Every year, when the holidays come around, we hang out with friends and family that may not be as familiar with our interests, and occasionally, they want to reach out to our sensibilities by buying us a nerdy present for Christmas. While they often nail it, it doesn’t always work out as well as they’d hoped- but we suck it up and show our appreciation, because bless their hearts, they tried.
I rarely received bad gaming gifts as a kid. Rarely, that is, unless I specifically asked for them (he said, hanging his head in shame). Namely, Dragonball Z: The Legacy of Goku for the Gameboy Advance. Maybe (probably) I’m just terrible at games, but The Legacy of Goku’s prohibitive difficulty might have been forgivable if it was the slightest bit fun. The lesson is: don’t buy a game just because it’s about a show you like at the time (and let’s be honest- it’s my fault for liking DBZ in the first place).
Other than that, my brother usually got the short end of the stick with Christmas games, as he would ordinarily ask for less than me, and my parents would give him a game that I asked for. He would usually at least enjoy it, but I would often grab it and start playing before he got a chance.
While attempting to write my portion for this article, I looked up the game I originally wanted to talk about: Dexter. Not like Dexter’s Laboratory, not like Dexter the murderer; Just Dexter for the original Playstation. I don’t remember much but what I do remember is abysmal graphics and controls. Even 5 years old me was like, “wow this regresses gaming as an art back a couple of years.” You play a little boy that looks like Dennis the Menace. In fact, if I remember correctly you actually had a slingshot. I think he had sunglasses too, it’s like the developers took a hint from The Simpsons’ Poochie character. The game had you running around poorly constructed levels with a slingshot and a shitty gun which at the time I swore only shot bubbles. You encounter bats. I would talk about other enemies, but I definitely stopped playing after the first level. It has been, for the past 15 years, my least favorite game of all time.
As it turns out though, there’s no proof anywhere that this game ever existed. Either my entire childhood was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or humanity has decided this game was too horrible to exist. I swear it’s real and if anyone knows what I’m talking about, you’ll help prove my sanity. Since Dexter is APPARENTLY not a real game… Xena: Warrior Princess – The Talisman of Fate.
Probably the worst gift I’ve received as far as games go, has to be Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero. Before Christmas, I couldn’t have been more excited to play a game I barely knew anything about. Back in 1997 it was difficult for a 7 year-old kid to get information on new releases, but I do remember a small game store in my local mall, that has since been shut down, hyping this game up. As a long time Mortal Kombat fan, all I needed to hear was that there was a new installment in the series. Christmas day came along, and like a cheesy movie cliche I woke everyone up in the house at the bright and early time of 7am to open presents. I remember wanting to open the only gifts that looked and felt like N64 games. My parents made me open the stuff that I didn’t give two flying rat’s asses about before I got to the good stuff. When I finally got to the goods, I booked it for my room to play. Long story short, even as a naive kid that could be pleased with almost anything, I knew that I had gotten the equivalent of coal from Santa that year.
The worst Xmas gift that I’ve gotten has got to be Superman 64. When I unwrapped the box and saw what game it was, I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to go to my neighbor’s house and play the shit out of it. We were going to save the world and kick Lex Luthor’s ass and have a blast doing it. Little did we know, we’d spend half of the game flying through rings and the other half not knowing what to do. We ended up just using a cheat code to get all of the superpowers, hoping that once we’d have them all the game would suddenly become REALLY AWESOME but even then, it was still more of the same old same, fly through rings, kill the enemies, fly through rings, blow up some cars. We eventually gave up on beating it altogether and spent the rest of Xmas day playing StarFox 64 instead and all was good in the world.
By far the worst Christmas present that I have ever received was the game Glover for the Nintendo 64. At the time I was seven, and had yet to have had a bad experience with any video game. The fact that I found Glover to be such a terrible title at an age when even the most mediocre of games impressed me, only emphasizes further how deplorable it must have been. From what I recall, it just seemed that truly everything was broken with the game, whether it was the controls, graphics, or mundane story line. Glover frustrated me to no end, and after a couple hours of sheer frustration, I chucked the game into my closet never to play it again.
Typically I only ask for the video games I want, and usually get 1 or 2 of them. One year, though, I received a game I’d never heard of, and you probably never heard of. It’s called “GT Pro Series” and it was for the Wii. My guess is that since the Wii was so young when I first got it, my parents just wanted to get me more games for it. It was my second ever game for the Wii, and it came with this terrible steering wheel made of really bad quality plastic. The game felt like one of those arcade racers that you’ve never heard of, but pay 50 cents to play anyways. The graphics were cartoony and really bland. Overall I think I played the game twice, and it was just one of my worst game experiences, since I typically only get games I know are good, being on such a tight budget and all.
The worst Christmas gift game I’ve ever gotten was a copy of Lux Pain for the Nintendo DS. My friend who knew I had an affinity for both anime inspired games and artbooks knew that when he saw this game I would absolutely adore it. Now he didn’t know what the game was about and I didn’t know what the game was about but it came with an art book and it was fairly cheap for a new game. So come Christmas day I open it up to find a gold packaged DS game. The art book was actually really good so I was fairly happy already. I plugged in the game and my smile quickly faded. Bad voice acting is a fault I forgive because of the difficulty it is for a quality dub but everything else wasn’t much better. Completely incoherent story, boring gameplay that consisted nothing other than circling square boxes on the touch pad, and poorly translated dialogue. Absolute nightmare of a game with some neat character design and nothing more. Art book was nice though.
When I was a kid, I often received licensed games for Christmas. However, I enjoyed them at the time, so I can’t complain about them. However, a few years ago, after many years of quality, mostly Nintendo, game purchases informed by my Christmas list, they went off and bought a game on their own initiative: Activision’s hit title, “Big League Spor+s” (The “T” in sports is replaced by a D-pad. Oh boy…). I guess that part of the blame should go to my older brother, who, at the time, was an avid lacrosse player and lacrosse was one of the “sports” included in the game. The first warning was that it was a sports game. The second, the mediocre cartoon-person graphics slightly reminiscent of the Xbox Avatar. Finally, inside the package was a small, several page, black-and-white, text only manual. After all of the presents were unboxed, we reluctantly put in the game, and boy was it bad. We soon put it back in the box, where it has remained ever since, never to be played again.
You see that thing? That is a Tiger Game.com. For those of you that remember it…I’m so, so sorry. For those of you that don’t, it was a game console that was intended to rival the Game Boy, from a company that had no experience with such things aside from those stupid little keychain bleep-bloop games. Naturally, like anything that tried to rival the Game Boy back then, it failed. Except, this thing was an absolute piece of shit, so it failed MISERABLY…and I just so happened to get one for Christmas one year.
This thing is dreadful. The graphics was nothing more than black on whatever the hell you call that ugly shade of grey. Think original Game Boy graphics, except without all the green. Oh, and there was no form of backlit anything to speak of, so good luck seeing anything. And if you were able to find a light source? Yeah, it’s statistically impossible to make out what the hell is going on in the ‘games’ it had to offer. Oh dear God, the ‘games’. To put things into perspective, if I remember correctly, the ‘games’ they had at launch were…Wheel of Fortune and Batman and Robin. As in, the movie version. You may notice that I’ve put the word ‘games’ in quotes this whole time, and that’s because I don’t consider them games. I don’t consider anything about this atrocity to be a game. I’m more inclined to believe that this was nothing more than a demonic hellspawn of ‘technology’ hellbent on harvesting the tears of the innocent to fuel…umm…I dunno, Satan’s smoothie maker or something. Satan drinks little children’s tears as smoothies, let’s go with that.
Anyway, long story short, this thing fucking sucked. Every aspect of it sucked. I could write an entire book about how terrible this thing is and, the funny thing is, I’d probably have more people read that book than the number of people that actually bought this thing. Too bad my mom was one of the people that did purchase it. Satan thanks you for the smoothies mom.