After playing bad games from Dragon’s Lair to Conflict: Denied Ops, a reader tries to draw some useful life lessons.
We’ve all done it, we’ve all bought and played outright stinkers. Bad games aren’t just a black hole for your money, they are a menace, they are poison.
A truly bad game not only wastes your time, it can make you look like a fool and cause you to question the worth of your cherished hobby.
Here are the worst games I remember playing and what the experience taught me.
early 1980s, a listing in C&VG – played on the Commodore PET
In the olden days of gaming lines of code were printed on pages of magazines. These listings were then typed in by enthusiastic/masochistic gamers.
I saw the Dragon Druggin’ listing in Computer & Video Games magazine and was so enthused by visions of fiery mayhem I took the listing into school and persuaded my classmate to help me enter the game into the school computer.
It took us days to type the Dragon Druggin’ listing in, because computer time was strictly rationed, neither of us were quick typists and it was very easy to generate syntax errors.
Finally, we got the game to work. Playing Dragon Druggin’ involved watching a pill (a dot) fall down one side of the screen then hitting a key at the right time to deflect the pill into a crudely drawn dragon’s mouth.
And that was it, that was the whole game. Tt was like one-way Pong with dragons. Crudely drawn dragons.
I’ll never forget the silence that filled the room as the game ran. And the shame I felt for bringing the listing into school and persuading my friend to help me type it in.
No matter how hard you work in life, the end result can still be disappointing.
1983 by Imagine – played on the ZX Spectrum
Imagine Software ran some beautifully drawn full page colour adverts for their games. I was a fan of the publishing house after playing their breakthrough hit Arcadia.
As soon as Ah Diddums was advertised I effectively pre-ordered it by sending off a cheque. The game had an intriguing concept, you played as a teddy bear trying to escape from a sequence of increasingly dangerous toy boxes.
After an unbearably long wait Ah Diddums arrived in the post. Excited beyond belief I loaded the game into the family’s ZX Spectrum.
Unfortunately, the game was awful. The graphics and the animation of Teddy were tragic, the game was absolutely no fun to play.
Thinking back, after moaning about the non-appearance of the game for weeks it’s a miracle my parents didn’t put me up for adoption.
Never pre-order a game on the strength of its advertising.
1983 by Cinematronics – played in an amusement arcade on the Isle of Wight
Dragon’s Lair was an arcade game that I played whilst on holiday one year and it looked amazing, like an interactive fantasy cartoon.
Unfortunately, this striking laserdisc game was no fun at all. The player’s interactions with the cartoon world on screen were minimal, push on a joystick when prompted or die. The few times I played this game it finished with me in less than a minute.
The worst part of Dragon’s Lair was its cost, either 50p or a £1 a go. It’s so long ago I can’t remember. I do remember feeling seriously robbed the few times I played the ‘game’. I could have put my pocket money to far better use playing sit-down Star Wars or Defender.
The interactive movie was a bad idea in 1983 and it’s a bad idea now, although I did enjoy Fahrenheit.
2005 by Namco – played on the PlayStation 2
Nina Williams from Tekken got her own third person action adventure, I paid £40 for it and it was rubbish. I remember the controls being bad in this game, with fighting moves unleashed by twiddling the PlayStation 2’s analogue sticks.
The game sold me on its setting (a big boat) and its lovely main character. I should have paid notice to the game’s bad reviews.
Never buy a game because of an attractive protagonist.
2005 by Circle Studio, published by Capcom – played on Xbox
I liked the preview shots of this game and the concept, take control of a variety of characters during a terrorist attack at a chemical plant.
Unfortunately, Without Warning was a dreadful experience with endless grey warehouses and office environments. The shooting was rubbish, the stealth secretary sections were no fun and slightly sexist. Why couldn’t the secretary have a gun?
Worst of all this game had bomb defusal mini-games that were infuriatingly hard and set against the clock. I despise mission timers in games and so I despised Without Warning.
Mission timers in games are hateful and should be banned.
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