Every now and then, I'll come across a game that has so few redeeming qualities as to be ridiculous. Yet, I find I can't put it down. Maybe it's just the strangeness of it all that is so appealing? Maybe there is a certain beauty in ugliness for the sake of ugliness? Whoops, I'm getting philosophical so I think I better just start the list.

I love Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts. Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts doesn't return that love. It's kind of like having a snobby girlfriend or like paying to use some cruddy outhouse in the middle of nowhere. It's pure platforming bliss, with gorgeous graphics, great pacing, and really interesting level design. It's also very, very difficult. Oh, it's beatable: make no mistake. But the patience required to undertake this task is mammoth, to say the least. Mostly, it's due to the constantly respawning enemies, the "do it perfect or don't do it" attitude, and the clumsy hero who can double jump but sinks like a rock if given half the chance. And you have to beat it twice to "really" beat it. And the second time there are more enemies and you have to use a terrible weapon. Pain is pleasure.

"Bang! Doodle do doodle do! Bang bang! Doodle do doodle do. Bang bang bang bang bang bang click click click!" I tell myself that it was because I was young and easily amused that I sunk so much time into Duck Hunt. But deep down inside, I know that I craved the violence more than anything. I wasn't hungry. Those ducks weren't trying to hurt anyone. I just wanted something to kill. Through horrible repetition, Duck Hunt gave me that. Thank you for quelling our violent urges in youth, Duck Hunt.

I'm not sure to this day what anybody can really make of Luigi's Mansion. It was a strange launch title to head off the Gamecube and one could argue that it was in some ways a poor choice. It's just a little too strange. Maybe not necessarily "bad," mind you, but it's kind of stuck in the middle of everything. It's non-traditional in that there's really nothing else out there like it, but at the same time it's not particularly impressive or compelling and so it doesn't really define any sort of new genre either. It's just plain old strange. I doubt very many people at all will be thinking 10 years form now on all their fond memories of Luigi's Mansion. I enjoy it, though. It's fun to explore and vacuum up ghosts. Plus it stars Luigi! What more do you need?

"Stay awhile... stay forever!" Impossible Mission is a game I don't remember terribly well as I was a fairly wee little lad when I first played it. I remember it being really hard, having ugly graphics, and not being particularly fun. But you better believe I played the hell out of it. Not because I particularly enjoyed exploring the mad scientist's laboratory or dodging his robots, but because of the really terrible but also awe-inspiring voice acting present in the game. "Get him, my row-bots!"

ZZT is a bizarre phenomenon of a game. It has the worst graphics imaginable (a cross between text and smiley faces) and some of the most boring and pointless gameplay I've ever seen. All you do in "vanilla" (unmodded) ZZT is walk around and then hold the shift key and press an arrow to shoot. It's kind of like Robotron, only with worse graphics But there's one saving grace. The world editor. You would be surprised how creative people can be if you give them an outlet like ZZT. Huge websites have sprung up around this old DOS game and some truly impressive things have been created with that archaic engine. One favorite of mine, "Burger Time," is based around a fast food restuarant, and you must react to events in real-time if you want to survive to earn that first meager paycheck. ZZT rocks.

I've spent many hours with this game and I recognize it's pretty atrocious. For one thing, the supposed "ATV racing" focus of the game is completely mundane. Picture every racing game you've ever played. Now, take out the fun parts and add flying through the air, feeling like you're traveling about 5 miles per hour and crashing constantly. Not very fun. However, there is one saving grace to this pile of feces and it's what has kept me and my gaming buddies occupied over the years: free roam mode. In this mode, we the player are allowed to go anywhere we want in giant, sandy, dirty playgrounds full of stuff to jump off, buildings to explore, places to crash. It's addicting, and strangely fascinating. Who knew that the "adventure" aspect of an ATV racing game would be its most compelling feature?

Like most other so called "Rouge-like" RPGs, Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM for short) secretly hates the player. No, it really does. Although you can save the game, there's a catch. If your character dies, it's gone for good. As in, your save file gets deleted. As if this wasn't enough, there are about 90 different keyboard combinations to memorize (about 5 of which you will actually use) and the graphics are text-based, which means that whenever you see "water," it looks like a blue underscore _. But, there's a lot of depth in this cruel RPG and it's easy to pick up and play once you get past the interface. It's a time eater, and a soul crusher.

I feel ashamed to even admit that I love this game, because it's really pretty awful in a lot of ways. It's the only racing simulation game I've ever seen which requires you as the player to virtually unscrew bolts around your engine and untangle wires to put new parts into your car. In this old DOS kinda-classic, your character has one blissful summer to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. The problem? That particular girl has her arms wrapped around the King: the local hot-roding hotshot. Our hero will have to prove himself by racing and crushing all competition before the King will even consider racing him. And it will be a long and painful process: this game has sluggish controls, ugly graphics, and considers your car "totalled" evne if all you do is scrape the side of the aqueduct going 5 miles per hour.

Hunting Unlimited is one of those bargain bin titles that I might glance at on store shelves and then 2 years later find a copy in the same store at 1/20th its original price. Usually, that's not even worth it. And before I go off on my tangent, I want to say that Hunting Unlimited is really awful at doing what it says on the box. It promises realistic hunting, animal AI, and beautiful graphics. No. Just no. But what it does deliver is hunting so hilariously unrealistic that you have to love it. The main draw of the game is its "mission mode" which takes you from various hunting situations like tracking a couple of deer into a canyon and then realizing that a buffalo stampede is heading your way. Or, maybe it will put you 5 feet in front of a charging grizzly bear with a scope-less bow that hasn't even been readied yet. I don't know who made Hunting Unlimited, but I can tell you that they were laughing their asses off while they were making it. The end result is so bad it's good, and a worthy pickup if you're looking for quazi-arcade simulated hunting action... or something.

Everblue 2 is really boring. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. First of all, the Everblue series is about the exploits of a particular diver (let's just call him YOU for now) who wanders about the isles of his sea-swelled world chatting it up with mariachi bands and weight-lifting muscle women. In his spare time, YOU likes to help said people retrieve pointless things like blankets from sunken ferries and bottles of cough syrup from shark-infested submarines that have sunken over 500 meters below the surface. But I'll be damed if it isn't fascinating as hell to me. Everblue 2 is probably the closest I'll ever get to exploring the ocean depths of our world. As it turns out, all that's down there is legions and legions of gulper sharks. Big, ugly, gulper sharks. Thank you for teaching us all, Everblue 2. I'm hoping that the sequel "Forever Blue" for Wii makes it to the Americas and Europe, though because the Everblue series has never been particularly profitable or popular, this chance is growing slimmer by the day I'm afraid.

I chose to make this list pretty personal, because I realize that a lot of people won't see the same thing in these games that I see in them. This is by no means a definitive list of every bad game with redeeming qualities or anything like that. I just find it interesting how games can be terrible in some way, great in others, and how we as gamers must choose whether it's "worth it" to continue playing a game we may not totally like. It's almost a moral dilemma, in some strange way. In order to truly "play" a game, we must divert all of our attention to it. And what if that time was wasted? What about the game we didn't get to play instead?

List by capgamer (08/06/2007)

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