By Dalai 16 Comments
It was the day after Christmas and not a single video game is given to me as a gift... friggin sweet! I don't know about you, but I never really liked it when someone bought me a game, even if it's a good one... weird as that sounds. For me, there is something about buying that special game that I want on my own without anybody behind my back or someone holding my hand. Last year, my family got me Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 for Christmas... which I wanted since the first one was pretty good. I spent a total of maybe 45 minutes playing it, but at least my little cousins play it on occasion so it doesn't feel lonely. I really couldn't blame this one on my family since I mentioned the game to my brother, but my parents were never the best at buying games. Sure, they can pick winners occasionally (Metroid, Zelda) and they knew all about Mario, but a video game collection isn't complete without a heap of shit to ruin it... and we knew how to shit up a good collection.
It really started with that first NES Christmas. The year was 1986 and my parents bought this gray boxy thing, and since I was only 5, I had no clue what it was... was this some sort of toaster? I had no idea that I would spend 83% of my childhood holding that NES controller playing the dozens of games I would accumulate, rent, and borrow from my friends. Super Mario Bros., in all its 8-bit glory, made an appearance in the Dalai household in 1986 and everything was good, but there were two other games that showed up as well. Most people would get Duck Hunt or Excitebike, the other good launch game... but I got Popeye and Donkey Kong Jr., and I almost subliminally typed in Poopeye showing how shitty that game ultimately was. I can't say that I didn't have fun playing them, but I was 5... I didn't know any better. I last played Super Mario Bros. sometime this year... I haven't touched Popeye and Donkey Kong Jr. in 20 years.
The next memorable horrible game purchase came in 1991, which marked the beginning of the Nintendo Power era of my gaming life, which meant that I started to recognize what makes a game great and I can decipher (to a point) which games were worth playing and which ones were not. I had a pretty decent collection of games at the time... there were a few duds, but overall, it was pretty good. Unfortunately, shit was introduced to my NES family when my grandmother bought me The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants. I was pretty excited, naturally. The internet couldn't tell me the game sucked, Nintendo Power didn't say the game totally sucked, I wasn't given the memo yet that licensed games sucked, and I'm a Simpsons fan. I gave up on that game very early... the first level made no sense and the mall level was impossible to beat... I never even saw the next level, nor do I really want to.
So what went wrong? Well, my grandma bought it... and she's completely oblivious when it comes to technology of any kind. She meant well, but this was the time where my parents should've started browsing my magazines for information. Sure, it looked good on the surface, but the inside was rotted.
The next bust, I don't believe, is a Christmas purchase, but it is placed on top of my "worst game ever owned" list, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This was a game I knew sucked and was not on my game radar, but for some reason, my mom thought, "Ooh, this looks really good and scary. The box art looks good and it's made by Sony so it must be good." Little did she know that Sony made awful games back then and it was based on the recent movie of the same name... so yes, it was a licensed game. This was yet another case where the first level made no sense, the controls were slow and really awkward, and impossible for me to advance to level 3. It remains in my closet haunting me everyday... luckily, I keep a pitchfork and torch handy.
By the time the Nintendo 64 era of gaming began, I was making most, of not all of the decisions and I was giving out clearer hints to my family on which games were actually good. I can honestly say that I never owned a "bad" Nintendo 64 game... I thoroughly enjoyed all 13 of them, even Cruis'n USA. Today I'm a big boy and buy my own games and I do the proper research to decide whether it's for me or not. If I make a bad purchase, it's all on my head.
Now for the question portion of the show. What games did your parents (or any other family members), buy for you throughout your life that you knew were awful or you didn't know was awful until you played it? Did your parents buy you Bomberman: Act Zero because your parents knew you were a Bomberman fan? What games completely ruined your pristine collection of awesome games?