It’s no secret to anyone that’s visited the Crummysocks family of sites that I do sometimes play the odd, or sometimes very odd, terrible game, and then talk about it at length. Sometimes that’s because the game I played was so bad it crossed over into awesome, but that’s not always the case. A lot of times, the game is just bad. And, yet, I keep most of them.
That doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially for the truly bad ones. Why would I keep something around that I didn’t like, and have very few (if any) good memories about. I’ve touched on this before, but I think it can be summed up as: bad games make me appreciate the good games more.
Take a site like IGN for example. They love to gush on about how great Latest Blockbuster 4 HD is, and you will find the occasional review where they find something terrible and treat it appropriately. They even address this in their site’s Ratings FAQ
And yes, sometimes people are eager to play games that turn out to be really bad. No one wants to review just the AAA titles. It gets boring after a while to write high praise for everything.
And, even though IGN is currently hovering at about a 68% aggregate rating, which tells me that they might give some of the good games a little too much praise, and might knock a few too many points off for the faults in the less-than-stellar ones, they at least acknowledge that if all you have is wonderful things, those wonderful things become pedestrian, and your perspective is skewed.
So, with that said, I figured I’d share a few of the games from my actual collection, and how they make me appreciate something better.
The uploader of this video has disabled embedding, so you’ll have to click the image above to view the video, and you really should. 15 years later, I’m still wondering how this game got released.
Game: Clayfighter 63⅓
System: Nintendo 64
Released: October 21, 1997
Offenses: Aside from the massive delays, cut features, and the most unfunny jokes imaginable, this game also includes: poor controls, uneven difficulty, blatant racism (it was a different time, 1997), unbalanced characters.
What it makes me appreciate: The very games that this is attempting to parody: Killer Instinct, Street Fighter, Marvel v. Capcom, etc.
Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan
Genre: Side-scrolling beat ’em up
System: Nintendo Game Boy
Released: August 1990
Offenses: Prerendered cutscenes, challenge-free gameplay, somehow combines cartoon ninja turtles and video games to create something that boring and tedious.
What it makes me appreciate: That we live in an era that allows for video previews, enemies smart enough to not get stuck on terrain, player characters who aren’t just re-skins of each other.
“Oh sure,” you’re probably saying, “pick on games that are 15 years old or more.” Alright, how about something from the last five years?
Game: Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
System: Xbox 360
Released: November 12, 2007
Offenses: Just the one. If you’re (somehow) unfamiliar with how the Xbox Achievement system works, it goes something like this: the game developers put in a series of tasks that a player can perform during the course of the game. These can range from hitting certain plot points to collecting some arbitrary number of widgets, to finding all of the secrets hidden in the whole game, to just about anything. Each of these tasks is worth a certain amount of points, which go on your profile along with a little picture and date you performed the task. Most games top out at 1,000 points for completing all of the tasks. Avatar, however, dispenses with most of the challenge of completing the tasks, and instead of giving you numerous varied tasks to perform, it asks you to do one thing. And, even if you weren’t trying to complete all the achievements in two minutes, you’d do it in pretty short order anyway.
What it makes me appreciate: I get it, coming up with achievements that are interesting, challenging, and achievable in a reasonable length of time, is really hard. So, it’s really great to see a list of achievements are actually fun to do, and not tedious grinding.
Now, I’m sure someone will point out that a lot of people sell their used games back to Gamestop or wherever. That they take the bad ones back and exchange them for store credit on something that they’d actually enjoy. And that’s fine. But if I can’t find something at least a little bit bad on their shelf, I start to wonder about where they’re coming from.