hether it’s related to music, television or movies, the media just loves making lists of things. These days, it seems like you can’t open a magazine, watch TV, or visit a website without running into some kind of “10 Greatest Somethings of All-Time” list.
Since making video game-related lists has also been all the rage (e.g, “The Top 50 Games to Shove Up Your Bum!”), we here at TJG wanted to not be left out, and have decided to jump on the bandwagon before it stopped rolling. However, the idea of listing our favorite 100 games and then writing flowery love letters describing how wonderful they are just didn’t seem very, well…jaded. So we came up with a better idea.
Using a complicated process that involved other people’s Top 100 lists, math formulas, spreadsheets and possibly even the aid of Ukrainian rocket scientists, we managed to determine the 100 games that are widely regarded as the best games ever. This list isn’t in any kind of order mind you. No, rather than rank all 100 games, we decided to make a Top 10 list, so 90 games had to be eliminated by the staff. Each time a game was eliminated, we wrote about what we found wrong with it that made it unworthy of Top 10 honors. Once the list was pared down properly, the staff then took a vote on the ten remaining games, and then continued to find flaws in them as we put them into a final order.
To put it another way, our group of very jaded gamers bashed some of the best games ever made until we determined which one sucks the least. It may not be the most scientific method ever, but we think you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.
The First 45 Games (of 90) To Be Automatically Dismissed
RoyalRanger: How would you like to play a game in which a primary goal is to write letters to computer-controlled animals who will never understand a word of the note that you just took five minutes to write? That’s Animal Crossing in a nutshell — run errands, buy furniture, write letters, and do it all several times each and every day of your pathetic virtual life. None of the characters in the game will ever understand or really care about anything that you do. It’s like The Sims meets Mr. Rogers’ “Land of Make-Believe,” except there’s no real people to interact with and no trolley around to bail you out.
TheMadSpin: Nintendo calls this game a “communication game”, which would be great, except that all forms of communication are pointless. Like RoyalRanger says, the animals can’t understand any of the stuff you write to them, so you could just tell everyone to fornicate with themselves (which is basically the entire point of the game anyways) and they’d react the same way they would if you’d sent them love letters. If Animal Crossing is a communication game, then it is a woman and the players are men. Just ask the right questions and listen to the nonsense (sorry honey!).
Fatsquatch: This is a children’s game, right? I mean, I’ve been playing for hours, and all I’ve done is pick flowers, gone shopping for primary-colored clothing, played doll-house, and sent letters to the game’s NPC characters — all of which who have no idea as to what in the hell I’m telling them. I guess it would be a complete blast if I were five years old, playing scheduled sessions between Sesame Street and Barney & Friends.
One of the best games of all-time? LOL!
Brad Hates Games: All you really need to know about Animal Crossing is that it sells for $20 at most places now, and comes with a free memory card, but would probably sell better if they advertised it as being the other way around.
Mortal Kombat II
Loogaroo: From the very moment I laid eyes on it, I have loathed and despised the Mortal Kombat series. Not just because I’m a prude who can’t stand the sight of blood — I am, but there’s more going on here — but because if you were to take away all of the blood and gore from the game (as they in fact did when they brought the first MK to the SNES) you’d realize that this is just a complete knockoff of Street Fighter II. The second installment in the series further proves that point, as it seems that the game’s designers realized that the only way they were going to hold the attention of gamers is by throwing in all sorts of superfluous easter eggs like “Babalities” and more hidden characters.
I have hated the Mortal Kombat series from its very beginnings, and now it is with great glee that I perform my own fatality move on MKII.
TheMadSpin: I don’t think of this game as a knockoff of Street Fighter II…I think Street Fighter II itself became the ultimate knockoff of Street Fighter II. What I do think is that any game that lets you beat on someone for five minutes, only to turn them into a cute little baby seconds after the fight, needs to have its spine ripped out. Oh, and for the love of god, no one gives a damn about Noob Saibot!
Fatsquatch: Jeeze Louise…”Babalities”? “Friendships”? C’mon! After putting the beat-down on my opponent over a couple of plasma-spilling rounds of carnage, the last thing I want to do is turn them into the Gerber baby or hand them a birthday cake. Instead, the design team should have put that effort into more gruesome elements, like being able to rip off your opponent’s sack and feed it to them.
Brad Hates Games: There’s something kind of ironic about seeing Johnny Cage do a painful looking split just so that he can punch another guy in the nuts. Well, either ironic or mental. No wait…definitely mental.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Brad Hates Games: In stealth games like Tenchu, Metal Gear Solid, and Hitman, when you sneak up behind an enemy undetected, you totally get to kill the hell out of them. In Splinter Cell, however, this behavior is discouraged because it wouldn’t be very realistic. Instead of using your bullets to ventilate the backs of terrorist’s skulls, you are instead supposed to shoot out nearby lights to hide better. Enemies are completely oblivious to all the exploding light bulbs, and very realistically don’t find this suspicious at all, or even seem to notice that it suddenly got darker. How much darker? So dark that a guard standing a foot away and looking right at you won’t be able to see you or the three glowing green lights on your forehead. That, my friends, is unparalleled realism.
TheMadSpin: I think any game that turns Michael Ironside into a respectable actor is one that has to be questioned. The guy’s credits include The Next Karate Kid, Starship Troopers and Jett Jackson. Do we really want this guy saving the world from terror?
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Brad Hates Games: I’ve heard of games that had a cult following, but this expression can almost be taken literally in the case of Panzer Dragoon Saga. Only a handful of copies of this game were ever manufactured, so that very few people have ever played it.
The people who have will always declare that it was the best game ever made, and very few of them will ever break ranks and say otherwise. The truth is, this game really isn’t anything special. The story, like all things Panzer Dragoon, doesn’t make any damn sense, and the “innovative” battle system is severely flawed. I was able to beat the game and all side quests in just under 10 hours, three of which were spent wandering aimlessly after the game decided to stop giving me any idea where to go next. Of course, now that I’ve revealed the truth about this game, I’ll probably be killed in my sleep by a member of the Panzer Dragoon Cult.
TheMadSpin: As one of the early adopters of the “let’s make gamers switch discs a bunch” technology, Panzer Dragoon Saga was surely an innovator. I wonder if they could have produced more copies of the game if they hadn’t used up all of their discs on the first one?
Contra III: The Alien Wars
RoyalRanger: If you were to take the fast-paced action of Contra, double the speed, double the graphics, and double the frustration, you’d be left with Contra III: The Alien Wars. Contra III is a game that suffers from having far too much stuff on the screen at any one time, from enemies, to bullets, to lasers, to explosions. It all moves so fast that you’ll find yourself dead before you even have a chance to realize what just killed you and what you were shooting at before you died. If video games have any affect on players’ stress levels, this game will probably double them. And I haven’t even talked about the crappy overhead levels yet. Forget it, I think my own head will explode if I do.
TheMadSpin: I remember beating this game and discovering that my reward for saving the world from the alien threat was hanging one-handed from the bottom of a chopper through the entire credit sequence. Once that was over, I was dropped (fully armed) into a crowd of people and menaced by a weird looking dog. I think I was supposed to shoot them?
Brad Hates Games: It’s exactly like the original Contra, but ten times harder. You know, because the one thing everyone hated about Contra was that it was just way too easy.
Loogaroo: Any game which provides a power-up that forces you to hit an enemy twice as many times to kill it, has a level design in which 75% of the map can only be explored if you manage to shoot the correct brick, and prevents your hero from shooting enemies at ground level when that’s where most of them come from, cannot be mentioned in the same paragraph as one of the best games ever. In fact, Kid Icarus, which was released nearly at the same time as Metroid but typically given short shrift, has always been the superior game in my view.
RoyalRanger: This game wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been for those few little technicalities that always result in unnecessary frustration. For one thing, I feel that the game forces me to spend much more time collecting energy than actually allowing me to make any kind of progress through each locale. That, and the horrid controls which keep getting me stuck in various mud pits, wherein I’d lose half my energy (particularly during the boss battles) just trying to jump out of the goo.
TheMadSpin: When I say I want to get “lost” in a game, I mean caught up in the narrative. I don’t mean literally LOST. Every room looks the same, except that sometimes it is colored a different shade of whatever puke pastel they wanted to toss at you. If the game’s zones were broken down based on food it’d go something like this: “Isn’t this the place where I fought that last boss? No, no, I’m thinking of the lima bean colored area, not the day old guacamole area.”
Brad Hates Games: I know the idea of a female bounty hunter sounds pretty hot, but if Samus is anything like the bounty hunters you see on TV, she’s gotta be pretty trashy. I mean, we’re talking fe-mullet, tattoos all over, smoking two packs a day, and swearing like a sailor. And her ship would be the space equivalent of a rusted out, twenty-year old Camaro. Sorry to ruin your fantasies, everyone.
Loogaroo: I could only imagine what was running through Solid Snake’s mind when he was first briefed about this mission: infiltrate a fortress called “Outer Heaven”, free a fellow operative, and find out about a secret weapon known as “Metal Gear”. I’ll bet he figured it would be a breeze until they told him what sort of equipment he was going to get for his mission: absolutely nothing. Well, maybe not absolutely nothing…I mean, they did give him a pack of cigarettes. What, was the army running low on guns that day, or did his commanding officers think Snake was so good at his work that all he needed was a few Benson & Hedges Light 100’s to bring down the entire secret project of a crackpot dictator?
I could never play this game for more than half an hour at a stretch, since most of the time was being spent either wandering around, getting mauled to death by dogs, or marveling at some of the most classic and trailblazing examples of Engrish that has ever been produced.
TheMadSpin: Now, now Loog…everyone knows that the cigarettes are given to you so that you can detect the laser trip wires later in the game. Oh, that’s right, only about fifteen people even get that far because of that damn tank boss at the beginning of the game!
Just when you think that you’re gonna run out of the land mines that are required to destroy the tank…you do. Oh, and if you somehow get past the tank, the difficulty level of the game ratchets down from about an 8 to a 3 for the next 2 hours. It’s no Snake’s Revenge, but it’s no Metal Gear Solid either.
Fatsquatch: As a testament to this game’s considerable level of suckiness (due to the lame pseudo-stealth gameplay), I never got too far past the opening jungle level. Believe me, I tried several times to like this game “back in the day”® (especially since everyone was telling me that I was supposed to), but all it ever did was seriously get on my nerves and make me want to choke myself to death with my controller.
RoyalRanger: Unfortunately, TMS, I wasn’t one of those fifteen people who got past the tank boss. I believe I ran out of landmines. The worst part about it is that the game’s title screen demo contains a clip of Solid Snake running back and forth and shooting at the tank with the sub machine gun. I must’ve tried that same strategy for about a half an hour before I died.
Brad Hates Games: Was this game supposed to look like the opening to The Benny Hill Show? Seems like any time I would get spotted and blow my cover, I’d avoid the guards simply by running around various objects. They would chase me, and we’d run in circles until it reached a point where I had gained on them so much that it began to look like I was chasing them; all we needed was the theme song. I have to think this isn’t what Hideo originally had in mind when he made the game.
Pokémon (Red/Blue Version)
Brad Hates Games: Take the most boring RPG you’ve ever played, simplify the battle system, get rid of 90% of the story, and you’ve got Pokémon. The whole game was little more than an unending series of straightforward random encounters, allowing you to power-level your various Pokémon and giving you opportunities to “catch them all” during a successful battle. What tiny shred of a story the game had was little more than a thinly veiled excuse to set up the next area of random encounters, with tournaments taking the place of boss fights. Fans of the game will tell you that the reason it’s so simplistic was that it is intended for children under ten years old, but do you know what I was doing when I was ten? Hunting spies in a machine-gun equipped Porsche and pummeling Mr. T look-alikes with a baseball bat; not playing tedious crap like this.
TheMadSpin: “Gotta catch ’em all” sounds like the misguided mantra of a Motown prostitute playing VD bingo. Have any of you ever leveled up your useless “Goldeen” only to find out that it’s a useless “Seaking”? Do any of you even know what I’m talking about? Even if you don’t, let me fill you in on the secret to Pokémon that Nintendo doesn’t want you to know: You only need to catch like five of ’em. That’s it.
Wave Race 64
Brad Hates Games: I don’t think anyone ever really wanted to buy Wave Race 64, it was always more a matter of Mario 64 being sold out everywhere, leaving game-starved Nintendo 64 owners with the fairly easy choice between either buying Wave Race or Pilotwings. The only thing this game was ever really well-known for was its excellent water graphics, and considering that I can see realistic looking water anytime I want just by turning on a faucet, that’s kind of hard to get excited about. Other than that, it was just another average racing game, with about a half-dozen or so better ones available on competing systems. Sure, it might have been better than Pilotwings, but it still wasn’t good enough to keep people from running out and spending $80 on garbage like Turok only a few months later.
TheMadSpin: This game is like the Oasis album, Be Here Now. When it came out, critics hailed it as one of the year’s best, yet a few months later when sales were down, everyone was talking about how horrible the music was and about how the Gallagher brothers were doing nothing but beating good ideas to death. They were calling the album all but pedestrian. Basically, they discovered the truth once the honeymoon wore off and then had to backpedal.
Well, consider this me raising my hand for all gaming media and telling the truth. This game isn’t really all that good, but it was pretty back when Nintendo released it.
Truthfully, we all really wanted to play Jet Moto, we just didn’t know it yet, and in retrospect, the only thing that could have made Wave Race 64 more overrated would be if they had Oasis’ D’You Know What I Mean? wailing in the background.
Fatsquatch: I admit that Wave Races 1-63 were superb titles (especially the legendary Wave Race 42: X-Treme Water Wedgie), but Nintendo blew it with this one. Other than adding some dolphins to the environment, this was just the same ol’ type of racing game that we had been used to in the post 16-bit era, with the game being more about track memorization than actual skill.
TheMadSpin: Tekken 2 isn’t even the best Tekken game, so how could it possibly be one of the top 100 games of all time? This one should be tossed out for stupid plot lines alone. (Wait, is that guy the demon or the demon father with wings? He had wings, right? And isn’t there a fighting military kangaroo?) Oh, and the action was hardly an upgrade from Tekken, so if we’re going on sheer historical impact alone, this title still wouldn’t hold up. Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag are amazing, and I still wouldn’t put them in a list like this. I need more depth in my all time classics than most fighting games can offer.
Fatsquatch: Okay, on the surface it may seem like Tekken 2 might actually deserve a spot on a Top 100 list, but when you offer it up to scrutiny, it becomes blatantly clear that it doesn’t. Sure, Tekken 2 looked “HAWT” back in its day, but when you get to the meat and bones of the game itself, it all boils down to this: spend one full day cat-assing, learning a specific character’s master combo…then, invite your buds over, launch combo at beginning of round, promptly kill friend’s character, alienate friends, then be alone and bored.
Yeah, good times for all.
Brad Hates Games: To give you an idea of just how insane the plot to the Tekken series is, try to imagine if Toyota hosted their own fighting tournament — the CEO participated in it, and was thrown off a cliff by his son, who then turned into a demon and took over the company. Now imagine if Toyota then started genetically engineering kangaroos to be used by the military.
This is exactly why fighting games shouldn’t have stories.
TheMadSpin: The only reason this title gets props at all is because it’s coming at you from a handheld. It’s a child’s play version of a turn-based sim, and it pales to its handheld genre cousin Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in every way from looks, to music, to (by a long shot) gameplay. (It’s like a glorified, video game version of rock/paper/scissors.) If it fails to earn the distinction of “top handheld tactical title”, then it probably can’t best the myriad console and PC tactical titles out there. And if it can’t even excel within its own genre, it can’t possibly expect to stay here long.
Brad Hates Games: Hey look, all the commanders are teenagers, and the soldiers look like little kids. There they are lining up to fight each other. Don’t they look cute in their little uniforms?
Ok, lets see what happens in a battle…HOLY #@&%!! Did I just kill a bunch of children? That’s messed up.
Fatsquatch: Now, Brad…we all know that kids in video games are emo-centric super-teens with the fate of the entire world resting on their shoulders. You’ve played enough RPGs by now to acknowledge and accept this. So, with that in mind, why does the end result of romper room skirmishes on the battlefield trouble you so? You big silly goose, you!
RoyalRanger: I don’t like to cut slack to any game just because it’s one of the first of its genre. Double Dragon may have been one of the first beat-em-ups to be developed, but it still does not stand up against the bigger, better beat-em-ups that have since been developed, including some of this game’s own sequels. The missions in Double Dragon are short, dull, and predictable, not to mention that the final mission is irritating as hell. Besides, some of the characters have really bad hair. I think that when I get right down to it, this game is just way too 80’s for me.
TheMadSpin: I really can’t say what’s most pathetic about this title…is it that the plot is totally devoted to two guys that look exactly alike, using their fists and any weapons they can dredge up to fight about a thousand bad guys (that also seem to be sporting tons of twins)? Or maybe it’s the pathetic realization that the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Double Impact has pretty much the same plot? You be the judge.
Fatsquatch: I would be all over Double Dragon being considered as one of the best games of all-time if not for one thing: that little section in the final stage where the statues stab you with spears and large blocks come out of the wall, pushing you to your death. That section of brain-destroying aggravation has nothing to do with skill, and is nothing more than a way to get players to put more quarters in the machine. After all, if you’ve already made it that far, you sure aint gonna give up before reaching the end.
Damn you, Taito… Damn you to hell!
Twisted Metal 2
Loogaroo: Okay, let’s get something straight here. There’s a dude that’s a freaking clown…in a demolition derby, no less. Let’s repeat that: a freaking clown in a demolition derby. Are we supposed to give as ethereal a title as “Best Video Game of All Time”, an honor often bestowed to the likes of Zelda, Mario, and Final Fantasy, to a game that revolves around a freaking clown in a demolition derby? Not on my watch, bucko.
TheMadSpin: This may be the best demolition derby game ever made for the home console. That’s the videogame equivalent of calling your buddies in to see what a huge crap you took. If I wanted to drive a car with poor handling while shooting guns with no control, I’d just move to Mexico.
Brad Hates Games: And actually, guys, Destruction Derby is the best demolition derby game on the Playstation.
Fatsquatch: Wait…did BHG just hint that Destruction Derby is good? Yikes! I feel asleep!
RoyalRanger: My fondest memory of this game was getting beaten by a middle-aged guy who never played a video game in his life.
Final Fantasy II
Brad Hates Games: Final Fantasy II was the first really successful RPG to assign you characters that would fit into the story it was trying to tell, rather than just letting you create your own. This is a big part of how RPGs were able to become much more cinematic and story driven than they used to be. However, it also opened the door for other RPGs to start assigning you characters like 19-year-old video game enthusiasts (Star Ocean 3), professional athletes who actually use a freaking dodgeball as a weapon (Final Fantasy X), or Marilyn Manson look-alikes and Mexican Wrestlers (Chrono Cross). Thanks for that, Final Fantasy II.
TheMadSpin: Wait, so Darth Vader’s whose father? There were so many out-of-the-ass plot twists in this game that it made me feel like I was playing a fantasy version of one of my mom’s daytime soaps. Okay, dammit, it made me feel like I was playing one of MY daytime soaps. Are you happy?
Seriously though, you’re cast out of your kingdom, you blow up someone’s hometown, your best friend betrays you, then helps you, then betrays you, then helps you. After all that, it introduced one of the now overplayed Final Fantasy mainstays…you know the guy that you thought was super evil and that was going to destroy the world? Yeah, he’s not the main villain. Get used to it. That and Cid are the only two things you’ll ever be sure of again.
Loogaroo: Three words: You Spoony Bard.
RoyalRanger: Was it really necessary to make a game about politics? I can imagine the board meeting that kick-started the first SimCity: “Hey, here’s an idea! Let’s make a game where you get to play a kick-butt mayor! But instead of saving princesses and fighting evil ninjas, you get to ward off the evil forces of economic recession! You’ll get to send public workers out on exciting missions like repairing broken roads and building electrical lines with money you don’t have, while you get to listen to all of your citizens gripe and moan that your 2% income tax is too high and that all five of your school buildings just burned down for no apparent reason! Yeah, the kids will just eat it up!” Then, they decide to release a sequel, SimCity 2000, which is the same game, but with prettier graphics and more politics. It’s like watching a 24-hour cable news network, except that you actually have to experience that agonizing crap for yourself.
TheMadSpin: It’s like a bureaucracy, except you eliminate everything but the bitching.
Brad Hates Games: In SimCity 2000, you can be the mayor of a city with dirty air, lousy schools, a struggling economy, high taxes, and rampant crime. Yet no matter how much your sims hate you, nobody will ever run against you, so re-election is always assured. In that regard, it’s kind of like being the mayor of Buffalo.
No wait, actually, it’s exactly like being the mayor of Buffalo.
Loogaroo: Here’s another game that immediately got on my bad side as soon as it appeared on my radar screen. Never has there been a more insipid and pointless concept to a video game than when Doom somehow managed to captivate the gaming culture. The plot is something right out of a ’50s B-grade horror flick — a base on one of Mars’ moons gets invaded by hordes of minions from Hell — and the game does absolutely nothing to flesh out the story beyond that. It exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to run around and shoot crap. This is bad in and of itself, but Doom makes things worse by forcing you to search gargantuan, labyrinthine levels for keys that open the way to the next gargantuan, labyrinthine level. It’s the video game equivalent to Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill only to see it roll back down.
It does amuse me, though, that a game so sophomoric, so asinine, and so gratuitously violent was made by a software company called Id.
Brad Hates Games: The enemies in DOOM couldn’t open doors, so whenever things got to be too intense, I’d just run into another room to regroup. If you really think about it, that means that you could have just killed all the demons in the atrium, thrown a “Do Not Enter” sign on the door, and called it a day. The rest of them weren’t going anywhere.
By the way, am I the only one who thinks that the Cyberdemon was born from a typo? I’ve always kind of suspected that John Carmack was arguing via email about whether or not a Klingon Battle Cruiser could destroy the Death Star, accidentally typed “Death Satyr” and thought, “Hey, that would be a good idea for the final boss.”
Brad Hates Games: You might expect that a game that had no graphics and was completely text-based would have a pretty intriguing plotline, but you’d be wrong. The whole point of Zork is to collect treasures and put them in a trophy case. That’s it. Racking up as high of a score as you can might be enough motivation to play Pac-Man or Centipede, but those games have fun gameplay. Zork plays like a cross between forcing someone to tell you a story who doesn’t really want to, and writing the step by step instructions found on the back of everyday household items. If I’m going to play that, I need a little more motivation than “pick up all the junk we left laying around”, thank you very much.
>TAKE A CRAP… “Which crap do you mean? One in the toilet or did you mean this game?”
>GAME… “I can’t reach it; it’s on the hard drive.”
>TAKE HARD DRIVE… “I can’t. It’s spinning.”
>CRAP ON GAME… That’s redundant!
Fatsquatch: I’ll concede that the first few days of play with The Sims is fairly fun, but after about a week of playing dollhouse and micromanaging every little bit of your Sims’ life, you’ll want to end your own. Seriously, all of the characters in the game seem to have the intelligence of a cantaloupe (as evidenced by the way they’ll forget how to use the toilet and piss on themselves), and these high-maintenance digital idiots really grate on the nerves after a while.
How this game has gone on to be the most successful PC game of all-time is beyond me.
TheMadSpin: So, now I know how God feels (if he’s out there). No matter how much he micromanages us, no matter how many ways he tries to keep us safe, teach us right and wrong (or just how to use the restroom)…well, we still seem to find some way to burn our houses down making tea. Sometimes I feel bad for my Sims and other times I think about Darwin (pre-deathbed) and just smile a little.
Brad Hates Games: Once I discovered that my Sims were just as happy living on their front lawn as they were in the house, it really made me wonder why I had bothered building a home for them in the first place. This in turn made me wonder why I had ever bothered building them a nice city in the SimCity games. It’s one thing when you play a game and think it was a waste of your time, but when you play a game and it makes you think that other games you had previously enjoyed were also a waste of time, that’s really quite an achievement.
Prince of Persia
Brad Hates Games: Let me see if I’ve got this straight…Prince of Persia has unresponsive controls, levels that seemed to be designed by someone who hates you personally, and some of the worst music ever recorded. And people consider it one of the greatest games ever made? Seriously? It really shouldn’t be too much to ask that my character jumps when I press the jump button, rather than ignoring my commands and gleefully falling to his death for the millionth time. You can creep up slowly to the edge of pitfalls to line up your jumps properly to avoid this, but since a large part of the gameplay involves timing puzzles that require fast, mistake-free platforming, frustration is guaranteed one way or another. At least this game’s influence on Tomb Raider is quite obvious — 90% of PoP plays like that level in Tomb Raider that everyone really hated.
Fatsquatch: I can appreciate the fluidity in the Prince’s movements and how much effort was put into the realistic character animations, but really, did anyone actually play this game during development? With its insane amount of insta-death jumps, the ridiculously unresponsive controls are just too much to bear. And even though I’ve always been big on finishing the games that I play, I had no problem with telling P.O.P.‘s damsel-in-distress that she was “S.O.L.”
Prince of Persia? More like Prince of Pain!!!1!! OMGLOL!!!
TheMadSpin: I can’t believe no one has talked about the biggest pain-in-the-ass in Prince of Persia: The time limit! In a world where “the game was just too short” is our mantra, Prince of Persia set the bar. You have 60 minutes of fun filled trial-and-error to get through fourteen levels of pain. Can you imagine the number of indigent children I’ve killed just from the anger of getting to the last level with only 45 seconds left?
Fatsquatch: When Ninja Gaiden was originally released, it was widely considered to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. In hindsight, this was due in large part to the game’s many cut-scenes and insistence on having an actual storyline that unfolded as you progressed (unlike most NES games of the era which offered nothing more than a page in the instruction manual declaring “Save the princess, dammit!”). However, take away the groovy cinemas and you’re left with one of the most irritating and impossibly difficult games of all-time. An endless barrage of enemies attack you from all sides, cheap insta-death jumps abound (complete with flying things that hit you at the apex of your jump), and a complete lack of save states and passwords make this a title that only the masochistic can truly enjoy.
Loogaroo: Sometimes I wonder if Tecmo’s ever heard of anything called a “learning curve”. I’ve played several Tecmo games for the NES, and all follow a similar pattern: they start off quite easy, and then at some arbitrary point, the programmers decide to crank the difficulty level up to a degree that you begin to wonder if they have misanthropic personalities. That’s the case for Ninja Gaiden — the game is actually fairly easy up until about Act V (believe me, if I can get that far without losing a life, the game is easy). That’s when they suddenly realize the game’s 2/3 of the way over and decide to spend the rest of the game kneeing you in the groin.
TheMadSpin: This game is probably one of the first that set the trend of style over substance.
Ryu was cool and the cut-scenes were killer; hell, it almost makes you forget that you’re playing one of the silliest games ever. It takes an extreme amount of memorization and tenacity to get through each level, as you have to memorize the exact moment that something like a dog is going to jump across the stairs you want to use, possibly knocking you into a pit of death.
Despite the lead character being a highly-skilled ninja, in the world of Ninja Gaiden, it’s the inexplicable swooping indoor bat that kills you.
RoyalRanger: Groovy cinemas? Killer cut-scenes? Were we all playing the same game?
I guess the cinema graphics were kinda cool, but I had to read all those stupid subtitles ‘cause there wasn’t any über-sweet voice acting. LOL!
Fatsquatch: With it’s easy-to-play design, spectacular “jams” (or “dunks” for you old-school, Chuck Taylor-wearing ballers), and plethora of unlockable secrets, it’s no wonder that NBA Jam was as successful as it was back in the day. However, as a sports game, it fails miserably.
The biggest problem with NBA Jam, is that it’s simply too easy. If you get control of the ball, you’re pretty much guaranteed to score, and as such, each game consists of both teams simply taking turns in getting 2 points. Unless you’re playing against your dog or an invisible friend, the winner of a game of NBA Jam is usually decided by whichever team gets to make the first basket, gaining the lead with those crucial (and often game-deciding) first couple of points.
Loogaroo: I’d toss NBA Jam off the list because of its inclusion of an incredibly ill-conceived feature: computer assistance. I can’t tell you how many games I played in the arcade where I was ahead by 4-6 points in the waning moments of a game, only to see that lead disappear faster than Steve Guttenberg’s career. Suddenly, every shot I took was a brick, and my opponents were running around like wood nymphs, shoving me into the stands with total impunity. To this day, I still curse the name of Tom Gugliotta.
TheMadSpin: Even in a game that was as crazy about scoring as NBA Jam, they couldn’t consider Michael Jordan good enough to let him in. Can you honestly tell me that Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were the best two Bulls on the roster?
Oh, and GOD, how I hated catch-up mode. How about this: In honor of the unlockable Al Gore character, we call it “recount mode” instead?
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Brad Hates Games: You know, I’m used to seeing EA steal ideas from others, but the way MoH: Allied Assault consistently rips off the movie Saving Private Ryan is completely shameless. First-person WWII shooters aren’t exactly original to begin with, but almost everything that happens in this game was done better either in another game or in a film. The nearly endless sequence-scripted events make the whole thing feel like it’s on rails, and the game really struggles to have any kind of consistent pace. I also really love the “missions” they give you in each level, as most of them are things like “don’t die” or “find the exit”; you know, because you wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t tell you to. The enemies that spawned out of nowhere are a nice touch too (before playing this game I had no idea that the Germans had teleportation abilities).
TheMadSpin: To be fair to EA, they didn’t really shamelessly steal anything since Steven Spielberg created the Metal of Honor games, but knowing that just makes me more pissed off.
They want to give you this real and visceral portrayal of the violence and carnage of World War II, but then in order to get a Teen rating, they took out all the blood and gore.
Spielberg should be ashamed of letting such watered-down crap onto the shelves…but then again, he also ruined the Kubrick opus, A.I.
Burnout 3: Takedown
Loogaroo: You know, there are about ninety billion racing games out there for every game system known to man, so what does Burnout 3 bring to the table that the other 89,999,999,999 games don’t? Oh yeah, that’s right, the ability to run other cars off the road as you’re racing. But considering the fact that there’s a mode to the game that places its sole emphasis on wrecking the other cars, what’s the point of incorporating a race into it in the first place? Although the game also has a Crash mode, or, as I like to call it, the “Steer into the ‘4x multiplier icon’ at all costs since that’s the only way you can get a gold medal” mode. If I want to watch cars crash together, I’ll watch one of those police chase video shows. I’m sure one is on FX or Spike TV right now.
Brad Hates Games: A lot of magazines and websites have called this the best arcade racing game ever made, and it’s easy to see why. I mean, Burnout 3 has fake-looking cars that act like they’re made of dynamite, horrible track designs, and rubber band AI that’s so blatant that the first 90% of a race doesn’t even matter. What could be better than that? Actually, Test Drive 4 was better. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 1 & 2 were both better. All the Tokyo Xtreme Racer games were better, and so was the entire Ridge Racer series. Just to name a few.
TheMadSpin: Do you guys remember those movies they’d show you in middle-school that were filled with drunken car crashes, mutilated children, and ruined lives? You know, the ones where they’d show you someone who was burned and maimed, or where they just show you a picture of a dead kid whose parents bought him a pony that he’ll never get to ride thanks to ”Vodka Bong Johnny”? Well, that’s what this game is about. Enjoy!
Loogaroo: Mash mash mash. Mash that “flap wings” button. Mash it like crazy. That’s all this game really amounts to — mashing one button as fast as you can so you can land on top of your opponents. And this is supposed to be among the 100 greatest games ever made? I can rattle off the names of about 10 other popular arcade games that came out in the ’80s that are likely just as good or better than Joust, and not all of them made this list. Arkanoid and Tron leap to mind.
Brad Hates Games: It’s really hard to get on board with a game that is hard to control, and in Joust‘s case, this wasn’t just an unfortunate flaw with an otherwise great game…it was pretty much the core of the gameplay. Throw in some characters who bounce off everything like they’re made of rubber, and some spotty collision detection, and the result isn’t really a game so much as a good test to see if those anger management classes you enrolled in are working.
RoyalRanger: I never did understand the appeal of this game. After hitting the same button a bazillion times in the span of about three minutes, I just gave up on it entirely.
TheMadSpin: I think the difficult control is probably the prime reason you never saw cowboys driving cattle on ostriches in the old west.
Sonic the Hedgehog
RoyalRanger: There are very few hit games that scream “unoriginal” to me like Sonic the Hedgehog does. The only original idea that this game had was to allow its main character to run at incredible speeds, and even that idea was developed just to show off the Sega Genesis’ impressive capabilities. Otherwise, this game is nothing more than a knockoff of every other platform game that has come before it. Special items can be found by breaking boxes… One-hundred rings need to be collected to earn an extra life… Most enemies can be killed by jumping on them… (Hey, at least Mario can throw fireballs.) Even Sonic‘s boss battles are anticlimactic. In hindsight, this may have been the very beginning of the “it doesn’t matter how fresh our ideas are, just as long as our games can push their CPUs to the limit” movement. I know that Sega was capable of more than this.
Brad Hates Games: I never really understood the appeal of Sonic as a game character. A blue hedgehog with spiked hair and an extreme attitude? It seems like he should have been the mascot for a soda drink or children’s cereal first, and then several years later, some company would make a horrible Genesis game about him. Instead, it was the other way around.
TheMadSpin: Hey Sonic, if you’re so extreme, why did Steve Urkel do your voice for the cartoon?
Fatsquatch: Two words: “Blast Processing”. Remember that crap?
Dance Dance Revolution
Brad Hates Games: As much as I appreciate DDR‘s efforts to propagate the internet with blooper videos full of ankle breaking hilarity, I still have some issues with this game. People playing Dance Dance Revolution don’t really look like they’re boogying so much as they look like they’re trying to survive an onslaught of thousands of scorpions. In fact, the only kind of dancing that could even remotely be compared to playing DDR is the kind where cowboys shoot at your feet and command you to dance. Also, considering the game’s incredible appeal to Japanophiles and anime dorks, there’s also a good chance that if you play DDR at an arcade with a stranger, the person “dancing” next to you will smell like Pocky, be dressed like a Final Fantasy character, and secretly wishing that he were at home watching “catgirl” cartoons.
On a completely unrelated note, I hear that Loogaroo really likes this game.
Loogaroo: You probably think that I’d be disappointed, even angry, to see DDR get thrown off of the list, but actually, this series deserves such a fate, considering the way Konami has mishandled it since 2003. There have been no new arcade mixes since Extreme, and the home versions are plagued with confusing and long-winded interfaces, song lists that favor J-Lo covers, and old disco numbers over the songs that DDR fans actually want to hear. Not only that, but there’s even an inability to properly accommodate the dance pad that they want you to spend $30 more on. And the coup de grace? They’re now trying to sue into oblivion the one company that’s trying to improve on the concept that they’ve practically abandoned.
TheMadSpin: Fooling fat white people into thinking they can dance since 1998.
Fatsquatch: Hey! I resemble that remark! Anyways, mind-numbing techno-crap tunes that all sound alike, foot movements that very rarely ever resemble actual dance steps, and having a video posted on YouTube of your fat ass playing DDR while in a drunken stupor. What’s not to like?!
Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2
Loogaroo: The title kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Back in 1992, when the first Super Mario World was released on the SNES, Nintendo Power magazine interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto, who explained that he’d wanted to give Mario a pet since the second game in the series. Little did we know he actually wanted to replace the plumber from the spotlight with some dim-witted dinosaur that’s only useful because of its bottomless stomach. Here, Miyamoto finally gets his wish: Mario is pushed completely to the margins by being infantilized while Yoshi gets all the attention. It was at this precise moment that the Mario universe — one of the most innovative and well-adored series in all of video gaming — “jumped the shark”.
TheMadSpin: When I’m cooking in my apartment and a little steam rises up, it sets off my smoke alarm, so I yank it off the wall and throw it into my living room on the couch. It’s sort of a little dance I do. Basically I haven’t really started cooking if I haven’t tossed my smoke alarm 20 feet or so. The thing is, once I toss it, it shuts up and I can get on with my work.
Baby Mario NEVER SHUTS UP! He’ll whine so much that you’ll wish Yoshi could eat an egg that turns him into a cat so that he’d lay on Mario’s warm little baby face and shut him up forever.
RoyalRanger: By the way, what’s up with those stupid bonus games in between levels? Yoshi’s Island may not be as generous with the extra lives as Super Mario World, but at least Super Mario World didn’t constantly force you to sit through a game of Scratch and Match.
Brad Hates Games: At first, it may seem strange that the name of the series changed from Ridge Racer to Rage Racer for the third installment, but a little time with the game should make it pretty clear why. “Rage” is pretty much the only word to describe what you’ll feel when the slightest tap of the brakes causes your car to spin out of control and costs you a race, or when bumping into the wall brings you to a dead stop. This game puts you at a disadvantage every chance it gets. For example, you begin every race in last place, while your opponents have enormous head starts. Also, touching another racer will, regardless of who was at fault, send the AI car rocketing ahead while you lose both speed and traction. Worse yet, racing on the same four tracks throughout the entire game gets old real fast.
TheMadSpin: But dude, you can totally paint your car. If I were racing you I’d totally paint a middle finger on my car. Seriously, how many teen boys painted the word, “balls” on their car just because they could? (Fatsquatch, put your hand down, you were 45 years old when this game came out.)
Fatsquatch: First of all, I painted the word “ASS” on my car (which was about the only fun I had in this game), and secondly, I’ll thank you to remember that I was 43 years old when Rage Racer came out, not 45.
Good day, sir. I SAID GOOD DAY!
TheMadSpin: This game asks the question, “How many times can you do the same crap before you launch your Nintendo across the room?” One of today’s biggest gripes about gaming is that levels are too redundant, gameplay is too repetitive, blah, blah, blah. If we don’t want repetitive gameplay now, why do we hold Gauntlet up as a classic? If Gauntlet were a bottle of shampoo it’d read like this: “Walk into a room filled with way too many enemies. Tap a button over and over again. Eat some food, walk to some stairs, repeat.” Sure, each new level is bigger and probably a different color of green but is that really enough for you people? IS IT? In the end, the ultimate goal is to get through over 100 of these damn rooms. That’s about as classic as churning butter.
Fatsquatch: Forget the home versions, let’s talk about the original arcade version. Not only is the aforementioned repetitive gameplay an extreme annoyance, but the game actually penalizes you for being alive! Apparently, all of the characters in Gauntlet suffer from some fatal disease, because they steadily lose life from the moment the game begins (whether you’re being attacked or not). Sure, you can pick up food items to restore your health, but there’s never enough food laying about to keep you alive through the long haul. The only sure-fire way to avoid taking a dirtnap is by feeding the machine while you play, increasing your health with the drop of each quarter. Atari should have just gone ahead and equipped the machine with a gun, so that it could just take all of your money at gunpoint.
Brad Hates Games: Let’s not forget that there was an enemy called “Death” in Gauntlet that could only be killed either with potions (which were never around when you needed them), or by letting him drain about a fifth of your life. That was always fun. In those first few tutorial levels where they give you helpful hints like “Use keys to open doors”, there should have been one where they said “Use quarters to kill Death”.
The Legend of Zelda
Brad Hates Games: I didn’t have an NES as a kid, but the impression I got of this game from watching my friends play it was always that it involved a lot of wandering around randomly, lighting trees on fire, playing duck-duck-goose with statues, and dying a lot with no real idea as to what to do. When I finally did get to play it a few years ago, I discovered that my initial impressions were pretty much spot on. Zelda is absolutely brutal with the way it just drops you in your quest without so much as a hint at where to go or what to do. In fact, I’d say that finding the dungeons is about ten times harder than actually completing any of them. I can understand that back in 1986, this was considered cutting-edge technology and that nobody had ever seen anything like it before, but really, that same argument could be made about Trapper Keepers.
Loogaroo: I’d remove Zelda from the running because of the dungeon design alone. Not only do they have way too many rooms populated by both Darknuts and those sword-stealing bubbles, but later in the game, they go against their own rules and begin to use false walls to connect rooms together. Adventure games require a level of puzzle solving; Zelda‘s idea of a puzzle was randomly pushing against/burning/bombing/blowing your whistle at every object on the screen in the hopes that you stumble upon the correct answer.
TheMadSpin: This game is basically a twenty year old blueprint for today’s liberal agenda. Burn as many Bushes as you can for no better reason than: “Just in case.”
Seriously though, half of the game is arbitrary. Randomly place bombs, randomly discover dungeons, randomly burn bushes, randomly wander around hoping to find your way through the woods. If we problem-solved in real life by burning, bombing and wandering around, we’d be on some sort of medication.
Fatsquatch: Ohhhh… And see, here I was thinking that the Bush administration was already “bombing, burning, and wandering around”. I’m such a silly goose!
Madden NFL ’96
Brad Hates Games: The evolution of this annual franchise has been so persistent that it’s hard to pick out any single year and say “That was definitely the best Madden“. However, if I were to do so, Madden ’96 certainly wouldn’t be the one I would pick. It wasn’t the last one available for 16-bit systems (that would be Madden ’98 ), it didn’t offer any significant improvements, and it’s not as if Madden ’97 made some drastic changes that ruined the series. Considering that there have been years when the series has taken enormous leaps forward, such as when it appeared on new systems, obtained NFL licensing, included a full 16 game season feature, or added an extensive franchise mode, the relatively minor improvements offered in Madden ’96 seem fairly insignificant. You should at least be the best Madden ever, before you even dream about being the best game ever.
Super Mario World
Loogaroo: Once again, I’d cut this game a lot more slack if it were a little more about Mario and a lot less about Yoshi. Hell, the primary objective of rescuing Princess Toadstool is practically an afterthought as you spend the entire game chasing down Yoshi eggs. Not only that, they ruined the perfectly good flying mechanics of Mario 3, they made it far too easy to stockpile billions of lives, and there isn’t one level in the game that stands out among them as being truly memorable (Like SMB2‘s all-Albatoss level or SMB3‘s abandoned fortress).
RoyalRanger: The last time I played this game, I beat it with a measly 96 lives to spare. Is it possible that Nintendo was being just a little bit too generous? Only if you’re referring to the extra lives. Last I checked, the various worlds and corresponding boss battles had taken a considerable step backward from those in Super Mario Bros. 3, and when it comes to the boss battles, that’s certainly saying something.
TheMadSpin: Do you wanna know what’s wrong with this game? It continues the massive favoritism shown to Mario and takes it to new levels. The “Bros.” reference is dropped from the title to let you know that this is Mario’s game, and Luigi is just a consolation prize to anyone holding the second control pad. To make matters worse, they introduce Yoshi (who is a green character just like Luigi), and then have him in nearly every level of the game. It should be noted that since this game came out, Luigi has had only one title specifically released for him while Yoshi has had like a billion. Luigi got screwed, and I bet it had something to do with PETA.
Fatsquatch: Sure, we all went on about how “amazing” Super Mario World was when it was released, but let’s face facts…we only said that because we were mesmerized by the new and shiny audiovisuals. Compared to the previous SMB titles on the NES, SMW was a damn sight prettier than those 8-bit gems (and the sound was certainly awesome), but other than that, it was the same ol’, same ol’. That was really the only reason anyone played it, and for all of the bitching we do about today’s gamers being slaves to eye candy, we weren’t really any damn better back then. God, we suck.
PaRappa the Rapper
RoyalRanger: I never knew that a video game could be moody until I played PaRappa the Rapper. I’ve been able to play through other rhythm games without much difficulty, but PaRappa often gives me a hard time for no reason. There have been times when I would progress farther through a song when I was clearly missing the rhythm of the lyrics than when I was clearly following the rhythm very closely, and this has happened far too many times for me to just ignore the issue. Sometimes, the game feels like being exceptionally forgiving. Sometimes, it just wants to be very unforgiving. I think I can chalk it up to either a screwy hit-detection system or a video game personality disorder that just wants to nail me whenever the game is in a bad mood. Either way, I never thought that I’d have such a needlessly frustrating time getting through a song about baking a cake.
TheMadSpin: It’s like DDR, but with Rap, so what else can I say but: “Making fat white guys think they can rap since 1997”.
Fatsquatch: Dammit! I resemble that as well!
Brad Hates Games: The way this game works is that different characters will rap to you, and then you have to repeat it back to them word for word. Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? Yeah, well one of them sounds just like Shaggy. Subtitles or not, that’s damn-near impossible.
RoyalRanger: There are a number of great video games that will always be able to command my attention for hours on end, regardless of their age. Donkey Kong is not one of those games. Let’s be perfectly honest: does anybody play this game for more than just a few minutes at a time? I’m sure that some of you are saying, “Of course I do. When this game came out, I must’ve spent at least $22,000 in quarters just to play this one game.” But I’m not talking about then, I’m talking about now. Whenever I’m given the chance to play Donkey Kong, I play the game for about five minutes before I move on with my life. I’m not going to play the first level 30 times. I don’t care enough to beat the high score. I’ll just play the first two levels and quit, if only for nostalgic reasons. Even Asteroids can mesmerize me for longer periods of time.
Brad Hates Games: One thing you have to love about this game is that while other arcade games will flash the “Winners don’t use drugs” message at you, the very first screen in Donkey Kong instead challenges you by asking “How high can you get?”
Loogaroo: In Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario can withstand a drop of apparently thousands of feet off an airship suspended in the sky. He doesn’t even suffer an injury to his ankles when he lands on his feet. But in Donkey Kong, a fall from any height taller than your typical stair step is enough to do him in. At least someone finally got around to telling Nintendo that human physiology didn’t have to be 100% accurate in a video game. Can you imagine playing the Super Mario Bros. series with such a fragile hero?
TheMadSpin: Am I the only guy out there who thinks to himself, “Hey, Mario, why not just wait until he runs out of barrels?”
Brad Hates Games: Quake II had some of the most realistic graphics ever seen when it came out, but this actually worked against it since most of the levels looked like they took place in an ancient sewage treatment plant. Could you imagine a Quake level designer as an interior decorator? “Ok, we’re going to use different shades of dark brown in the foyer and living room, because those rooms have a lot of windows and brown will really go well with the garish orange sky. And then I’m thinking various gray tones for the kitchen, bathroom and dining room. And do you know what would really tie the whole bedroom together nicely? That’s right, more brown. If that’s a bit too drab for you, we can add in some rust tones — they’ll really liven things up.”
Resident Evil 4
Brad Hates Games: Ok, shoot the cult member and turn left down the hall. Open the door, enter the room, walk past the suit of armor and PRESS THE A BUTTON RIGHT NOW OR DIE!!! Oops! Didn’t get it in time? Try again. That’s right…kill the cult member, left down the hall, open the door…past the suit of armor PRESS THE RIGHT TRIGGER RIGHT NOW OR DIE!!!! Ha ha ha! You pressed the A button didn’t you, sucker?
Look, there was reason nobody has made games like Dragon’s Lair or Space Ace for the last 20 years — they’re not fun. Resident Evil 4 doesn’t stop there, either…it also has plenty of “don’t let the unarmed girl get killed” missions, a few parts where you don’t have any weapons, a bunch of bosses that you can’t kill directly, and some illogical puzzles. It’s like they took all the stuff that really pissed people off in other games and combined it all into one package.
TheMadSpin: I’m sorry, but no matter how scary sprouting head thingies are, they just don’t compare to real zombies. If there had been real zombies that were all ready to eat my flesh, I’d have been far more impressed. Plus, did we really need the random dude in a trench coat to perversely sell us ammo? Every time he showed up I figured, “This time he’s gonna be naked under there.”
Samurai Shodown II
Loogaroo: It’s already been well established that I’m not a fan of wanton blood and gore in my video games, but let’s at least be realistic; you can’t look at me with a straight face and tell me that you can have two warriors, each highly trained in the use of a very sharp weapon (katana, sickle, dog, flatulence) and make a fighting game out of it. The reason is simple: no matter how well-conditioned anyone is, if someone slashes them across the chest with a samurai sword, it’s going to take away a lot more than 10% of their health. On top of that, this is one of those fighting games where not a single character was memorable, much less sympathetic.
TheMadSpin: I completely disagree with Loog about one thing: I think you CAN make a great fighting game about warriors trained to fight with swords. It’s called Bushido Blade, and to a lesser extent, Bushido Blade II. Neither of those games are on this list though, so I sure as hell don’t understand how this one could be.
Brad Hates Games: I remember really liking this game when I was in tenth grade. Although to be fair, my favorite CD at the time was a live Genesis album, and I had a crush on this girl who was built like a linebacker. So, my standards might have been a bit lower back then.
Fatsquatch: Sony saw how well Origin had done with Ultima Online and decided “OMG! WE HAVE 2 GET IN ON DAT ACTION!!!1!” Since completely following the design of Ultima Online and having a remarkable depth of gameplay would be far too much work, with EverQuest, Sony just dumbed-down the formula and added 3D graphics to the mix. As is most often the case in the gaming industry, EverQuest‘s eye-candy proved to be extremely successful with MMORPG fans everywhere, and led to the launch of dozens of uninspired and useless copycats in the years that followed.
Never underestimate the power of Elven boobies, my friends.
Brad Hates Games: Thinking about this game raises an interesting question: If my “online persona” had been a hot elven chick who reviews games, would I have still gotten all those angry letters about my Metal Gear Solid 3 review? Or would those people be sending me marginally valuable items from around their house that they weren’t using anymore?
Brad Hates Games: The thing I always hated about this game was that the people who made Defender decided to give players a button that would make their ship explode. They labeled this button “hyperspace” and when you pressed it, your ship would teleport somewhere else on the screen before blowing up and costing you a life. A more accurate description would have been calling it the “@%$# You” button. Once out of 100 times or so, the ship wouldn’t blow up, which would trick newer players into thinking that maybe “hyperspace” was some awesome ability that they just weren’t using correctly. This was, of course, a myth. Not that the game really needed to trick you to get your money, anyway. Even without pressing the “@%$# You” button, the average game of Defender lasts about 15 seconds before you lose all of your lives.
TheMadSpin: I think more games need a “@%$# You” button.
Brad Hates Games: The most challenging thing about Space Invaders is staying interested in it long enough to get a high score. You basically just sit in one place and press the fire button about every two seconds or so and can clear out all but the last two or three invaders by doing so. The problem is that after a little while of doing this, your mind will start to wander. You start thinking about baseball, girls you went to high school with, or what you want for dinner, and stop really paying attention to what you’re doing. The game must have some kind of way of detecting this, because as soon as that happens, one of the space invaders will actually shoot at you and kill you. This might bring your focus back for a little while, but it won’t be long before playing this game sends your mind wandering, and the whole thing happens all over again.
RoyalRanger: I sometimes wonder why space aliens are often portrayed as creatures with technology and intelligence far beyond our own, yet they can never beat us in their own war. If I was one of the space invaders being attacked by a little rectangle on the ground below me, I wouldn’t just wave my arms around while I perform a line dance with my alien buddies. I’d be jumping down right away to beat the crap out of him. Period.
Loogaroo: It’s hard to coronate a game as the best ever when it’s been rendered effectively obsolete by every release that the genre has boasted since then. Even games like Galaxian, which offered only minor presentational and procedural refinements, blows Space Invaders out of the water. Space Invaders was a fine pioneer, but every space shooter that’s come out since has left it far behind.
TheMadSpin: There’s this scene in an episode of Futurama where Fry, the world’s biggest idiot, is able to destroy a fleet of space invaders thanks to their predictable over-down-over flight pattern. He doesn’t quite save the day, because he can’t get that super fast final ship.
Still, I think that if there were two or three of us, we could take them.
Fatsquatch: Yeah, we could take ’em. All I need is a “two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix tape. Let’s rock!”
Loogaroo: You know, it’s great when a game allows two players to compete at once. It’s even better when this 2-player simultaneous play offers side benefits like team attacks that wouldn’t be available to just a solo player. But when you design a game so that you cannot technically beat the final boss unless both players are in the game, you’re taking the whole teamwork thing to an unnecessary extreme. Granted, there are so many levels to this thing that it’s practically impossible to beat them all on your own, but damn — you even try to fight the final boss on your own, and the game will literally berate you for doing so. Never mind the fact that the game is so saccharinely cute that you need to brush your teeth when you’re done playing.
RoyalRanger: Actually, Loog, it is possible to beat Bubble Bobble with one player, but you have to hit the nail right on the head with the ending to this game. The only way to beat the game with a single player requires you to hit a special button combination right before you kill the final boss, provided that you have at least one extra life to spare. If you can just do that…no wait, you still haven’t won! You forgot to grab the vital crystal ball in level 99! Now, you have to go back to that level, grab the crystal ball, and beat the final boss again. No, you just defeated the boss, but you have no lives to spare! Now you’ll have to beat him again. Wait, you forgot to press the special button combination this time! For shame.
TheMadSpin: “Now it is the beginning of a fantastic story! Let us make a journey to the cave of monsters! Good luck!” Fantastic story eh? Here’s the story: You blow lots of bubbles with your bubble gum, trap enemies that later turn into cheeseburgers, and then you do it another 223 times. Epic.
Loogaroo: Like Bubble Bobble, everything falls apart when you get to the final battle. Not only must the final boss be defeated in one specific way, but this method requires a power-up, that, at the time of the battle, you may or may not have. If you don’t, have fun avoiding the boss’ attacks while you wait and hope for the power-up you need to spontaneously appear on the field. And this isn’t even taking into account the way you lose all your power-ups when you continue your game — even the one that allows you to plant multiple bombs at one time — which serves to increase the rate at which you’ll die in later levels.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Loogaroo: Okay, let me see if I can get this straight. In Final Fantasy II, everyone knew how to use a Life potion. In Final Fantasy III, Fenix Downs were available to all the players. Hell, even nimrods like Cloud and Barret could figure out how to use a Phoenix Down in Final Fantasy VII. But now you mean to tell me that, just because someone wanted to turn Final Fantasy into a turn-based strategy game, that the only people who can use Phoenix Downs now are Chemists — and not until they reach Job Level 2?? Check please.
TheMadSpin: If you need a reason to hate this game I have it for you: The final job class that you can master is “mime”. Confound your enemies with the invisible box!
Fatsquatch: To be honest, I thought this game was a whole hell of a lot better when it was called Vandal Hearts. But that’s just me; I’m craaaazzzeeeeee!
Brad Hates Games: I like a deep, long, strategy RPG as much as anyone, but it literally took me over a year to finish this game. Even worse, instead of getting a T-shirt or art book, people who pre-purchased this game got a free 1998 calendar. I’m not kidding.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Brad Hates Games: You know that annoying guy who wins at Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter by getting ring-outs all the time? Well, that’s how you’re actually supposed to play SSBM. In fact, the whole point is to knock the other guy off the stage, assuming that you’re not on one of the stages where the badly implemented platforming elements take care of that for you. With its oversimplified controls, easy to do super moves, and lame scoring system that frequently allows lesser players to win by fluke, this game screams “not for real fighting fans”. Or maybe it just screams “mediocre”. I’ll admit that it’s a lot of fun to beat on Pikachu for a while, but once the stupid yellow kitten starts hitting back, it just reminds me that I could be playing a real fighting game. Besides, the inclusion of the horrific “Donkey Kong Rap” as stage music is reason enough to kick this game out.
TheMadSpin: Never let it be said that Nintendo failed to wring every last ounce of water from every stone they’ve ever found. If EA put out Super Smash Bros. using random characters with no history, the game would sell four copies, be a failure and be critically lambasted. Toss in Samus, Mario and a bunch of other characters from a time when Nintendo didn’t suck so much, and suddenly it’s a critical gem.
Still, the worst sin of Super Smash Bros. Melee is that even though Nintendo can’t be bothered to release a new Earthbound game, they still taunt us by putting Ness into this title.
RoyalRanger: But Spin, what does that matter when Ness is almost impossible to control without falling into a pit a dozen times? If anything, this game is Nintendo’s way of saying, “Hey look, now we don’t have to make an Earthbound sequel because Ness sucks anyway.”
X-Com: UFO Defense
Brad Hates Games: In X-Com: UFO Defense, you are the head of X-Com, an organization charged with defending the earth from alien invasion. This means not only commanding troops in the war against the aliens, but also running the business side of things. That’s right, it’s not enough just to keep the Earth safe, you have to make money at it, too! And since none of the world’s nations seem interested in sufficiently funding something like repelling an invasion, you’ll have to find your own ways to make ends meet. Get ready to research captured technology to develop new weapons, and then manufacture those weapons and sell them. If it got any more in-depth, you’d probably have to run the marketing campaign, too. Look, I’m not some peace flag waving hippie that cringes at the thought of manufacturing weapons, but I signed up to kill me some damn aliens, not be CEO of the gun factory.