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Weekend in Review

posted on January 29th, 2010 by pat and jay

Pat came to town last weekend and we took a break from our regularly scheduled God Hand and Shining Force 3 to play a bunch of games we had but had yet to really play. Our backlog is daunting so spending 30 hours skipping from disc to disc felt productive, even if we only finished two titles.

Superman 64
Superman 64 is a landmark game by French developer Titus. No other Superman title has focused primarily on flying through hoops while Lex Luthor laughs. Widely regarded as unplayable, we began our weekend here with high hopes.

Pat: Over the past several months, Jay and I have been stockpiling a collection of the worst games ever made (guess how many Sega CD games we have) and of course this would have to be among them. The developers made some inexplicable decisons (like having Superman spend much of the game struggling to fly through hoops) but when you aren’t flittting around like Tinkerbell, at least you are ugly and difficult to control.

Jay: Pat had to play this one because I couldn’t control it at all. This is up there with Heroes of the Lance and Virtual Hydlide, though the latter is far more playable. I am a little sad he didn’t get very far into the second level because the bugs and collision detection problems are world famous and I’d liked to have seen them.

Bubsy 3D
If this game were a Mario 64 clone it would be significantly better. The only Bubsy in 3D and the final entry in the series, this is another title universally heralded as horrendously shitty. Luckily, it seems like the man behind the series has left the industry. Unfortunately, he is still alive. At least he has excuses for why the game is so bad:

“I had no tools for drawing environments, no controller precedents that I could rely on, no way to relate polygon count to the kind of design I was visualizing, and throughout all of this, there had been no 3D platform games before. ”

Pat: I hate this game. Bubsy (the character) is certainly grating enough that I couldn’t wait to turn the game off. Its an ugly 3D platformer with terrible sound and tank controls. There are certain games you have to play to be able to participate in the “worst games of all time” conversation and there is a reason this is one of them.

Jay: This game is awful but I find it considerably better than Superman 64, to the point where it may not be any real competition. Bubsy is annoying, the manual was written by Poochie the Dog, and looking at the game is worse than being blind, but unlike in Superman I could play for 30 seconds without losing.

Pat: My preference for Superman over Bubsy shows my hand a bit. I may like terrible games with a potentially interesting mission structure (defuse bombs or the dam will burst!) more than terrible platformers.

Jay: I find it particularly entertaining that there are a handful of different animated death sequences for Bubsy. The game was so poorly managed that this effort that kept them from making the actual game better didn’t even end up on the back of the case: “Over a dozen hilarious, amazingly animated ways for Bubsy to meet his maker!”

Irritating Stick
This game is a reproduction of that stupid game at carnivals and fairs where you move the hoop thing around a rotating metal wire. Apparently the Japanese found this crappy game that’s not even worth playing in real life so amusing that they developed a TV show around the idea, or so we just made up based on the insistence on the game case that 10,000 volts are delivered every time you lose.

Pat: I can’t decide if this game ranks with the best or the worst game names I’ve ever heard. Regardless, this game isn’t terrible, its just hard as hell and the premise is off-putting.

Jay: It’s up there, but not a better name than Revengers of Vengeance, which we will hopefully play in our next session if I can get the Sega CD to work. Irritating Stick is extremely difficult but it actually works as a game, as opposed to the last two titles we played. It wouldn’t be too odd to see it as a $5 download game today, but I can imagine being very angry, even irritated, if I had just spend $50 to learn the entire game is moving a dot between lines.

Incredible Crisis
Developed partly by the head of unknown company Love-De-Lic, Incredible Crisis! was mostly disliked by American reviewers. The game plays as over a dozen mini-games all linked together with an absurdly Japanese plotline revolving around grandma’s birthday and the incredible crises that occur to the members of your in-game family.

Pat: If we were to group the games we didn’t finish into games we should complete and games we can safely ignore, I would class this with those we should finish. Each bizarre minigame is strung together with a fun cut scene. Some of the premises may be absurd (why would EMS workers electrocute me for not multiplying quickly enough?) but this game is clever and unusual enough that its worth the small time and monetary investment required.

Jay: This game’s cult status is well deserved as it’s sufficiently bizarre and not terrible. Mini-game collections probably predate primates but it’s still interesting to see an example of the genre before the Wii came along and made the term a dirty word. I think the overarching plotline ties these short sequences together rationally (not really) and so even if each activity is short the game as a whole doesn’t feel like a cheap throwaway product.

Pat: Scenes like Taneo pleasuring a woman (who is not his wife) on a Ferris wheel make me sad that there are so few small, niche, weird Japanese games on any of the consoles this generation.

Lack of Love
An actual game by Love-De-Lic, Pat got this for us for Christmas (it is a platonic friendship besides the sex). It is supposed to be the company’s most accessible game for non-Japanese speakers due to its dearth of any language whatsoever and has been described as a Japanese take on Spore that predates Spore. Most importantly, there is a dedicated button for urinating.

Pat: We never actually got to this because Jay has his Dreamcast hooked up with VGA cables. I assume its on this list because Jay wants to show off how cool we are for owning something this obscure. The good news is that getting out the Boot Disks to play it led to…

Jay: Yeah, it was on the list less to show off how awesome we are and more because it forced us to test the boot disc on…

Shenmue II
He shall appear from a far Eastern land across the sea. A young man who has yet to know his potential. This potential is a power that can either destroy him, or realize his will.

Jay: The DC region free/force VGA disc does indeed work, and the majestic boat ride to Hong Kong alone destroys all opposition, leaving only capsules of Sega toys in its wake. Had the Bard played Shenmue II he would have certainly committed suicide, knowing his work had not only been topped but made entirely obsolete.

Pat: Best game ever, or second only to its predecessor? I can understand both sides of this debate, but will admit no other options.

Shadow of Destiny
Konami’s Junko Kawano led development of both Shadow of Destiny and Time Hollow, two games that share the theme of time travel. While both are adventure games, the older Shadow of Destiny allows the player to freely navigate their environments in 3D while Time Hollow advances through a map of locations that lead to still background environment drawings.

Pat: This game is better than Time Hollow. The setting is a lot of fun, and I like adventure games. There are several ways to get through each section, and, while the characters can be a little underdeveloped, the action moves at a brisk pace and the game does a decent job of dealing with the fact that its take on time travel makes no sense (just don’t think too hard). This is one of the two games we played start to finish this weekend, and now we can go back and get the other seven (!) endings.

Jay: I agree, this was the best game we played. Edge’s review of Time Hollow summed up the games well – Shadow of Destiny has more branching paths and so makes better use of the time mechanics, while Time Hollow has better characterization. Pat’s right, though, Time Hollow just isn’t as good, despite being a bit more polished. Shadow of Destiny felt more personal as the focus of the game was primarily on the players character. It also created significant tension by centering the game on repeatedly preventing your own murder.

Pat: I think its important to specify that the branching paths are not just different ways to get to the same result. Very different things can happen depending on the places (and times) you go to and the choices you make: characters can end up in different centuries, people can live or die, etc.

Raw Danger
The follow-up to the wildly popular Disaster Report, Raw Danger is an Action-Adventure game that has you and your companions trying to survive a flood in a newly contructed underwater city (incidentally, replacing flood with earthquake and underwater with nothing gives you the description of Disaster Report). If you happen to be playing this in Japan, and already own the ubiquitous ParaParaParadise device, you can design your own hand movements for summoning NPCs.

Jay: We only got about 10 minutes into this. Its opening is infinitely more tedious and boring than the previous game in the series’ opening (Disaster Report). Instead of starting on a bridge that’s collapsing, you start by bringing a cart of plates to the kitchen because you’re employed in the exciting job of waiter. Delivering the cart only leads to more mundane quests I assume need to be completed either to trigger the event that kicks off massive destruction, or to gain allies – Disaster Report had a handful of characters and you got a better ending if you helped them along, so ignoring requests for waiter uniforms and bottles of water probably comes back to bite you in the ass in Raw Danger.

Pat: Jay may recall that we didn’t know several of those ally-helping mechanics existed in the first game until it ended and we realized we got the “B” (or whatever) ending rather than the “A” ending because we never offered our companions water. We only played this as I was packing to leave, so I’ll withhold judgment for now, but Jay is correct, the opening is less exciting than having to escape a collapsing bridge. Incidentally, I think this is the type of game that could really benefit from increased processing power, since the whole world deforms around you as tremors knock down buildings and the like.

Jay: Good thing we didn’t get Day of Crisis in America.

Robotic Alchemic Drive
In Sandlot’s first game released in North America, you control both the pilot of a giant robot and through him, the robot itself. You can only see what your in-game human character can see, so you’d better hope the opposing Mech doesn’t knock your robot behind a building. This does set up an immersive explanation, as the controller you (the live human gamer) are using is a perfect stand in for the controller you (your in game character) is holding all game.

Pat: I can see the appeal, but this isn’t really my cup of tea. It has the awesome scale that has become a hallmark of Sandlot’s games, but I’m just not hardcore enough for the controls, which require you to use all four shoulder buttons to walk.

Jay: The controls do seem almost broken if not simply incredibly complicated and hard to manage but I want to like this game because of how I feel about the developer. Though every time I get knocked on my giant robot ass because I couldn’t see a god damn thing, I chant EDF! EDF! at the TV, hoping the Earth Defense Force swoops in to get the job done. Incidentally, this is the only game I have ever played that required two different buttons to walk forward.

Mr. Mosquito
We bought this game the day we played it. The guy at Gamestop had never heard of it and made fun of us for buying a game called “Mr Mosquito.” It isn’t a particularly well known title, partly because of its subject matter, partly because it was a small budget Japanese game, and partly because it was a very early PS2 title. Puns about the game sucking or not sucking are extra funny because you play a mosquito.

Pat: Jay insists this is a game for pervs simply because you are a mosquito who stalks a teenage girl from her bedroom into the bath. I like it because its a unique idea and the flight controls aren’t completely broken (as they are in a few other games on this list).

Jay: This was definitely one of the better games we played over the weekend. It reminded me a bit of No Cliche’s Toy Commander, likely because in both games you’re tiny, the environment is gigantic (as in objects around you are large) and you spend most of your time flying. There is apparently a Japan only sequel that takes place in Hawaii. To eBay!

4 Comments

  1. Michelle said on February 1, 2010:

    Whoa whoa whoa, you spent the weekend playing bad games? What’s Shenmue 2, Incredible Crisis and Mr. Mosquito doing here then? :p

  2. christian said on February 1, 2010:

    Well they’re not ALL bad games, but the bad ones got the majority of the discussion.

    What I really mean to say is that I didn’t catch the paragraph about Shenmue 2 when I wrote the Twitter update. I hope I don’t get fired :(

  3. pat said on February 1, 2010:

    haha. no worries christian. it just took me a second to figure out why michelle thought we were calling all these games bad.

    the only two really bad games were superman and bubsy. the rest ranged from “only decent, but interesting” to “very good” (this accounting ignores shenmue ii because we beat it previously and only played for about 15 minutes). the goal really was to make some kind of dent in the backlog and maybe uncover a few hidden gems while we were at it. jay and i share an appreciation for the non-blockbuster yet unusual games that the ps1 and ps2 had in spades.

  4. chris said on February 1, 2010:

    I really enjoyed Incredible Crisis. It dwells in that magical realm between realistic situations and horribly deranged ones – dancing at work, alien invaders that just want to play Simon, and so on.

    That one aside, I haven’t heard more than a few words about any of these games (except Shenmue 2). I love hearing about cool, obscure games so this is one of my favorite kinds of articles.

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