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?