“Show me a man who honestly doesn’t like a single a bad game and I’ll show you a man with boring taste.” -Me
(*”Worst” according to review scores, but in some cases, according to pretty much everybody but me.)
5 – Streak: Hoverboarding Racing (PS1)
62% Gamerankings score
Maybe it was my trust in developer Singletrac, who had already given me so many great PlayStation memories with Twisted Metal, WarHawk, and Jet Moto. Maybe it was the built-in affection for hoverboards that all kids who watched Back to the Future II had. And/or maybe it was my love for the awesome Cool Boarders 2 and wanting the next great extreme sports game (Tony Hawk was still a year away). Whatever the reasons, I loved me some Streak. The collision detection was a mess, the level design was wildly hit or miss, and the hoverboard “physics” served only to make the game harder to control than necessary, but I still had a blast careening down the tracks, carving the corners and flipping and spinning wildly whenever I went airborne. It wasn’t a spectacular game, but to have become so obscure that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page is a fate that it definitely doesn’t deserve.
4 – Dynamite Cop (Dreamcast)
57% Gamerankings score
Hopefully you’re as appalled as I am by how poorly the critics treated this game. Dynamite Cop is my favorite 3D beat-em-up, and honestly is in my top five brawlers period. Not only is the action solid and satisfying–not surprising for a Sega action game and coming from the same people who made Die Hard Arcade–but the game is absolutely insane, with weapons ranging from 2x4s to swords to fish to baguettes. And unlike most beat-em-ups that let you pick up firearms (cough Fighting Force cough), the gunplay in Dynamite Cop is extremely well done and could almost stand on its own. I really don’t know what was up the rear ends of the reviewers who only gave it 5s and 6s, but they deserve a good hard slap in the head with a baguette.
3 – Tenchu Z (Xbox 360)
56% Gamerankings score
We all have that series that we love almost unconditionally, and appreciate even the weaker installments more than we should. Tenchu is that series for me. I have loved most of the Tenchu games, even though only two, maybe three tops have been met with any sort of widespread praise. I could make some pretty strong arguments for some of the other poorly-reviewed Tenchu games, especially Fatal Shadows, but my affection for Tenchu Z is pretty tough to justify. The game has little story to speak of, the gameplay is unpolished, the graphics are dated, and the entire game is basically a series of arenas rather than actual levels (and they repeat…a lot) where you have to perform mundane tasks like “kill x number of guards” to advance. The only excuses I can offer for liking Tenchu Z are that I never get tired of slitting throats with a katana, and they brought back Rikimaru and Ayame which I still maintain are two of the most underappreciated characters in video game history. Beyond that…well, it’s Tenchu. That’s about all I got.
2 – Red Ninja: End of Honor (Xbox)
47% Gamerankings score
There was a time when I would happily play any and all stealth games I could get my hands on, especially those centered around ninjas (see above). Throw in a female character with a short and low-cut robe and the fact that the camera always just happens to be providing the ideal view to see right up or down it, and my 22 year old self was completely on board. The perversions of a much younger and less mature me aside, the concept of a game where you play as a female ninja who uses her feminine charms as a means of distracting and ultimately dispatching bad guys is a novel concept, as is using a choke wire as your primary weapon. Red Ninja really can be a compelling stealth/action game at times. The fact that I was able to overlook how completely broken the game is most of the time, especially that camera (yes, it absolutely nails upskirt thong shots but not so much with anything else shots) isn’t easy so easy to explain looking back. Even just for eye candy’s sake, there were far better games–especially on Xbox–that let you see plenty of female flesh while actually managing to be legitimately good games. And for stealth’s sake, well, Metal Gear Solid 3 came out the same year so there wasn’t exactly a stealth game void that needed filling. That said, though, I somehow managed to enjoy my time with Red Ninja, (plentiful) warts and all.
1 – Simpsons Skateboarding (PS2)
37% Gamerankings score
It made a lot more sense that I played a lot of terrible Simpsons games as a kid. We all played awful games when we were kids because they were based on shows/movies/characters/etc that we loved. It made far less sense how much I was able to enjoy this terrible Simpsons game as an adult, especially because it is by far one of the worst of all time. The only one that “tops” it is Simpsons Wrestling, and I somehow actually recognized how dreadful that was and not play it for more than 15 or 20 minutes total. The entire time I played Simpsons Skateboarding, I knew how bad it was. That’s one thing that sets it apart from the other games on the list: it’s not that the critics were too hard on it, or that I only see that it’s bad in retrospect. I was fully aware of it each and every moment that I was playing. But I…kept playing it. My love for those characters and that world must just be that strong (or it was then, at least). The story and dialogue were actually written by writers from the show, so maybe some of it was just funny enough to keep dragging me along. Thank goodness the next few Simpsons games actually got legitimately better, because who knows how much more of the 00’s I would’ve wasted playing terrible games just to spend some time in a virtual Springfield.