Making games is hard. There isn’t a proven science behind what makes a good game good, despite what various annualized franchises may try and make you believe. Oftentimes, games that sound good on paper turn out to fall far from expectations in practice. Sadly because of this many games are considered bad because of a few glaring missteps.
Hindsight is 20/20, and were those frustrating problems fixed then the games listed here may have been considered truly great in their time. As it stands, however, these will forever be known as bad games that were almost good.
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
On paper, Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles for the original Playstation and Dreamcast sounds incredible: one or two players pick from a selection of five Jedi and run Hulkamania wild through the environments of Star Wars: Episode I. Then, after demolishing everything in their path, players battled with bad boy Sith Darth Maul to the death. On top of all that, you can play as Mace f’n Windu for the entire game. Come on!
So what went wrong? Well, the Jedi are the galaxy’s top warriors–known for their grace an expertise in battle. Now picture those same Jedi repeatedly falling to their deaths because they couldn’t properly judge the placement of a platform. Next, picture these masters of the Force being unable to lock on to anything consistently, while being stuck in attack animations which went on for far too long. Doesn’t sound very Jedi like, does it? Well, that’s Jedi Power Battles in a nutshell.
Also, Jar Jar is in the game and is impervious to your attacks. Really, LucasArts?
Ultimately, anyone expecting the game’s Jedi to play as fluidly as their movie counterparts were let down. Jedi Power Battles‘ awful, wonky controls would be the major factor in classifying it as a bad game. This is unfortunate, because there’s a solid premise for a Star Wars game here. It’s a shame because Jedi Power Battles could have been a terrific franchise, given the proper attention it deserved.
Metal Gear: Snake’s Revenge
Snake’s Revenge is the non-canon sequel to the original Metal Gear which was released on the MSX and the NES following the first game’s success. The game is notable for being the black sheep of the Metal Gear family, chiefly because Konami went ahead and thought developing a Metal Gear game without Hideo Kojima would be a good idea. Things seemingly never change.
Now, while the game’s nonexistence in Metal Gear canon is cited as the main reason behind its badditude, there are no shortage of proper in game reasons why Snake’s Revenge is considered bad. Chiefly among them are the game’s notorious side-scrolling sections.
Because nothing screams “Stealth Action” quite like long stretches of side scrolling gameplay where hiding is damn near impossible. Not only were these abrupt changes in the game jarring from a visual standpoint, they were notable for completely reversing the control scheme without warning–replacing the usual attack button with a jump command. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind when trying to sneak through an enemy compound is to jump around.
And can we discuss his choice of sneaking suit? Dude is wearing bright orange while sneaking through a jungle. Didn’t he learn anything from Big Boss?
Despite this, Snake’s Revenge did do a few things right. It had some cool boss battles and when Snake wasn’t busy running and jumping for no reason the game largely retained its signature gameplay from the first Metal Gear. Snake also begins his mission with a gun and a knife which is very useful. You also fight Big Boss again–except this time he’s a cyborg. How awesome is that?
In the end, had Snake’s Revenge abandoned the concept of side scrolling levels entirely it may have turned out to be the dark horse favorite of the early series–rather than the weird uncle no one talks about at family gatherings. Unfortunately, Snake’s Revenge will be remembered as a bad game that was really close to being good.
Earth Defense Force 2017
Earth Defense Force 2017 on the Xbox 360 makes no sense. Earth becomes invaded by giant insects and robots and its up to a bunch of tiny humans to repel their forces with the biggest guns they can find.
The game is a mess. The graphics are far below what the 360 is capable of, the voice acting is abysmal, and most of the game’s missions are identical–run around and kill everything. There is virtually zero variety to the environments, as most of the game takes place in a barren city, a beach, or inside a confusing cave. There is co-op, but it isn’t online–despite the harder missions essentially requiring a partner to tackle, meaning you’d have to find a friend to sit through the entire game with you in person. What is this, the 90s?
The list goes on–and yet Earth Defense Force 2017 has an undeniable charm. There is just something about a game that feels unabashedly sup-par and embraces it. Make no bones about it–the game is not good. However, there is a B-Movie appeal in its awful voice acting and premise that many find appealing.
There’s also something to be said about the visceral feel of wanton destruction that the game offers you. If you feel so inclined, you can run around the entirety of the game with a rocket launcher and blow up everything in your way. Literally, everything–as you can level any building in the game by firing one or two rockets at it. The game doesn’t punish you for doing this, giving the entire experience a sort of Team America hilarity where it appears you are actually doing more harm to the city than the actual giant bugs.
As a result of this game’s charm, the Earth Defense Force series continues to this day. There’s even an upgraded port of this game on the Vita which rectifies the aforementioned lack of online co-op. So really, despite being fundamentally a bad game, Earth Defense Force 2017 exuded a campy style that ultimately saved it and in many ways can be considered a success, not just a bad game that was almost good.
Devil May Cry 2
Devil May Cry 2 had its work cut out for it in attempting to follow the success of the original. General consensus states that sequels are oftentimes incapable of living up to the success of its predecessor (Empire Strikes Back notwithstanding). Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 2 exemplifies this idea to a tee.
The first issue can be seen with the game’s lead himself. Dante’s personality was toned down in this game, despite his defining characteristic being his unabashed cockiness. Here, Dante is borderline stoic–which is as big a crime as turning ultimate Star Wars badass Darth Vader into a whiny brat. (Luckily that never happened, right?)
Furthermore, despite the inclusion of Lucia as a second playable character (complete with her own disk on the Playstation 2), her levels were largely repackaged versions of Dante’s game. The environments themselves, while larger than the original game, lacked the same level of detail. The game itself was also much easier than the first Devil May Cry–a problem that was quickly corrected by the time the third game was released.
In fact, a lot of Devil May Cry 3 seems to be a direct answer to the disappointment players had with the second game. The game turned Dante’s personality up to 11, made it incredibly difficult in comparison, and ditched the idea of a second campaign altogether.
Had Devil May Cry 2 followed in its predecessors footsteps more closely, it may have been considered a good–maybe even great–game. Dropping Lucina entirely and strictly focusing on Dante while upping the difficulty may have saved the game. However, it can be argued that because Devil May Cry 2 was received so poorly, it made it possible for Devil May Cry 3 to be as great as it was. So maybe instead of lamenting the fact that the second game was almost good, we should thank it for making the third game what it is?
What do you think of this list? Is there anything you think we missed? Any games on this list you think are legitimately good (you poor soul)? Let us know in the comments!