Today, we’re taking a timeout to break through the fourth wall of online features about games to highlight the seven worst games set in the worlds of great games. Why? Because these minigames are a special breed of boring. We’re tired of tacked-on gambling activities, awful fictional sports, and stale satires of classic arcade hits that dwell in the bowels of some of the best games ever.
Why does this happen? Are all in-game games doomed to blow? The answers: We don’t know, and probably. At any rate, join us as we journey through the worst games that great games gave us, the ones we remember avoiding at all costs.
The game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The in-game game: Pazaak
Being a Jedi isn’t all about adventure, excitement or having fun with lightsabers. Sometimes, it’s about saving and reloading repeatedly until you can win a god damned hand in a stupid Star Wars card game.
Pazaak is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’s answer to what we present-day people call black jack, and it’s a terrible attempt to artificially lengthen your stay in the game’s various space ports. Instead of shooting for a hand of cards that adds up to 21 or less, you r goal is to hit 20.
Above: Primary colors and prime numbers? We’ll pass
Above: Unlike Pazaak, wielding two lightsabers at the same time was great
The only counting we want to do in a Star Wars game involves estimating how much damage we can deal with our force choke. So why are we staring at rows of numbered cards when the galaxy is in peril? We’ll just file pazaak away with the Ewoks’ victory on Endor, Boba Fett’s lame death, and other Star Wars moments we’d rather forget.
Useless Trivia: Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of sabacc. Because sabacc sounds a lot like pazaak, some Star Wars fans have surmised that pazaak may be an earlier version of sabacc.
The games: Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon and Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
The in-game games: Astro Chicken and Ms. Astro Chicken: Flight of the Pullet
It’s stupid. It’s silly. It’s Space Quest, the series that earned its stripes as one of the snarkiest adventure series to appear on a VGA monitor. But Space Quest didn’t just introduce gamers to the prolific janitorial hero, Roger Wilco and his pursuit of “truth, justice, and really clean floors.” It also helped make purposefully bad in-game games a go-to staple for all future game-related satire.
The Astro Chicken arcade game made its first appearance in a diner in Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon. For the price of a buckazoid, you could try your hand at safely leading the plucky bird to a landing pad in the middle of the screen. But because of the super sensitive controls and Astro Chicken’s tendency to explode if you were a few pixels off target, the game itself was fairly infuriating and hardly worth the price of admission.
Above: Astro Chicken was a waste of a buckazoid
Above: Developers seem can’t get enough of in-game arcade games that play poorly. Thanks a lot Astro Chicken!
The Astro Chicken series later returned to deliver more half-hearted yucks in Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. It was here, that Roger Wilco discovered another arcade machine featuring the sequel, Ms. Astro Chicken: Flight of the Pullet.
Above: Ms. Astro Chicken in Space Quest IV. Still not fun. Still not that funny
As a satire of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, and a throwback to old school games, both Astro Chicken and Ms. Astro Chicken were fine for a forced chuckle or two. But the games themselves were torturous, with irritating sounds and painfully retro graphics. They were meant to be bad. And they were. They really, really were.
Ever since then, it seems like every game’s got to have some purposefully bad arcade game as an Easter egg, and it’s even less funny now than it was over a decade ago. That’s why we blame the Astro Chickens and their rotten eggs in part for the awful games-in-games that have appeared since then.