Saturday, September 5, 2015

10 Games I Didn't Enjoy, But Still Finished

Today I'm going to take a look at some games that I played and finished, but really didn't have a very good time with in the process.

Note: This isn't a "worst games" list. Matter of fact, the majority of these games aren't what I'd consider "bad". That's why you won't be seeing Bebe's Kids or Shaq Fu on here. This is a list of games that were good enough to finish, but ultimately not very enjoyable for me.


10. Wario Land 2 (Game Boy / Game Boy Color, played March 2012) - This, sadly, won't be the last time the Wario Land series appears on this list. It's a weird, but decent game; problem is, it's supposed to be a follow-up to one of the best Game Boy games of all time. In that sense, it fails profusely, and lacks nearly everything that made the first game great. It also adds a bizarre immortality mechanic that doesn't particularly work. That said, once I started it, I stuck things out, hoping it would get more interesting as it went on. It didn't. If anything, it was pretty tedious, but I finished it.


9. Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light (DS, played Fall 2012) - A good game that didn't click with me. Considering it's called "Four Heroes of Light", you spend at least 50% of the game running around with groups of one or two characters. Since you pretty much always need to delegate one as a healer, this boxes you in on class choices, taking away one of the main draws of the game: the variety afforded by the class system. After that first half of the game, things get a lot more interesting as you have access to all four characters at once and a full repertoire of classes. The first half of the game? More than a couple of times I found myself wondering why I was bothering.


8. Donkey Kong Country 3 (Super NES, played Summer 2010) - This game was okay for a platformer, but it paled compared to the other DKC games. A few years ago I played all three of them; the first two flew by and were great experiences, while the third just dragged on and I had to force myself to finish the game over the course of a few weeks. Nothing about this game clicked for me, and it felt more like work than play. Every level I finished didn't give me a sense of accomplishment, but rather an urge to check a list to see how many were left. Your mileage may vary; a lot of people like this one.


7. Halo (XBox, played some time in 2011) - Time for perhaps the most controversial pick on this list. Halo is a great game, but it features a lot of cut-and-pasted level design. As a result, myself and a friend (who I played the entire game with) continually ran into issues as we progressed. There was one level in particular (the library?) that frustrated us to no end; whenever we'd get lost, the enjoyability level really dropped. The drive to play further would also dip each time this happened; we'd get the urge to just turn the game off and do something else. Because of this, it qualifies as a game that I finished in spite of my enjoyment level being kind of low.


6. Dragon Quest 7 (PSX, played... over a long time) - This is a decent RPG, and if you want an extremely long game to play, look no further. That said, having huge amounts of content isn't exactly the best thing in the world when said content is so boring. I'll only live once. This game takes ages to finish, and for most of that time not a whole lot really happens. I started playing this in 2001, gave up on it, resumed it in 2003, gave up on it again, resumed it in 2007, and finally willed myself to get through the rest of it.



5. Dead Space (PS3, played in Fall 2012) - This is a good game. Not saying it isn't. It's Resident Evil in space. Lots of people really enjoyed it, but I didn't. Something about the sluggish movement speed and the tedious difficulty (I spent most of my time dying, running out of ammo, or both) really bugged me. I had high hopes for the game since I'm a big fan of stuff like The Thing and Aliens. Frightening things in space = a can't-miss prospect for me. At least, I thought so. But this game became a chore after the first three hours when I started running into issues, and the remaining nine hours were more like grueling work than anything else.


4. Wario Land 3 (Game Boy Color, played in Spring 2012) - The first and fourth games in this series were the only particularly tolerable installments for me, and even 4 is somewhat lacking. The second and third games? Didn't like them. Wario Land 3 is more interesting than WL2, at least, and some people swear by this game being the best in the series. It's very colorful and creative, I'll give it that. The main problem is that it lacks structure, rhyme, or reason. You go from meaningless stage to meaningless stage in a meandering order that never quite makes sense. There's no sense of progression as you go since you spend the entire game repeating the same ten or fifteen levels in different orders. I never knew how far I was from the end.

The first Wario Land had some really cool worlds, and each world had a clear theme that the levels adhered to. This game doesn't do that, and the level themes just bounce all over the place. When I started getting sick of the game, I figured I was probably close to the end and forged onward. Little did I know that I was only about halfway. Yet due to the lack of clear progression or any record of progress, I never knew if the next level would be the last one or not, so I never wanted to give up on it. This experience was painful, and when it mercifully ended, I was thrilled. Sad thing is, it would have been a fun game for me if only it had an overworld map or something else to indicate how far along you are, and if the stages had followed some sort of logical theme(s). The sheer randomness just killed the fun.


3. Metroid Prime Hunters (DS, played Summer 2009) - Metroid is one of my favorite game series ever. So what's a Metroid game doing on here? As bad as I found Metroid: Other M to be, at least I was usually compelled to keep playing. Metroid Prime Hunters, on the other hand, comes across as just a low-rent version of a Prime game.

Technically, it's a side-story for the DS that precedes Metroid Prime 3. It isn't a bad game at all; it's just that every moment that I spent playing it, I felt like I'd rather be playing a "real" Prime game on a console. As a result, I got through it as quick as I could and didn't enjoy it very much. I barely count this as a main series Metroid game (I always forget it exists when listing off the series), and it seems more like a quick, uneventful Metroid Prime 3 prequel episode. Again, it's a good game, but it was hard for me to finish. Prime just isn't made for a small screen and weird DS controls. I liked the earlier portable entries vastly more. I remember tons of stuff from Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion to this day, yet I can barely remember anything that happened in Metroid Prime Hunters.


2. Pokemon Diamond (DS, played in Winter 2009/10) - I enjoyed the earlier Pokemon games quite a bit, but Pokemon Diamond would end up being the last generation of the series that I bothered with. It has one main problem: it's SO SLOW. Much like Dragon Quest 7, it takes ages to make progress in this game. The most glaring instance of this? The battles. They are painfully slow-paced. When the battles in a game about battles make you want to take a nap or walk around the block every time a new one starts, there are problems.

For whatever reason, this game is much slower than the earlier installments. I suffered through it out of a need to get to the end and see what it had to offer... but I have no qualms about calling it a waste of time in retrospect. I don't know why they had to dumb the speed of the game down so much. Maybe they wanted to make it more accessible to kids. Newsflash, Nintendo: Kids can keep up with fast-paced games. The good news is that I liked Pokemon Black and Pokemon X a lot more when I finally gave the series another shot. The slowness only lasted for one generation.



1. Lufia: The Ruins of Lore (Game Boy Advance, played in Summer 2010) - Lufia is a great - and under-appreciated - old series of RPGs. The first game is one of the better RPGs of the Super Nintendo's first few years. The second game is even better and likely belongs in any top ten list for the system. The third game, which took a big downgrade to appear on the Game Boy Color, is pretty sub-par but I still had fun playing it, which is what matters. And then we have the fourth game, Ruins of Lore.

This appeared on the Game Boy Advance, and given the hardware, really had no reason to be anything besides a significant bump up in quality from the third game. Instead, it was abysmal. I was warned about it before I played it so I knew what to expect; still, I wanted to play "that last Lufia game" and figured I'd find something to like. Not the case. I went all the way through it just to finish the series, and I wish I had that time back. It wasn't even worth playing for completion's sake because it barely even counts as part of the series. It has almost nothing in common with the earlier titles, and nearly everything about this game is a joke.

Bad game or not, the main reason it is on this list is simple: the dungeons. They are confusing messes; whoever designed them must have had no experience designing intuitive or interesting areas in a game. They're flat-out boring, artificially drawn-out, and nearly impossible to keep your bearings in. No matter how good you are at keeping mental maps, starting around a third of the way through the game the dungeon layouts start to resemble bowls of spaghetti. It's as if they hired a maze designer to do the dungeons for this game, which doesn't translate to fun. Combine that with the laughable dialogue, and this game just isn't any good. Because of the way it was a completely boring exercise in tedium for the 20 hours that it lasted, yet I kept at it out of some weird sense of duty, Ruins of Lore is the inarguable #1 game on this list.

5 comments:

  1. Stating that the Library in Halo sucks isn't controversial at all.

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    1. This is a great list and idea for a post. The guys who made Lufia 4 should have consulted with Earthbound's Dungeon Man. It's cool to think there really is a science to making games interesting because I got so used to going through the motions inside dungeons.

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  2. "Time for perhaps the most controversial pick on this list."

    No controversy there. I've played through three Halo games (3, Reach, and 4), and I can honestly say that if it wasn't for the sake of completing the co-op campaign with my brother/unlocking items for his multiplayer experience, I would have dropped it a few levels in. Maybe I'm going at it the wrong way, in the sense that I should ignore the campaign and stick to multiplayer. But on the other hand, Xbox Live.

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  3. Man, Diamond and Pearl were SO SLOW. I don't think that was a deliberate design though, it was either a technical problem they couldn't overcome or an oversight they didn't consider a big deal (when it was in fact A REALLY BIG DEAL).

    Ruins of Lore is such a turd. It's even more offensive because it tries to look and sound like Lufia 2, but only on the most shallow of levels.

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  4. I really liked Wario II, it's one of the first games with Yoshi Island that concentrates more on finding hidden stuff then dying although in Yoshi Island you can die more easily but in a way you are semi-invincible. In Wario II you can't die at all but I really like the finding stuff aspect. DKC III you should get back to it, of course it can't be as good as DKC II that is basically one of the best games ever made but it's still good.

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