Today marks the 15th anniversary of NBA Live 08 on the Wii. Quite why there wasn't a national holiday and organised street parades for this excellent game is beyond us. Except, of course, it isn't excellent at all. The game was, for all intents and purposes, objectively bad, and yet there is a very large part of this writer which has an unabashed fondness for it, regardless of its flaws.
Now, this got us thinking — what are our favourite games which everyone else seems determined to say are bad? There's no room for the phrase "guilty pleasure" here — after all, if we like them, then why should we feel guilty about it? — but we are operating along the same lines.
Below, a group of our writers have entered the gaming confession booth to discuss the games of which they still think fondly, despite their better judgement. Be it a matter of nostalgia, blinding bias, or an inability to shut off the childhood mind, each entry discusses one of our most controversial top games as well as providing the reason that we love it so.
Such a deep diving exercise means that we don't want to be alone in our confessions, oh no — we want you to get involved too! Why not leave a comment below with your pick of bad games that you can't help but love and see how it matches up with everyone else? Happy reading!
Pokémon Dash - Jim Norman, Staff Writer
I had to turn to the internet to find my pick, because after all, aren't all of the games I like "good games"? Simply put, the answer is no.
I was shocked to see the slander dealt out in droves against Pokémon Dash, and for what reason?
Browsing lists of the worst Nintendo titles, I was shocked to see the slander dealt out in droves against Pokémon Dash, and for what reason? Because it was a Pokémon-themed racer? Because the constant touchscreen-swiping controls present a case of Carpal tunnel syndrome waiting to happen? Because it's kinda freaky seeing Pikachu from a birds-eye view? Seemingly, yes. All of the above.
Happy to fly the positive flag for such a belittled title, I have so many fond memories playing this game. The controls may have been a slight pain, but they were fun enough, and made great use of the DS' hardware capabilities. The fact that you could only play as Pikachu in single-player mode also worked wonders for me. I loved that little guy, and would grind hard to get him in every other Pokémon title, so the limited selection was no skin off my teeth.
I understand the reasons for complaint (although Metacritic's score of 46 pains me), but nothing will topple my nostalgia. Pokémon Dash is a fun time and I will not be convinced otherwise.
Resident Evil 6 - Ollie Reynolds, Staff Writer
Resident Evil 6 and I didn't get off to the best start in our relationship. I remember getting excited watching the debut trailer for the game, but there also were little flutters of concern materialising in the deep recesses of my mind. Leon and Chris in the same game? Nice. Driving a tank through the streets of Edonia? Hmm... Then the demo came out and I just straight up thought, "oh no, this is terrible".
[Resident Evil 6] feels, in hindsight, like a natural evolution of what came before it
Time, however, is a great healer. The sixth mainline Resident Evil is inferior to the likes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4; there's no doubt about that. But a decade after its release, I absolutely love it for what it is. Yes, it ditched the survival horror element that the series had effectively built its foundation on, but the actual gameplay is ruddy good fun!
The game feels, in hindsight, like a natural evolution of what came before it. But where Resident Evil 5 blatantly copied its predecessor's gameplay and overall structure, Resident Evil 6 reached for the stars with four unique campaigns and perhaps the best iteration of the 'Mercenaries' mode that the franchise had ever seen.
Did it slip up here and there? Absolutely. But those deriding it for its sharp focus on action over horror need to cast their minds back further and realise that the seeds were being planted since the very start of the franchise. Resident Evil 6 was just the culmination of it.
Bioshock Infinite - Kate Gray, Staff Writer
Bioshock Infinite. HEAR ME OUT.
I know it's a well-enough-made AAA game that got a slew of good reviews, but in more recent years, the general consensus is that it's an incredibly clumsy take on real-world issues that fumbles the pass by ultimately forgetting what it was saying and whose side it was on in the first place. For the record, I agree. The racism plotline in Bioshock Infinite is horrendously terrible, eventually shrugging its shoulders and saying "well, actually, maybe everyone is a bit evil". I will not forgive it for that, nor for its egregious use of racist stereotypes to characterise and caricature its villains. And its protagonist.
I still think there's a gorgeous game hidden underneath all the ugly parts of Bioshock Infinite
Having said all of that, I still think there's a gorgeous game hidden underneath all the ugly parts of Bioshock Infinite. It is beautiful — those skies, that environment design, the inclusion of real-world songs to reflect an alternate universe guided by isolationist religion — and it has themes that I adored, specifically between Elizabeth and her adopted, messed-up family, or the ongoing thread of time, quantum mechanics, and repetition.
The Lutece twins acting as strange, ethereal guides, constantly hinting at the true nature of things before you realise it yourself? Amazing. Repurposing '80s bops as anachronistic ragtime-waltz covers? Inspired. The Requiem-scored monument to Elizabeth's murdered mother and her eventual resurrection as a furious banshee? Chef's kiss. I mean, they ruined it by making it a wave battle, but they nailed the atmosphere. I just wish Irrational had stuck to cool ghosts and left out all the more "first-year philosophy student has opinions about racism and religion!" stuff.
Star Fox Zero - Gonçalo Lopes, Reviewer
It is common for established Nintendo franchises to divide their fan base to polar opposites, more frequently so if said franchise was established prior to this century. Whenever Nintendo grabs an old 8 or 16-bit classic and gives the series an unexpected new twist, praise from new fans and ire from old ones are sure to follow. Several games come to mind that fit this pattern, and while a few are universally panned by critics and gamers alike, I often find something worth pursuing in them. Latest culprit on my list: Star Fox Zero.
I do acknowledge [Star Fox Zero's] flaws and fear how it might have compromised the future of the series going forward… but I can not deny it remains one heck of a ride
Star Fox 64 fine-tuned the on-rails formula set by the Super Nintendo original, and Star Fox Assault added Namco’s flavor to the mix. While this GameCube entry would also make a fine candidate entry into this Talking Point feature, it was Miyamoto and PlatinumGames' latest take on the franchise that “took things off-rails”, if you'll permit the pun.
A high-definition, ultimate Star Fox experience is something me (and I’m sure every fan of the franchise) always dreamed of, because even back in 1993, we didn't see low-count polygon models — we saw epic space and ground battles. The Wii U was more than capable of delivering this graphic prowess (and it did!), but sadly, due to the game’s design philosophy Miyamoto encouraged throughout development, several parts of the game were severely compromised due the inaccuracy of controls and often just how unnatural it was for a more casual player to get the grips with controlling the vehicles in such an alien fashion.
It is thus bittersweet: I love the franchise, I love Star Fox Zero, but I stand alone among my close circle of Nintendo peers, who consider this entry the weakest game in the whole series. I do acknowledge its flaws and fear how it might have compromised the future of the series going forward… but I can not deny it remains one heck of a ride.
Yoshi's Island DS - Mitch Vogel, reviewer
My pick for this would be Yoshi’s Island DS. The Yoshi’s Island series has been marked by plenty of high highs and low lows (let’s be real, mostly lows), and I see this game trotted out often in discussions of Nintendo’s biggest misses.
I think people should remember Yoshi’s Island DS more fondly than they do
Personally, I really enjoyed the baby-switching mechanic and felt it added a lot to the core gameplay, while the game being stretched over two screens led to some fun and interesting level designs that couldn’t be replicated elsewhere. Although it is an absolute pain to attempt to 100% this game, I even enjoyed the process of doing that.
I developed a sick kind of respect for Yoshi’s Island DS, and though I would still put the original release and Woolly World far above this one, I think people should remember Yoshi’s Island DS more fondly than they do.
Phew, sure does feel good to get that off our chests! Why not join in the debate? Leave a comment down below with your favourite bad game to overcome your shame!