Thursday, June 16, 2005

“Overrated Games”

Writing that article about good games that a lot of people never played got me thinking about overrated games over the years that have really bugged me. These games were lavished with undeserved praise when they were first released and have since, somehow, been heralded as classics. So, here’s my feeble attempt to right these wrongs: my list of games that are regarded much too highly when they actually suck.

Some of you might recall that GameSpy made a list of overrated games a while back. It received well deserved criticism. For some reason, GameSpy decided to clump overhyped and disappointing games in with overrated games in their infamous list. Anything that’s overrated, as you would imagine, is rated higher than it should have been. Therefore, a game that got panned by the critics cannot be overrated by definition. So, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness and Enter the Matrix (No.’s 8 and 3 respectively on GameSpy’s list) cannot be overrated games since everyone pretty much agreed those games sucked.

Anyway, with that being said, let’s get on with it.

Mortal Kombat [1992]

Yes, Dave, I stole your precious screenshot.

System: Arcade, SNES, Genesis, Gameboy, Game Gear, Sega CD, PC

Why it’s overrated:

At the time, fighting games were hot. Street Fighter II had blown everyone away with its great graphics and amazing gameplay. And like any good genre-defining game, it was immediately cloned about a zillion times in an attempt to cash in on the fighting game craze. For the most part, the clones sucked. They offered little different from SFII and they quickly faded into obscurity. Then came Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat, I admit, brought a lot of new elements to the fighting game genre, but unfortunately, most of those changes were novel at best. The most glaring example of this is the fatality of course. It added absolutely nothing to the gameplay. The same goes for the digitized graphics. Honestly, I didn’t really care for them. While they appeared more realistic at a glance, the animation was simply terrible. The characters moved like they all had sticks up their asses. And the addition of the block button and ‘tapping’-style special moves made an already stiff game even more cumbersome.

The truth is that MK played terribly, and the only reason anyone ever played it was for the digitized gore. There were no combos to speak of and the strategies involved in playing the game were pretty basic. MK was and still is a terrible game. I will admit that the series improved dramatically with MKII, but that’s another story. MK was a terribly playing game, pure and simple.

The only decent move in the whole game.

Cuz, you know, I didn't get enough Track & Field in the 80's.

Scorpion loses!... umm... wait...

The only reason people played this game.

Myst [1994]

Thys game ys shyt.

System: Mac, PC, PlayStation, Saturn, Atari Jaguar CD, 3DO

Why it’s overrated:

If you’ve played this ‘game’ recently, you should already know what I’m going to say here. No fucking story, no coherence, retarded random puzzles, almost no animation and a bajillion games sold. Go figure. Myst always was and always will be garbage.

This is what happened.

Myst was first made for the Mac. Mac users didn’t (and still don’t) have shit for games so any new game that came out was snatched up in a heartbeat. CDROM technology was new. Myst was a CDROM game. Ooooh. High resolution pre-rendered computer graphics were still a novelty. The game was considered ‘oh so pretty’ even though people were just watching a slide show. The Mac users are retarded and are amused by the ‘wondrous’ puzzles and ‘enchanting’ environments. Myst sells a buttload of copies. People smell money and port it to every fucking console with a CDROM. Because it’s so popular on the Mac, people play it, and even though they don’t get it, they pretend to or risk looking silly. The End.

Wow, a pre-rendered pathway.

Wow, a pre-rendered telescope.

Wow, pre-rendered stairs.

Wow, a pre-rendered bedroom.

Shenmue [2000]

Must... remain... bland...

System: Dreamcast

Why it’s overrated:

If you want to play a ‘find every character and talk to them multiple times’ game mixed in with a little Dragon’s Lair and very little Virtua Fighter, this is your game. If you’re sane, like me, stay away from this overly ambitious yet underachieving game. Those people that gave it 9’s are out of their skull.

You literally do very little more that what I outlined above. Talk to a whole bunch of people until you unlock a mini-game. Do the mini-game and go talk to a whole bunch more people. Where’s the fun in that?

I think people rated this game so highly because they got caught up in all the voice overs. There haven’t been many games that have this much voice acting in them. I remember playing this game back when my sister lived with me. After a couple of hours of hearing me play this game (she was upstairs in her room while I played in the living room), she finally came down and asked me with a confused look on her face, “What movie are you watching?” That’s pretty much how it feels too: like you’re playing a slightly more interactive version of Dragon’s Lair. It’s really too bad that its main drawing point, the voice acting, was so uneven too. Some characters were pretty good, while others, like the main character, were pretty bad.

Yu Suzuki, the game’s designer, had a grand vision: to create the most enthralling real-world adventure game ever. Instead, he made a laserdisc game for the Dreamcast. People wanted so badly to buy into Suzuki’s grandiose plans for this game, that they forced themselves into thinking it was a masterpiece.

A little side note here: if you want to simulate playing this game, buy Shenmue II for the Xbox for like $10. It comes with a DVD movie of the entire first game. Yep, you can just watch the first game being ‘played’. What more proof do you need that this game was really no game at all?

Talking to some lady.

Talking to another lady.

Wow, that's different. Talking to a man now.

Ok, THIS is funny!

Valkyrie Profile [2000]

Only $75, and it's yours to keep!

System: PlayStation

Why it’s overrated:

I honestly don’t’ know why people love this RPG so much. It’s a highly sought after PlayStation collectible as it was released near the end of the PlayStation’s life when games tend to have smaller production runs. Prices on eBay range from $60 to $180 dollars for this game depending on its condition. So I made myself play through this game just to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was that this game’s mechanics were poorly designed and the character development was extremely shallow.

I used a guide to get through this game to assure myself that I would get the best ending and see the most stuff. You see, one unique feature of this game is that you can skip almost everything past the very first dungeon. I didn’t. I did everything I could. But even still, I can’t tell you what the fuck the whole point of the game was. The plot development was terrible. There are so many characters that you don’t get a chance to really get to know them, and therefore you don’t really give a shit about them when they’re sent off to Valhalla.

The actually gameplay is extremely redundant: at the start of the level, hit SELECT to see a new voice/cutscene, go to the area/town where the scene pointed you to, watch the cutscene and get a new character, hit SELECT to see a new cutscene, if it’s a dungeon, go to it and beat the repetitive monsters, if not, go to the town and see the next cutscene and get a new character, hit SELECT to see a new cutscene, if it’s a dungeon, go to it and beat the repetitive monsters, if not, go to the town and see the next cutscene…. Ugh. No wonder they allow you to skip stuff. It’s torturous. Anyway, along the way you send some of your built up characters to Valhalla to fight the good fight alongside the Gods, but it’s all really rather boring.

Somehow this became a collectible and then it got ‘popular’, but if you play this game for an hour or two, you’ll realize just how ‘blah’ this game is. I won’t get into it, but even the music is repetitive and sucky. The bottom line is that there are many better and cheaper RPG’s out for the PlayStation. Don’t bother paying the big bucks for this one unless you’re a collector and can find it cheap.

Horses and stuff.

Field of crap.

Some lame battle.

This game is so boring, you get this shot again.

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