Tagged: Bottom 5

My Bottom Five of 2014

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I could never have predicted it but 2014 was perfectly bookended by two big 3DS bummers. Bright and early in January I was excited about Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder because I love the little plug-in pal and his disturbing world of characters. But this 3DS game — ergh! The photo mechanic is neat but the 3DS camera outputs the worst garbage and all the minigames you play in between are either immensely infuriating or just boring. The final blow is Chibi-Robo’s battery mechanic which requires you to plug in and recharge after every little thing you do. I can’t believe how big of disappointment this game turned out to be.

I cannot actively recall playing Strider 2014 so I’ll just copy and paste this summation from my Done Playing post: A few thousand button presses and a minimum of concentration is all it takes to blaze through in 4 or 5 hours. It’s all flashes, explosions and wonky mechanics and while that is Strider in a nutshell, this 2014 edition isn’t as memorable as either a Strider game or a Metroidvania game.

So excited was I for a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon that I denied all claims that Crimson Dragon was terrible until I finally played it myself. Thankfully it was a “free” Xbox Game with Gold but even still it wanted more money from me. Littered with time-limited boosts and daily energy meters — oh god, they made it a full price free-to-play monstrosity! All that aside it requires a lot of grinding on past levels and it just wasn’t much fun to play.

I didn't even have to make this image myself

Shame of the Year winner ‘Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder’ with trophy

Maybe I can come around on The Sun at Night down the road. Its alternate history world that stars the augmented Russian space dog, Laika, is the kind of weird I get into. It’s also an interesting and sprawling Metroidvania style game with quests and loads of upgrades. But that first night with it, wrangling its peculiar controls, getting past the lengthy text introductions and then having it all reset when I died was a terrible shock. I couldn’t put my hands on it again for the rest of the year… but maybe in 2015?

Come December and we’re back where we started with another downloadable 3DS game I was excited for. Yumi’s Odd Odyssey (otherwise known as Umihara Kawase) has been flirting with a Western release for years and it finally happened. I put it off until it was on sale for $10 but, ya know, maybe even that’s a little steep. The game is tough and requires an expert understanding of its rope physics to fling your character around perilous and abstract 2D levels. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was faster to reload and reset but it moves at the plodding pace of the Super Famicom original. We’re talking Super Meat Boy levels of start-to-death time with 10+ seconds of waiting to give it another go. I came back and made some progress but the first boss fight is more than enough for me. I’m done.

My Bottom Five of 2013

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Yes, everyone’s beloved The Last of Us is on my least favorite list. I didn’t like it, a lot. Like, a whole lot. By the end it was the setting alone that kept me going; the art and environments. Not story, not characters, not the deft tugging of heartstrings. Naughty Dog realized a splendid, post-humanity, “reclaimed” world (albeit a narrow one) but they filled it with all the worst parts of Uncharted and found room to cram in even more garbage.

I wanted to play the game how I imagined Joel would behave but that resulted in countless restarts and endless fits. The tactic that got me through the game, on hard no less, was to simply run as fast as possible from checkpoint to checkpoint. And once I realized Ellie was invisible to the game’s A.I. it really deflated the tension that the cutscenes establish so well.

It was a slog to play through and the payoff was the absolute worst ending I could’ve imagined. I don’t know what I was expecting after the sloppy Uncharted 3 but I won’t be blindly putting my faith in Naughty Dog any more.

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A friend gifted me a copy of Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine over the summer, otherwise I’d have never touched it. The game looked fabulous as it developed over the preceding years but after its final visual redesign I lost interest. Playing the final product turned out to be uninteresting and dull.

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Ridge Racer Driftopia is free to play and, boy, does it show. It’s a retooled version of 2012’s Unbounded and “augmented” with things like daily energy limits, temporary booster packs, and upgrades that cost real money. It’s mildly entertaining when you’re racing but it’s a Ridge Racer in name alone and not worth a single penny.

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I don’t really like touchscreen games but when people were piling on the praise for Ridiculous Fishing I figured I’d see what it was all about when I caught it on sale. Wow, they crammed two types of “endless moving” games in one! In the first you jiggle back and forth to not catch fish on purpose, then jiggle back and forth to catch fish on purpose. In the second you tap on the screen like a spastic baby… thrilling.

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Most despicable of all though; the real tack-on-my-seat surprise was Plants vs Zombies Adventures. The in-app purchase bonanza of Plants vs Zombies 2 got more attention in 2013 but Adventures is 100% a Facebook game. A game that immediately asks you to buy in-game currency and start bugging all your friends to click things for you. I loved the new look and was smitten by the great new soundtrack but I could only grind so far for free before reeling away disgusted. Also, all the characters sound like Crazy Dave and that is NOT ok! Only Crazy Dave talks like that!

 

My Bottom Five of 2012

For a while there I couldn’t think of a fifth game I played in 2012 that was off-putting enough to make it onto this list. I was happy about that but given enough time and games I eventually had to debate over a few of them to determine which was the fifth biggest bummer.

Scarygirl was one of the first games I played in 2012 and it held the top spot without contention for a long while. Choplifter HD put up a good fight but in the end I played Scarygirl to completion and its frustrating platforming wins out over Choplifter’s mundane action. It’s a very pretty game to look at but immensely annoying to play through.

Then there’s Halo 4 which I honestly expected to be great. I’m not saying it’s a bad game by any means but it turned out to be more of the same Halo that I grew tired of nearly ten years ago. SimCity Social is another game I thought would be great, and it was… for a time. I don’t do much Facebook gaming so many of its hooks were enticing but the excessive force to pay real money or troll your friends for help turned me right off. It gets an honorary Ptooey award, my just-invented golden trophy of a giant glob of spit hitting someone in the face.

Least bummery of all (but still a bummer) is Double Dragon Neon. I’ve been put off by every WayForward game I’ve ever played so I wasn’t expecting Neon to suddenly change my mind. Still, I was hopeful. It looks slick, is full of self aware humor, has a great, equally aware soundtrack and the gameplay looks good on paper. In practice, though, it’s a nightmare. WayForward’s signature obsession with animation makes the game feel slow and overly difficult to control. Maybe that’s forgivable in a space sim but in a game that trades on a twitch, arcade legacy it’s pretty distasteful.