All in the eye of the beholder
We all have that one game, that misunderstood gem in the back of our collection that's still close to our heart. The same one that, when mentioned to friends (or judgemental coworkers) gets us nothing but eye-rolls and cries of "Wait, you actually LIKE that game?" Yes, we do like it, dammit, and we're proud about it too! It's not our fault the rest of you don't see the genius - or just goofy fun - found in these games.
Nonetheless, we'll give it a shot. Each editor has selected a game he or she feels has been universally panned but still has plenty of entertainment to offer. Dive into this list with an open mind, and you might just find a new favorite for your collection. Just be cautious about who you talk to about this new purchase.
David Roberts - Mystical Ninja starring Goemon
At first blush, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon is a Super Mario 64 clone on a system with far too many Super Mario 64 clones. And if you looked at it as such (like many reviewers at the time did), that's all you saw. The jumping was imprecise, the camera even worse, and the entire game was plagued by an encroaching layer of fog - you know, just like every other Nintendo 64 game out there. But if (like me), that system was all you had, you were likely starving for something, anything (seriously, anything) to play. So, armed with my trusty Nintendo Power, I rented it from Blockbuster and plowed through it. And oh, boy, am I glad I did.
See, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon isn't just a Super Mario 64 clone, it's one of the most surreal, bat-shit bonkers games you're likely to find on the N64. In it, Goemon is trying to stop the Peach Mountain Shoguns from turning feudal Japan into a Westernized theater with a giant laser beam. A laugh track plays over every single bad joke in the game. Many boss fights culminate in a showdown between two screen-sized mechs - oh, but first you're treated to an entire theme song (opens in new tab) every single time. Yeah, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon may not be a 'good' game in the traditional sense, but I guarantee that it's unlike everything you've ever played.
Justin Towell - Lollipop Chainsaw
Which game do I love that everyone hates? Lollipop Chainsaw. Apparently it's dumb, clunky, poorly-written and all the rest. But I really do like the partnership between Nick and Juliet. There are some fantastic lines in there. The one about being racist towards cows, the one where Nick does a really sarcastic cheerleading chant, and - of course - the timeless classic: "What the dick?"
It sounds awful on paper and it probably is. And it certainly isn't what you would describe as 'classy'. But I really enjoyed playing it. And the 'sparkle hunting' rainbow-spewing multiple beheading chainsaw moments are beautiful. And yes, dammit, now I want to play it again. Yeah, tut all you want. OK, ready for the in-joke about three people will get? "Oh wait, I fucked up. It's Sonic 4: Episode 1." Ithankyaw.
David Houghton - Quake 4
You know when you pick up a delicious cake, stuff it merrily into your mouth, and thoroughly enjoy it, knowing full-well that its not exactly a nourishing piece of sustenance but who cares, because its cake and thats sort of entirely the point? Yeah? Thought so. And you know when someone comes along later, sees the crumbs, and says Oh, cake? You were eating cake? What were you thinking, you idiot, no-one likes cake. Its well-known by all to be disgusting." No, of course you dont. Because that would be madness. But thats exactly what happens every time I mention enjoying Quake 4.
Does it have the bona fide, groundbreaking classic status of Quakes 1, 2 and 3? No. Is it fun? Is it a decent, grimly satisfying, sci-fi horror FPS, with great weapons and some rather cool ideas? Yes it is. Yes it is that all the way. Hell, the nightmare Stroggification sequence is worth the price of admission alone. It was a groundbreaking use of first-person storytelling at the time, and the way the game uses it to overhaul the gameplay - after holding back on Quakes more kinetic excesses for the first part of the game - is pretty damn smart indeed. My Quake cake. I shall have it, and I shall eat it, and I shall thumb my nose at you, Revisionist Popular Internet Hivemind.
Ashley Reed - Assassin's Creed
It may seem odd to claim love for a multi-million dollar franchise starter that 'everyone else hated', but this one's all about the timing. While the first Assassin's Creed game was incredibly popular when it first came out, I didn't get into the franchise until after the release of AC2, and by then people were singing a different tune. After Ezio hit the scene, it was agreed among the fanbase that newcomers should skip Altair's tale and save themselves the torture of an endless fetch quest stream and repeating the same mission over and over again. Luckily, I went charging into the first Assassin's Creed before anyone could convince me not to, and it's still one of my favorite in the series.
I won't deny that the gameplay is relatively simple and repetitive, but that's part of what I loved about it: missions were very similar with just enough differences that using what you knew in a new set of circumstances became a fun challenge. Without ten million sidequests to complete, the mission was your primary objective, and every target I took down felt like a big step toward my goal. AC1 also gave me my favorite AC protagonist, Altair, who I've always adored far and above the wildly-loved Ezio. Sure Ezio has swagger, but Altair's very human flaws and his ability to overcome them made him cheer him on through every bit of sarcasm. Plus, this game introduced him to his soon-to-be wife. How can you hate their adorable, snarky love?
Henry Gilbert - Mario Party
Analytically, scientifically, I know that the Mario Party games are random, messy affairs that take far too long to play and can be quite frustrating. I know the pain of losing a hard earned star to an impossible twist of fate, and how very unfair its unbalanced gameplay can feel. I know all this, but if you asked me to play a round of Mario Party with you right now, I'd instantly say yes.
What's wrong with me? Well, I'm a big fan of real life board games, with the friendly (and down right vindictive) spirit of competition taking hold, and the Mario Party series is a fitting venue. I also tend to enjoy the goofy minigames included, and some are way more inventive than theyre given credit for. Hate on it all you like, but Im more than ready to give the amiibo-centric sequel a try. Id play it long before another round of Monopoly.
Lucas Sullivan - Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
I'm a firm believer that as long as you're playing with friends, any game can go from being god-awful to a grand old time. Take Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a misguided attempt to adapt Capcom's survival horror franchise into a multiplayer co-op romp in the same infected vein as Left 4 Dead. But instead of exploring tense environments as iconic zombie killers like Jill Valentine or Leon Kennedy, you trudge from one bit of ho-hum cover-shooting to the next with a squad of random Umbrella agents.
And yet, I had the time of my life playing it with a certain Greg H. Every glitch, failed firefight, or instance of idiotic AI incited a laugh riot, and the original characters' banter and bizarre designs (like the comically giant goggles on Vladimir) actually became quite endearing over time. Rather than eliminate the undead with maximum efficiency, we were more focused on who could snag collectible data packets first (Greg always won). If you're looking for dumb RE fun with up to four players in online co-op, then I highly recommend what Greg and I lovingly refer to as "Operation Raccoon Shizzy".
Lorenzo Veloria - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
No, I'm not talking about the awesome TMNT arcade game that everyone loves; I'm talking about the red-headbands-on-the-cover, glitchy TMNT side-scroller with the God-forsaken dam level. Yeah, that TMNT game. I love that game. Everything about it is awesome. I mean, in what other TMNT game can you play as any of the Turtles at any time, fight iconic characters like Bebop and Rocksteady, and actually drive around a Turtle Van that shoots cannonballs? Not many, my friends.
Look, if you hate it, that's fine. I'm not going to claim that it's a perfect game. But, if you gave up and never beat the dam level, you're just not a true TMNT fan. You're just not trying very hard. There are way harder levels in other games. The dam is actually pretty easy if you give it more than one shot. Give me the unwieldy controls, instant pit deaths, and randomly respawning enemies. I'll play this game any day.
Maxwell McGee - Bionic Commando (2009)
There was one thing - one crucial thing - developer GRIN had to nail when developing the 2009 reboot of Bionic Commando: the swinging. And they crushed it. I'm talking home run grand slam power bomb boom shaka laka hit this one out of the park (and into low orbit). Zipping between high beams and tree branches in this game is a blast, from the rush of speed you feel as Spencer dips into the arc of his swing, to the way he floats in midair just long enough for you to line up your next shot. You can almost feel the wind whipping through Spencer's oily dreadlocks.
And that's where the problems lie. The dreadlocks. The all-too-serious tone. The wife arm (don't ask). Bionic Commando was not without some controversial design decisions, but they're only skin deep. After three completed playthroughs (and counting), I can assure you the game's swing-and-shoot action soars above its plot, and creates firefights that are far more interesting to navigate than the typical, cover-based action of other third-person shooters. The game is a wild ride, the swinging feels easy and exciting, and for crying out loud it's dirt cheap on Amazon. Spend some time with it this weekend.
Not for everyone.
The games found in this list aren't for everyone, and that's a good thing. Often times, whether you're talking about games or movies or books or any other creative work, your favorites - that ones that really stick with you - aren't going to be the most popular. They're not going to have that mass-market, something-for-everyone appeal. Instead, they're going to focus on something that connects with you specifically, and that's what makes them special. What personal treasures are in your collection? Let us know in the comments below.
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