Brilliantly bad

Recently I found myself up in Glasgow, meeting up with some of the Ready Up team. Being the kind of people we all are, we ended up playing games – obviously. So there we were, with one Playstation 3 console and enough Xbox 360s to restock Currys, plus just about every one of the triple A titles that came out recently. We had available LittleBigPlanet, Left4Dead, Gears of War 2, Far Cry 2, a full band set of Guitar Hero: World Tour and more. So why did we end up playing Need for Speed: Undercover – a game which I reviewed for Ready Up and decided was pretty much a waste of time? In a few words: because it’s crap.

It’s a phenomenon I’ve experienced again and again. In the same way that people will slow down to look at a car crash, I find myself drawn to appalling games. Not usually games that are just a little disappointing, though, but real train wrecks of games. Games that are so poor that the main fun to be had from them is laughing at the graphics, or games with physics so broken that the game becomes inadvertently hilarious.

A long time ago a friend of mine had a Playstation 2 that he had bought complete with a big pile of games. We spent an afternoon there with a few beers working through these games, and ended up spending hours on a helicopter rescue game. I can’t remember the name of it now, but I think it had the word helicopter in there somewhere. Anyway, if the title had been a realistic representation of the game play it would have been called “Shit Shit Helicopter Toss!”

The graphics appeared to have been puked onto the screen, the sound was poor and the helicopter controls had all the finesse of a hippo jacked up on steroids. Weirdly, though, the fact that this game was impossibly ugly and impossible to control led to us spending ages trying to master it, and we actually had a great time. Not from laughing with the game, you understand, but at it…

Hippos: as deft and as agile as helicopters… apparently.

Thinking back on it now, though, It seems like an odd thing to do, and it leads me to wonder if people with other interests do the same. Do wine critics go to O’Neills and have a great laugh slagging off the house white? Do art critics go to primary schools and rip into the picture that little Johnny (aged 6 ¾) so carefully painted? Do architects go to Coventry and piss themselves laughing the whole time? Is this why that group of supermodels keeps coming round to my house and pointing and laughing at me through the front window?

The Germans have a word for laughing at someone else’s misfortune – but do they have one for laughing at your own?







4 responses to “Brilliantly bad”

  1.  avatar

    The ultimate game that’s so bad it’s good:

    Trespasser for the PC.

    For those who have not been exposed to the glory, it was a massively ambitious FPS set on one of the Jurassic Park islands. I was reading the back of the box yesterday funnily enough, and it promised the first ever realistic physics engine and dynamic dinosaur AI.

    It did not deliver. On the very first level, I picked up a baseball bat, which my character then tripped over, whilst holding it. She died. I am not exaggerating or embellishing the truth. That is what happened.

  2. Razgate avatar

    Retro boy g has a habit of buying really poor games Eg. Earth Defence Force.

    I have the same problem but with movies.
    Eg. The Uninvited

  3. Michael avatar

    There’s schadenfreude and there’s twatenfreude. Probably.

    Hippos are quite fast, apparently, so a hippo jacked up on steroids probably isn’t something you want to encounter… I’m just saying.

    Ever laughed at a bad film but watched it anyway? I have. Sometimes it’s good to do that, not only because it’s just pure shit and you just can’t be arsed watching something that’s actually good but you appreciate the top stuff even more. Perhaps that counts for games too, no?

  4. Kate avatar

    I was saying to someone the other day – it’s easy to make a below average game. But it takes skill to make a SHIT game. The last one I played was A-Train HX. No tutorial. Nothing. Just dumps you in the middle of this gigantic map with a billion options at your finger tips. Accompanied by wicked keyboard music! Woo!

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