Nowadays, people bitch about the smallest details. My personal favorite of the last few weeks has to be PA's complaint that Crackdown uses the default font. If that's the biggest complaint you have about a game, it's not really worth making, now is it.? It could be so much worse.
So much worse.
After yesterday's post, it got me thinking -- what are some of the worst-received games of all time? I know that Pulse Racer is one of the more recent games that has been deemed "crap," but that game would have gotten perfect scores back in 1994. Let's see what people hate, and why.
#1. Superman 64 (N64, 1999)
So, you've probably heard of this one. If you haven't, allow me to fill you in:
Apparently, Superman has been sent into a virtual world to rescue Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, et al before it's too late. Well, I suppose that would kinda be an OK premise.
Then you start playing.
In this game, everything is on a timer. Eat, sleep shit, all to a timer. Now, Superman can do everything this side of getting into Jimmy Olson's pants (don't act like you haven't noticed), so maybe a timer would mix things up a bit. But what's this? The world is mysteriously filled with a green "fog" that in the game industry is usually called an inability to render objects in the distance. See: Draw-Distance. Now, because this isn't really supposed to be about polygon rendering, and more about how shitty the air is in VR, let's fill the whole goddamned screen with this shit! Now you can't see much of anything!
So, OK, you can't really see, and everything is timed, but you still have powers and stuff, right? Well, you can still fly, and brilliant criminal mastermind Lex Luthor has totally built a challenge for you -- fly through some rings.
Yeah, you'll spend the majority of the game flying through these metal hoops (very much like the rings in Starfox 64). Fighting bad guys probably isn't a good idea, because even some retard with a gun can take you down in one shot (the fog can apparently make Superman as strong as Joan Rivers). So you fly through rings. Lots of rings.
Yeah, they look like that. I'm sure that the numbers from the timer are probably burned into the screen, so just in case something ISN'T timed, you won't get sloppy and relaxed because of it.
Granted, no Superman game has been good since the Superman Arcade game I played as a kid. Even the most recent entry from EA has sucked (although they at least got the superpowers down).
Still, you know you have a serious problem when the "S" logo at the bottom right of the screen looks better than anything else in the game.
#2. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Atari 2600, 1982)
The worst thing that can happen to a videogame is when it has a movie tie-in. The movie studio puts you an a harsh deadline, and you are expected to ship that completed game the week that the movie comes out. The game always comes out, but it's never what it's supposed to be.
E.T. the movie had years of development. The game? 5 Weeks. That's it. Howard Scott Warshaw (the same guy who programmed Yars' Revenge) was given $200,000 for the project (and this is in 1980's dollars...that's a lot!). With the short deadline, they skipped audience testing and shipped a generally glitchy game.
But that's not the fun part.
Normally, a bad game gets ridiculed for a month, and people just don't buy it. It then fades into obscurity only to be mentioned by the occasion heckler (read: me). E.T. was not quite so lucky. Anticipating huge sales, Atari made 4 million cartidges. There were only 10 million Atari consoles in existence! After the returns started piling up, Atari realized they were stuck with a huge pile of games that were glitchy and poor. So they did what any logical person would do.
They buried them.
Before declaring bankruptcy, Atari drove all the cartridges from El Paso to a New Mexico landfill. They then crushed and buried all of the games. However, in the heat, the games melted and starting bubbling up to the surface. Atari then sealed the entire burial grounds in concrete.
And you wonder why Atari vanished from 1984 until 1998.
#3. Enter the Matrix (PC, XBOX, PS2, GC, 2003)
This is more a of a personal bias, but who cares? Enter the Matrix was definitely not given any awards other than for sucking. However, as bad as some people may think this game is, I have a personal vendetta against it.
Before that, though, there are a few things that it does do right. First of all, the mo-cap stuff is pretty much dead on. When I hit a button to attack, it looks like it normally does in the Matrix films. Likewise, the "Hacking" terminal (basically a simplified version of DOS) is a game in and of itself, and is a very cool implementation. The movies also add to the game by intertwining the two.
But that's where the cool stuff ends.
See, in order for a game to be playable, there have to be set boundaries. I rented this game back when it came out, and I remember that I was stuck on one part where I was supposed to get a flashlight (or else I was killed by...something). But I couldn't figure out where the hell the flashlight was. Eventually, I just tried running all over the place, and then tried to go down the dark passage. It worked. Once I died, I had to figure out how I got the flashlight. Apparently, the flashlight was all the way in the back of the level, but the designer had neglected to put in the icon, or even a notifier that it was collected. You never knew if you had picked it up unless you tried to run down the tunnel!
Also, the "last level" was an on-rails shooter, but you couldn't tell if you were hitting the damned sentinel. It reminded me of a game called Deep Impact, or Deep Tide or something that was a four disc game that was basically like shooting within a movie. Eventually, either you won the game or you died, but you had no idea when either of those things was going to occur.
In reality, the biggest failing of the game was not including Neo.
You dumb bastards.