180: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Superman 64

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Superman 64

There are plenty of genuinely good games to choose from - why would you intentionally play a bad one? Steven Croop explores the social dynamics of playing bad games for fun.

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I love your article title!

I think there's more to it than you say, though.

Denial: If a crowd has been ruthlessly expecting a game that turns out to be a failure, I can imagine some people going into denial and clinging to a game endlessly.

Differentiation: Some people wants to feel different and shows this by taking up interests that no one else has - or at least rejects anything mainstream. And what better way to devote yourself to a game rejected by the majority?

By and large, though, I think you are correct on your analysis. The best example I can think of "so bad it's good" is Snakes on a Plane. Which I am a huge fan of.

My favorite indulgence for the "so bad it's good" category is really old horror movies. The ones in black and white. I haven't been able to garner the same feeling for any game. Probably due to the cost of games, even old ones. Spending $20 to get the right to play a very buggy and poorly written game? No thanks. I'd rather send to Netflix for the latest blockbuster I'd be renting anyways and add one of those old movies to list. Much cheaper.

I was a child who grew up with the Atari 2600, and one of my favorite games was E.T.

Yes, the E.T. game that is considered the camel that broke the camel's back, the game that ushered in the death of the video game industry before Nintendo saved it.

It's funny how many people "know" it is a bad game, but hardly any of them have played it. I was pleased to discover I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the game: http://www.randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-et.html

Whenever there is a foggy day, I will remark that "it's like Superman 64 out there!"

There's something fun about complaining about bad games, and maybe it is all about the camaraderie. If I didn't have anyone to say it to, Superman 64 fog jokes would get boring fast.

As a game developer, I play bad games occasionally to see What Not To Do. I purchased Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I found it for $10. I knew the behind-the-scenes story for that game, and I found that it was enjoyable to make fun of with someone else in the room. Otherwise, it was just an exercise in frustration to play alone.

GBGames:
I was a child who grew up with the Atari 2600, and one of my favorite games was E.T.

As a game developer, I play bad games occasionally to see What Not To Do. I purchased Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I found it for $10. I knew the behind-the-scenes story for that game, and I found that it was enjoyable to make fun of with someone else in the room. Otherwise, it was just an exercise in frustration to play alone.

Yes, riffing on bad games can be pretty fun, and it improves your improvisation skills!

But please developers everywhere, put effort into your games.

I bought Ripper at GameTraders for $5. I had to get DosBox and VDMSound to run it, then I had to burn copies of the 6 CDs as they were so scratched that attempting to play them made the video unwatchable, but they were still readable to create an image. After a few hours of play I had to search for a walkthrough for some of the puzzles as they were highly illogical.

But it was worth it to see Christopher Walken and John Rhys Davies in a cyberpunk Jack the Ripper story with terrible scripting and a ridiculous plot.

I love bad games. Reviews of bad games are always more fun to read than reviews of great games. Complaining about how bad a game is with friends is also more fun sometimes than agreeing about how great a good game is. I love watching the show on 1UP.com where those three guys play really bad games. It's so funny. Sort of like the Mystery Science Theater of video games.

I actually own a cartridge of E.T. for my Atari 2600. I agree that it is one of the worst ever and rarely play it. My wife likes it and can even beat it on the easiest difficulty setting. I can't make heads nor tails of it myself.

It was a nice article, but it didn't have much to do with Superman 64 really. I thought he was going to talk about the actual game more than he did. He really could have put the title of any terrible game in the article heading given the way he just mentioned a few bad games. "How I learned to stop worrying and love Altered Beast" would have worked equally well.

It's the same pleasure that draws snickering friends together to ogle Ultraviolet

Are we talking about the same show? If so, it's a very odd example. Because sure, Ultraviolet is hardly highbrow, but in the context of the genre it's in (vampire fiction) it's most notable for its relative sophistication and quality!

Or were you just too scared of toasty flames to namecheck Buffy the Vampire Slayer? ;-)

"... we take some kind of masochistic pleasure in playing these games precisely because they are so awful."

Please see: The Angry Video Game Nerd

;)

I second that it's a great article name.

I'm confused with your definition of 'so bad it's good'. I din't think of it as something you liked even though it's bad: I thought of it as something you liked because it was bad. I wouldn't describe a game that has excellent storyline but awful controls to be so bad it's good. As a matter of fact, I can't think of how a game would be the fit the description. A movie is so bad it's good because you can laugh at its shortcomings. You can't laugh at the shortcomings of a game if you're irate because the bad jumping controls and the bad camera don't let you get past the poorly designed room and every time you die you have to fight the boring but hard enemies in the other poorly designed room again. That's why there are things like the Angry Video Game Nerd and Something Awful's videogame reviews: so you can see someone else suffer for you, you can see the badness without having to suffer through it yourself. That's why 'non-serious' reviews often focus on bad games, and internet series based on good games are usually not reviews.

Great article! Better than Shak-Fu.

I think the article is right on the money in drawing lines between bad games and 'camp' movies. If somebody walks by and sees that you're playing a garbage game (graphics-wise or whatever), their first reaction is usually "My gods, what are you playing!?" Somehow the game's lack of quality is attributed to you, the poor bastard choosing to struggle through a pixelated mess. It's a hands-on kind of awful.

A campy movie on the other hand, usually inspires people to sit down and help you make fun of it. It's the movie that sucks, not you for choosing to watch it. The lack of quality is comfortably at arm's length, for criticism or jackassing or whatever. I know people who make an active habit of finding the worst-looking movies for just that purpose.

Camp is something to be scanned and scorned, not endured over the course of a 20 hour 'game'. That would be called "masochism".

Wow, you just summed up the reason I actually paid for a used copy of No More Heroes.

Dom Camus:

It's the same pleasure that draws snickering friends together to ogle Ultraviolet

Are we talking about the same show? If so, it's a very odd example. Because sure, Ultraviolet is hardly highbrow, but in the context of the genre it's in (vampire fiction) it's most notable for its relative sophistication and quality!

Or were you just too scared of toasty flames to namecheck Buffy the Vampire Slayer? ;-)

I should have been clearer; I meant the movie adaptation (which, judging from the Wikipedia article, may or may not be related to the series), released in 2006. Though I cannot pass any judgment on the TV series, having never seen it, I strongly suggest you rent the movie. For me, it is the epitome of a movie that is so bad that it is good, because the script and the actors seems to take themselves so seriously despite the fact the final boss fight features what can be best described as a giant flaming butter knife being yanked out of a pocket dimension. The outrageous combat wouldn't be such a big deal if there was more than ten minutes of the movie given over to actual plot development. Without convincing actors, writing, or development of characters and plot, clearly the entire movie budget went into the largely unconnected, non sequitur action sequences that seem to span the entire movie. And my goodness, is the entertainment value the better for it.

Sorry I call BS, BS I simply refuse to give a under deved 50$ game slack not with current disposable media mentality of both the consumer and the industry has fallen into.

Dose this a mediocre game is crap...no I score them like a see them Bioshock a 6 for being a under deved,unfinsihed and in need of patching, Fallout 3 is the same but at least the RPG elements were not labomtmized much for the casual consumer it ranks a 7, Halo ep 3 scores a 6 because its a 8 hour SP game I don't care about MP and no matter how much MP/online content wont make the 60$ I paid for it "better", SW force unleashed is a 5...WTF were they thinking....besides touching themselfs thinking of all the money coming in....

In this day and age where a "7" is average it just spurns me on to not let them get away with such BS by all means people enjoy what you will but realize they can do better and the mreo you buy into under deved and rushed products(GTA4 anyone?) the faster they will try and make more money off you..like the buyable DLC instead of finish patching the Gdamn game(Force unleashed,Bioshock,Fallout 3,ect,ect,ect).

Welcome to the age of shovleware 4.0...........
/rant..........................

Uros tha hustla sesum:
man you are a moron i know that superman64 is a terrible game i know i played it unfortunately.

I believe the point of the article is high expectations, and to a point I agree however price V cost V entertainment I simply refuse to put up with rushed barely enjoyable games.

Your title made me shit myself.

I was very dissapointed to discover it wasn't some misguided, misanthropic attempt to defend Superman 64. That my good man, would have been the end of the human mind. Alas, I must search for the Apocolypse elsewhere.

Oh, and the stuff it was about was though provoking and interesting and...something...or other.

since when have movies been so bad they are good???

movie are usualy so bad you never want to go and see one ever again!!!

pyromcr:
since when have movies been so bad they are good???

movie are usualy so bad you never want to go and see one ever again!!!

Ed Wood's films are a frequentally cited as an example.

Being somewhat new to the gaming scene, I have never had the dubious pleasure of playing superman 64, or E.T., but I do have a handy example that I have experienced, and that is guitaroo man.

the gameplay itself isn't bad, other than being too short, but the storyline and characters are so cheesy, you can't help but keep going, if just to see how much cheesier it's going to get.

I never played superman 64 and I don't have any desire to, not because of what people say but just because I've never had any desire to. tbh I never knew why people hated that game. I just knew that they did and it apparently sucked so w/e I was never interested in it anyways. I have played some games that were so horrid I looked back on them and thought my god why did I play that ? Daikatana for one, kameo, and dwarf fortress although apparently people like that. It is nice to have games that you can point to and say "don't do that" though.

A bit OT but main reason why I read this article was the Dr.Strangelove title reference lol

Well, here's some more games for you to learn to love:

*Charlie's Angels.
*Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis.
*Big Rigs: Off the Road Racing.
*Bubsy 3D.
*Desert Bus.
*Kriss Kross: Make My Video.
*Daikatana.
*Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust.
*Action 52.
*CrazyBus.
*ET.
*White Men Can't Jump.
*Total Recall.
*Shaq Fu.
*Ultima 8 (9 if your familiar with the franchise's continuity)
*Club Drive.
*Smurf Rescue in Gargamel's Castle.

 

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