Embarrassing games. We all had them, but we don’t often admit to them. This week we delve into the world of my awful retro game collection.
Yes, you may have got 100% achievements on Red Dead Redemption, but what about that time you exhausted the battery life on your Game Boy Colour playing a Sabrina the Teenage Witch game?
Thankfully, my parents loved me enough to not stick me in my bedroom with one solitary Game Boy Colour game. I had 8 of them in total. But they clearly didn’t love me that much, as over half of them were shite. A collection of poorly branded kids games lit up my beautiful blue console (yellow, if I was feeling fruity) ranging from Disney to Pixar and even to my beloved Simpsons, and yet, most remain deeply shameful to me as they gather dust in their aging cartridge ports.
Below is a run down of the best and worse Game Boy Colour games I had the displeasure of playing pre-puberty, and why they were either the greatest thing to handheld gaming, or the worst. Accompanying each listing is a visual metaphor of how I feel about each game through the power of photography and flowers. (Fuck off, I was outside all day today because of the heatwave and I was surrounded by chuffing flowers.)
Unfortunately, as with most video game adaptations of TV or film favourites the translation rarely succeeds. Just look at King Kong, ET and Lost. All despicable. So as you can imagine, I will conduct a fairly predictable attack upon those games purely made for additional profit upon an already existing concept. Money robbing bastards.
1) Pokemon Red.
Come on, I’d be judged SO CRITICALLY if this game wasn’t on my list. And even more so if it wasn’t holding pride of place. What’s more, with the cumulative list of turds to come, it wasn’t difficult to isolate this title as the best amongst a list of duds.
Let’s see, what more can I possibly say to backup why this game should be at the top of everyone’s ‘Love List’. Aside from being pretty unique at the time of release, and boasting a large game world for the Game Boy Colour, the team at Nintendo made a game that was so immersive and vibrant that I often dreamt in the bloody soundtrack.
One of my least favourite memories however came along during my first attempt the become the ultimate Pokemon master. I had 124 Pokemon. Every single badge. I’d beaten the Elite Four numerous times using just one Pokemon; my trusty Blastoise. I was on the final leg of the game in which I was hunting down another real life person with Pokemon Blue so I could utilise my link cable and collect them all!!!
My game save was overwritten in the most diabolical fashion, with a file entitled ‘ASS’. To this day, I still don’t know who committed such a crime upon my childhood, but it has never been forgotten. If you are reading this oh Pokemon villain of mine, I hope you remain anonymous, as I have over a decade’s worth of pain built up for your face.
2) Game Boy Gallery 5-in-1
God this game was basic. Like, so basic that all of the mini-games were super simplistic and required only one brain cell on the player’s behalf. But holy son of fuck it was addictive.
As it said on the tin, this cartridge held 5 games on one compact system: Ball, Vermin, Flagman, Manhole and Cement Factory. Each game had one very basic requirement in order to master the gameplay, with an increasing difficulty level that was as subtle as it was clever.
My personal favourite was Cement Factory, a mini-game that required you to successfully manoeuvre pouring cement from the top conveyer into a truck without any spillages. It sounds boring, and to the untrained eye is was boring. And quite frankly, I would probably find it as dull as pig shit right now, but back in the day it kept me entertained for hours.
All of the games did, which I think serves as a testament to how amazing this game was. I very rarely got bored with Game Boy Gallery, only frustrated at my own competitive need to beat my own high score. Simply put, it was an arcade machine crafted perfectly for the palm of your hand. And it didn’t cost you money every time you booted it up.
3) Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Zapped!
Right, stay with me on this one and I’ll try to explain why this is number 3 on my list and not smack dab right at the bottom. In short: This game was the tits.
The basic premise of the story boils down to the fact that all the kids at your high school have been turn into a wide variety of animals and the world needs you to hit and butt stomp them back to normal. Not forgetting your ‘secret’ magical powers that Sabrina seems more than happy to fling about the level at any given second.
In fairness, the game does boast original voice acting from the Queen Melissa Joan Hart herself as well as an additional playable character as my spirit animal, Salem Saberhagen.
The gameplay scales multiple locations in the hopes of saving your school friends through puzzles and tricky sections in which both finger dexterity and cooperative character use is necessary.
The colours are dazzlingly bright and Sabrina controls like a rat on ice, but overall it just works. And this may just come down to the fact that I was the #1 Sabrina fan in the UK at the time. (Unofficial, of course)
Another classic game, but it’s only fair to put it halfway down as technically this edition added nothing spectacular to its already sterling reputation. However, I will credit this game with one thing – without it, I would not be the Tetris God I am today.
Seriously, try and challenge me to a game of Tetris, I’m that good at it. I boast about it whenever I can. So whenever I wasn’t kicking the shit out of kids at school or training to be a Pokemon master, I was organising multiple coloured shapes into geometrically perfect lines.
Since the Game Boy, I’ve played variations of the Tetris title on multiple platforms. I also fully support any journalistic integrity people have had in the past when it has been placed highly on lists such as ‘The 100 Greatest Video Games of All Time‘.
What’s more, the fact that the pieces are legitimately called ‘Tetriminos’ is pretty much one of the most adorable things in the world. All hail Tetris.
5) Disney’s Magical Racing Tour
I wasn’t lying when I said these would be embarrassing was I? I love writing these Confessions but damn, even I’m ashamed to be admitting some of these on the Internet. Either way, yes, I played and owned Disney’s Magical Racing Tour.
Made by Crystal Dynamics – the same ones who made the recent incarnations of Lara Croft – this game has you chasing firework parts around a Disney theme park because some chipmunks fucked everything up. *sigh* With the only highlights coming from the tracks themselves, it’s truly a signpost to how bad a game can be if a pixelated version of Big Thunder Mountain is the key selling point.
Imagine a shitty Mario Kart, with rubberised boundaries and creepy looking animated drivers. You got it. The worse thing was, the game looked half decent on its PlayStation 1 counterpart, I just got lugged down with the crappy side chick. I can safely say that thanks to this title alone, I can denounce all 2D Go-Kart Racers to officially not be any part of my continued love and admiration for video games.
And yet, this is only entry 5 of 8. It’s only downhill from here folks.
6) Toy Story Racer
Another Racer. Another Franchise. Another disappointingly shameful entry to this week’s Confession. Thankfully though, this one had a potentially bigger positive than it’s Disney rival – at least it had faithful voice actors. The negatives, however, drag this bastard down way way way into the flames of Game Boy hell.
With 18 locations to conquer, your goal is simple – collect the soldiers to use as currency and unlock more playable racers. You start with Woody, Mr Potato Head, Buzz Lightyear or Bo Peep… WHO ELSE WOULD YOU NEED TO UNLOCK?
As 3D racing was MADE for 8-bit design, the game lacks so much finesse and quality game design it’s almost laughable from the perspective of a 20 something gamer with decades of experience. Back in the day it was exciting and challenging as the AI would match your racing ability and make the whole game more of a battle for the finish line, but nowadays its just boring as shit.
The driving under AND over steered; the power-ups were notoriously difficult to even collect and the HUD is terrifying. Genuinely terrifying. You don’t know fear until you’ve seen a tiny, cramped up, pixelated version of Mr Potato’s Head. Overall, the game was just appalling. And stupid, very very stupid. Look at it this way, Disney’s Magical Wankfest had a plot; this didn’t at all. You just race, because you race.
7) The Simpsons Treehouse of Terror
Now, what a contradiction from last week’s Confession. One blog is saying that a Simpsons video game is one of, if not THE, best video game on the planet, and this week I’m telling you that I also played one of the worst. But this one really was a git amongst the pigeons, and I hated it. Hell, I never even got close to finishing it.
Saving grace? 8-bit remix of the Simpsons theme tune. Why is it 7th? Everything else. All the glitches, and difficulty, and maps, and gameplay, and repetitive music, and unbeatable enemies. Throw it all into a landfill please, I know that’s something you people do.
In the name of Confessions, I will admit that there was a brief period of my life when this game scared me to death. An odd combination of the shrill dissonant music mixed with the invincible hoover drove me insane, keeping me up with nightmares more than once I’m afraid to admit.
Whilst I appreciated each level being based off the annual and iconic ‘Treehouse of Horror’ installments of the beloved TV show (I was told on Google, as I never fucking made it that far myself), the game just didn’t live up to the same standards as other games on the platform at the time. It may have looked like a decent side-scroller, but it did not handle or play well at all. Again, I’m sorry if all these ‘awful’ games are based off my inability to conquer difficult games. Why else do you think I’ve avoided Dark/Demon Souls??
8) 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue
Let me just start by saying that this game was LOOSELY based on one of the worst sequels to an otherwise amazing children’s story. And that the only thing I LOVE about this game is that whilst your dog is elegantly falling through the levels, it’s little ears flap in the breeze. So prepare yourself for one of the worst games I’ve ever played.
GOD IT’S JUST SO BAD. THE ROBOT DOGS ARE CALLED C-9? SUPER SONIC BARKS? BLIMPS? AN ARMY OF CRUELLA DE VIL’S IN EASILY DEFEATABLE CARS? Also, taking this way too seriously, but Cruella, you fucked up. If you’re gonna steal 102 Dalmatians, hide the fucking keys woman.
Oh wait I lied there’s one more thing I love: whilst your dog is waiting for the slowest platform in the world to glide back down to assist you, your dog will briefly sit and wait in what I interpret as a deliberately sassy message on the boring nature of platform-based gameplay.
I mean, it’s just a cluster fuck of bad game design and whilst I finished it at a young age, I truly doubt that I ever enjoyed myself. Just looking at it now, seeing someone upload a 1 hour long playthrough of it to YouTube brings a tear to my eye to realise that some poor bastard has played that for 537 viewers. Jesus wept what has happened to the world? Is this what YouTube was made for?!
All in all, a terrible time spent for everyone.
And that’s the definitive list! Comment and share if you agree with my bad games and let me know if you think you can do any worse! And lets be honest, if you owned either Dogz or Catz, you’re on to a winner there…