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Great Games I Hated and Old Gems I Love

Nothing like stirring up a little controversy.  I’m not sure if everyone would admit to it but I think everyone has certain games they look forward to and just don’t feel it when they pop them into their console.  I’ve had more than a few but the most prominent I’ll talk a little bit about and delve into why I feel this way.  On the flip side I’ll also mention some games that, award-winner or not, still have a place in my heart.

The Bad (for me at least):


Super Smash Bros.:  Frankly, I never understood the hype.  I admire that it’s different and kind of boils down to just manic fun in a multiplayer game, but that’s really it.  The moves are incredibly simple and usually pretty basic in execution, and the worst offense of any “fighting” game is when half the characters serve as throw aways in lieu of the best fighters.  On the other hand the series is known for having tons of unlockables, which I’m a big fan of but as far as the actual game play it just doesn’t stand up for me.  Some may call it lunacy but I really think PowerStone 1 & 2 for the Dreamcast are much better games.  4-player fighting mixed in with mini-games that show up on the fly.


Madden:  Of course this one will create an inevitable shit storm, but seriously guys:  this game has gone unchanged for something like ten years now aside from minor tweaks and additions.  Roster updates are the only thing that distinguishes this year’s edition to the last when it comes down to actual game play.  Sorry, but something like being able to control how much hot dogs cost at my team’s stadium isn’t enough for me to get geared up for a new version of what’s essentially the same game.

Also, and this is just me, but I don’t WANT to train my players to increase their abilities.  A simple automatic improvement after every season that the computer calculates is just fine.  You might even be able to do this in Madden but I just don’t care enough to find out.  It’s quibbles like this that turn me off to a game that obviously the developers are taking way too seriously.  AGAIN, THE GAMES ARE ALMOST IDENTICAL.  I have to admit though I did pick up this year’s edition of NCAA Football, however in my defense I’ve been away from EA football games since NCAA 2003 for the reasons stated above and more.  I enjoy it more than Madden because I simply enjoy the recruiting aspect.


Gunstar Heroes:  What’s all the hub-bub bub?  It’s a 2D side scroller from back in the day that let’s you switch between two weapons while you get assaulted by at least a half dozen enemies on the screen at one time.  I can’t speak for the co-op aspect but based on the 1 player experience I’m not sure what the attraction is.  The game demands pretty precise shooting and jumping for a side-scrolling, however the jumping isn’t that great and the shooting isn’t very responsive.  If the challenge is why people like it, fine but I don’t see much past that.


Battle Arena Toshinden:  I was incredibly annoyed when this game came out mostly because it smelled a lot like the hype around and the stellar reviews were more of a biproduct of love for the new Sony PlayStation we’d all been hearing about rather than the actual game itself.  I think I was right.  Sure it was 3D, which was aces at the time, but Virtua Fighter and the great games it influenced (Tekken, Soul Calibur) were head and shoulders above this mediocre weapons-based clone that was more of a fluff piece designed to get fighting fans on boards with the PlayStation than anything else (not that it needed any help in hindsight).


Grand Theft Auto IV:  The most overrated series of all time?  No, I really believe that statement.  I loved the idea of open-ended experiences when the idea was first being explored, but these days games take it to a ridiculous level.  I don’t want to play Morrowwind and take an entire evening to complete a sidequest.  I don’t want a game as ambitious as Fallout 3 to drop a game crushing bug on me halfway through the game.  Grand Theft Auto is the worst though.  The reason?  It only has save points before you start a mission.  Taking on a task that involves blowing away 40 gang members and a helicopter?  Good luck, because if you get past say 32 of them and die you’re starting over right at the beginning.  Oh and you also have to drive/walk there again.  Why god why?  Why do I have to drive across an imaginary bridge and stop at imaginary red lights in a make believe world just to try again (and probably fail)?  It makes no sense.  Plus, the tiresome fetch quests/life sim aspects that fill the gaps in the game get incredibly old.  Sure I’m immature enough at 27 years old to laugh about having sex with a girl I met during the game………once.  After that who cares?  And lastly, a lot of people like these games not for the sake of progressing through the story but simply to shoot as many cops and penetrate as many prostitutes as possible.  I’m all for creative freedom in any medium, but that fact that people get sheer enjoyment from doing these things over and over again is pretty disturbing.  No thanks.


Halo 3:  Before I begin to beg for hate mail on this one, it’s important to note that Halo 2 is in my top ten favorite games of all time and probably as high as top three.  The 1 player experience wasn’t as jaw-droppingly new and exciting as the first Halo but the multiplayer variety, matchmaking system and ranking system were second to none.  Most importantly the multiplayer maps were impeccable.  How many games in your lifetime have you literally played for years on end?  Not that many, and Halo 2 was one such game for myself and millions of others.

Halo 3 had the same familiar aesthetics of Halo 1 & 2 however somethings just didn’t sit well with me.  Due to developers’ need to feel like they have to improve something all the time or do something better, regardless of if they have to, the new controls didn’t feel right.  You could see where they were going with it but it just made things a little too complex.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but if I have one complaint with the industry as a whole it’s that everyone is too obsessed with doing something new and no game can be developed with the goal of being simple, straight-forward fun.  For the flip side of this argument check out my posts below about Xbox Live Arcade and how refreshing it is to play cheap games that are just plain fun.

The worst offense with this game however were the multiplayer maps.  Were they bad?  No.  Was I a little too married to the maps from Halo 2?  Possibly, but as was the case with the new controls these new maps were all just a little off.  I played online for months, yearning for the day when the light bulb would go off and I would see the nuances these new maps had to offer but to no avail.  Some were lopsided and some were so-called “re-creations” of maps we grew to love from the previous game.  I saw little to no similarities and as was a slight nitpick with Halo 2 that was more apparent with this game, the developers continued to ignore the maps from Halo 1 many fans begged to be included in the new installment. 

I can see why innovation is important especially in an industry where there are endless possibilities but sometimes it’s also valuable to base decisions on instinct and simplicity with no frills.  Halo 3 is an example of when simplicity should still rule the day, because sometimes trying too hard is just as bad as not trying enough.

Those That Have Aged Like A Fine Wine:


Eternal Champions (Sega CD):  Subtitled “Challenge from the Dark Side,” this game was pure greatness in a time when fatalities and blood were all the rage in 2D fighting games.  The premise was cheesy, your selection of characters stems from fighters from all different times periods, yet most if not all of them could all be played and played different from one another.  The game had unlockable characters as well as fatalities that were actually very creative and varied.  I can’t speak highly enough of this game, which got great reviews in it’s time but failed to get the recognition due to a new brand and being available on a questionable console/add-on like the Sega CD.  There was also a Sega Genesis version with less frills, worse graphics and I think maybe less characters.  One of my favorite fighters of all time.


General Chaos:  Many, many gamers won’t recognize this title but those who do have probably played it and enjoyed it for what it was.  You had a choice of a few different 4-man groups of (slightly insane) army soldiers, ranging from gunners, grenadiers, and flame-thrower personnel.  You simply played against a 4-man computer-controlled unit on one of the handful of maps available which contained lots of sandbags and barb wire and sometimes exploding train tracks and train cars.  Yes the game really is that awesome.

Keep in mind this was made in the early ’90’s and for a console to boot (the Sega Genesis) so point and click, especially using a mouse, was not an option.  You manually moved a cursor around the screen with the D-Pad and selected what soldier you wanted to control for the time being while the computer controlled the rest.  Looking back it resulted in a lot of mishandling and you never really got your unit to do exactly what it wanted, but this is a goofy slap-stick rendition of a CounterStrike-type game years before most of them grew in popularity.  It still has a blend of different gameplays I don’t know if I’ve seen again since.


Earthworm Jim:  Another game that had a certain flair to it that you almost never see in the entire gaming industry.  A side-scroller where you control a worm that accidentally jumps into a power suit that lets him jump around as a human.  I was already sold before the game came out.

When have you ever seen a 2D side scroller with this kind of humor that’s actually funny and well-made?  I never have save for this game.  You launch a cow in the air that lands later on in the level!  At one point you control a dog you whip with…..yourself (being a worm and all) to get it to move along!  Jim has a ridiculous Southern accent!  Obviously the last one is redundant (hee hee) but you get the picture.  On a side note I remember the Sega CD version having decidedly better sound than the other versions possibly with a couple extras as well.


Resident Evil:  Code Veronica:  What a stellar addition to the Resident Evil series, and what a surprise it’s never talked about.  Even if you stumble across an Internet conversation amongst RE fans you never hear a whole lot about Code Veronice.  The truth is it’s probably at least the second best RE of all time and possibly rivals RE2 for the title of “best installment.”

For my money RE:CV out of all the games in the series has the best combination of story, scares, gameplay and graphical prowess at the time.  The story was less cheesy and ham-handed than the other installments and actually had a very good plot twist and some emotion as well.  The monsters are good too, including a tarantula the size of a tank that walks upside down under a sheet of ice you have to trek across. 

A lot of people are aware that this is was a well-received game however due to it’s initial release on the Dreamcast and a PS2 release that was a long time after it always gets lost in the shuffle.  At the time it was sort of just reviewed, rated highly and forgotten about which is unique for a series that has so many followers.

  1. modena135
    July 18, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Halo 3 sucks. Like the developers must have said :’Halo 2 sold like no other Xbox game ever so lets make a third one. But lets change it for the worse in some many ways that the game will be worse than Halo 1.’

    The newest, best Madden is worse then Techmo Bowl (although maybe I am biased since Techmo Bowl holds a special place in my heart.

    Every time I go into EB Games, I almost buy Earthworm Jim again.

    WHERE IS ANIMAL CROSSING? Sciblyville is no longer a part of you?

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