The Top Five Worst Games Print Ads

Back in the day, before we had your new-fangled “World Wide Web,” most of us had to get our news from games magazines. And we liked it, dagnabbit! Of course, these supposed tomes of gaming knowledge were basically little more than advertising fed directly into our eyeballs, often absent of genuine criticism or any other concerns other than letting consumers know what new games were coming out and when. At some point, any and every asset of these magazines might have only existed as thinly-veiled promotional material — from the developer-supplied cheat code sections all the way down to bought-and-paid-for reviews.

In a shocking turn, the actual as-advertised print ads themselves might have been the most genuine parts of some of these magazines: At least when you were staring at a full-page promotional panel, you were aware you were looking at marketing material. Of course, sometimes even these adverts might be misleading, as advertising is wont to be. In some scenarios, they seemed to care less about selling you on the games themselves and more about simply grabbing your attention. I mean, you don’t actually need me to explain any of this to you, do you? Kind of the nature of the beast here, innit?

Anyway, this list is dedicated to some of the worst print ads ever run to promote individual game releases. To be clear, I’m intentionally eschewing print ads to promote consoles / hardware accessories / companies in general, as that’s a list for another day.

Posted in Lists 'n Roundups | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Return of the Curse of the Bad Game Music Hall of Fame

My friends, I am afraid this is the return of the Bad Game Hall of Fame YouTube channel, including cuts from the SNES version of Wolverine: Adamantium Rage, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode, and Night Trap.

Posted in Bad Game Music | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

We Gonna Roll Out This Transformers Comvoy ‘Cross the U-S-A

Kinkyu Shirei

More than meets the eye.
Transformative art by @KSShaezer.

Boy howdy, how about those Transformers, huh? Why, I remember back in the day, watching them on that cartoon show of theirs. And of course, who can forget those toys? Transforming all over the place, turning into all sorts of stuff! But oh man, don’t get me started on that jerk Michael Bay, tarnishing the reputation of… Those cartoons designed to sell the toys, I guess? Autobots, keep on rollin’ baby!

Alright look, I’ve gotta come clean: I’m not really a Transformers fan. I didn’t grow up watching them (I was more of a Looney Tunes kind of kid), I didn’t mess around with any of the toys, and while I honestly didn’t hate that first Michael Bay movie, I also did not feel the need to watch any of the sequels. If you’re one of those folk who loves this sort of mecha stuff with a passion, more power to you! It’s just not my bag, baby. You know what is my bag, though? Bad video games. Which is where and why our paths cross today.

1986’s Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimeitai Toransufōmā: Konboi no Nazo translates roughly into English as “Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers: Mystery of Convoy.” But for the sake of simplicity, maybe we oughta’ call the game “Mystery of Comvoy [sic],” as that is the only English present on the Famicom box / cartridge art. You see, we never actually saw a release of this game in English-speaking territories, which is honestly something of a surprise. Considering how anything with the Transformers branding seemed guaranteed to sell like hotcakes in the States at the time, you’d think that they’d have been willing to localize any slop with a shot at making a quick buck? Unless, of course, the product was so bad, that releasing it overseas could’ve been seen as potentially harmful to the franchise as a whole.

Transformers: Mystery of Convoy is one of the classic “Kusogē” titles** of the Famicom era, whose legacy has endured through the years much as the source material it is based on. It was the among most popularly requested games to appear on the venerable GameCenter CX, its legendary difficulty has been referenced in spin-off Transformers anime, and it was even re-imagined as an endless runner smartphone game in 2014 to capitalize on the originals notoriety. It takes a special kind of awful to be recognized as one of “the worst of all time,” and so today we’re gonna get to the bottom of what makes Mystery of Convoy so infamous.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mystery of Convoy utilizes some pretty severe strobing effects, which I have attempted to diminish the speed / frequency of in the animated GIFs included with this article. This may slightly affect the timing of some of the animations on display, but seizure-proofing takes priority on this website.

** Since this is actually our first time using the term on this site, it may bear some explanation: Kusogē is effectively Japanese slang for “shit games,” generally of the “funny bad” variety. In using the term as someone from outside of Japan, it is my thinking that we should generally try to reserve it for games specifically from and intended for Japan, rather than just labeling all bad games as a kusogē.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Not-So Super Mario Bros. Special

Do You Have What It Takes to Save the Mushroom Princess?

You are the greatest player.
High contrast / quality art by @SarahSSowertty.

No doubt we’re all familiar with the story of the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 and the ““secret”” that it’s a sprite swap of Doki Doki Panic and blah blah blah The Lost Levels et cetera et cetera et cetera. Look, I apologize, but if you’re genuinely not sure what I’m talking about here, I have to ask that you research it on your own time, just this one time: I made a solemn vow that after hearing this story from a hundred different other people, I’d never inflict it on anyone myself. Besides; we’ve got bigger Cheep Cheeps to fry today.

What if I told you that Super Mario Bros. 2 – in either it’s American or Japanese formats – weren’t actually the direct sequels to the original Super Mario Bros.? What if I said that Nintendo has more or less managed to successfully bury a Mario platformer game in the depths of obscurity, never to be officially acknowledged in the years since its release? What if I noted that this game marked some of the earliest working relations between Nintendo and Hudson Soft, who would go on to become one of Nintendo’s most trusted third-party developers? And what if I told you that these are all slightly exaggerated points I’m making right now, but that the story behind this particular game is still pretty interesting regardless?

Before Japan even had a chance to take a crack at the Famicom sequel the States were never meant to see, Sharp X1 and NEC PC-8801 computer owners were treated to their very own installment in the series. But with weaker hardware [in terms of games performance] and a third-party developer behind it, would it meet the lofty standards set by the original Super Mario Bros.? Probably not! But hey, we’re gonna play it anyway.** Prepare yourselves, paisanos: It’s time for the Super Mario Bros. Special Super Show!

** And by “it,” I primarily mean the Sharp X1 version, for reasons we will get into later in this article.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Struggle Isn’t over Till the Clock Tower Says Two

An All-New “Goryline” of Thrills-And-Chills

You’re not my father!
Spooktacular art by @remyripple.

For a while now, I’ve appreciated the Clock Tower franchise from afar. I’ve considered myself a “fan” of it, despite the fact I couldn’t honestly make the claim that I had actually played more than a couple minutes of any entry to the series. And yet, I’ve watched full playthroughs of every installment; bearing witness to every alternate path and multiple ending, and loving every second spent not actually having to play the games myself. Don’t get it twisted here: It’s not that I’ve been too scared to take control.** It’s just that… Well, these games have never seemed all that much fun to actually play?

Take the original 1995 Clock Tower on the Super Famicom: In terms of atmosphere, presentation, and ability to fill players with a constant sense of dread, it’s near-perfection. The decision to design the game around finding hiding spots and temporary defenses rather than engaging in outright combat was a bold one, and one that seems to pay off in terms of keeping the stakes high at all times. All that being said, the part where you have to sit on your hands while you wait for a small boy to drag a pair of scissors from one end of a room and back to the other just doesn’t strike me as something I need to experience first-hand. Also, controlling a mouse cursor with a directional pad? Ew.

So yes, I must report that 1998’s Clock Tower: Ghost Head – or as it is better known outside of Japan, 1999’s Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within – is the first Clock Tower game I’ve actually played through myself. I knew going in it wasn’t going to be easy, as I already knew that it’s regarded as the worst in the series. That, and the fact that I had already seen someone else play it through to completion in the past, and recalled thinking to myself at the time “this seems terrible.” But I went and did it anyway, because I felt that playing through it myself would serve a sort of “rite of passage” to becoming a true Clock Tower fan.

I am never going to play a Clock Tower game ever again.

Look, I’m not going to lead all y’all on into thinking that my thoughts on this game might end up going either way: I’m telling you straight up that this game was an absolute chore to play, and not an experience I would suggest to anyone. But in this modern era of Let’s Plays and longplays, where it’s possible to experience whole games without having to actually play them yourself, a question still remains: Is it at least a game worth watching? Like the game’s own inaccurate portrayal of a fractured psyche, we’re going to try and separate the good from the bad in The Struggle Within, and determine whether or not it at least qualifies as a suitably spooky viewing experience.

** Not to come across as some “more macho than you” braggart, but I am rarely [if ever] actually scared by horror games. It’s the thing where I know it’s all a game and that nothing that might happen will cause any real harm to me. That being said, I still love the genre, and figuring out for myself how different games work in different ways to build tension and elicit fear from an average player.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WCW’s Backstage, All-Access Pass to Assault

We Love You Scott Steiner

Bring me the head of Cactus Cass! Hardcore art by @sproutsnout.

Well, the time has finally come for me to talk about professional wrestling on this website! It was inevitable, really: Not just because I’m a big wrestling fan, but also thanks to the rich history of bad wrestling video games. And where better to start than with what is widely considered to be the very worst game of the whole genre, centered around one of the worst wrestling promotions going in the year 2000? I’m speaking of none other than World Championship Wrestling, and the infamous WCW Backstage Assault.

I’m gonna be honest with you guys: I adore WCW, even at their absolute dirt worst. In fact, the periods of time considered to be the worst in their company history (the Jim Herd era of the late 80s, the Hulk Hogan era of the mid-90s, and the Vince Russo era of the early 00s) are some of my favorites in the history of the whole wrestling business. It’s unfortunate we never got a WCW game in the era of Arachnaman and Robocop run-ins, but Backstage Assault’s focus on the late Russo era of “worked shoot” booking** is as fine a substitute as any. We’ll be going into a bit of detail about what defined this period in WCW’s history, and how it impacted the game at hand.

It should be noted that the game review portion of this article is going to focus primarily on the original PlayStation version of the game rather than the Nintendo 64 conversion, as the PS1 release most likely outsold the N64 / is probably the more “definitive” version of the game. Outside of a lack of FMVs and slightly worse character animations on the cartridge though, the two versions of the game really are largely identical. So, with that out of the way, it’s time to hit the music and fire up the pyrotechnics: Cactus Cass is here to crush another crappy game! Does that make me sound cool? I might need to workshop this gimmick a little.

** For the non-wrestling fans who might be reading this article, I’m going to try and define some of the “insider terms” that get tossed around when discussing the business. A “work” is any action that a wrestler might take that is presented to the audience as legitimate, though in actuality it is all according to plan or storyline. By contrast, a “shoot” refers to actions taken by wrestlers that are legitimately not on the script, with wrestlers often going into business for themselves. Therefore, the combination of the two terms as “worked shoot” refers to moments in wrestling storyline that are presented as if the talent are “going off the script,” though in actuality these moments are still very much pre-planned. Wrestling writer / booker Vince Russo was infamous for his over-reliance on worked shoots and for “exposing the business” to those who still believed that wrestling was fully legitimate.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Bad Game Music Hall of Fame Strikes Back

More uploads have gone up on the Bad Game Hall of Fame YouTube channel, including jams from the arcade version of Psycho Soldier, the DOS version of Castlevania, and The Chessmaster on SNES. I’m feeling like “three uploads per batch / once per month” is probably a pretty decent routine for this feature, so please look forward to it!

Posted in Bad Game Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In Thy Battle for the Kingdom Come, Arthur is Done

His Legend Would Live on through the Ages

Over the river and through the woods, to Morgan le Fay’s castle we go!
Regal artwork by @ihaveeczema.

“Don’t play this game.” ~ Andrew Park, GameSpot PC Editor[1]

Sometimes, four words are all you need to tell a whole story. In the early-to-mid 2000’s, standards and practices on the gaming news and review site GameSpot required that written reviews be of some minimum length. However, there was less regulation on the content of their video reviews at the time, allowing reviewers the creative freedom to present these games however they pleased (more or less). And so, when dealing with the absolute bottom of the barrel, sometimes four simple words were all they needed to get their point across: “Don’t Play This Game.”

The first game to receive the DPTG treatment on GameSpot will also be the subject of the first in our own series revisiting this collection of games: 2002’s Arthur’s Quest: Battle for the Kingdom, as published under THQ’s ValuSoft label. It is only one of two games known to be developed by 3LV Games, alongside their other 2002 release Mini Golf Master 2 (nope, they didn’t even have a hand in the first Mini Golf Master). The publisher ValuSoft was infamous for publishing straight-to-bargain-bin games, not beholden to the same level of quality control as THQ’s in-house developments. We are sure to see more of their products in the future of this website.

While four words may very well be more than enough to review this game, we’re going to delve a bit deeper, and give Arthur’s Quest it’s day in King Arthur’s court. Buckle up your bucklers and shine your swords, folks: Today, we venture into a land of low-budget fantasy.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Tribe Called Quest 64

Evil is Growing and Beasts Will Attack You

Talk softly and carry a big staff.
Magical artwork by @Drakkel.

The time is 1998. It has been two years since the release of the Nintendo 64, and the library of games for it has continued to grow slowly but surely. Nearly every genre is represented, save for one: Role-playing games. What the console needs now is a hero — a cartridge RPG to stand tall against the PlayStation, and show the likes of Final Fantasy VII what’s for!

… But such a game never really came, did it? In fact, there were barely any who even dared make the attempt. 2000’s Paper Mario is probably the standout example of an RPG on the N64, and while it’s most definitely an excellent game, it doesn’t quite fill the same hole as a Grandia or Xenogears now, does it? The SNES before it had been home to a bunch of depthful [2D] RPGs, featuring the likes of Chrono Trigger and Secret of Evermore (not to mention, a grip of Final Fantasy entries). But the N64 seemed to lend itself more towards “pick-up-and-play”-style action, arcade, and sports titles.** By that point in time in 1998, any RPG released for the console would have the opportunity to make a name for itself.

And so begins the story of Quest 64: An inspired attempt by developer Imagineer to bring 64 megabytes of role-playing to the masses. But like so many a great tale, ours shall start before the adventure itself begins, telling of the time prior to the game’s release. Once the journey is officially underway, we will make closer inspection of the title, revealing it’s true worthiness. Finally, we shall explore the aftermath of the adventure, and detail the impact it had on the industry. Get ready to lo and behold, dear reader: Our Quest (64) awaits us!

** No, you don’t need to remind me of adventure titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or collectathons along the lines of Banjo-Kazooie. Obviously, there were some very notable exceptions on the N64, as developed by studios willing to go the extra mile in pushing the 64MB cartridges of the N64 to its limits. But by and large, more substantial games of the era were made with 660MB PlayStation CD-ROMs in mind.

Posted in Game Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

More Bad Music for the Bad Game Music Hall of Fame

We’ve got a new group of uploads to the Bad Game Hall of Fame YouTube channel, featuring music from Cruis’n USAFire Fly, and Sonic Rush. I’m going to try and settle into a “once a month” update schedule for this little project, so expect yet more bad music in May!

Posted in Bad Game Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment