Pat's Top 10 Worst Games of All-Time
by Pitchfork




10 - The King of Fighters: NeoWave

Sometime presumably around 2003-4, somebody over at SNK Playmore had a rare and long overdue moment of clarity and decided it was time to scrap their almost fifteen-year-old Neo Geo hardware for something more modern. The obvious choice was to port their predominately 2D-fighting franchises to Sammy's Atomiswave system. But after working with nothing but their old Neo Geo platform for so long, SNK Playmore's development team opted to spend some time familiarizing themselves with Atomiswave. Just muck around with if for a while and produce some low-budget, no-pressure practice game. The result was King of Fighters NeoWave.

This game should never have been released. It's just a beta that SNKP attempted to capitalize upon by releasing it at a time when the next proper installment of their main cash cow, The King of Fighters, was still a long way off and fiending fans were eager to take whatever the hell they could get.

NeoWave is essentially King of Fighters 2002 1.5. SNKP took King of Fighters 2002 - the most successful King of Fighters title since 1998 - gave it a new coat of paint, added a few nearly unnoticeable balance tweaks, made a couple of switches in the roster, and implemented a completely half-assed mode/groove system. Also new is the Heat command, which the developers tossed in at the last minute because the Atomiswave has five buttons as opposed to the Neo Geo's four and they couldn't think of anything else to do with it. Just about the only thing NeoWave really succeeds at doing is having an even more grating soundtrack than the game from which it was derived. King of Fighters 2002's midi renditions of classing KoF tunes were unimpressive, but NeoWave's elevator jazz score is just grating. I suspect some clueless SNKP developer mistakenly hypothesized that part of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2's enduring popularity stemmed from its soundtrack - and has since been fired.

The King of Fighters NeoWave remains, to this day, the only video game I have ever thrown out an open window in disgust.

Redeeming qualities: Jhun. Young Geese. Shingo and King earning back their rightful place on the roster after being bumped from King of Fighters 2002 to make more room for old classics and Koreans.
Nail in the coffin: Angel and May Lee being excluded from the North American console version for no good reason at all.


9 - Halo

Single player Halo: fun at first. Then you realize there are only four enemy types and that each endless-seeming level consists of "walk around, enter room/clearing full of the same enemies you just killed, kill them again, walk around some more, etc." I was having a pretty okay time playing through Campaign mode, but then arrived at this stage where I walked into the exact same featureless, nondescript room about a dozen times in a row, with the same group of enemies waiting in ambush every time. Talk about tedious. And yeah, I know about the Flood and how you get to fight them as well, but I got too bored with Halo to make the effort to progress to that point. When taking out bad guys in an FPS becomes a chore instead of a thrill, it's time to move on. I hate playing Halo alone.

Multiplayer Halo: I guess co-op might be fun, but I've never gotten the chance to do it with anyone extensively. But I have played a few deathmatches, and I think I loathe them. Every time, I get shot in the back of the head 24 times in a row, and I'm barely able to even graze my opponent. When I tell him that his fortunes would be vastly different were we playing Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, like real men, he laughs and sticks me with a blue grenade, killing me a final time and winning. Then he calls me Cortanna while sodomizing me in front of his Halo buddies. I really hate playing Halo with other people.

Redeeming Qualities: It can be sort of fun - until you realize that you're living on a planet with an XBox port of Half-Life 2.
Nails in the coffin: Halo 2 and 3.


8 - Capcom Fighting Evolution

It's amazing - but not at all surprising - at how quickly fans' anticipation for Capcom's last 2D fighter turned to a mixture of apathy and resentment.

CAPCOM FIGHTING EVOLUTION: A FAILURE IN SIX ACTS

Act 1. Cool! New 2D fighter from Capcom! Will feature characters from all across Capcom's fighting franchises! A new character from the canned Capcom Fighting All-Stars to be featured! Art by Shinkiro!

Act 2. Characters confirmed from Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, Darkstalkers, and Red Earth! All characters will play exactly as they do in their respective games! Characters are a mix of classics and fan-favorites! Ryu confirmed! Guile confirmed! Alex confirmed! Guy confirmed! Rose confirmed! Hauzer the giant dragon confirmed!

Act 3. Endless Internet forum threads about who everyone expects/wants to see confirmed next. Strider Hiryu?! Dante?! Dudley?! Hugo?! B.B. Hood?! Lei Lei?! Gen?! Haggar?! Meanwhile: Sakura and Karin confirmed! Urien confirmed!! Jedah confirmed!!! With a roster shaping up this nicely, who cares if they're still using all those outdated sprites?

Act 4. Looks like the character select screen is up to 21 characters, and...wait. Chun-Li is representing Street Fighter III? And what the hell is Hydron supposed to be? I wonder who we'll see confirmed next?

Act 5. Capcom speaks out. "Yep, 21 characters. Oh, and Pyron and Akuma are bosses. 23 characters. Yep, that's all. Honestly - that's it. No, really! Stop asking if we're serious. Yes, we really do mean it. 23 characters, no new sprites. Yes, we know how many characters we put in Capcom Vs. SNK 2 and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 - but this isn't either of those games, people! This is Capcom Fighting Evolution. This is different! This is new! Look, we gave you unique character endings featuring stills by Udon artists! Isn't that enough for you? Now stop bitching and go spend $30 at Gamestop."

Act 6. Fans go back to playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 and Third Strike for another five years. Pat flushes 30 dollars down the toilet.

Epilogue. The Street Fighter III characters really don't play like they do in Street Fighter III.

Redeeming qualities: Hauzer vs. Hauzer.
Nail in the coffin: Capcom Fighting Evolution was and is completely put to shame by SNKP's conceptually and thematically similar NeoGeo Battle Coliseum - which, while underrated, is still really only an average fighting game.


7 - Diddy Kong Racing

Even though Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 tended to make me angrier and fling more controllers across the room than any video game really should, I could still derive some enjoyment from them. Even when they were frustrating, they were still fun. But Diddy Kong Racing is another case entirely.

Fuck those pissant forest creatures. Fuck the clunky-ass controls. Fuck that ALA-KAZAM'ing genie. Fuck those stupid impossible bosses. Fuck ugly N64 graphics. And fuck not executing a turn exactly right and suddenly going from 1st to 8th place for the remainder of the race. I can put up with that kind of nonsense in Mario Kart since Wario, Koopa Troopa, Toad, and even Yoshi are all endearing, but I refuse to take that shit from the fucking Happy Tree Friends.

I hate Diddy Kong Racing.

Redeeming qualities: Conker and Banjo made their debuts here.
Nail in the coffin: GET BACK HERE YOU FUCKING OCTOPUS FUCK THIS I QUIT FOREVER FUCK.


6 - Guilty Gear Isuka

This is more than just huge letdown - it's an awful game. It came along at the very height of my Guilty Gear obsession and single-handedly brought it to a screeching halt.

It was a great idea for an experiment: your standard Guilty Gear mayhem with four fighters on the screen instead of two. But this requires a few tweaks to the controls: new buttons are needed for switching plains and turning around. Yes, that's right: you have to press a button (that's a non D-pad button) in order to turn your fighter around. Talk about awkward, especially in a game like Guilty Gear. The ill-conceived controls, overly chaotic gameplay, and high learning curve make Isuka the least-accessible fighter I've ever seen. None of my friends ever wanted to play with me. Eventually I got sick of asking and tossed Isuka into a corner. And I bought that stupid Multi-tap months in advance, too.

That's the primary gripe about Isuka, but it doesn't stop there. The music and backgrounds are lacking compared to the ones from Guilty Gear X2. The boss - Leopaldon - has got to be the weirdest, dumbest final boss in 2-D fighting history. Boost Mode, the much-hyped "Final Fight-style beat 'em up game" suffers from the same control problems as the regular game mode. Lastly, Isuka doesn't advance the story at all, which came as a much more profound disappointment than somebody who isn't a GG fan would understand.

Redeeming qualities: A.B.A. and Robo-Ky Mk II.
Nail in the coffin: Guilty Gear II: Overture.


5 - Mortal Kombat

If there was any topic during my pre-teen years that got me as steamed as the argument that Super Nintendo was somehow superior to the Genesis, it was the Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter debate. I, of course, sided with Street Fighter, while the majority of my friends fiercely preferred Mortal Kombat. It's almost embarrassing to think back on how much this used to bother me.

I never understood what the big deal was with Mortal Kombat. Sure, the graphics were cool at the time, and its goofy gore effects came damn close to tearing apart the very fabric of American society, but that's really all the first Mortal Kombat had going for it: gimmicks and hype. Why anybody would ever put this game above Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition (for the Sega Genesis) is beyond me.

Let's compare the two games, shall we?

Character count: Street Fighter II Turbo has twelve characters. Mortal Kombat has nine, counting Reptile and the two unplayable bosses. MK does get a few extra points for having a hidden character, but still loses.

Character diversity: Not only does SF2T have more characters, it has so much more variety. Street Fighter boasts the massive Zangief, the towering Sagat, the monstrous Blanka, the nimble Chun-Li, etc. And each has a unique set of basic attacks corresponding to his or her fighting style. In Mortal Kombat, everyone has the exact same basic moves.

Moves and attacks: Most SF2T characters have three special attacks. Most Mortal Kombat characters had two moves (the exception being Raiden, and all he gets is an extra teleport move), and one of them is always a projectile. That means that for the most part, everyone has one (1) unique special attack. Weak.

Sound: It's an indisputable fact that everyone in America 25 years old or under knows and remembers Ryu's stage theme from Street Fighter II. I don't think Mortal Kombat even has music. Most Street Fighter II characters have unique voices, which you hear during their special moves. The only time anyone says anything in Mortal Kombat is when Scorpion uses his spear attack (which is actually pretty cool, but still).

Violence level: Sometimes blood would spurt out when Vega slashed somebody or Blanka did his face biting attack, but that was it for Street Fighter II. Mortal Kombat was filled to the brim with the world's most unrealistic gore effects. Moral Kombat wins, but who cares? Cheesy blood effects do not a good game make.

Need I go on? Street Fighter is the obvious winner, but my stupid friends just refused to listen to reason. Snot-nosed little punks.

Redeeming qualities: Led to the much better Mortal Kombat 2.
Nail in the coffin: Play Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II: The World Warrior back to back and see for yourself which has aged better.


4 - Kingdom Hearts II

I liked the first Kingdom Hearts. Certainly can't say I wasn't skeptical when I first heard about it, but I was won over. The exploration and combat might be on the basic side, but Kingdom Hearts is dynamic, fairly challenging, and rarely boring. On the story side, you couldn't have asked for a better-executed marriage between the conventions of Disney's animated films and Square's JRPGs. Like its gameplay, Kingdom Hearts's story is simple and straightforward, but never uninteresting and almost never outright ridiculous.

When Kingdom Hearts II was announced, I was excited. Everyone was excited. As the Internet hype machine got underway and more teasing scraps of information surfaced, the anticipation only grew. And then

...

Roxas.

I don't know what else to say.

Fucking. Roxas.

Okay, I told myself. This is just the beginning. Wait it out. The game will get good soon.

Fucking. Axel.

Fucking. Seifer.

Fucking. Setzer.

Fucking. Close shot of Mickey Mouse's clenched fist, which quivers with fury as Mickey swears vengeance. Yes, Mickey. Mickey. Mouse.

Oh boy! Kingdom Hearts II!

Oh boy! Its action/JRPG gameplay has been even more simplified and watered-down!

Oh boy! The exact same cast of villains from the first Kingdom Hearts - plus the Nobodies (Heartless clones who have undergone the Nomura treatment) and Organization XIII (Dark City Strangers clones who have undergone the Nomura treatment)!

Oh boy! Just what I wanted! Aimless, pointless, endless MacGuffin quests with plot points being offered as rewards! Not like I haven't done enough of these in my life! And it's certainly not at all as if the medium has no excuse for not being sophisticated enough at this point to forgo this kind of vapid, tedious crap! How unreasonable of me to expect so much more from a pair of film and video game greenhorns like Disney and Square, who have no history whatsoever of excellence or innovation!

I wish I'd never bought this game. Better yet, I wish I'd stolen this game - and then never played it.

Redeeming qualities: Tron and Steamboat Willie. Also, the NPR listener and Angels in America fan in me is glad to see more same-sex romance being featured in mainstream entertainment.
Nail in the coffin: That fucking mermaid level.


3 - Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2

Huh boy. Where to start with this one. Blood Omen 2 has two major flaws. The first is that it was unfortunate enough to have been released just a few months after Devil May Cry came along and completely transformed action games overnight. Blood Omen 2's comparatively basic, slow-paced combat can't hold a candle to Dante's madness.

Its second (and much greater) flaw is that it happens to be a part of Legacy of Kain -one of the most story-intensive video game series you'll ever find. The team responsible for Blood Omen 2 was entirely different than those behind the original Blood Omen and the Soul Reaver games, and was apparently given free reign to do whatever they wanted to the story.

So what did they do? They bastardized it. They made the Hylden - the mysterious enemy hinted at by Kain at the end of Soul Reaver 2 - into a funny looking alien race with advanced technology, which is starkly incongruous with the rest of the Legacy of Kain world. They made Kain, unarguably one of the most compelling characters ever to be featured in video games, into a boorish, unlikable brute. The mighty Vorador, who died in the first Blood Omen, is alive in Blood Omen 2 without any explanation, and he's transformed from a regal badass to a worthless pussy. They even tossed in a buxom female lead/love interest for Kain, which is sickening. Fanservice and romance belong in Legacy of Kain as much as Princess Peach or Soma Cruz would fit as Grand Theft Auto's new protagonist.

Blood Omen 2's damage to Legacy of Kain continuity isn't just limited to itself - it even manages to detract from Defiance, the final game and climax of the whole series. The Soul Reaver/Defiance creative team had to work around the silly shit that happened in Blood Omen 2 (which, again, they had no say in), and it's painfully obvious that they were forced to make some awkward plot stretches in order to keep one story from contradicting the other.

This game should have never existed, or at the very least, been under the direction of the Soul Reaver team. I can't recommend it to anybody, and I tell people curious about Legacy of Kain to spare themselves - stay the hell away and read a plot FAQ instead.

Redeeming qualities: The industrial revolution that seems to have occurred between the end of Blood Omen and the beginning of Blood Omen 2 suits Nosgoth rather nicely.
Nail in the coffin: Seriously, what the hell is Vorador doing alive? This is easily the grossest continuity error I've seen in anything.


2 - .hack//QUARANTINE

There was an entire three month period where my entire life's focus was on .hack. It began when I bought myself the .hack//SIGN box set after remembering that I'd seen a couple of episodes on Cartoon Network. I enjoyed the series, even if the ending was somewhat weak and the whole thing was essentially an elaborate marketing scheme to get you to buy four PS2 games. At first I promised myself I'd simply enjoy the anime for what it was and not get the games - I'd heard they weren't that great, and I was satisfied with the resolution at the end of //SIGN. I wasn't going to fall for Bandai's devious marketing ploys. Even if there were all those dangling plot threads I knew the games would address...

Then one day I walked into an EB which was having a sale on used games and noticed that they had used copies of the first two games in the .hack PS2 series. It seemed fated. I was meant to go on and get to the bottom of the questions .hack//SIGN left unanswered. So - I bought them both.

I had a much better time with .hack//INFECTION than I thought I would. The setup and interface were innovative, the characters were extremely likable, and the straightforward dungeon crawling and hack n' slash battles were a good time, if not a little mindless. I enjoyed .hack//MUTATION too, even though it was just more of the same. But on the plus side, it had some crazy new bosses and a couple of new characters, and it fixed some of the problems with your allies' AI.

Halfway through //MUTATION, I realized I really had no choice but to get the third game. So - I went out and bought it. My wallet was hurting at this point, but I was still convinced it was all worth it. A little ways through .hack//OUTBREAK, it occurred to me that I was getting kind of really sick of .hack. But I had to press on. I'd come too far to just give up now. The only way out was through, and it was time to get the last game.

I stopped by every single video game store within a ten-mile radius, but none of them had it. At the very last one I checked, the girl at the counter said that Gamestop wasn't allowed to stock it. (I later learned that this was because of some nudity in the bonus DVD.) So I had to go on eBay and buy a copy at full price plus shipping. I didn't care. I was so close.

.hack//QUARANTINE was the least fun I'd had with a video game in years. Not only was sick of the same old simplistic .hack gameplay by now, but //QUARANTINE jacked up the difficulty level by making the enemies ruthlessly cheap. Don't get me started on the virus core nonsense - holy fucking mother of god. Here's the deal: in order to access protected servers, you need virus cores, which you get from Data Draining enemies. Data Draining is a special attack performed when an enemy is near death. When a foe gets weak enough, you can use Data Drain to finish it off and randomly gain an item or a virus core. Each locked server requires a particular number of certain virus cores, and you gotta go out and find them before you can advance in the game.

So every time you want to go to a new area, you have to spend two to five hours Data Draining enemies to get the right virus cores. (That's usually how long it takes.) And if that's not obnoxious enough, using Data Drain too much kills you. What the fuck kind of game-designing logic is this?

About halfway through //OUTBREAK, it dawned at me that the PS2 titles aren't nearly as adept at narration as .hack//SIGN. Though a lot of cool stuff happens throughout the plot and there are a lot of great characters, the way in which the games present the story is a total cop-out. Something shocking and important happens, and instead experiencing or witnessing it, your character just gets an email telling you that something shocking and important has happened. And that's how it always is. If every JRPG's story unfolded like .hack's, the death of Aeris would have been a much different scene. You'd just be standing around as Cloud, and Red XIII would appear and be like, "Yo, Aeris died while you were taking a leak before. Sorry guy." And that'd be it.

And it never improved. Even when I was finally near the end of //QUARANTINE, I still held on to a shred of hope for an epic, half-hour long concluding cinematic that would resolve everything and make buying all those fucking DVDs and video games worth it. Then, too, was I disappointed. //QUARANTINE's ending is a dull, ten-minute cliche. After the credits finished running, I gathered all four PS2 games and buried them as deep as I could in my closet. Not that I was planning on ever playing them again - I just didn't want to look at them. I felt ripped off and cheated. And also disappointed: .hack was an amazing concept with a lot of potential, and Bandai fucked it up.

Unfortunately, it wasn't over yet.

Redeeming Qualities: You can and should live out your life without playing .hack//QUARANTINE.
Nail in the coffin: I am a lifeform that experiences linear time and will never get those hours back.


1. .hack//G.U. Vol. 3 - Redemption

I have no one to blame but myself.

If you've read my reviews of Volumes 1 and 2, you'll remember my having an overall favorable impression of them. I gave //Rebirth 2.5 out of 5 socks, and //Reminisce 3 out of 5 socks. A big factor in this was that each game was a marked improvement over the previous .hack title. For a while, it seemed like Bandai was finally starting to get its act together. At the rate it was going, for a while it looked like the third and final volume of G.U. had a chance of being a legitimately good video game.

You did it to me again, Bandai.

.hack//G.U. Vol. 3 is disgusting. It's so terrible. It makes me want to tell Polly to take down my reviews of the first two volumes because I was deluded and foolish in believing that they were worth my time or anyone else's and I would be a vile person to encourage other human beings to even consider playing them.

//Redemption was supposed to be a satisfying climax to G.U. It should have been, anyway - but almost every aspect of //Redemption is so unforgivably cheap and vapid and boring and bad that I'm starting to wonder if Bandai was deliberately aiming low. In order to properly describe the .hack//G.U. experience and //Redemption's role in it, I'll have to resort to another crude sexual metaphor. If G.U. was an attractive and nubile young woman, //Rebirth would have been a semi-decent blowjob. //Reminisce would have been lively intercourse. //Redemption would be the part when your partner, in the throes of passion, leaps off your cock and takes a gigantic dump on your bare chest. All you can do is lie there on your back, totally paralyzed, trying to take in the raw awfulness of what has just occurred, and unable to do anything but stare at the bowl movement oozing its way down the contours of your body to stain your sheets while your partner just perches on your stomach and grins.

Oh yes. It's that bad.

I don't even want to think about this game for any longer, so let's run over a few specifics. The combat is just more of the same until you get Haseo's uber-zazzed new digs and his uber-zazzed new guns, and then combat and dungeon crawling become so pointlessly simple that you start thinking about how cruel Bandai is for making an anime series that makes you work to see the next episode. Especially when it's such a lousy anime - //Redemption's story is a disaster. It's the most contrived, melodramatic, poorly-paced, and grievously overdone digital sewage I've ever sat through. Not only does it put Squeenix's more recent efforts looks like masterpieces by comparison, but playing //Redemption actually made me nostalgic for the original .hack series. This was the only time in my life I ever thought to myself, You know what? I'd rather be playing .hack//QUARANTINE right now. There is no reason nor excuse for this to occur. Ever.

Never again, Bandai. And this time I mean it.

I hope.

Redeeming qualities: The fanboy in me was glad to see Cubia's return.
Nail in the coffin: I was able to finish //QUARANTINE. I got to the last boss of and decided I didn't care what the ending was. I didn't even bother YouTubing it. Were it not for getting it out of my system with BioShock the next week, I'd probably be completely over video games now.






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