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Top 3 Bad Games I Enjoy: A Response to MichaelBtheGameGenie

MichaelBtheGameGenie is a YouTube vlogger who, as you might have sussed out from his name, enjoys playing and talking about video games among other things. On his most recent video, uploaded yesterday, he set out to revive a series made popular by edt1138, another video game vlogger, called “Top 3 Tuesday”, where one person makes a short video with a top 3 list, then invites the community to chime in with their own take on the topic. His video entitled “Top 3 Bad Games I Enjoy” has already seen considerable response from others (seriously, go watch them already), but I’m going to buck the trend. My reply is in article format because, in the words of Harlan Ellison, “I Have No Video Camera And I Must Respond”. Presented exclusively with subtitles, here’s my Top 3 Bad Games I Enjoy (That Hopefully Nobody Else Has Talked About Yet).

Resident Evil Survivor

#1: Resident Evil Survivor (PS1)

Resident Evil 7‘s decision to go with a first-person perspective raised a lot of eyebrows, but it wasn’t anywhere near the first game in the series to take a departure from the standard third-person presentation. That said, the first game in the series to do so has an awful reputation for a reason. Originally released as Biohazard: Gun Survivor in Japan with support for the GunCon light gun, the premise was simple: use the gun to literally shoot zombies as you make your way through the story. The US release took everything awesome about that premise and gutted it like a fish.

Mind you, the Japanese version already had strikes against it. The decision to go with a first-person perspective forced the developers to use textures that were much lower-res than those of the previous games. Without the pre-rendered backgrounds, Survivor actually looks worse than both Resident Evil and its sequel. Cut-scenes are performed with the in-game engine as opposed to the FMV renderings enjoyed by fans of the first two games. The voice acting is actually worse than the first game’s, if you can believe such a thing is possible. The frame rate dips considerably if there are more than two or three enemies on the screen at the same time. But when they brought Gun Survivor to western shores, Capcom neutered the title of its one saving grace by removing the light gun support due to concerns over the media’s portrayal of video game violence. So a game whose sole purpose for existing was to allow players to shoot zombies with a light gun had this sole purpose excised. Resident Evil Survivor is a train wreck in every sense, and gamers who bought it expecting an adventure crafted at the same level as Capcom’s two previous RE games were justifiably disappointed.

Despite this, I’ve always felt a peculiar affection for this game. It tries so hard to do something different with the property, and even though it fails, there’s still something to be said for taking a handgun with infinite bullets and going to town on zombies, lickers, hunters, and Umbrella’s own kill squads. The branching pathways allow for multiple ways to experience the game. It’s short enough that you can play through the whole thing in a couple of hours, at which point you save all your gear, start over, and try a different route to acquire more weapons, a faster completion time, and a better rank. It is, absolutely, by any objective metric, a bad game–but I’m still playing it in 2017.

Dark Summit

#2: Dark Summit (PS2)

Dark Summit was one of those impulse purchases at Best Buy out of their clearance bin. Despite a virulent dislike of sports titles, for some reason I looked at this game and its $9.99 price tag, and thought, “Yeah, even I can probably get ten bucks’ worth of fun out of this before I trade it in for something else.” Well I’m happy to report that fifteen years later, I still own Dark Summit, and it’s given me more hours of enjoyment than some AAA titles I’ve dropped a full $50 or $60 on. Why? Well, it’s a vaguely open-mountain snowboarding game where you defuse bombs, cause avalanches, outrun bears, demolish robotic cows, break snowmen, jump pits of toxic waste, and stop a government conspiracy with the help of a few friends and your all-but-indestructible Nokia phone. I mean, what’s not to like about that?

Dark Summit‘s detractors often point to the cheesy, implausible storyline, mediocre graphics, less-than-stellar cutscenes, drop-dead basic voice acting, a trick library that cannot compete with the likes of SSX, and the repetitive nature of snowboarding down the same parts of the mountain multiple times in order to earn enough points to qualify for a longer run down the slopes. Every criticism leveled at this game is absolutely 100% valid. With a Metacritic score of 67% Dark Summit is not a great, or even a particularly good, game by any stretch of the imagination. I could not possibly care less.

Radical Entertainment and THQ put out a gloriously imperfect game with Dark Summit. It’s absolutely the sort of thing every developer should try: absurd, nonsensical, and grandiosely overboard. When one of your assigned missions as a member of the snowboarding resistance is to grind across a picnic table and destroy the turkey dinner about to be enjoyed by the mountain’s Chief of Security, you know you’re dealing with a game that exists purely to show how much effort the devs put into not taking themselves seriously. As long as the player takes the game equally as un-seriously, you cannot fail to have fun playing Dark Summit.

Kya: Dark Lineage

#3: Kya: Dark Lineage (PS2)

There are a slew of 3D action/adventure titles you can pick from on the PS2. The awesome ones like Beyond Good & Evil crop up on everybody’s list, but one I never see anyone talk about is this 2003 release from Eden Studios. Kya: Dark Lineage is the story of a girl whose father has become the power-mad overlord of another realm and kidnapped her brother Frank. When she arrives in this new place, she’s hailed instantly as a savior by the downtrodden masses and sets out to rescue her brother and bring daddy to justice. Along the way she acquires a variety of equipment, weapons, and mobility options that help her navigate the treacherous landscapes and fight the endless supply of bad guys at her father’s disposal. It’s about as cliche an action/adventure experience as you can ask for, and it’s awesome.

Kya’s quite the plucky female protagonist, with a penchant for hurling boomerangs at wolf-like enemies, riding a snowboard-like device through a landscape dotted with perilous drop-offs, and free-falling out into nothing like Tom Petty only dreamed about. There’s plenty of collecting, puzzle solving, and platforming. It’s challenging, occasionally maddening, and the camera can be a problem, but the main thing holding it back is the presence of games like Jak & Daxter which did everything better.

Kya: Dark Lineage deserves no awards or accolades. It will forever sit as a footnote in 3D platforming history, a game that could have been a contender but could never escape the relentless mediocrity that dogged its heels from the very first level. I freely admit all that. But I also freely admit to enjoying the bright, vibrant, colorful world it let me loose in to play around. I love that it never feels padded–you’ll never get the sense the developers tossed in a sidequest or ten just to pad out its length. I love the sense with which it allows you to explore, and those moments similar to Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night where you come across a power-up and remember seeing the obstacle it will now let you pass an hour ago. Perhaps most impressive to me is that Kya was birthed from a studio which, up to that point, had made nothing but driving games, and then went back to making driving games afterwards. It’s like they got the manic idea they just had to make a quirky 3D adventure, spent a year and a half crafting it, and never looked back once they got it out of their system. Even though the result is a strictly average game, Kya: Dark Lineage was loved into being, and those are the best types of bad games in my opinion.

So, how’d I do? Leave a comment, go watch the other videos I linked up top, and at the very least go subscribe to MichaelB’s channel so you’ll be ready to watch and reply when he drops his next Top 3 Tuesday. Maybe we’ll get in on the action again!

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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