By request of dtsund
Well, now, that’s a heck of a question. I have played a lot of games to completion — a lot — and a lot of them have been lousy. But the worst? The absolute crappiest of them all? Whew. I’ve been racking my brains over this question for almost a year and I’m still not sure.
Here’s a thought: Let’s vote. I’ll list some nominees. You make the final call.
The crazy thing about this game is that I hated it most of the way through, but the final level? The final level is so good. It’s so different from the rest of the game, so not-loud, not-stupid, not-arbitrary — a tense stealth mission filled with quiet purpose.
Good thing I don’t have the memory of a goldfish, huh?
Shadowfall is an infuriating game, because it can’t decide what kind of shooter it wants to be from one mission to the next. Seriously, every single level has a different feel to it. Here’s one like Far Cry! Here’s one like Halo! Here’s one like Half-Life 2! Here’s one like the endless mob swarms of Call of Duty! There are signs of competence all over the game. It could have been really good, but Shadowfall never takes the time to let a concept ripen. It never explores a mechanic, spastically jumping to the next instead. And half the time those new gimmicks are so ill-conceived or amateurishly executed that they bring the game grinding to a halt.
Actually, Battletoads is infuriating in the same way as Shadowfall. Rare just couldn’t settle on making a consistent game and instead treat Battletoads like a stage mechanic fun-pack. And the gimmicks aren’t executed universally well or even somewhat consistently. Anything resembling platforming is just the worst thanks to the floppy animations and enormous appendages of the stupid toads — those hit boxes and edge detection, oh geez. It’s arbitrary, it’s difficult, it often requires precision memorization yet offers extremely limited continues… Man. Battletoads is just not good. Great pause theme, though.
Unlike the other games, which are extremely polished and simply full of inept design choices, Karnov for NES was one of the least polished games I’ve ever played. And yet I slogged through to the end, much to the amazement of the friend I’d borrowed it from. He’d owned it for ages and couldn’t make progress beyond the second stage or so. My feat didn’t earn his respect or anything. He just thought I was some sort of freak.
I have a hard time remembering exactly what made Karnov so terrible besides unclear level goals, inconsistent mechanics, a weird item selection system that kind of worked in real-time and made picking inventory items needlessly difficult, sloppy collision detection, terrible graphics and music, crummy level design, opaque rules, um… yeah.
No, I’m just kidding. Calm down.
I guess this one doesn’t quite count because I didn’t actually beat the game. I got to the very end and ran out of virtual “quarters,” game over. But it’s really kind of impressive how terrible a game based on Castlevania can be! It does the same things Castlevania did, except it does them more ineptly and with less respect for the player. Stiff controls, cheap level designs and enemy placements, totally weird sequences that radically change the game out of nowhere… Truly a disgrace of an arcade machine.
According to Metacritic, the lowest score I’ve ever given any video game has been a 30/100. You see, I have a tendency to abuse my position of authority to avoid having to play the utter stinkers. But Sprung happened when I was newly formed in this world of games journalism… and also the only one at 1UP willing to give Nintendo DS the time of day in that dark pre-kite era. But it’s not that Sprung was forced upon me; I willingly offered to play it. What a mistake.
So, the idea behind Sprung, I guess, was to pray that DS would appeal to an older, more mature audience than the Game Boy family. Which it did… eventually. Not at first. Not when Sprung was a fresh wound gaping in our souls. So it was a dating sim without an audience. Cloying written, with a cast of deeply unlikeable characters and proto-bro personalities.
Not to mention unintuitive writing! Well I still remember entering into a conversation with the game’s token Asian women and being prompted to buy her a drink. It turns out I was supposed to buy her a mint julep, because she was from the South… except there hadn’t been enough dialogue spoken for her to offer any tells for her accent. This feels especially ironic now that I actually do live in the South, close to my wife’s Vietnamese cousins, who grew up in Wilmington and have the thickest Southern accents I’ve ever heard in my life. Basically I’m saying Sprung is a miserable imitation of life and should go drown in a tub of mint juleps.
I’m going to be playing a lot of Game Boy games in the near future. I bet some of them are going to be absolutely hideous.
Well, there we have it. Those are the picks that come to mind. Now, you tell me: What is the worst game I’ve ever played to completion?