While no artist sets out to create something deliberately bad, inexperienced creatives can often let their ambition take over, resulting in a messy, almost indecipherable piece of art. Movies like Ed Wood Plan 9 from outer space or Tommy Wiseau Bedroom are great examples of this, but does this same phenomenon occur in the field of video game development?
It is much more difficult for the public to appreciate “bad” video games; while they may share the shoddy storytelling or laughable dialogue characteristics of so-bad-as-good media, botched control schemes and unrefined gameplay mechanics can make for a downright boring experience. However, there are a few formerly maligned titles that have achieved cult-hit status over the years.
Sonic R (1997)
While the Sega Dreamcast is generally known as a brilliant console that never really got off the ground, its predecessor, the Sega Saturn, was a mess that contributed heavily to Sega’s eventual abandonment of console development. For example, his flagship title Sonic was Sonic R.
While Sonic seems like a natural choice for a racing game, Sonic R was beyond broken. With confusing courses, a stunning lack of content, and a litany of hairpin turns that didn’t fit the game’s floating, unresponsive control scheme, Sonic R fails on just about every level, and he’s almost as infamous among Sonic fans as the famous sonic the hedgehog 2006.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (2009)
Sequel to 2005’s intermediate third-person shooter 50 Cent: Bulletproof, blood on the sand sees the titular G-Unit rapper’s quest after a diamond-encrusted skull in a war-torn Middle Eastern country. It’s crude, wordy, and outrageous, but, while few would give it true praise, it’s definitely a satisfying guilty pleasure.
Part of the cooperative military shooter trend, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is best played with friends, and, while the rehearsal can be brutal and the gameplay reliably unsatisfying, it’s downright hilarious. What other franchise would have a curse button dedicated to 50 Cent?
Corpse Killer (1994)
In the mid-1990s, the advent of CD technology allowed innovative game developers to incorporate lengthy video segments into their games. titles such as Night Trap and The 7th guest rose to prominence by incorporating real-life actors and sets, and the practice is still used today, as evidenced by hits like His history.
That said, great acting and scriptwriting were hardly mandatory, and most FMV games featured laughable performances that cemented their status as gems so bad they were good. A classic example is corpse killer on the Sega CD and 32X, an on-rails shooter that features a ridiculous plot, clunky gameplay, and downright ridiculous acting. Interestingly, this title was well enough known to receive a 25th Anniversary Edition on modern consoles.
The Strike of the Dead (2001)
The Strike of the Dead is a conversion of the classic arcade title House of the Dead 2 and sees a group of misinterpreted protagonists use keyboards to take down zombies. This is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.
Surprisingly enough, The Strike of the Dead is a nice typing tutor that is great fun for both novice and advanced typists. That said, he’s most remembered for his incredibly bad voice acting. While everyone seems unenthusiastic, the dumbest of the main cast has to be Goldman, the game’s antagonist, who delivers every line as if sedated.
Deadly Promotion (2010)
Projects so bad they’re good often happen when unchecked enthusiasm meets unchecked ambition, and that seems to accurately describe the development of the 2010s. deadly premonitiona notoriously absurd survival horror sim that marries resident Evil– gameplay worthy of the banalities of most modern survival games.
Combine all of this with an utterly quizzical control scheme and a plot that makes absolutely no sense, this game delivers a weird but undeniably unique experience. deadly premonition is definitely kind of a love-or-hate test, but it’s a game that horror fans should try at least once.
Ride To Hell: Retribution (2013)
Telling the story of a Vietnam War veteran who fights to avenge his murdered brother, Ride in Hell: Retribution is often considered one of the worst games released in the last decade. Ostensibly an open-world third-person shooter that’s been grafted into a more linear brawler, the title is beyond clunky and downright non-functional.
Delisted from Steam in 2014, it’s pretty hard to get a copy of Ride in Hell: Retribution these days, and maybe that’s for the best. Still, there’s a certain appeal to the broken gameplay and ridiculously bad presentation.
Rogue Warrior (2009)
Developed by Rebellion Developments, a studio best known for Sniper series, rogue warrior was a budget 2009 FPS release that featured growling fish actor Mickey Rourke as the protagonist Richard Marcinko. Marcinko was actually a real Navy SEAL, but the game has no bearing on the actual events.
In rogue warrior, Marcinko is sent on a clandestine mission to North Korea, and what follows is a blasphemous showcase of terrible shooting mechanics and hilarious voice acting. Rourke’s character swears like there’s no tomorrow, so much so that hardened sailors might take offense.
The City With No Name (1993)
Apparently a parody of Clint Eastwood’s epic western a handful of dollars, The city with no name is a point-and-click comedy title that sees an unnamed protagonist take down members of a Wild West gang in a number of shootouts. While it looks like it was intended as a comedy, it’s hard to tell if the developers were on board.
With ugly, stripped-down visuals, horrible music, and a pretty shocking lack of content, The city with no name feels like the developers are trying to prank consumers. That said, those who like the game’s very weird sense of humor can enjoy it.
Hunt down the free man (2018)
One of the most reviled games to release on Steam in recent years, Hunt down the free man is a jumble that borrows directly from Valve’s half-lifeattempting to recap the events that took place directly after 1998’s seminal FPS title.
Featuring a number of Source Filmmaker cutscenes, voiced and performed by well-known YouTubers and internet personalities, Hunt down the free man can sometimes seem almost strange. Of course, when recognizable voices don’t spring from poorly animated character models, there’s really no redeeming feature. Moreover, the game is so complicated and broken that most players resort to cheats to get through.
Link: The Faces of Evil (1993)
Developed exclusively for the Philips CD-i in 1993, Link: The Faces of Evil is the result of a failed partnership between Nintendo and Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic. Nintendo has licensed Panasonic to release a series of games featuring mario and Zelda characters on their early 90s media console, but they were all surprisingly poor quality.
Featuring some of the most notoriously absurd cinematics of all time, Link: The Faces of Evil blaspheme the sacred Legend of Zelda name and serves as an example of everything that can go wrong when developing an action platformer. Although it was actually a pain to skim through, it made great Let’s Play material during YouTube’s formative years.
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