Some games are just bad, but then again, sometimes you like them anyway.
Have you ever had difficulty explaining the appeal of a game you enjoyed? Most people think it’s junk, but you’ve harbored a secret love for it in your heart over the years. Maybe it’s a cult classic that panders to a specific audience that you happen to be a part of, or, in the worst case scenario, it’s a game that’s actually good but somehow passed under the radar and into obscurity.
Let’s take a few moments to celebrate some of those odd, cheesy and surprisingly entertaining games.
Dynasty Warriors has been around a long time. The first game, a 3D fighter in the vein of Tekken, was released in 1997. But Dynasty Warriors 2 shook things up, cementing the series’ structure: you select a warrior and spawn on a battlefield filled with both enemy and allied soldiers, then cut a wide, bloody path across it.
Dynasty Warriors is without a doubt a pretty repetitive game, which is something it’s often criticized for. You don’t need a lot of skill to play it. You roam around levels and mash the attack button when you find foes, and that’s about it. Sounds boring, right? Yet the series has been around forever, and it shows no signs of stopping. Maybe it’s that badass feeling you get as you cut down hundreds of enemies at a time, or the a soapy storylines where people twirl around while spitting angry monologues at one another before getting down to fighting.
Basically, Dynasty Warriors is Dragon Ball Z with halberds. That definitely appeals to some people.
Deadly Premonition is kind of broken, but it’s also kind of wonderful. You play as Special Agent Francis York Morgan, a man investigating a series of killings in the small town of Greenvale, where creepy, possibly supernatural shenanigans are afoot. The murder mystery soon becomes a bizarre odyssey as you meet all sorts of odd folk and explore a world that has a habit of transforming into a grim hellscape filled with ghouls.
Deadly Premonition is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of game. A lot of it is legitimately terrible, but it does a lot of stellar stuff too, including heavily channeling David Lynch. Characters and businesses in Greenvale keep their own schedules, so you have to constantly manage your in-game time while completing missions. You also need to eat food and take care of yourself to avoid getting fined by the FBI. And, to top it all off, York grows a beard during the game that you can shave (take that, Witcher 3)!
’X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE’
It’s rare to find a decent film-to-game adaptation, much less a great one. But back in 2009 Raven Software released a game tie-in for X-Men Origins: Wolverine that, in a surprise twist, wasn’t nearly as bad as the garbage film it was based on. Far from it, in fact.
The developer, infamous for bloody games like Soldier of Fortune, took off the kid gloves for Origins, creating a superb God of War clone set in the Marvel universe with satisfying, limb-rending combat starring everyone’s favorite mutant. Sure, you’re essentially going from point A to Z and slashing everything that gets in your way, but Wolverine will literally lose limbs and organs that graphically grow back over time, and impaling a henchman with your claws and then throwing him across the room never really gets old for some people.
’BOUND BY FLAME’
Bound By Flame is essentially every role-playing game you’ve played in the last decade rolled into one surprisingly focused game. You play as customizable rogue Vulcan on a quest to save the world from a bad bad dude named Lord Blackfrost who—I promise I’m not making this up—wants to turn the world into a snow globe. You gather party members along the way, you choose whether you’re going to be nice or mean to everyone around you, and you stab a lot of monsters. Standard stuff, right?
Probably too standard, but it’s hard for me to fault developer Spiders Interactive. Their games are bug-ridden and there’s not an ounce of originality in them, but there is boundless enthusiasm and love for their influences, including Dragon Age and The Witcher. Bound By Flame is an imitation of these games, but it’s not a pale or uninteresting one. It’s a fun ride with cheesy dialogue, great combat, and none of the bloated, length-padding junk that dominates contemporary RPGs. If you’re tired of playing games where you spend most of the time wandering a gritty post-apocalyptic desert or snowy mountains in search of things to do and are willing to put up with some irritating bugs, Bound By Flame, comfortably nestled at the bottom of bargain bins nationwide, might be the RPG you’re looking for.
’DARKEST OF DAYS’
Darkest of Days has a novel concept: you play as a soldier saved from certain death at the Battle of Little Bighorn by futuristic shadowy corporation Kronotek for the purpose of traveling across various time periods to save other people from death. However, the game received subpar reviews, with critics mentioning technical issues and that the game failed to live up to its concept. So why’s it worth your time, then?
Because it’s a first-person shooter injected with a dose of Back to The Future. What’s not to like? You’re taking part in the Civil War and World War 2, armed with ridiculously overpowered futuristic weapons. You even get to stomp around Pompeii for a bit with a laser. It’s zany, challenging fun, a throwback to the likes of Blood and Tekwar, and it’s a shame that developer 8monkey never got to make a high-budget sequel that could iron out all the issues of the first game. Darkest of Days ultimately plays out like a rough draft for a much better game, but that doesn’t stop what’s here from being a barrel of fun.