewhere out in the Caribbean Sea. With the dearth of games available, I usually find myself playing games that I missed out on earlier in the year and more often than not, games that I would never dare consider playing, let alone overplaying, as it is so often the case.
This is not a new phenomenon for me either. I recall playing a Gerry Glanvilleís Pigskin Footbrawl on the Sega Genesis way back when in the summer of 1992. I actually rented this game and kept it way past its due date, racking up some serious late fees. My mother was none too please. Even in my youth, I knew this game was a steamy turd, but what else was I going to play? What amazes me is how much I enjoyed playing this game. I was working in construction at the time and I actually looked forward to coming home at night, cranking the air conditioning after a long day breaking my ass, and playing this shitty game. Maybe I was suffering from heat stroke and didnít know any better?
The game was so putrid, that they couldnít even find a decent celebrity to endorse it, so they chose Gerry ďFuckingĒ Glanville of all people. A buffoon and mediocre coach for the Atlanta Falcons, whose only famous for saying something vaguely funny on the sidelines during a game to a referee that just so happened to be recorded. He actually has a losing record in all of his years of coaching, both at the collegiate and professional level and yet Iím sure he has a nicer house than me so FUCK HIM!
Two years later in the summer of 1994, I became smitten by another mediocre game, this time for my Sega CD. The game was FIFA International Soccer and I pretty much played this game non-stop for two months. I mustíve have led Italy to the World Cup fifty times. The kicker was that this game was so incredibly mediocre, but I was in the grips of World Cup fever, which was being hosted by the United States that year. I even had an opportunity to attend a match between Italy and Norway, which was just incredible and Iíve been a fan of the sport ever since.
What was not incredible was FIFA International Soccer for the Sega CD. EA Games essentially took the code from the equally mediocre Sega Genesis version and just ported it over to the Sega CD. They slapped on some grainy video, added some crowd noise, and abracadabra, they set a precedent of repackaging the same crap year after year, something they still do to this day.
A good friend of mine, who is still close to me today used to break my balls for playing that game. To this very day, every once in awhile heíll bring up that summer I wasted playing that shitty soccer game.
Now, with the advent of Xbox Live and PSN, I donít have to take a trip down memory lane to see what horrible games I spent way too much time on. All my transgressions are saved, via achievements in my profile. THANKS MICROSOFT AND SONY!
Unlocking an achievement in a horrible game is equivalent of a cross campus walk of shame at 6:00 in the morning, where youíre still dressed in the clothes from the previous night and everyone whoís out just knows that you made some horrible decisions the night before, and probably woke up naked next to someone who could be mistaken for a sasquatch.
Oh my god. I hope I wore a condom.
Perusing some of my old achievements of summers gone by on Xbox Live, I could see that I played way too much Prey on the Xbox 360 during the summer of 2006. Preyís claim to fame was that the protagonist was a Native American trapped on an alien spaceship, and he can, at times, walk on walls and ceilings. Oh, and on said alien spaceship, there were GIANT VAGINAS!
I then took the next two summers off from gaming, but in July of 2009, I came back with a vengeance and played the craptastic Red Faction: Guerilla for days on end. All I remember about this game was that it took place on Mars or some uninspired shit like that, so everything was colored with brownish red hue. For whatever reason, the main character had a sledgehammer that could topple entire buildings. Given the amount of time I played this game, one would think that I could do a better job of describing it, but I wasted enough time on the game, so I would rather forget that I ever played it.
Fast forwarding to 2012, Max Payne 3 became my guilty pleasure of choice. I was actually looking forward to play that game. I was so eager to return to the world of Max Payne 3 that I was blinded by how incredibly unmemorable it was. Once again, not a bad game, per se, but certainly not a great game, deserving of the amount of time I eventually poured into it playing it. I remember trying to talk my friends on giving it a try, pleading that it was good, just underrated, but they werenít buying into it. They probably thought that I was back on peyote and was hallucinatingÖ. again.
So there you have it, my walks of shame of summerís past. As you can see, I donít fall into the trap every summer of guilty pleasure gaming, but itís certainly a trend. Itís almost like I learned my lesson for a short time, only to fall off the wagon, just to get back on again. Will it be the same this summer? Iím trying to be strong. I have a couple of games from earlier in the year that I want to finish up, but who knows, Iíve been known to make bad decisions before.
Hey baby, listen, about last night... I was really drunk.
Would love to hear what some of your gaming guilty pleasures were. Go ahead and share some of your walks of shame in the comment section. I wonít judgeÖ Unless it was really bad and then Iím totally going to judge.