I had a great time playing video games this year. I also wasted quite a bit of time playing some absolutely terrible games. I suppose that’s my fault more so than the developers, because I should have just switched games. I’m apparently a masochist. Anyway, keep reading and share in my misery.
Most Despicable Use of In-Game Advertising: Shaun White Snowboarding
When microtransactions were first introduced to console games, there was concern over whether we’d start seeing unfinished games on store shelves that would be patched later on or completed through price gouging digital downloads. Shaun White Snowboarding took this horrible practice one step further by leaving out a large chunk of the game and making that content available only at one retailer for a premium price tag. Branding an entire mountain with Target logos is one thing, but forcing the player to purchase your game at Target if they want the complete experience is downright dirty.
Dishonorable Mention: Guitar Hero: World Tour
Most Disappointing Game: Spore
I’ve never been a fan of the Sims, but I admire Will Wright for all of his contributions to the video game industry. I looked forward to Spore because I thought it might be the first game that actually got me into PC gaming. The press had lauded over Spore for years and it received a number of awards even before people knew exactly what the game was. When it was finally released (complete with consumer-unfriendly DRM), I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. Instead of one cohesive experience, each segment of the game was broken up into smaller pieces that had all been done before.
Flat-Out Worst Game: Mr. Driller Online
There probably aren’t a lot of people out there who feel as strongly about this one as I do, but I love Mr. Driller. I love Mr. Driller so much that I could even forgive the dearth of gameplay modes in this horrible XBLA game. But if you release a game called Mr. Driller Online, don’t you think it would be a good idea to have at least one person at your company stand up and say “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t release this game if there’s absolutely no online functionality?”
Worst Game Everyone Played: Deca Sports
I’ve never played Deca Sports because, apparently unlike many people who bought a Wii, I have some semblance of taste when choosing what I want to play. The Wii has become a dumping ground for shoddy ports and inane minigame collections that any uninformed parent will buy for their kids if the box art looks friendly enough. I’m happy that Nintendo is doing well again, but I wish it would have been by better means.
Best Game No One Played: World of Goo
As one of the highest rated Wii games, it’s a shame World of Goo hasn’t fared better. To be completely honest, I haven’t played it either because I simply don’t ‘have any space left on my Wii. Nintendo’s obstinate refusal to release a hard drive for their system has forced me to be extremely discriminating in my choice of downloads. Moving games back and forth from an SD card is only slightly less ridiculous than their utter lack of any advertising support for their Wii Ware games.
Least Improved Sequel: Animal Crossing: City Folk
I really should’ve known what to expect from Animal Crossing on the Wii. The GameCube and DS versions were essentially the same game, but I naively thought that Nintendo would put more effort into a sequel 6 years in the making. City Folk could have been an amazing MMO experience if they had done it correctly. Still, with the minor improvements made to City Folk, I’ll probably still play it much longer than I should. I have to collect everything. It’s a sickness, really.
Worst Use of a Great License: Lego Batman
I loved the Lego Star Wars games. Lego Indiana Jones was also a great time, although admittedly not as fun as its predecessors. Without iconic movies to draw from, Lego Batman lacks the humor of the Star Wars and Indy games. It’s more fun beating up the villians, but the puzzle design is so obtuse that you literally have to try every single option to figure out what you’re supposed to do to progress. There’s rarely a logic to follow, and the game quickly grows tedious. And, since boss battles are prone to glitching that make finishing the level impossible, ending each stage with one probably wasn’t the best idea.