Editor's Note: Needs More Cowbell

Needs More Cowbell

This issue of The Escapist is dedicated to those games that might have been great, but instead suffer from some tragic - and perhaps avoidable - flaws.

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Games just need more Christopher Walken period.

More cowbell never, ever gets old.

Truly one of my favourite running jokes with a selection of friends.

Yes, the Bruce Dickinson.

GUESS WHAT!!?
I gotta fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!!

Good article, I've been disappointed by many "meh" games in my day.

Red Dead Revolver: "... gameplay mechanics could have stood to bake a little longer...."
Bloodlines: "... a game that simply was not yet ready for prime time...."
Alone in the Dark: "... if they hadn't booted it out the door...." (original ZP)

While not an absolute, I'm thinking that at least half the time "cowbell" is short for "time and work".

Or, to be more specific, "bug fixing, polish, and playtesting".

I feel like if one game should have been included in this it should have been Knights of the Old Republic 2. If there was ever a game that was rushed through to completion it was that. Obsidian came so close to matching the worst parts of KotOR 1 but fell hard. There is an entire group of modders that are trying to restore the parts that were cut but still have the in-game code in the game. They are even trying to make a cohesive ending!
And here it is.

I feel like my avatar belongs here!

and, good article, I enjoy reading these.

Edit: Ding! ding! ding! ding!...

The one thing I remember being disappointed about with Red Dead Revolver was that it wasn't the sandbox game I'd thought it would be (though I don't think I knew the descriptor "sandbox" back then.) You'd come into town, could only go into a few buildings, couldn't do anything but bump into NPCs and get repeated lines of dialog. I think the game I wanted it to be would've been closer to GTA but in the Wild West.

As for other games...trying to see if any come to mind...ah, yes, "XG Blast" (XGB)for the Nintendo DS. After playing and playing and playing "Geometry Wars: Galaxies" (GW:G) on the DS and loving every minute of it (even the frustrating as Hell levels) I wanted something new but that gave me that same arcade-shooter feel. XGB looked to be that game so I picked it up.

Granted, it looks really nice but the key factor that kept it from really wowing me was the devs had you stylus-control it on the same screen you played it on, which meant your hand & stylus were forever in the way. After playing with a setup that I thought was perfect with GW:G it just wasn't fun to play XGB.

...so maybe a little more cowbell could've gone towards retooling the control scheme to one that already had proved itself worthy? *shrugs*

I thought "Red Dead Revolver" was lots of fun, though the bugs in the game were so rampant, especially the "Pig Josh" level, that the thing practically rattled when you shook it. In my mind that game had cowbell, it was just mishapen and made an awkward sound.

Mercenaries 2 is an excellent example of this. Rushed development caused a game with huge potential to a "meh" game filled with rampant bugs.

fuck you EA

soapyshooter:
Mercenaries 2 is an excellent example of this. Rushed development caused a game with huge potential to a "meh" game filled with rampant bugs.

fuck you EA

it should have been great
you have the means to destroy a large country, and a large country to destroy
i just got booored

crackdown just missed the ball for me
need a bit more bang... or possibly cowbell?

s.t.a.l.k.e.r., now thats a series with cowbell. so many bugs and problems, and so aesthetically, well, ugly, i should have ejected the disc after two minutes and smashed it. but it was so much fun!

ma55ter_fett:
Games just need more Christopher Walken period.

And more Bruce Dickinson

image

It looks like everyone is saying the same thing here, which I agree with, these games just have inherent problems with core game mechanics: those things that are expected out of a modern video game. I really enjoyed reading the article on Mirror's Edge, because much like Mr. Cook, I also spent my summer playing Mirror's Edge, and it was one of the few games I thoroughly enjoyed playing through on each difficulty and trying to master the time trials was an intense and exciting challenge. So, it also frustrated me to have to come to the fact that this game which I had spent a large chunk of the summer playing and enjoying was, in reality, a bad game.

My friend also has this same problem only with a different game that came out recently. He always reminds me how frustrated he is with the reception on one of his favorite games: Bionic Commando. I've never played the game, and I probably never will. But that doesn't stop him from discussing ALL of the reasons that he enjoyed the game. And then he'll stop to tell me that there WERE, of course, inherent flaws in some of the mechanics of the game and the story (those core parts that make up all video games). But there is still nothing that will stop him from loving the game that brought him so many happy memories.

So, when you talk about the things that bring a game from being amazing to only being 'meh'; those innovative titles that just didn't have enough 'Chutzpah' to make them a Katamari Damacy but also didn't have enough investment to make the game into a Call of Duty. It really comes down to those core game mechanics, the ones that these developers have been wrestling with since QBert: Story, Game development, and Themes. These border-line games have them, but they fall JUST short of expectations.

Also, you ALWAYS need more Cowbell. Thanks, Russ, I love reading your Editor's Notes.

ma55ter_fett:
Games just need more Christopher Walken period.

Chris Walk, Ian McKellen, Keith David (Chaos from FF Dissidia, gave me chills of awesome) and Stephen Fry all voice acting in the same game would be legal to cry over.

I always like your editors notes. More cowbell indeed!

TheAmazingTGIF:
I feel like if one game should have been included in this it should have been Knights of the Old Republic 2. If there was ever a game that was rushed through to completion it was that. Obsidian came so close to matching the worst parts of KotOR 1 but fell hard. There is an entire group of modders that are trying to restore the parts that were cut but still have the in-game code in the game. They are even trying to make a cohesive ending!
And here it is.

Even when team gizka's done, kotor 2 won't be the game it should've, could've and would've been if Obsidian'd just been allowed to finish the damn ending or been allowed to make it into a patch like they wanted to. That's the thing that kills me. 3/4ths of that game is amazing, and then the ending is garbage because they didn't get time to finish it, and it's still one of my favorite games ever just because of the writing. Seriously, if I could have any game past, future or hypothetical, I'd have a 50/50 shot of picking a finished version of that.

xthetenth:

Even when team gizka's done, kotor 2 won't be the game it should've, could've and would've been if Obsidian'd just been allowed to finish the damn ending or been allowed to make it into a patch like they wanted to. That's the thing that kills me. 3/4ths of that game is amazing, and then the ending is garbage because they didn't get time to finish it, and it's still one of my favorite games ever just because of the writing. Seriously, if I could have any game past, future or hypothetical, I'd have a 50/50 shot of picking a finished version of that.

Which is exactly my point. I love (most of) that game. And on a list of games that could have been great, that is it.

Perfect example of a waste of money... Champions Online.

Good theme. I enjoyed all the articles.

I can admit this, I have liked bad games. I have like all different types, from the aforementioned bad games to the truly great games. It is that desire to get more out of the games we play that has doomed these almost great games, but in some cases it also makes them more than what they are.

You get that spiffy new game that just came out, unwrap, and begin your adventure. As you progress you come to the realization that its not all its cracked up to be in the end. If it is horrendous you might never finish it, but if it just needs a little more cowbell then you might think to yourself "This isn't unplayable". I can name various personal examples from a collection of recent games I have played, but I won't. The game that comes to my mind is Alex the Kidd. I played it when a friend picked up a collection that had it. The game controlled badly, it was playable but it was also an absurd experience, but it had its charm. A charm I might add that I believe would not have been there if it was a better game.
Over the course of a few months of playing it in small doses I was victorious. The satisfaction that came from a mix of the anguish of playing an imperfect game and from playing a game that had a personality because of its imperfection. Wanting more cowbell means that there is something to want more cowbell for, something that already has shown some sort of value. That value is a personality that exists because you can acknowledge it's shortcomings and imagine a way to improve on them.

When you play an imperfect game you experience its faults, often times more than its achievements, and you aim to strive. You later look back and are compelled to remember what you enjoyed because either the bad experience is faded by the good you managed to get out of the game (whether by laughing at it or reveling in it) or those bad experiences become badges on your chest.

Have to say that I pretty much agree here, and while I enjoyed Mirror's Edge and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, they had that choppy, "Eh, not quite there" feeling to it.

lol I have played way to many "meh" games and my share of just garbage games. (Eragon and juper just to get achievements )

Did someone say more cowbell?

Cowbell enough for you?

OT: Good theme! I look forward to the articles!

 

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