Why would you want to do such a stupid thing? After all, there's enough high-quality titles coming out to keep any gamer busy for months to come and spending money on sub-standard fare is surely madness? Well, I believe the reason so many of us enjoy terrible B-movies can also be applied to videogames - they can actually be fun experiences with the right mindset but also lead to a much more meaningful understanding of videogames and their quality.
I've played games ever since the spongy keyboard of the ZX81, progressing on to a Commodore 64, Amiga, and onwards towards the PC and various consoles. Thanks to that progression (and being that old) I've played a wide range of truly terrible games, especially on the C64. Whenever I stop and think about it for a moment I can see how far gaming as come, even when trying to force myself through something as bad as Rogue Warrior.
Taking a moment and experiencing a similar title puts the rest of gaming into perspective. Not every game has the range of characters that Mass Effect 2 presents, or the level design of the Halo series. The control sensitivity of Modern Warfare 2 puts the botched and broken systems of Legendary or Rogue Warrior to shame.
So why should you play such awful titles? Let's take a look at Deadly Premonition. It's reception couldn't have been more mixed with IGN giving it 2/10 and calling it "terrible" while Destructoid awarded it a perfect 10/10 and described it as "simply stunning". Both reviews highlight similar flaws but the crucial difference lies in what each reviewer took away from their own experience. It shows that even in the most despicable games there are great ideas or gameplay elements to be appreciated, even if these are hidden beneath painful presentation or broken controls.
In Deadly Premonition's case the bizarre Twin Peaks style narrative and schizophrenic main character is the hook. The awkward interface and general shoddiness adds to the odd atmosphere and while it can be a controller-throwing game to play, it has qualities and ideas unlike any other videogame. To some it's the epitome of a game so "bad" it's good.
Other titles can throw up equally interesting elements despite their overall busted design. Quantum Theory does almost everything badly from basic movement to a toe-curlingly awful plot and voice acting. But wade through that crap and you'll find some surprisingly organic, moving levels that are unique and offer interesting design elements. If nothing else Quantum Theory shows the difference between bad Japanese developers trying to emulate Western-style games and good ones who can produce something like Vanquish.
Think of it as an education as to what makes a good game and what makes something stink. By playing these sub-standard offerings you can also appreciate how awesome the good stuff is.
Play a little of Rogue Warrior before loading up Modern Warfare 2 and you'll be struck with how majestic the scripted experience Call of Duty can be. Take Mercenaries 2 for a spin and you'll soon realise that the open-world design and physics of Red Faction Guerrilla is perfection incarnate.
I bet you never thought Dynasty Warriors was actually any good right? Well, play a little of Onecheanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. Admittedly most of us have been sold on that game by the title and appearance of scantily clad, over-sexualized sisters. But hacking and slashing zombies is so painfully awkward that you'll go running to the next iteration of Dynasty Warriors, admiring the way it can animate hundreds of enemies and how you can cut those hordes down in a silky smooth way.
It may sound insane to suggest that we can't appreciate the best titles gaming has to offer without experiencing the bad but it puts those epic, triple-A titles into perspective. More appealingly, some games that are so bad they're good offer the kind of entertainment a well-polished title simply can't compete with.
Onechanbara offers a level of titillation that feels acceptable because it's such a badly put together title. Too Human has some truly awful-acted cut-scenes that remind you of an over-serious action movie, offering some cringe inducing pleasure to the otherwise forgettable story and gameplay.
By playing these games you can really get a sense of what's good design - far more so than simply playing average to great videogames all the time. By taking this attitude I believe it enables you to appreciate how awesome and amazing the range of titles that are on offer today. Instead of succumbing to apathy about the next military shooter, or the latest God of War clone you can remain enthusiastic about the medium by experiencing the bad as well as the good. Sound like madness? Let us know in the comments and tell us the best bad games you've recently experienced.
Why we should play bad games
16 November 2010 | By Adamfast
- Related Games:
- Mass Effect 2