What is an awful game?

Ahead of my 24 hour gaming marathon where I’m likely to be playing an awful game, it got me thinking… what constitutes an awful game? Are any of the games on that list genuinely awful?

avatar runnerUltimately games are very much a question of taste. Many “awful” games are simply mechanisms that many people aren’t interested in. Often it is something slow and methodical or exceptionally twitch based. Take my game “Avatar Runner“, which is intended to be a game for switching off to. It isn’t hard or challenging as it is intended for when you are hungover or stressed and want a mind numbing distraction, which it does okay. However if you pick it up and are looking for an intense runner then the game is awful.

Anyway, on to professional games. I’m going to have a quick thought on some of the “awful” and “classic” games on the lists.

ChildOfEden-logoChild of Eden is a beautiful game with fine (but not great) gameplay, however I found the levels terribly long and as a result my arms were getting tired. That is mainly why it makes my list of awful games. It also became a bit of drag to play as the gameplay didn’t seem to vary. However critically speaking it has several qualities. As I mentioned it is a gorgeous and stylish game with a good soundtrack so I can see why people would enjoy it.

Top quality image editing
Top quality image editing

Coronation Street: Missing Hot Pot Recipe on the other hand, well this is truly awful. There’s a few reasons why this is a genuinely awful game. It is a hidden object game, except as a hidden object game it is flawed by having invisible resized objects. It breaks the rules of its own genre but not in a way that improves the gameplay, just laziness. Unlike the popular hidden object games out there, it doesn’t have a good plot or useful meaning to what is going on. Given this is a branded game then simply utilising the Coronation Street “world” should be enough to redeem it to fans of the show but there’s very little of the characters. Dialog is typically through terribly edited images of random stock photos it doesn’t even make a good franchise game. It fails at everything.

Strawberry sauce
Strawberry sauce

There’s Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, which is very stylised and I could see why people might like it. As an experience it could arguably be considered an excellent game. However I thought many of the special effects were hugely detrimental, which coupled with the the cover heavy gameplay is the sort of thing I find horrendous to play. Nonetheless as I mentioned, I can see the attraction. Just because I find it painful, it doesn’t mean it is an awful game.

I’ve also written some very critical articles on Megamind: Ultimate Showdown, particularly the lack of difficulty, however clearly this game is targeted at kids. There was a chunk of players who wouldn’t mind the awful gameplay and perhaps prefer it. As a result, I wouldn’t call this can awful game. It will be as boring as hell for me to play.

Blow up the desert whilst manning the 50cal
Blow up the desert whilst manning the 50cal

Looking at my favourite games, I’ve got Delta Force: Black Hawk Down on the list which was never a major success. The single player gameplay is pretty limited and buggy. The multiplayer was relatively primitive and riddled with bugs and cheats, which arguably makes it a poor game. However I loved it. The game also had a great community behind it, making it fun an social to play. Because so many loved playing it for years and years after its launch (it was still going 6 years later when I moved on to Left 4 Dead), despite its flaws this was certainly no awful game.

To be honest many games that get slated aren’t really awful. They just don’t appeal to many people. Even if a game doesn’t have the level of appeal the developers hope or want, it can still be a cherished or enjoyable game. I’ve played many daft little indie games that are incredibly simple and have a few bugs plus many design flaws yet I’ve still enjoyed playing it. If there’s something enjoyable, even as simple as smashing LEGO bricks, it can be a satisfying experience and/or help us overlook the flaws.

Unless a game fails to implement its mechanisms correctly, has no redeeming qualities and no one has enjoyed it or it is a free2play title that preys on kids then it is an awful game. Games, even those with flaws, are very rarely awful. Most games have someone out there that can and will enjoy them.

Note: If you want me to play a game that I thoroughly dislike during my SKSP marathon, be sure to vote in the poll and donate!

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