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Feature: The Nintendo Life Crypt of Downloadable Horrors II: The Bloodening

Posted by Philip J Reed

So many ruined SD cards...

It's the time of year during which a lot of people skulk around yelling "Boo!" As a video games review website, however, we prefer to boo terrible games. After all, isn't it the least bit frightening that these shambling, creeping monstrosities are out there trying to steal your money? We certainly lose sleep over it!

In order to provide you the best coverage possible of Nintendo's download services, we've had to invite these hideous beasts into our homes, spend time with them, and suffer the resulting nightmares for years to come. And as we did last year, we want to share a few of them with you.

So grab a shovel and join us, as we exhume the corpses of some real life terrors we wish we could forget!


The magic, mystery and majesty of underground caverns have never been more effectively tarnished than they are by Spelunker. The concept is sound: you navigate maze-like environments, overcome obstacles, and find treasure. Unfortunately the execution is not. With nearly everything resulting in an instant death (including stepping off of a ladder so much as one pixel higher than the game wants you to), Spelunker is more an exercise in anger management than a game. It's frustrating, and it relies more on cheap kills than it does on challenge. An endlessly looping few seconds of music doesn't help matters, but master the game and you get a reward: the chance to play through it with faster enemies and invisible items. Hooray.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Ghostmonster VII: The Monster Ghost

Konami may have created a much better looking, more charming clone in the form of Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth on WiiWare, but that didn't stop the original from clawing its way back from the dead. Released on the 3DS Virtual Console to trick more people into buying it based on the name alone, Castlevania: The Adventure is quite possibly the worst adventure a Belmont has ever been involved with. While its first level plays like a stiff but passable instalment, the game very quickly deteriorates into an irritating, poorly-designed slog through pixel-perfect obstacles, undodgeable enemies, and a soundtrack that should have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention. One good point is that the Virtual Console release features restore points to help you make it through its trickier sections to see if there's anything worth playing on the other side. A much larger bad point, though, is that there's really, truly not.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Son of Chocula

We'll give Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time this much: it's got a great title. Unfortunately reading it is about the only fun this game has to offer, and you do that much for free. Doc Clock is a physics puzzler that for some reason didn't think it was important to build in reliable physics. The central concept of the game involves rewinding time to try out different solutions to puzzles, but all the feature really does is reveal how terribly the game was put together; rewinding time can often lead to vastly different results despite the fact that you did nothing differently. It's a lame release that clearly intended to coast on its perceived quirkiness rather than any actual merit, and rumour has it that if you say the title three times while looking into the mirror, somebody will take away your credit card.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: The House That Wasn't Haunted But Did Have Some Noisy Pipes

You'd think that a game called Sexy Poker wouldn't have much in the way of expectation to live up to, but it manages to bungle both the sexiness and the poker. In the former category, the game sees you competing against a small handful of cartoon women, each of whom will remove an item of clothing every time you win. It's creepy and demeaning, as you might imagine, but it also stops once they strip down to their undergarments, meaning even the most desperate vessels of cartoon lust will be disappointed. On the poker side of things, there's not even an option for multiplayer, making the strip poker feel a lot more like strip solitaire. Prior to its release many were offended by the concept. Upon release everyone was offended by the fact that somebody had the nerve to charge money for this.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: The Mummy vs. Larry Flynt

A simplistic dungeon crawler to enjoy on the go? That sure sounds great, but Crystal Adventure seems dead set on doing absolutely everything wrong. From a bland presentation and automatic fighting that suggests your hero would be better off without you, to awful hit detection and copious glitches, Crystal Adventure is like the malformed twin a much better RPG would keep chained up in the basement. The real icing on the cake, however, is that the game auto-saves every time you enter a room, which can — and often will — fence you into unwinnable situations that can only be "solved" by resetting the game and starting over from scratch. Having said that, Crystal Adventure is the perfect download if you're trying to quit gaming forever.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Pyscho-ish

At the time of writing Zombie Blaster is no longer available on the 3DS eShop, but it promises to rise again to sink its teeth into your wallet. We advise you to prevent that from happening at all costs, as this game somehow manages to make fighting the undead feel exactly as fun as navigating an options menu. The entire experience feels unfinished, with typographical errors, missing sound effects and a suggestion of interactivity that was never implemented, casting a cold shadow over this already soulless experience. There's one good thing about it, though: you can simulate all of the thrills and action of Zombie Blaster without having to pay a dime. Simply pick up a pencil and tap rapidly and mindlessly on the desk in front of you. Look at you! You got the high score!

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: My Dinner With Jar-Jar

The thing about Cake Ninja is that we would have forgotten it by now, if it didn't keep reincarnating like a horror movie villain. With a sequel and a Christmas-themed instalment also available in the eShop, we just can't get away from this thing. While a clone of the wildly popular Fruit Ninja mobile game sounds like a can't-miss premise, Cake Ninja misses spectacularly. Targets spend most of their time inaccessible on the top screen, action lags behind your stylus, and the game suffers from a severe lack of engagement. Cake Ninja is so bad it makes the notoriously simple Fruit Ninja look like Ocarina of Time. What should have been a cheap but passable timewaster turned out to be a joyless slog, released three times over. 'Tis the season, we guess.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Night of the Living Trees

When the 3DS was announced, there was some concern over the effects it would have on the eyes of youngsters. Gummy Bears Magical Medallion, as best we can tell, was released so that adults could be blinded as well. The 3D is a genuinely nauseating experience... so much so that we had to stop playing it several times simply to keep from vomiting. That's no exaggeration, and the game isn't much better with the 2D off. The titular Gummy Bear moves like he's frozen solid, the game runs with the frame rate of still photographs, and there are sequences that require you to use the touch screen to "tickle" obstacles away. Gummy Bears isn't just a bad game; it's evidence that we are alone in a cruel universe.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Soylent Human Meat

What's everyone's least favourite part of RPGs? The grinding. What if we removed everything from RPGs leaving only the grinding? Why, then we'd have Witch & Hero. Each level of this nightmare takes place on a single screen, and sees you ping-ponging all over the place as you collide repeatedly with monsters. You need to touch them to attack, and while sometimes that works just fine, other times you will find yourself flying off like a deflating balloon. On top of that, Witch & Hero's idea of "adventure" seems very much like our idea of "walking in circles in the back yard," and tedium sets in fast when the game expects you to fail dozens of times on the same level until you can upgrade your character enough to survive. It's just padding an experience that's already padded by definition, and it's easily one of the most monotonous and least impressive games on the eShop, which is saying something.

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: Sex and the City 3

Heeeere's Johnny! Johnny Impossible sees our multi-talented hero collecting spy-gear and exploring Metroid-inspired environments. As it's on this list, however, you can probably guess how well that worked out. The strict time limit and copious glitches prevent even the most masochistic gamer from having any fun, and the game alternates between being far too easy and dull to being almost impossible without a great deal of luck. Its design is terrible and it's easy to save your game in an unwinnable situation without realizing it, which pretty much puts it on par with all of Johnny's other adventures. We'd like to think we've seen the last of poor Johnny... but we know that's exactly what he wants us to think!

Equivalent Bad Horror Movie: The Hot Pocket That Wouldn't Cool Down


What about you? What gaming monstrosities will be visiting you in the night this Halloween?

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User Comments (35)

Hunter-D

#2

Hunter-D said:

Funny feature, it made me smile :)

I have none of those so I guess that's a win for me :p

Although the worst game that I bought was Let's Golf on my 3DS (early eShop mistake).

Luna-Harmony

#3

Luna-Harmony said:

Sexy poker was fun to play its fast and helps you get good at poker and has blackjack too on the game.

CapnPancakes

#6

CapnPancakes said:

Hey, Castlevania: The Adventure had a pretty good soundtrack. The first level theme was the only thing that made going through it bearable though.

Kaze_Memaryu

#7

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Criticizing Witch & Hero for the grinding feels really bad. It reminds me a lot of Half-Minute Hero and its awesome Knight 30 Mode. I can see how it's kinda tedious to grind all over the place, but the game still retains a good sence of pacing and challenge. And it requires some strategy by pitting you against multiple hordes where you must choose between fighting the strong ones to protect the Witch or slay the weak ones for blood to revive her.
Ironically, you rewarded Disgaea DS a 09/10 despite being an RPG that expects you to perfectionize grinding up to Lv. 9999 roughly 20 times - if you know what you're doing, that is...

Ren

#10

Ren said:

Ha! fun article. The title made me think it was going to be disaster stories about lost data and game saves and such.
Last year I used to keep Ocarina of time 3d and starfox64 3d cartridges in my wallet to play on the go. Suddenly they stopped working completely. not a scratch on them at all. My only guess is that the train quickpass card in my wallet somehow was magnetized enough to wipe them clean or something. Never heard of a game being affected like that from a magnetic passcard or anything and never seen any warning like that on a game before. So infuriating.

I won't even get into the horror of the old nes game freezes with the green screen (after hours of playing through megaman or 'Trojan' back in the day)

LDXD

#11

LDXD said:

Lol witch & hero looks like hydlide for nes which was also another horrible game, probably one of the worse games I've ever played

ACK

#13

ACK said:

The Incredible Maze and All-Star Hockey Shootout, both on WiiWare. Terrifying stuff.

EDIT: To be clear, I was the poor sap they drudged up to review those two atrocitiess for WiiWare World, partial precursor to Nintendolife. They were so hopelessly pitiful, my reviews had to be heavily edited for public consumption. It's true.

For instance, I believe at one point I likened the experience of All-Star Hockey Shootout to a game of Ice Hockey played on a rink after it melted into a cesspool. Thinking back on it, I'm sure that was one of my kinder (edited) "compliments"...

RaylaxStaff

#14

Raylax said:

What? No B-Plus games, Phil? Play Bit Boy again, you know you want to :3

WiiLovePeace

#16

WiiLovePeace said:

I haven't played any of these games but the article is hilarious! I kinda wanna give Spelunker a go though...

N64ever

#17

N64ever said:

Hey the toasted sandwich of time was an interesting concept. But yes the physics of the game were not good. Interesting artwork and story though.

Shambo

#20

Shambo said:

Johnny Kung Fu was awesome. Never played the other one, and Impossible didn't even get to Europe...

DashDG

#21

DashDG said:

Witch & hero is not that bad, there are tons of very bad (I mean really bad) games out there. I dont think it deservers to be on this list at all...

Bakajin

#22

Bakajin said:

I, too, liked Witch and Hero. And I absolutely still love to this day Castlevania the Adventure. Sure, probably only because of nostalgia-colored glasses, but whatever.

UnknownNico

#24

UnknownNico said:

I didn't really think that Castlevania: The Adventure was really that bad (I didn't think it was very good either, but definitely not bad). There must be something wrong with me.

Capt_N

#25

Capt_N said:

@LDXD: in James Rolfe voice: "Hydlide"

Anyway, thinking of a toasted sandwich has made me hungry for a toast bread tuna sandwich w/ lettuce.

Good read/article, @Philip_J_Reed: Very awesome, as usual! Thanks for the laughs!

I have never played any of these. I am, in a little bit, going to play Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon.

iZAYA47

#27

iZAYA47 said:

Witch & Hero is my favorite eShop game available. And that's coming from someone with 200+ 3DS Downloads.

masterLEON

#28

masterLEON said:

Hey, the Robot Chicken version of Sex and the City 3 was awesome! whisper yelling Sex and the City 3!

Darknyht

#30

Darknyht said:

Castlevania: The Adventure was one of the games I got with my Gameboy that first Christmas it was out. Half of the difficulty back then was the display that blurred when everything moved, but the level design was cheap and difficult.

rayword45

#31

rayword45 said:

@MarkyVigoroth No that was Hockey Allstar Shootout (although it was on WiiWare World).

It COULD be many of the VC games but VC-Reviews was 1-5 stars so those were all rerated.

RR529

#32

RR529 said:

I didn't think The Castlevania Adventure was that bad. Sure it could have been much better, but the second boss was the only thing I thought was overly cheap (then again, I had restore points softening my experience).

For a measly $2 or $3 though, I can live with it's downsides.

R-L-A-George

#33

R-L-A-George said:

I agree to an extent that Witch and Hero is bad but it serves as a bit of an amusement. The demo alone, I maxed out the stats. Thats one of the things that makes it horrible. It will keep kids occupied, that's for sure.

World

#34

World said:

I'm still stuck on that part in the review of Doc Clock, about dying and then floating up with the tire occupying the same space. Never gets old!

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