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#714 - College Football USA 97

Indeed, this unassuming EA Sports title - one of the billion they released on the system (give or take) - is the absolute worst of the worst of the SNES library. In a platform full of infamous trainwrecks, this game separates itself from the rest of the pack through gameplay that is so mind-boggling broken, it's almost strangely poetic when you see it in motion.

And really, the only word that can adequately describe this game is "broken." Like, it is impossible to execute any sort of play, as the players quickly form into a mob of bodies, all bouncing off one another, that slowly gravitates towards the ball. Also, strangely enough, the ballcarrier, who I swear moves on his own to some degree, also seems to gravitate towards the mob. My working theory is that there is a line of code, to test collision detection or something, that has made one of the lineman a black hole of sorts, and everything surrounding him is incapable of escaping it. As the black hole mob grows the ballcarrier will eventually stick to it, crumple, and most likely go flying backwards 10 yards.

All of this will happen somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-5 frames per second.

"Well, then I'll just throw bombs" you say. Well, too bad, because EA seemingly forgot to code any hit detection for any thrown ball and approximately 99% of them are gonna fly through the players, straight into the ground. Or the ball is just gonna sail long by about 20 yards to no one in particular.

Did I mention that everyone appears to be ice skating while all of this is happening?

The sound is also really hard to describe, but in general is weirdly stretched and distorted as the frames struggle to keep up with the action. And besides the endless stream of grunts as the mob crashes into itself, the other sound you're going to be hearing a lot of is a shrieking, ear-piercing banshee scream that sounds like it was stolen from the Atari 2600. I think it's a whistle blowing. Usually six seconds (2-3 frames) after the play is over.

Does the game have any positives? Well, there is a rendered ref that shows up at the top of the screen to signal incomplete pass. He very enthusiastically shakes his head as he motions. Ever see a ref do that? No, of course you haven't. They couldn't even get that right! So by positive I mean unintentionally amusing. Not hilarious, just amusing. That's the best I could come up with.

I'd like to think that about 25% of the development time went into getting that ref's model just right. Or wrong in this case. "We didn't have time to create more than 3 frames of animation for the players, but damn if we didn't try and one-up the 3D models in Donkey Kong Country with this ref!"

Please buy this game, and play it. It isn't on the level of something like Big Rigs Racing or Desert Bus, but it's as close as the SNES got. Play it with friends and take a drink every time you fail to gain yardage if you want to get blasted in record time.

I recently played through a (one game) regular season and playoffs with Notre Dame so that I could check this game off the list of games to beat. So I have a few updated thoughts on it:
  • The passing game can be exploited, but it is still a total crapshoot. If you give your quarterback enough time your receivers will eventually get wide open (this happens every play). Though whether or not they catch the ball, or you throw it anywhere near them for that matter, seems to be complete chance. In fact I swear they will even do their best to dodge out of the way of the ball at times by jerking out of their route as it approaches.
  • The running game is still impossible.
  • The game is absolutely filled to the brim with bugs. Many of the running plays will pitch the ball into the empty backfield for a huge loss or turnover. Even the PC opponents do this, as if those plays were never coded to completion or something. And I've had my opponent get knocked back and start running towards the wrong endzone several times. And most bizarre of all is the fact that I cannot get anyone on kick coverage to run in a straight line. You'd think something like that would have been noticed right away in testing. Assuming this game even had testing...
  • The game has some major Tecmo Super Bowl syndrome, with later opponents being cheating assholes where stopping the pass proved to be basically impossible. I even tried moving guys off the D-line and into the secondary, so that I had a total of 8 players sitting in a prevent defense, and I still couldn't slow down the 80 yard touchdowns.

Did I beat it?
No, I have yet to win a game. Or finish one. Usually I don't make it past the first (failed) drive.
Yes, I won the championship with Notre Dame despite the game's best efforts to stop me.

#713 - Pit Fighter

Everyone knows Pit Fighter for SNES, right? The butchered arcade port that features some of the worst graphics on the system alongside some of the most broken gameplay in video game history. With three selectable characters, even though only one of them is even really playable against the PC, so long as you use, and only use, one specific attack repeatedly.

Also the entire game is about 5 minutes long. There's a reason virtually every other list of worst SNES games has this bastard dead last.

None of that is an exaggeration of any sort either. The gameplay is so busted you have to experience it to believe it. Hell, it makes the already terrible arcade game look like freaking Street Fighter II in comparison. And it is the most literal definition of a button masher that I have ever played, as the only real strategy is to mash one of the attack buttons as fast as you can and hope your opponent gets hit before you do. There is absolutely zero strategy or skill at play, and the collision detection on the hits is horrendously broken. Maybe the worst I've ever seen, in any game.

And winning really does completely come down to luck. If you choose the right fighter and use the right attack, the odds of winning are roughly 50/50. A 50% chance you'll beat him by having attacks connect, and a 50% chance he'll beat your ass. So beating the game is the equivalent of calling a coin toss ten times in a row.

What else... oh, they cut out the balding Black guy in the pink tanktop, sweatpants, and high tops. He was the best part of the original arcade version!

I know I said I was gonna avoid comparing ports of games, but I have to make an exception with this one. Notice just how shitty the SNES port looks in comparison to that screenshot. Gone is basically everything from the interface, including health bars (kind of an important bit of info in a fighter), and the number of onscreen characters has also dropped from 6 to 2. So you have a SNES game that looks like an NES game, and an ugly one at that. Everything is just so washed out and ugly, and even more devoid of color then what was a fairly ugly game in the first place. Well, everything except those glorious early '90s hot pants.

Really, there is not much to say about this game. When you barely have any gameplay to work with, and it is inherently busted to the core, there are only so many things to talk about.

Ugliest game on the system? - check
Worst controlling game on the system? - check
Shortest game on the system? - probably
Most unplayable game on the system? - definitely in the running

Will the average person hate this more than College Football USA 97? Probably. It's a close race. I just know that after spending a significant amount of time with both of them, Pit Fighter drove me slightly less crazy. Just slightly though.

Did I beat it?
No, and I've tried. God, have I tried.

#712 - Race Drivin'

Combining the best features of the previous two titles, Race Drivin' is a ugly, butchered arcade port that is impossible to control and runs at a framerate of approximately negative infinity. Though on the bright side, without the horrible frame rate the game would probably be about 45 seconds long. Of course that 45 seconds is stretched out for hours because you're endlessly wrecking and watching replays of the wrecking before being kicked back to the main menu.

Sometimes I like to think of this game as a first-person sequel to Marble Madness. Except it has been "enhanced" by moving at one frame per second, you only get one life before being kicked to the main menu, there is absolutely no awareness of any of your surroundings, the levels have less variety, and the game is less forgiving overall. And it's an even shorter experience. Well, shorter if you don't count the frame rate, which like I said pads out the length at least ten fold. Oh, and it's more frustrating, because if there is anything MM needed more of, it's frustration.

I'd call it the worst racing game of all time, but it's not really even a racer. The only thing you're racing against is a timer, but even that isn't really accurate. The true battle is fighting the controls and framerate to keep your car on the road, and taking the jumps at the correct speed. That's the entire game. Staying between the lines, and not going too fast on the three or four jumps. The end.

Did I beat it?
Yes I did. I beat all the damn tracks, along with the follow-up race each one requires (a brilliant way to "double" the game's length without actually having any more content...). I also beat it on Game Boy just to further punish myself.

#711 - Last Action Hero

We're only four games in yet we've already cleared a hump, as I feel everything going forward at least resembles a video game. Actual semblances of gameplay are going to start showing up with these titles, even if only briefly.

Last Action Hero is a beat-em-up based on the massive Arnold flop that starred the kid from Prehistoria, My Girl 2 and probably other things. I'm sure everyone over the age of 25 has seen it, and for anyone else; screw the haters, it's a fun movie that is totally worth watching with plenty of fun nods to Hollywood and cinema in general.

Anyway, the game... I cannot beat the first damn level. I've started keeping track of my attempts (14 currently), and I don't even know if I'm getting close. There's no landmarks, just an endless string of cars, guys with bats, and guys that don't have bats. I don't even know if there are checkpoints.

The fighting also features that classic trademark of horrible brawlers; unavoidable hits. I don't know if I'm just playing the game wrong, but when you're limited to simple punches and kicks on a 2D plane, I don't know what else to do. There's also a jump, which does nothing, and some sort of jumping multi-kick (according to the FAQ) that I have never once done. The reach of your enemies is longer than yours, and they recover from your hits fast enough that they're probably gonna get in a counter, regardless of what you do, so it turns every fight into a test of patience, and the level into a test of endurance. I have no idea how you are supposed to survive a handful of battles when you are always taking damage. Especially when the enemies start coming from both directions.

At one point I was desperate enough to look for cheats so I could see a little more of the game, but even that shit wouldn't work. Kick the police car until you get unlimited lives. Uh, what police car? They're all police cars. The background is nothing but an endless loop of the same police cars. Even the faqs for this game are a punch in the dick!

Several people on this site have actually beat this game. I can only assume they were drunk, blacked out, and woke up to the credits. No one in a right state of mind would play through this.

Due to the words from one of my editors I came back to the game for one more night's worth of attempts and actually made some progress. After finally figuring out how to deal with the basic enemies I was able to make it to the third level, which is the driving level.

This experience has only worsened my opinion of the game if anything.

The game is extremely repetitive throwing those same enemies at you over and over again in every level with nothing to break it up, and they must all be defeated in a very specific way every single time. Even the first boss fight (the Ripper) was basically just another one of those enemies with slightly more health.

There is also an extremely tight timer on every level. If you botch even a single fight and let it drag out, you'll be in jeopardy of failing the mission. And of course that means losing a life, and going immediately back to the level start. Clearly none of the developers knew anything about what makes a video game fun.

As for the game's music... let's just say you're treated to what sounds like a six second loop of Z-grade music over and over again, on every level. The soundtrack has to rank amongst the worst on the system (if not any system). And they clearly did not have the time/energy/talent to, I dunno, use the damn movie score for inspiration? I dare you to listen to this all the way through:

I dare you.

And finally that driving level I mentioned, is even worse than the beat-em-up action. Besides the clunky control and perspective that doesn't give you enough heads up of the action, you're gonna be barraged by vans trying to ram or bomb you. You have no attack so your best best is soaring off a jump over them, at which point they explode for some reason. There's little rhyme or reason to what does or doesn't hurt you on this section, but running into a civilian vehicle is instant death. And of course like the rest of the game there are no checkpoints. The thought of playing the game again just to reach this level for another attempt made me weep softly.

Did I beat it?

#710 - The Lord of the Rings Volume 1

In many ways, the infamous Lord of the Rings Vol. 1 is actually in the top half of the SNES library. Featuring a beautiful soundtrack, pretty decent rotoscope animation, cooperative play, a large epic quest, and some actual honest-to-god fun (in small doses). In fact, the first hour or two are great...

And then in every single other way the game will slowly and surely crush your soul.

Numerous game breaking bugs, one of the worst interfaces I've ever experienced, endless fetch quests (and I mean endless), confusing as shit dungeons that all appear to have been copy-and-pasted from one another, and permanent-death are but a few of the things that will you have cursing your time playing this.

And yes you read that right. Permanent death. In a cooperative game. IN A COOPERATIVE GAME. So if your buddy Steve gets one shot by a wolf, and wants to keep playing as Merry, you'll have to reload your game. Except there are no saves, just the longest passwords known to man. Passwords that get corrupted and don't work either. What in the fucking fuck?

Also, did I mention the bugs? Like the one where you find a sword that permanently bumps your attack power from 98 to 114? Except 114 is actually 14? Or the one that makes your allies permanently disappear?

Oh, and those fetch quests? They were delivered straight from Hell. Hope you didn't miss a crucial gem key item in one of the copy-and-pasted disasters of a dungeon 20 hours ago, because you're now stuck and you'll have to go spend another 20 hours re-exploring the entire game until you come across it.

...or I should say, you'll probably need to go get it. The game may bug out (again) and give you credit for holding it. Probably not though. Pray it does, because I can confidently say that missing a jewel (or book, or whatever) in this game, is one of the most aggravating things in the history of video games. I cannot think of much anything worse, and that includes the Myth II bug that would format your PC's hard drive.

What other stupid things are there... well, if you want to play as, say, Pippin (the first character you recruit), you have to plug a control into the Super Nintendo's fourth controller port. Yep, playing 2-player requires a multi-tap. And knowing the correct port. Also, you have to wander around for an hour until you can add him to your party. Brilliant!

I apologize for breaking my word and sounding like an AVGN wannabe with this review; but my god this game. My. God. I'm half-tempted to put up a large bounty on beating this game without any outside help. I'm gonna boldly proclaim it to be impossible [Wrong, I did it... somehow - editor]

Did I beat it?
Sort of? After somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours (9,985 of which were spent wandering around looking for gems and books), I did make it to the final boss. But the game was too glitched out to let me beat him. Also my characters kept disappearing on subsequent attempts. And then my password didn't work so I couldn't even do any more attempts. So Im gonna say partial credit.

#709 - Pro Quarterback

Football game number two, and there will be plenty more to come in the bottom 100.

Unlike the equally dreadful College Football USA '97, Pro Quarterback at least appears to be a finished, working game. So it's got that going for it. But it's barely less broken, which is almost worse in a way. At least that game was hilarious to watch unfold.

The first thing you'll notice upon starting the game are the options. There are none. You can play a single game or... that's it. There's also no licenses of any sort, which I'm going to be repeating a lot with the sports titles in the bottom 100.

After you pick your generic Dallas or Chicago team (they all appear to be the same), you'll load up the opening kick off and be treated to some of the most god-awful graphics and animation on the system. And why does everyone look like a hunchback? And why is everything so damn choppy? Well it only gets worse from here.

Now, for all football games going forward (CFUSA97 barely counted) I will be judging them primarily on these three factors:

1) how good does the passing game work
2) how good does the running game work
3) how effective of a defense can you run

Stuff like punting and kicking, ability to stiff-arm or hurdle, create large playbooks, and customize teams? Those are all fluff and don't matter as much. For a football game to even remotely succeed it has to nail the ability to do those three things. Even if it's in a super arcade-like form such as Tecmo Super Bowl. If one of those things doesn't work, the whole game starts to fall apart. And this game is a massive fail in regards to each one of those criteria.

The running game is basically a coin flip. Regardless of the defense that lines up against you, you're either gonna get stuffed at the line, you're gonna get stuffed somewhere near the line, you're gonna fall forward somewhere just past the line, or you're gonna get a good run off. Actually scratch that last part, I've never seen it happen.

The passing game? Also like flipping a one-sided coin, but there is a 1% chance that it lands on it's side and sticks. That is the odds of a completion, everything else your QB just throws in the dirt. Or gets sacked. Probably the latter.

And as far as running a defense goes...

The less said the better. You'll probably stop the offense on most plays because everything is such a mess, but it won't matter what plays you call, what player you control, or where you line up. It's just a random mess.

The biggest problem is, once again, the horrendous framerate. And besides destroying your ability to do anything on any play, it makes the already dreadful player animations look even more nauseating in motion too. It doesn't completely cripple the game into a 100% unplayable mess like CFUSA97, but it's not far off either. So, maybe 97% percent unplayable. It gets that 3% because I've completed a few passes on occasion, even if that was sheer luck.

Did I beat it?
I... won a game by running the clock out. Does that count?

#708 - Barkley Shut Up and Jam

...or as I like to call it "NBA Jam but where you can't see anything, can't control anything, and generally have no idea what is going on."

I guess I didn't catch this back in the day, but man was the US all about the jam during this era: there's the aforementioned NBA Jam series, RapJam, Shut Up and Jam, Jammit, Space Jam, that Michael Jackson song with Kriss Kross, whatever Def Jam is, ToeJam and Earl, and even Looney Tunes B-Ball aka Bugs Bunny Jam. It was everywhere! It's all pretty horrendous too.

Anyway, the game itself is, like I said, an unplayable rip-off off Midway's classic arcade game. Playing defense seems nearly impossible as the players will be heading down the court before you can try to get in position, and the camera lags so bad that the ball is practically in the basket by the time it's in view. It is seriously game crippling. I dunno if the camera just needs to be more zoomed out, or quicker to scroll, or if the game needs to be slowed down, but it is game ruiner.

Another big issue is the jams themselves. Any of the flashier ones take way too long to execute, as you will inevitably get stuffed during the animation by the PC. Your best bet is to get as close to the basket as possible on your drives so you can get a nice little simple jam in before it can get blocked. What fun is that? You don't play NBA Jam to do piddly little lay-ups and dunks, you play it for the 50 foot triple flip slams with flaming basketballs. And this game takes that away from you.

It's fairly easy to make jumpers as well, but when any short-range dunk is automatic, why even bother? Really your greatest advantage against the PC is that they will try to take those shots, which will give you an edge in dunk attempts. Just park yourself near the basketball and hope that causes them to pull up for one.

Virtually all of the NBA Jam rip-offs are terrible, this one more-so than the rest, by like a million degrees. Just play the original.

Note: The game has taken a life of its own in the decades after the SNES' day. There is even a couple fan-made spin-offs that you may know of. If not, think Abobo's Big Adventure...

Did I beat it?
Not yet, but an attempt is currently in progress.
No, not happening.

#707 - Ballz 3D

In case the cover art and name didn't tip it off, Ballz 3D represents the amalgamation of everything wrong with the early '90s, fighting games, and Western-developed console games of the era.

As you could probably guess from the screenshots, B3D is a fighter where your character is a pixelated jumble of balls (the only 3D in the game is the Mode 7 landscape you're standing on) that has you try to murder another stack of balls by frantically whipping yourself at them while words like RADICAL and KERRANG assault the screen and your senses. As the camera whips around the action the gameplay always rapidly degenerates into button mashing as it's nearly impossible to tell what the characters are doing.

Did I mention the camera is moving the whole time? Because it's about the last thing you need when trying to play a fighter if this game is anything to go by. It's already hard enough telling where the character stand in regards to one another (thanks to them being a quivering mass of balls and all), and the messy attacks just further confuse things on top of that. Kicks, punches, or just exploding your character in random directions all look the same and seem impossible to predict or counter.

And just to add the shit cherry on top of everything else, is an AI that is cheap as all fuck, turning every fight into an exercise in frustration and anger. Good luck getting through the game in your first 20 attempts or so.

So yeah, the experience overall can only be described as ugly. The graphics are ugly, the art design is horrific, the levels look stupid and barren. Even the font is obnoxious. It's just a repulsive product end-to-end. I hate fighters, I hate bad fighters, and I really hate this one.

Oh, and the intro song is the absolute worst piece of music on the system, bar none.

Did I beat it?
No, that's impossible. Anyone would go insane from '90s tude overdose before lasting long enough to do that.

#706 - FIFA Soccer '97

What the hell is with EA and the year 1997? This thing isn't the disaster masterpiece that is College Football USA 97, but it has the same ridiculous issues with framerate, impossible controls, and ice skating players. Was a new studio handling the development of these versions? Were they rushed out the door at the last second so they could focus on newer gen versions? The Madden and NBA Live franchises didn't fall off a cliff this year, so what's the deal?

It's really a shame too because I think the original FIFA International Soccer is one of the better soccer games on the system, and one of the few games I had growing up. I was never a soccer fan growing up so I was pretty bewildered when I unwrapped it, but the game really grew on me the more I played it. In fact it will appear relatively high on this list as unlike many older sports titles I think the gameplay still stands up to this day. And that massive difference in rank between FIFA '97 and its precursors shows you just how botched this version is.

It also goes to show you how good controls may be the most important aspect of any game, because what appears to be the exact same game with a coat of fresh paint has gone from fun to unplayably bad because of how unresponsive they are. It's like trying to play Mike Tyson's Punch Out on an HDTV. All you can think about the entire time is the cripp;lag.

I'm not even gonna comment on the game mechanics, that will come when I cover the other installments. Just apply whatever I say there to here, but with everything being ruined by the play control.

Note - I will usually bundle very-samey playing series together (all the NHL games will more-or-less be one grouped entry). There will be a few exceptions such as here, where one of the installments plays significantly different than the others.

Did I beat it?
No, once again I can't even stomach finishing a game.

#705 - Ultraman

The system's very first fighter, and an ultra-archaic one at that. Remember when these games didn't have multiplayer, and you didn't have a choice of characters? And the gameplay was unrefined, stiff, and borderline unplayable? Because whatever comes to mind, probably applies here.

Full disclosure: I don't exactly know who or what an Ultraman is. A Japanese superhero that grows really large and fights rubber kaiju? I know he's super popular in Japan, but it doesn’t really feel like he made much of a dent in the Western market, so who knows why Bandai thought to bring this game over.

Anyway, the entire game is a series of one-on-one fights. Or, more accurately, a series of fights against a motley crew of dorky rubber monsters. I assume it's a “greatest hits” collection of foes from his TV shows or movies, or whatever it is he appears in. These foes also seem to all behave the exact same way: occasionally use a ranged attack, occasionally use their guard, but mostly just stand around waiting for you to get near them so the two of you can exchange feeble blows. Eventually, if you empty their life bar - and your power gauge is full - you can use a laser finishing move to end the fight.

...unless their HP recovers a tiny iota before that finisher lands, in which case the laser does nothing and you may as well just kill yourself because there is no way you're gonna survive long enough to fill the gauge back up in order to try again.


It's extremely unsatisfying. I assume this laser thing was a gimmick that was featured heavily in the shows and/or movies, so it makes sense that Bandai tried to incorporate it into the game. But it does not translate well at all. Or at least it was just poorly implemented. Like, really poorly. It also looks pathetic. The G. Darius mega laser it is not.

Now, I imagine any unfortunate children who received this game back in the day would have had the patience to master the (extremely simplistic) mechanics and probably beat the game within a couple hours of popping it into their Super Nintendo. Any subsequent playthroughs would probably take about 15 minutes. Because that's how long the entire game is.

You shudder to think of what the cartridge would have cost when adjusted for inflation.

Also, one last thing. The sub-title of the game is "Towards the Future." I have no idea what that is supposed to mean within the context of the game, but it is fitting here. As the earliest released fighter on the system, it never got worse than this. Well, aside from Pit Fighter, but that doesn't count.

Did I beat it?
No, I'm really terrible at fighters, and am apparently even worse at proto-fighters.

#704 - Cannondale Cup aka Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally

Ok, first off this review/synopsis comes with a major disclaimer; I'm not entirely sure I played this game. I mean I know I put the cartridge in and held a controller and watched a pixelated blob go in circles, but I'm not entirely sure I wasn't just watching the demo the whole time. I mean I definitely used the controller to navigate through the menus, and I held a button down which I think made me pedal forward but I swear to God nothing I did during the races affected anything that was happening. This is not an exaggeration; I honest-to-god, had better finishes after attaching a wrench to my controller to hold down the pedal button then I did trying to play the game. That is not a joke for flavor. That happened.

Also, my best attempts at deciphering any of the in-game menus tells me you'd have to play this game for hundreds or thousands of hours to beat it. Then again I didn't understand anything that was happening so take that observation with a grain of salt.

I returned to the game, to give it another shot and see if I could figure it out. And it still played itself (poorly). So I bumped up the difficulty. Turns out, you need to make the game harder in order to turn on manual control. Which makes the game a million times easier. Or, it makes the game playable, as you will no longer pinball off the sides of the track on auto-pilot the entire time.

The control is still horrendous though; your biker automatically tries to guide the bike in the direction the track lies, which is super distracting. It feels like your controller is broken and constantly pulling you to the right. Furthermore, you cannot make fine corrections. Pushing right or left will turn your racer in set increments (let's call it 30 degrees) which means maintaining any sort of line is virtually impossible. Instead you're just constantly trying to make corrections and get your racer pointing somewhat in the direction you need him in.

And did I mention that you need to tap the pedal button to keep your top speed up? Imagine shmups where you have to repeatedly tap the fire button to keep it up. Annoying right? Now imagine doing that in a racing game. That sound you hear is your own screams.

When you think of this game as an exercise device, it makes a lot more sense. The only point to the game is to complete hundreds, actually thousands, of laps. Winning or doing well is more of a secondary goal. And that would make sense when your primary objective in the first place is losing weight or getting in shape and making sure your ass is on that bike for extended periods of time. So I'm really at a loss as to how to score this "game." It's not fun to play, that's for sure. If I had the bike perhaps I could do a regiment for a month and then reflect on whether or not I had a good time, but that ain't gonna happen as I have no idea what they cost, and definitely don't have a place to put one. And I definitely am not looking into it for the sake of a single capsule review. So final judgement, for better or worse, is on how it plays as a stand-alone video game, and in that regard it fails horribly.

Also, here is a picture of me playing the game. Or I should say, here is a pic of me playing Side Pocket while the SNES console itself plays Cannondale Cup for me

Did I beat it?
No. I did several hundred laps though, many of which featured a wrench or paperweight doing the bulk of the work for me. Well, all of the work.

#703 - Shaq Fu

There are two types of people when it comes to Shaq Fu; those who say it is the worst game on the system, and those who say it's not that bad. They're both wrong. It's horrible, and almost the worst game on the system, and really deserves its reputation for being a pile of shit. But it's much more playable than something like Pit Fighter.

I've hosted a number of parties where we play shit games, and usually the best performer gets to avoid whatever punishment is on deck (ie shots). There were no winners with Shaq Fu. No one could get past the 2nd or 3rd guy, regardless of how much we tried.

Shaq hops around like such a spaz that most of the battle is just trying to be in the same neighborhood as your opponent. Meanwhile you're getting pelted with shit nearly constantly.

There's also a relatively involved story about Shaq getting transported to another dimension from Chinatown, and even a world map you navigate to find your next opponent. I don't know why the developers bothered with any of that as it doesn't really add anything to the game. Those man hours could have been spent making the game more playable. It boggles my mind that so many games just couldn't get the foundation of their gameplay down. They have to know when something plays like shit, right? Is it deadlines? Lack of experience? Constraints passed down from above? Unreasonable demands from stakeholders?

It's understandable when a giant $100,000,000 tentpole game with staffs in the hundreds fails today. There's just too many moving pieces, too much pressure, and the bar has been risen to astronomical heights. Look at Mass Effect Andromeda as a perfect example of a game that probably had 100,000+ hours pumped into it, and failed. Whereas back in the olden days most of the time you really just needed to make a group of sprites move in a fluid way, and have some sort of reasonable hit detection on them. How fucking hard is that? Maybe you're not super passionate about making a game starring a 7 foot tall basketball player judo chopping mummies, but I'd think any competent dev could crap something resembling a playable game out.

Speaking of the bizarre nature of this project, I just have to ask what everyone has already asked... "why?" Why is Shaq doing kung fu? Why did someone make this game? "Enforcer of Justice?" What does beating up demons in some old guy's hidden dimension in his closet have to do with enforcing justice?

I guess Shaq mania was so rampant at the time that people would throw money at him to do anything. We had stupid video games, stupid movies, stupid albums. And a comic book series apparently...

Or maybe American society was just stupid for all things NBA. Hence stuff like Larry "Gradma-ma" Johnson appearing on Family Matters, and, well, everything Shaq related.

Did I beat it?
Shockingly, the answer is yet again, no. I'm terrible at fighters, especially ones you cannot control.

#702 - Space Ace

Another bad game that is (in)famous from a Youtuber trashing it. Was it AVGN? JonTron? I don't remember, but everything they showed and said was accurate.

The game is a mess, and combines two terrible things; early Western platformers, and quick time events. It's as bad as it sounds. The first level is only 30 seconds long, but you WILL die 30 times before you get through it. Because again, the developers have basically recreated the quick time events of the arcade original (where you have to quickly make the correct decision to avoid death) by having every enemy, obstacle, or misstep instantly kill you and send you back to the level's beginning. Hell, even stuff not on the same plane as you will kill you if you touch it. So the entire game is just memorizing the EXACT sequence of jumps and placement needed to avoid the endless cheap deaths.

Now, that all could have been manageable for the strong-willed, if it weren't for one more fun little nuance to the game: the most awkward perspective and sense of depth of any SNES game in existence. Every jump is a guessing game as you cannot tell where you're going or where you're going to land. You have a shadow you can spot at the last possible second, but you'll probably overcorrect when trying to stop yourself. It's just a damn giant mess.

Assuming you memorize your way through that first level, you'll then come across the absolutely dreadful overhead flying stages. I don't know what to compare these to, but they're not fun. You're out of control, you can't see shit, and you die fast and easily. And have no idea where you're supposed to go. So once again, the only way to play these is memorization. And if you find your destination you get another scrolling platformer level with more instant deaths and more horrible, horrible jumps. So you have to memorize every second of the entire game to get anywhere. And of course, a few deaths means game over and starting over.

Did I beat it?
Yes.... no, of course I didn't.

#701 - Space Football

I HATE this game.

Despite the title, this game has nothing to do with football (or futbol). Instead it's a combination of rugby, pinball, and the world's most archaic FPS, and it actually represents two milestones on my list:

First, it might be the only game I've covered so far that is completely playable. Playable in that technically the buttons do things, the frame rate is in the double digits, you're not going to encounter endless game killing bugs, and the game more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do.

Second, Space Football is the most frustrating game on the system. Hands down. Hell, I'm getting aggravated just thinking about it. Pretend you're the ball in pinball, but your view is 1st-person, you have to come in contact with another ball, carry that ball into a specific area, within a very stiff time limit, while another ball is trying to send your ass flying every which way, all within another time limit. While motion sick. For 25+ increasingly frustrating levels. And did I mention that ball you're trying to retrieve has the most erratic movement pattern in the history of mankind? If North Korea ever wants to program missiles that can defeat America's THAAD system, they should study the ball's code in this game.

Now, because the game has unlimited continues, at some point I succumbed to Space Football's madness by resorting to parking myself in the enemy's goal and just praying that the ball would happen to fall into my hands. Turns out it was a more viable strategy than playing the game how it was meant to be played.

Did I beat it?
Yes! Is that a first for this project? Suffice it to say it took every patient bone in my body, and then I summoned every ounce of restraint in my being (and the desire for a full SNES set) to stop myself from smashing the cart.