Top 10 Worst Games I Ever Loved, part two
By Damien Wilkens
28 December 2007 — In part one of this two-part series I assaulted you with the first five games in a list I like to call the Top 10 Worst Games I Ever Loved. As I said last time, sometimes a game is so awful I can't help but feel its pull — I'm compelled to love it, despite (or because of) its flaws.
The remaining five games represent the worst of the worst... or is that the best of the worst? Either way, my pain is real — feel it!
05. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
Concept: Give the TNMT rights to a group of people that have never seen or heard of the Turtles and assume everything just goes swimmingly.
Why it's so bad: Let's just go back to 1989, and sit in on that meeting at Ultra Games / Konami headquarters.
Bob: Great news, Sam, we just got the rights to make a Ninja Turtles game for the NES.
Sam: Ninja what-now?
Bob: Ninja Turtles, real big with the kids these days. We made an arcade game based on them. People are really into that one. I was thinking we could port that.
Sam: Bullhonky, Bob! We'll make something even better!
Sam: Check out what we've got so far!
Bob: ... I don't remember a man on fire and eyeball plants from the TV show.
Sam: Who needs authenticity? Look, there's a balloon that drops rockets!
Bob: I just died, twice, Sam. This is supposed to be a game for kids.
Sam: That's the beauty of it, Bob. It'll toughen them up. Show them how to live in the real world!
Bob: I don't recall turtles instantly dying when they fall into water in the real world.
Bob: Yeah, Sam?
Sam: Go fuck yourself.
Oh, by the way, this game is really hard. Thought I'd mention that before we got any further. How hard? Let's just look at the water level for instance. You're given roughly two minutes to disarm eight bombs.
Wait, don't the turtles die if they touch water in other levels? Let's not even start that one.
So you have to disarm some bombs quickly. No problem, oh wait, I forgot to tell you that there's going to be some randomly placed electrical beams in your way. Okay, not too bad. Oh yeah, and another thing, we filled the entire level with seaweed — electrified seaweed.
Oh, and you don't get any continues. If you die on this level, you have to start from the beginning of the game. Have fun, Timmy.
Why I love it: Despite the fact that someone apparently swapped our mighty Ninja Turtles out for the measly Night Trap ninjas by accident, I was actually able to derive some enjoyment from this game, and may be one of the few human beings in this mortal coil that's actually beaten it. If you think I'm bragging about this, I'm not. Seriously, I want my summer of 1990 back.
No, my enjoyment came from the sheer fact that I bet my neighbor a whooping two dollars that I could beat the game. For days I labored, watching my turtles swim to their watery graves day after day, tossing and turning in bed, visions of balloon-missiles spinning about. Then the day came, when that goddamn sadist Sam got put in his place by a seven-year-old with a chip on his shoulder.
I still have the ending burned into my head. An image of Splinter turning back into his human form, expelling the words, "Thanks. You guys have excelled my skills."
I then proceeded to buy myself an ice cream sandwich with those two dollars. And do you know what that ice cream tasted like?
Highlight: Three years later, Turtles in Time was released for the SNES. That was a good day.
04. Ninja Golf (Atari 7800)
Concept: You're an enigmatic ninja tossing aside honor, enlightenment and the code of the warrior to seek the most valuable prize of all: a birdie on a par five.
Why it's so bad: If anything's ever made me want to consider a drug-induced lifestyle, it's Ninja Golf.
You start off, as with any golf game, by hitting a shot from the tee, only instead of following after in a golf cart, you make the trek on foot, engaging in mortal combat! For some reason an assortment of bad guys don't want you to reach the ball. This would be a little hard to understand in most cases, but you're a freaking ninja playing golf — so just go with the cocaine assisted flow. With the help of your trusty ninja stars, you dispatch the scum on the way to your beloved ball.
Or you could, you know, just jump over them, but that's not very ninja-like.
After hitting and fighting your way to the ball a couple times, you'll no doubt approach the green at some point. Our stoned developers, not nearly content with the highly kinetic activity of putting a golf ball, decided that something was missing from the equation — namely, a fight with a dragon.
Please, believe me when I say that I'm nowhere near clever enough to make this shit up.
Why a mythical fire-breathing lizard cares so much about a golfing ninja is a question better left unanswered. The important thing to remember is that someone actually got paid to come up with this.
Why I love it: I can actually explain this one with math.
You see, despite the fact that I can't stand the golf, golf games have always held a warm, gooey place in my heart. I don't know why exactly, but it's become an obsession of mine. I need to own at least one golf game for every console in existence. Now, remember when I stated that the inclusion of ninjas makes any game exponentially better?
So (Golf + Ninjas - Putting) x Dragons = I love this freaking game.
Highlight: Look at that box art. Look how serious that man's expression is. Now try to read this excerpt from the opening with that same straight face.
"For ten years you've trained to be a Ninja. And now your Master tells you that it's time to take the final, most difficult test and become a Master Ninja. You must complete the game of death. You must play nine holes of... Ninja Golf."
03. Shaq Fu (Super NES and Genesis)
Concept: Shaquille O'Neal fights monsters.
Why it's so bad: Perhaps you missed the part about Shaquille O' Neal fighting monsters. Compounding things is the fact that they actually tried to formulate some kind of story to explain why a basketball player with no martial arts training is fighting said monsters.
See, it all began when Shaq was in Japan for a charity basketball game. He wandered into a kung fu dojo. Why? Because everyone in Japan knows martial arts, and thus every other building in Japan is a kung fu dojo. He meets an old man whose grandson has been kidnapped. Then, for no apparent reason, he's transported to another dimension, in which he is to save the kidnapped boy from an evil mummy.
Take a deep breath, then read that last paragraph to yourself out loud. No, don't grab that gun from your cabinet just yet, we've got two more games after this one.
So it's a fighting game... sort of. You see, the term "fighting game" usually implies that you'll be able to make contact with your opponent at some point. I think sadist Sam was on the case here, as you're only ever able to hit your opponent with a mid-range center blow. Even worse is that the characters are each about 10% the total size of the screen, meaning that what you bear witness to is actually a bunch of tiny sprites.
By the way, why is Shaq fighting a random Persian guy in a temple? Does this guy know the mummy? Where the hell did this mummy come from? Why did the mummy go all the way to another dimension just to kidnap a kid? Is he a pedophile? Does a mummy even have a penis? Why is this beast named Beast? Is that seriously the best name they could come up with for him? Why is there a guy named Diesel? Why doesn't he look like Kevin Nash? Why does he live in a mine? He's wearing jeans and a pristine white shirt, doesn't he have access to some sort of money? Why does he live across the island from the Persian guy? Why is there a jungle between them? Why does Shaq dance like a Mega Man robot after each win? Doesn't he realize he's trapped in an alternate dimension in pursuit of an evil pedophilic mummy? Why is he now fighting the old man? Why, after that, is he fighting the little boy that he's trying to save? Why is the little boy one of the hardest enemies in the game? Why are you still reading this?
Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered.
Why I love it: It's not Michael Jordan's Chaos in the Windy City. Trust me, that's another column altogether.
Highlight: The ending. After pummeling the old man, a cat-woman, the boy that you came to save, our friend Beast, the Persian guy, the guy that's not Kevin Nash, a voodoo queen, and a pedophilic mummy, Shaq simply returns to our world and makes it just in time for the charity game. What a pro. Just discovered the existence of a parallel dimension, fought a mummy and doesn't bat an eye, but wait, who's that playing for the other team? Why it's our friend, Beast!
02. Plumbers Don't Wear Ties (3DO)
Concept: Let's punish everyone that spent $500 bucks to buy a 3DO.
Why it's so bad: You're a plumber, and aside from your obvious statements against formal neckwear, you wish to mate with an average looking blonde woman. Oh, and despite the fact that she's an utter slut, she won't sleep with you. This is classified in many circles as an "adult" game. It's not. The most nudity you get is the main character John playing air guitar with a plunger while shirtless.
You didn't even blink when reading that, did you? Poor child, you've been desensitized.
The other common myth is that it's a Full Motion Video game, like, say, the cult classic Night Trap. It's not. There is one FMV scene in the entire game, and it involves said average blond talking about how she doesn't want to become a nun, and how she's slept with so many guys that the fire department had to install a smoke alarm between her legs. Everything else is told in static frames with a soundtrack playing.
See, the clairvoyant developers of this game clearly knew that FMV was simply a passing fad, so they decided to make it more of an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure book. PDWT, as the cool kids call it, focused on the same principal of those books, with a short "cutscene" playing before a series of choices were given to you. Choose the right option, and you followed the nookie brick road. Choose the wrong option, and you had to start all over until you trial-and-errored yourself to victory. These sorts of games are known as "dating sims" in Japan, and are a huge market over there. Of course, in a Japanese dating sim, your love interest is usually a green haired tween who is constantly being raped by the general populous of your town until you declare your true love for her after sleeping with every other girl in existence. Oh, and she's almost always your cousin. Tentacle rape is extra, of course.
Why I love it: No. Fucking. Idea.
Highlight: I actually paid money for a game in which a shirtless guy plays air guitar with a plunger — and lived to tell about it.
01. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (PS2, Xbox and PC)
Concept: Take a PC point-and-click classic and update it for the corn chips and beer bong generation.
Why it's so bad: Oh dear, where to start?
You play as Larry Lovage, nephew of middle-aged stud muffin Larry Laffer (star of the previous games in the series). Two feet tall, stuffed in a powder blue suit, and forever cursed with a head larger than his body, our friend Larry embarks on a journey to possess the one thing he so craves in life: a female willing to mate with him. Being a 30-plus college senior with the sex appeal of a wounded otter, Larry's only chance is to find a way onto the TV dating show Swingles. This deeply enthralling plot is more or less the driving force throughout, with the disembodied head of Mr. Swingle giving you the rundown at the opening of each chapter.
The chapters consist of three different "ladies" that you'll need to swoon in order to advance. The lineup of females rivals the rogues gallery of Batman with its depth, rife full of stereotypes so blatant that they're almost subtle. You have Analisa, the Italian girl who may or may not be affiliated with the mob (leaning towards the may, just a hunch); Barbara Jo Bimbo (or BJ Bimbo, get it...?); Ioni, the prude that you end up turning into a lesbian; lastly there's Koko, who's actually a man, only you don't find out until the worst possible time. This is only a handful of the crazies you'll meet. Each one is encountered in the exact same way. First a conversation scene, in which a scrolling sperm decides how smooth Larry talks. Next is a minigame of some sort. There are a total of about five types: quarters, a Tapper clone, jumping on a trampoline, photo-taking and, lastly, running wildly and collecting things (usually while naked). Every girl conquest goes like this: talk, minigame, talk, minigame, talk. Every single one. You will play quarters roughly 203,478,561 times before the end of the game. You will get laid 1.5 times (I'm not really sure if making out with the band geek while wearing the mascot's costume counts, hence the .5).
In between the girlie hunting, you'll experience the joy of public urination, playing quarters with a monkey, and ruining a game of hackey sack with one well-timed expulsion of flatulence, all the while playing Dennis the Menace to the Assistant Dean's Mr. Wilson and getting the occasional helpful tip from the Porn Fairy (who looks way to much like Ron Jeremy). Eventually, you'll end up on Swingles, along with three of the girls you tried to shag earlier in the game. Let it be known that for all of its flaws, perhaps this game's greatest crime is implying that a girl named Morgan knows jack shit about video games.
Why I love it: I suppose this is the part where I slip into the movie trailer voice and spout crap like, "It's the fell-good hit of the summer," or, "It's Animal House meets that other movie that was kinda like Animal House! But the truth is, I don't have any sort of reasoning for this one. The only thing the game does have going for it, despite its flaws, is those conversation segments. Even when Larry screws up, the random crap that he spews forth is quite legitimately hysterical.
Beyond that, it's a game that, weird as it sounds, is quite charming in places. Larry shedding his clothes to help a tree-hugging activist is almost noble. His D&D game with Morgan, almost too genuine in its most offensive moments. And his Grease-style duet in a gay bar is, dare I say, sweet.
Sure, as a "pure game" it's shallow, but I've saved the princess, won the Super Bowl, stopped the planet from exploding and ran errands for nameless RPG villagers more times that I can count, but in only one game can I trade brains with a monster-bating monkey, thwart a top heavy Russian spy and help a drunken hobo get it on with a elderly liquor store clerk named Sweet Lou.
Highlight: Mr. Swingle, the floating head that narrates your journey. He is the combination of a used car salesman and your worst nightmares.
At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to the eternal battle of good and evil. You see, if it weren't for these abominations, how would we possibly know what good is? Good needs evil to survive. Batman needs the Joker. Citizen Kane needs Saw IV. And clearly, every Chrono Trigger needs a Shaq Fu if we're to have any hope for the future.
Now go clean yourself off, you've suffered enough.