So Bad It's Brilliant

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workablemeat:
So Bad It's Brilliant

We have B-Movies, and we love them. Why not B-Games?

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Except you disagree with yourself. The idea of so bad its good doesn't work. You picked games that were good. The Suda51 games are actually good games. People loved Resident Evil but that would be the defining so bad its good game. Remember the terrible voice acting and script in that game? It was an atrocity but the gameplay was good. The stories may be childish/ridiculous/sexist etc. in the Suda51 games, but the gameplay is solid (regardless of if it is actually bland or not).

The key of a game being bad is bad gameplay, and since it is interactive as you said, it takes the player out of his/her environment and frustrates the player. Try finding enjoyment in playing stuff like Thor, Drake and the 99 Dragons, and so on.

I guess the question is how you want to define a bad game. If you define it by the bad cheese that B-movies are then yes, you can have good "bad" games, but if you define a game by what matters, which is gameplay, then it is not possible to have good "bad" games.

Finishing up Lollipop Chainsaw and all in all I like it, I loved Shadows of the damned it had slightly less annoying gamepaly issues. I like B grade games that know their B grade games like Singularity or Infernal or Dark Sector.

Suda 51 makes Grindhouse games which to draw parallels with the movie term makes his games "Exploitation Games." The sad part is that really it's very difficult to tell the difference between a AAA mainstream title and his titles in theme and general presentation.

I took Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows Of The Damned for what they were and really liked them. It helped that Lollipop Chainsaw was less than half the price of a AAA game on release too (At least in the UK, I got it for £16 on release day)

NameIsRobertPaulson:

Amaror:
I don't agree on your examples of B - movies.
I mean: Expendables, seriously?!
B - movies are great because they're a good kind of bad. They're not simply bad, but they are funny because they have stupid character's, nonsensical plot - twists and everything else is over the top. Stuff that would be bad in a lot of movies but just works perfectly together. Movies like brain dead, army of dead, or, for a more recent example, John dies at the end.
That what i would call a B-movie. Not Satire movie's like American Pie or just movies with a stupid plot like Expendables (Ugh).

A bad plot does not make a bad movie.

I suppose I have to be the one to defend The Expendables.

Going into the movie, me and my friends all agreed the same thing: if there is more than 30 seconds straight of plot exposition at any point, the movie is a failure. The entire point was to watch Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Sly Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin blow some stuff up with huge weapons while Jet Li and Jason Statham exchange one-liners kicking people. Sight and spectacle over Oscar Bait. And it did that perfectly well. If you went into the movie expecting Saving Private Ryan, you were going to be disappointed. But if you went in expecting an over-the-top action movie from 1987, you got what you came for.

No, over-the-top action movies from 1987 knew how to do action scenes without giving people motion sickness. I love over-the-top action movies. I love "Predator", "The Terminator", "Raiders of the Lost Arc", "Demolition Man", and dozens of other great action movies.

Look, I'm glad you enjoyed the movie. I don't bedgrudge someone enjoying something that I didn't. But honestly the "don't go in expecting a masterpiece" argument is an obnoxious example of a "straw man". Nobody's saying that it HAS to be "Saving Private Ryan", but I do at least expect a well-crafted movie. And by any objective standards - quality of cinematography, camerawork, even scoring - it's not that.

There are plenty of bad movies I've enjoyed. Hell, I can watch "Dude, Where's My Car" any time. But I don't say to people "you'll enjoy it if you don't go in expecting it to be Citizen Kane".

The whole, "This is what everyone else is doing wrong!" thing gets stale after a while, though I suppose it's possible Suda has actually put his money where his mouth is in other games of his that I've never heard of and/or that haven't been released outside Japan.

At this point, it seems like Suda is just cashing in on his fame as an eccentric game writer/director, rather than trying to make a statement.

As for the topic of discussion itself, I think films are better at remaining functional when they're bad. A bad game has buggy controls, glitches, et cetera--a bad movie has flying saucers on strings and Wilhelm screams left and right. In a film, the actors and actresses are in on it, and you can tell when they're having a good time hamming it up. Games are too scripted for that sort of input.

What can't we have both?

God Hand is basically a giant "FUCK YOU!" and "LOVE YOU!" of the whole beat-em-up genera, and it WORKS.

Great game play, funny characters, good boss fights, solid regular enemies, etc.

I don't think Lollipop Chainsaw meant to say anything about the sexualization of females in gaming.

If I had to find some kind of meaning in the game (which I tend to not do for any media), I'd say Suda51 thought it'd be an interesting idea to combine to clashing stereotypes: the ditzy, boy-crazy, attractive high school cheerleader, and a zombie apocalypse. Along with so many other stereotypes thrown in there. Juliet isn't over-the-top, the whole game is.

Also, I'm not sure if not-great gameplay is ever a goal... like ever.

TheMadDoctorsCat:
The comparison of "Starship Troopers" and "The Expendables" actually depresses me somewhat.

I found the article very hard to read because of this too. Starship Troopers is a very very well made film with razor sharp writing and top notch effects. The acting is the only thing off about it. (But PERFECT in context) Verhoeven is a director who makes very, very good movies. He has had a few spectacular duds alongside his schlocky classics. Also practically none of the films listed are "B" movies nor at all bad. Showgirls and Flash Gorden do not go together either. I normally love the articles on the Escapist but this one didn't do it for me. From my understanding Lollipop Chainsaw was a big budget game had a kooky premise and ticked all the right boxes but had repetitive gameplay. I think summer blockbuster would be a more apt comparison. All bang but no substance. Suda 51 is not an auteur director who takes risks and fails spectacularly like a Terence Malick or Gus Van Sant. He is more like a Tarantino. (In his recent films) Well funded, a proven box office draw, pretty creative in his own area and doubtlessly talented, but ultimately a 1 trick pony. It's still not the best comparison but It's one I think people can relate to. Famous for being different and cool, but ultimately always making the same thing. Boring basically.

And the hallmark of a so bad it's good movie or game is always the fact. No matter how clunky it is, it never bores you. There are very badly made games that are still amazing because there is a small vein of enjoyment to be mined. We all know those games.

Arnoxthe1:

Anti-American Eagle:
I want to say the film version of Starship Troopers is good Satire. But, the problem is that it has dragged the name of the book down. Verhoeven hadn't finished the book, and I can only guess that he asked some one who had for a synopsis, looked up controversy about it and decided to parody it.

He just read the beginning of it and then put it down saying it was 'too boring'.

Seriously, screw that movie.

Yeah, any director that can't finish a novel with less than 300 pages is automatically put on my shit list forever.

Do4600:

Arnoxthe1:

Anti-American Eagle:
I want to say the film version of Starship Troopers is good Satire. But, the problem is that it has dragged the name of the book down. Verhoeven hadn't finished the book, and I can only guess that he asked some one who had for a synopsis, looked up controversy about it and decided to parody it.

He just read the beginning of it and then put it down saying it was 'too boring'.

Seriously, screw that movie.

Yeah, any director that can't finish a novel with less than 300 pages is automatically put on my shit list forever.

He said he found the book "depressing" Considering he grew up under Nazi Germany I can understand. The book is incredibly militaristic and lectures you at length about the benefits of a meritocracy without a hint of irony. It's a good book but it IS depressing. Verhoeven needs to read the Forever War.

So he reads part of a book and stops because it didn't engage him and you swear off his films forever because of it?

That's a little hypocritical if you ask me.

Lono Shrugged:

Do4600:

Arnoxthe1:

He just read the beginning of it and then put it down saying it was 'too boring'.

Seriously, screw that movie.

Yeah, any director that can't finish a novel with less than 300 pages is automatically put on my shit list forever.

He said he found the book "depressing" Considering he grew up under Nazi Germany I can understand. The book is incredibly militaristic and lectures you at length about the benefits of a meritocracy without a hint of irony. It's a good book but it IS depressing. Verhoeven needs to read the Forever War.

So he reads part of a book and stops because it didn't engage him and you swear off his films forever because of it?

That's a little hypocritical if you ask me.

I never said I swore off his films, I said he's on my shit list. Directing is an incredibly hard job, I think the bare minimum is at least reading the novel your film is adapted from, if you can't finish it, don't direct the film. There have been plenty of people who have turned down contracts based on those grounds. I remember hearing an interview with an actor who was offered a huge role as Hermann Göring in a war film and after much deliberation he decided he simply couldn't portray the man based on his own beliefs; that's the mature thing to do. The immature thing to do is to make the film a parody of the first half of the book you couldn't be bothered to complete.

If you are going to adapt something, know that something forwards and backwards, then you can at least make a point from expertise rather than an attack from ignorance.

The reason why there's no "b-games" is because basically all games are "b-games".

What we generally consider "bad games" are bad because they're technically bad, not because the writing is bad. You can't get "technically bad" movies - movies don't tend to crash or stop you from watching it to the end because something random happened. Writing, however, in most computer games is so bad it's pretty much "b" category.

Some of it is that on purpose, even.

I think some are confusing the concept of something using elements of parody and/or satire, and something just being straight up bad. To take a relatively recent example, look at "Casa de mi Padre", the Will Ferrell movie. It was designed to make fun of Spanish "telenovelas" by parodying the bad and/or ridiculous elements of those shows. The actual telenovelas are just bad and cheesy. One is satire, the other is just bad. So "Casa de mi Padre" isn't really a b-movie, while telenovelas could be consider b-grade television.

When it comes to games, due to the much more interactive experience, it's sort of hard to find a B-game, because ultimately if a game is a lot of fun, then I think it's hard to really call it "bad". There are some exceptions with games that are so insanely bad that they just become funny (such as "Ride to Hell: Retribution" or "Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing") but realistically, how long could you actually play those games? Maybe 15 minutes with your friends around so everyone can have a good laugh, but then after that it's pretty much over.

Bayonetta is a good example. The sexualization of Bayonetta was so ridiculously over the top that it really just became kind of hilarious, and I think the developers intended that. But it wasn't a "bad" game because the gameplay was still good. Likewise, (and granted I never played Lollipop Chainsaw) but from what I saw of the game it seemed to be sort of poking fun at it's own level of ridiculousness.

well some people have already discussed this, but I don't really see why the author thinks it doesn't happen. Hundreds of games use the so bad its good tongue in cheek humor as their directive. Earth defense force, Guacamelee, Shadow Hearts, Suda51 games, Bayonetta, Kamatari Damacy, Bulletstorm, Devil May Cry 1-4, Renegade Ops, Resident evil (possibly unintentional), all wear their parodies on their sleeves, becoming enjoyable narratively partly for how dumb their premise is... A lot of revival indie games do the same thing, appealing to old tropes as a way to connect to their audience directly.
But there is an important distinction, these games are functionally sound (even great at times), but their silliness resides in their narrative. This doesn't really hamper the enjoyment of the gameplay, and thus a lot of people very much enjoy the parody much like they enjoy Starship troopers.

The problem is when the game is functionally broken. This may be funny for a while, but it normally frustrates more than it can entertain. As Ihateregistering1 mentions -Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing-, is funny, but its not funny in an enjoyable way, just bad. A game that presents a bit of both sides is Neverdead, which a lot of people have mentioned as having an entertaining premise, but being borderline unplayable. Problem is that it's systemic problems prevent from finding the narrative "tongue-in-cheekness", just coming out as a mess.

So, without wishing to offend, I find the article rather pointless... We certainly DO enjoy "so bad they are good" games. But not on a functional level, only on a narrative level, mainly because of our interaction with said games.

I'd consider the first gen Xbox game Armed and Dangerous to be a great example of a B-game. The gameplay isn't particularly broken or buggy in a crippling way, but it is a bit repetitive after a while. The guns are silly and awesome, the story is just insane, and the cutscenes are pure fun. The graphics were a bit shaky for Xbox standards, but it doesn't take away from the silly fun of the game. Being a B-movie or game doesn't have to do with being broken or bad, but more to do with being a low budget (and sometimes poorly executed) attempt at something grander. That's where I start to place B-games/movies.

Here's the cover art:
image

Hmmm, well to be honest when it comes to "B-grade game classics" I tend to think of the original version of "Deadly Premonition" which was broken in pretty much every way but still managed to be a pretty good, and thought provoking game.

I think "Lollipop Chainsaw" is in a similar vein, though is of a higher quality to be honest. I think it gets picked on because right now pretending there is a problem with misogyny in video games is a big thing for some people and there platforms when it's pretty much a non-issue. Flaunting an attractive female protagonist nowadays, even if it's one in a humorous game, simply puts the attack dogs into overdrive. That and to be honest while "Lollipop Chainsaw" might have been fairly unusual in Japan, it should be noted that a lot of the "quirky" elements come across as being very similar to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" especially the movie, where she pretty much levels the school fighting Vampire Hordes. This includes the unapproachable boyfriend (which is exaggerated as to why he's unapproachable in this game), mannerisms, and a lot of other things. Really the only thing Lollipop Chainsaw has that Buffy didn't is a refusal to have the heroine wallow in ever-popular teen angst.

Sexually speaking I kind of found "No More Heroes" a bit more offensive when you get down to it, but nobody tends to take sexism seriously when a guy is on the receiving end. Where you can say our heroine in "Lollipop Chainsaw" is well intentioned and heroic, Travis Touchdown is literally being dragged around by his nads and does all of the stupid stuff trying to get laid by some girl that is clearly manipulating him (and also happens to be married). He represents a more offensive stereotype of dudes than we see of women in Lollipop chainsaw.... of course one cannot expect things to be viewed this rationally when people's personal power platforms and an excuse to rage are involved. I actually kind of feel Suda was poking fun at dudes in "No More Heroes" and at girls in "Lollipop Chainsaw" though he was meaner in the first one. All we need now is an ultra-violent "opposites attract" romantic comedy/action hybrid video game featuring both of the characters getting together and eventually married to turn it into a complete trilogy of "WTF" gender commentary parody. :)

Magefeanor:
No mention of Cavia's Drakengard? I thought that was THE epitome of so bad it's good in the video game world.
To bad nearly no one have heard of it.

And I've always preferred Cavia over Suda51, I don't really get all the praise he gets...

Well it is the game Square enix went out of it's way to deny even existed, so that's probably why.

Anywho, we're getting a Drakengard 3 which looks to be a bit more like a middle ground between drakengard 1 and Nier. Which is good: The further they stay away from Drakengard 2, the better.

I think the trick isn't that Juliet isn't this big OBJECTIFICATION!!!!11 message, she's a spin on the ditz in a creative way.
She's competent and quirky, but also mentally warped from years of conditioning her parents, sensei, and non-zombie life have put her through. I see it as you're supposed to still enjoy seeing her spin and swing around, be in a bikini or cosplaying as a breast assimilating ninja, but there's an dark underlining that gets intentionally skipped over. Even the villain's backstory.

Kinda like say, Mars Attacks where the mood is still a black and white sci-fi flick but with a way more modernized cast.

And honestly? People think Bayonetta is a satire? Ohohoho man, you should play Platinum Games' other titles, they're 95% of the time being completely tongue in cheek than having any real message. Even Metal Gear Rising.

Metal Gear Rising is a good example of a B game. Can't imagine another game where you get powerbombed by a 'roided Senator whose answer to political ills is basically Ayn Rand meets a WWE Royal Rumble.

But, as others have said, until quality writing becomes the rule for games and not the stand-out exception, I'm not sure that we can have B-games. Another thing to note, too, is that movies don't need to be good in a tactile sense. While they do need to be shot decently, etc, you can take the piss out of a movie that does all that stuff poorly. If a game has a shitty camera then it won't be funny unless it only happens in the cutscenes. From that line of thought, a B-movie can either be purposeful or accidental, but a B-game should always be purposeful for the sake of preserving playability. I don't think that shitty mechanics makes a B-game a B-game. It would be like watching a movie recorded with the lens cap on the cameras or trying to read some schlocky comedy comic but most of the art and dialogue is covered in white-out. A game's playability is it's accessibility, and movies don't have to worry about that kind of thing in the same way.

Not to mention, as others have said, the price point difference. I rented The Room and it was hilarious, but if I'd paid 40-60 bucks for that shit, I would've blown a gasket.

Do4600:
I never said I swore off his films, I said he's on my shit list. Directing is an incredibly hard job, I think the bare minimum is at least reading the novel your film is adapted from, if you can't finish it, don't direct the film. There have been plenty of people who have turned down contracts based on those grounds. I remember hearing an interview with an actor who was offered a huge role as Hermann Göring in a war film and after much deliberation he decided he simply couldn't portray the man based on his own beliefs; that's the mature thing to do. The immature thing to do is to make the film a parody of the first half of the book you couldn't be bothered to complete.

If you are going to adapt something, know that something forwards and backwards, then you can at least make a point from expertise rather than an attack from ignorance.

One might argue that whatever or not Verhoeven read the entirety of Starship Troopers he still managed to get his satire of the book spot on. The things he satirizes are the very same things that Heinlein promotes as positive. The militaristic overtones, the us and them mentality, the faux meritocracy of being rewarded for submitting to the state and the general military fan-wanking that goes on in Starship Troopers. Whatever or not Verhoeven himself managed to read through the book seems kind of irrelevant, because it is obvious that the people who helped him put together the script did and they certainly made sure to satirize the salient points of Heinlein's ideal society.

For me, the article confuses several different concepts - satire/parody, what makes games good or bad and films that are so bad, that they become watchable.

Starting with films - the principal characteristics of a film "so bad it's good" is that it isn't trying to be bad. It isn't self-aware. As soon as you get the impression that the makers understand how bad the thing they are making is it loses any appeal - like watching a clip show ("You've been framed", for example) and seeing a clip that's obviously staged. Suspension of disbelief is still critical to enjoyment, however perverse that enjoyment is.

Satire is a desperately difficult balancing act to create. Satire involves having to hate something enough to react to it, but approach that reaction with insight, a wicked (even perverse) sense of absurd playfulness - often about very difficult subject matter. Good satire (whether a film, or game) can never be "so bad, it's good". Satire is, by definition, self-aware. You can only have good satire - or bad satire. Bad satire fails to either be recognised, or pierce the subject of it's attacks. In some cases, it may accidentally glorify that it is trying to skewer.

The big difference between "films so bad...", and "games so bad..." is that films only rely on a clear visual/audio experience to consume them - whereas games also have to have gameplay mechanics and controls. This makes very bad films easier to enjoy because even they can be seen and heard. Bad games are often bad partly because the controls and/or gameplay is awful. If this is the case, then you may not be able to fully appreciate the true horror of dialogue, plot, sub-titles, translations, exposition, plat holes, voice acting because the game becomes impenetrable and dull. This is true of satirical games too.

Lollipop chainsaw is parody/satire not a "game so bad, it's good". Whether or not it's a good parody is open to debate.

Compare to that classic parody of violent games "Desert Bus".
Compare to "Don't Buy This" Spectrum 48k games published by Firebird in the 1980s.

bjj hero:
Youve missed a point not talking about value. It costs £8 or so for a cinema ticket. Ill chance some B movie schlock at that price. Console games come in around £40, at 5 times the price ill buy something with great story and game play instead.

Exactly the point I was going to make, not just the cost in money but also time. A bad film will probably take less than 2 hours of my time, and that includes getting to the cinema if I'm not just watching it on TV. On the other hand, 10 hours is generally considered the absolute minimum length a game should be. I may be willing to waste an hour or two on something that's entertaining despite, or because of, it's flaws. But spending tens of hours on something repetitive and unoriginal? What could possibly make me want to do that? A film might be able to get away with it because by the time I'm bored, it's over. But a game simply can't do the same because by the time I'm bored I'm probably barely out of the tutorial.

There's scope for B-games in the low-cost indie area. If a game only costs a few quid and isn't expected to last more than a few hours at best, it falls in pretty much the same place as a B-movie. But full price AAA games? Not a chance.

Anti-American Eagle:
Otherwise... Wait, while I'm thinking it. Are there actually people who didn't realize that Lollipop chainsaw was a joke?

Anita Whateverherlastnameis.

Sorry, had to pluck the low hanging fruit.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Firstly, you can't really argue for mediocre game mechanics as a plus. If I'm going to spend hours playing a game, then I want it to be responsive and intuitive and fun to play. Lollipop Chainsaw had shallow, janky gameplay, and that means that on a fundemantal level, the game fails. The combat in LC simply isn't very good. That means that, on a fundamental level, a large proportion of the game isn't very good. When you're required to sink multiple hours into it, instead of a film's usual 1-2, then that makes a difference. Two hours of Rocky Horror is fine. Twelve hours of Rocky Horror would be torture.

It's not often that bad gameplay is funny. I'm thinking that the best examples of funny bad gameplay are games full of glitches, where things like enemies flying into the sky after being hit are a common occurrence. Incidentally, that's probably why every video I've seen of Ride to Hell: Retribution is full of the laughter of the person playing the game.

There's a lot of games that have so-bad-it's-good elements, even if they're wonderful games on the whole. Just Cause 2, for instance, has an awful B-movie story, with improbable plot twists and voice actors doing terrible accents. The gameplay lends itself to plenty of over-the-top action as well, what with everything exploding all the time. But the game is excellent on the whole, and it's really only the fairly inconsequential story that's so-bad-it's-good, though the story's very awfulness probably makes the game as a whole better, since it's more entertaining and memorable than a better-acted, better-written story would have been.

It's a little presumptuous to say video games can't be so bad their good, and then list nothing but Suda 51 games. The man has his own little cult following.

What about Resident Evil? It's the perfect example. It's clunky, looks horrible (even back when it was made), the voice acting remains the gold standard for bad dialogue, and they released a Director's Cut a few years later that replaced all the incredible, atmospheric music with what sounds like a drunk piano student mocking his teacher's efforts.

And we love it. Every Master of Unlocking moment.

Just to throw in a title I haven't seen brought up yet: my favorite B-game is Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman.

It's essentially a straight-up B-movie in terms of premise -- ninjas have invaded the Old West! And it plays like a sort of proto-Devil May Cry. It has the handicap of having rather poor controls, but I can usually get halfway through it before I get frustrated, which is really all you need to experience the ridiculousness of the game. But really, it's quite short, anyway -- even with repeated dying and failing, with perseverance (and maybe save states), it can be beaten in just a few hours.

If the game actually had good controls, though, I don't think I'd consider it so-bad-it's-good anymore; it would just be good. Cheesy, goofy, not serious at all, but those aren't remotely bad qualities.

Do you mean B(ad) gameplay, B story, B technical features...

Bad story's just standard. Sexism's a big problem. Ultraviolence. Stupid cliche plots. Sewer levels.

Deadpool, in general, fell victim to the same sort of problems. It'd make a joke about sewer levels, usually something like "oh look a sewer level." And then you'd play a sewer level.

Blindly parroting a cliche in a silly voice is not satire. Doing something interesting with the cliche, however, is. Bayonetta's more modestly dressed than most video game heroines, just to use a prementioned example (it's 1am and I have work in the morning).

Dark Souls subverts the Standard Fantasy Prophecy thing at least once, potentially more like 2 or 3 times. Dark is bad, Dark is good, Dark could be bad, and no matter what the flames are fading. I wouldn't call it satire, but just breaking the cliches to that extent works well.

Mass Effect also plays with the Blue Alien Space Babe Who Sleeps With The Commander cliche from Star Trek. How?


Bioware, that's not innovating. Even the archetype isn't innovative. The Asari are pretty much just Space Elves mixed with adolescent pandering.

________________________________________

Of course, a completely awful or incredibly subpar game can still be amusing. I've had a lot of fun complaining about Fable III and the new Tomb Raider with friends, and I've heard bad words about Ride To Hell: Retribution.

I really think it boils down to enjoyment being equated with quality, when that isn't necessarily the case. For example, I have a hella-lot of fun with the Dynasty Warriors games, but from a purely critical standpoint, they're poorly balanced, characterization and story waivers from 'pretty good' to 'atrocious' even in the same game, and almost every game has one mechanic that reeks of grindy bullshit. Despite this, I think DW as a whole is really fun.

God Hand is a good example of this type of game.

Deadly Premonition. So definitely a B-Game, but oh so good.

Anti-American Eagle:

Otherwise... Wait, while I'm thinking it. Are there actually people who didn't realize that Lollipop chainsaw was a joke?

It's kind of hard to figure out which Japanese softcore-porn game that oversexualises women is a parody and which one isn't. Come on, that Dead or Alive volleyball game even had "1-hand control mode", not to mention Dragon's Crown's... everything.

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