Game purchases by my family gone wrong.

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.

Silver Surfer demonstrates the facepalm before the facepalm was trendy and hip.
Oh, and this was also around the tie of another shitty purchase... which was entirely my fault... the just-as-impossible, Silver Surfer and another shitty purchase, the Castlevania clone, 8 Eyes.  It's not that 8 Eyes was bad, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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.

This explains my hatred for townspeople.
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?
15 Comments
16 Comments
Posted by Dalai

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.

Silver Surfer demonstrates the facepalm before the facepalm was trendy and hip.
Oh, and this was also around the tie of another shitty purchase... which was entirely my fault... the just-as-impossible, Silver Surfer and another shitty purchase, the Castlevania clone, 8 Eyes.  It's not that 8 Eyes was bad, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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.

This explains my hatred for townspeople.
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?
Posted by Bucketdeth

Very nice blog man.
You know I can`t really think of any shitty games any family member has given me for christmas since I usually hint at what games I want if they were to buy any.
but I know I bought a few shitty games over the years before reading any reviews, like Enchanted Arms.

Posted by Player1

I totally agree. Its just not the same as coming home from the store, taking off the plastic wrap, and playing the game YOU picked out. Theres something about the risk you take in purchasing a game yourself, that makes the reward of it being a great game that much better. 

I remember my aunts and uncles always trying to get me games, usually they looked so bad/ bargain bin that I didn't even try them. I stuck with my backyard sports games. 
Posted by gunswordfist

I think the worst game I got from my parents was Sonic 3D. Yes they were that great at getting games. I got games like Rayman, Tobal No. 1, Devil May Cry and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from them.

Posted by Ramza394

Nascar for the N64. I mean really who wants to drive a car in circles all day. Or maybe worse yet was Ren and Stimpy for the Sega Genesis, took only 3 hours to beat of hard and no replay value. Traded that in for General Chaos which was a awesome game.

Posted by TheJollyRajah

Well, my father's a gamer himself, so if they try to buy me a game, it's usually great 90% of the time. He isn't as tuned in to the gaming scene as I am, but he can tell which is bad or good, and since he plays games at least once a week he has a basic understanding of what constitutes a well crafted video game.

Unfortunately, nobody buys games for me anymore, and I have to waste gas and time to get them. So I don't know what youre talking about! I'd rather have someone else do it for me.
Posted by Gearhead

In all those games you mentioned the AGVN has video's on them. The Silver Surfer was a memorable one.

Posted by zitosilva

Thankfully (?) games are too expensive now, so my family members can't afford to present them to me. But, yeah, I've received tons of crap games at Christmas and brithdays, specially in the NES and SNES era. I have some weird japanese stuff that I don't even know the name.

Posted by Kazona

My parents have never bought me a game as a present, and while at times it does bum me out a little, I am proud of the fact that all the games I own were bought with my own money--money that I earned. And reading this makes me even more grateful that I buy all my own games.

Posted by Gizmo

That Silver-Surfer picture brought back memories.

Posted by Dalai
Gearhead said:
"In all those games you mentioned the AGVN has video's on them. The Silver Surfer was a memorable one."
Yeah, I have the dubious honor of own (or once owning) 3 featured AVGN games... sad, indeed.
Posted by DXSSI

I've bought and received quite a few games that sucked in my time, oh yes.  But really, almost every game has more merits than flaws—if I were that picky about games I don't think I'd be able to play them at all.

I actually played Popeye just last week.  Yeah, it wasn't the best game—just a lot of cheap arcadey thrills.  But it wasn't horrible by any means.  You just have to enjoy the type of game that never really ends and the only purpose is to beat the high score—usually your own.  Considering that in Popeye cartoons, Olive Oyl is always the damsel in distress and Bluto is always getting under Popeye's skin and Popeye is always eating spinach to sock him in the jaw—it's actually a fitting use of the license and a bonafide tribute to the cartoons.

I haven't played Donkey Kong Jr. in awhile, but what was the problem with that one?  Again, it's an arcade thriller.  I'm not sure what you were expecting—this was what the market was primarily delivering at the time, as the rest of the industry took a little time to catch up to delivering the kind of meaningful quest that Super Mario Bros. provided (probably some would say they still haven't.)  I certainly didn't expect anything greater at that time, and I'm a year younger than you are.

Bart vs. the Space Mutants was an awkward game at an awkward time.  The show's core audience, who the game was probably built for, didn't really play video games much at the time, leaving it up to kids to buy since Bart Simpson was, like, the coolest kid ever in the minds of many.  So we wound up with a pretty unforgiving difficulty level, which could have been tolerable if the play controls weren't so shoddy.  Nonetheless, it's a fun, quirky game, and one that I'm proud to say I've completed.

I own somewhere between 20-25 (maybe more) AVGN reviewed games, and the only reason for the inexact count is that I'm not 100% sure if I should include certain games that were included as part of a larger scope review.  For example, I didn't count Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 3, because with SMB, he was really reviewing the U-Force peripheral, and SMB3 was clearly a joke review (not that it was funny in any way.)  I did count Duck Hunt because although it was the Zapper he was reviewing, you needed the zapper for Duck Hunt.  In some cases my judgment of which to count and which to skip may not be accurate, because I try not to watch his shitty show.

Now, as for the games that have irked me.  Generally, my family doesn't surprise me with games—they seem to have the common sense that not all games are created equal, and they might as well just ask me what I want.  The one time I remember this happening; my grandmother bought me a copy of NFL Blitz for the Game Boy.  Somehow she caught wind of the fact that I liked NFL Blitz (which I already had for N64 anyways) and surprised me with it.  A nice gesture, to be sure—unfortunately the portable version of the game was simply terrible.  I quickly figured out how to trigger a glitch that basically let you either walk into the end zone or push your opponents back for a safety every time (I can't remember which one it was now; maybe it was both) and that eliminated any challenge whatsoever.

I once bought Theme Park for the PS1, and that probably stands out as my worst game purchase of all time.  In retrospect, it wasn't a bad game, not by any means.  But I was greatly misled by the game description on the back of the box, which made the game sound more like a virtual theme park creator than a virtual theme park management simulator.  So I was really disappointed by that one.

Then there's my borderline fetish for buying Sonic the Hedgehog games.  I loved Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis, and the Sonic Adventure series of games were fun takes on them too, even if they were kind of glitch-ridden.  Even though the entirety of the 21st century thus far has been plagued with Sonic games that "just weren't quite good enough", I keep buying them, with few exceptions.  I managed to pass on Sonic Advance 3; and I remain firmly committed to not buying Sonic and the Black Knight.  I did buy Sonic Unleashed for Xbox 360, and in spite of its many, many, many, many, many, many flaws, I am managing to have fun in the few moments where Sonic Team got it right.

I own Superman 64—I was a huge fan of the Batman/Superman Adventures at the time so it seemed like an obvious decision.  I personally do not subscribe the notion that licensed properties automatically make a bad game.  I do subscribe to the notion that licensed properties catch the eyes of untalented game developers, who know that the licenses will sell extra copies of game, even if it's bad.  I further subscribe to the notion that the best game developers avoid licensed properties, because it is far more profitable to invent your own characters and not have to pay licensing fees.  However, this is not always true—there are utter turds of games out there both using licensed characters and using original characters, while GOOD licensed games do exist.  But the problem is that a crappy game without a great license is completely overlooked, whereas fans of licensed properties are often willing to suffer through a bad game, which feeds the legend.  But back to Superman 64, which unfortunately is enough to make its own legend.  In spite of its atrocious gameplay, I could see something special about it (especially terrible), and when that happens, I am often motivated to go farther and faster in a game so that if nothing else, I can mock it mercilessly as I play, MST3K-style.  So, yes, I have completed Superman 64—thanks for asking.

I bought Dewy's Adventure last year, because Elebits was awesome and I had high hopes for the title since it was by the same team.  Unfortunately, it is a pile of shit, and I haven't played past stage 1-3.  I can't find a single redeeming quality in it.  This is an example of a unlicensed game that turned out to be completely lame, and in ten years no one will remember it.  Hell, most people don't remember it now.  And since it will be anything but legendary, I can hardly be bothered to complete it.  "Yeah, well I beat Superman 64" will ALWAYS pack more punch than "Yeah, well I beat Dewy's Adventure."  So really, it's not worth my time.

Other games which I am not particularly proud of owning are Pac-Man Pinball Advance (GBA), The Weakest Link (PC) and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy (GBA).  Interestingly enough, two of those three are not only not famous licenses, they are original character creations from companies which can almost always be depended on to deliver a solid game.  Unfortunately both Pac-Man Pinball and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy were largely uninspired cash-ins with poor design.  The Weakest Link is a special kind of weird—I love game shows so I'm a bit more drawn to buy them than the ordinary person.  But for starters, this particular version doesn't even allow you to enter your own name—you have play as one of the characters in the game.  This leads to problems if you can't identify with your character, since virtual Anne Robinson calls the character out by name when it's his/her/your turn.  But the game drags because you spend so much time watching your computer opponents/partners play, which is boring, which may cause you to not be paying attention when your turn finally comes around again.  Also, since it's all for virtual money, the real-life greed instinct doesn't kick in, and there is little incentive to bank anything but the highest amount.  Ultimately the format doesn't translate well to a video game—I'm not sure why I bought it, exactly.  I probably found it ultra-cheap somewhere, but I don't really remember.

Oh well—live and learn.

Posted by Dalai

DXSSI, with Popeye and Donkey Kong Jr., it's a matter of taste, I guess.  I had some fun with those games as a kid, but those games don't hold up very well compared to other NES launch titles.  I guess when compared to Super Mario Bros., everything else around that time pales in comparison.  I could've actually lumped in Pinball for the NES with those, but I had more fun with that game despite its flaws.  I have played that one recently and it's fun in short spurts.

I can't say I'm really picky about my preferences, but I don't have a budget big enough to try out every game in existence, which is why I don't own Superman 64.  In my case, being a little picky can be a good thing and I don't have the time or patience to play through bad games when I can play through all the ones I enjoy.

Posted by DXSSI

Oh, yeah, don't get me wrong—I think most would agree with that.  Gaming is all about personal taste.  And I don't think anyone would disagree with the idea that Popeye and Donkey Kong Jr. aren't on par with the other NES titles of that era; they were there mostly because they were easy to make arcade ports that helped to expand the initial library of NES titles.  Pinball is oddly fun, too.  This is partly why it's so hard for anyone to pick out a title for another person.  You have to be able to play and enjoy just about any game or genre—a trait I consider myself fortunate to have.

And there's nothing wrong with being cost-conscious with gaming, I do it all the time myself—I've passed up probably a dozen titles I was curious about in the last year or so because I didn't want to spend any more money; I'd use a rental service but time is a bigger enemy than money these days, and I'd rather own a copy of the titles I've played.  Sometimes the toughest thing is spending time reading about games I know I'll never play.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Speaking of The Simpsons, my parents got me The Simpsons Skateboarding as one of my first PS2 games and it spoiled my first memories with that system. Funny how the other games I got were SSX and Final Fantasy X, two not-to-shabby games.

Posted by MadMatr07

I got one of the burger king games as a gift one year. I believe the game was Pocket Bike Racer.