Bottom-5 Xbox 360 & GameCube Games
Time for another double list. Before we get to my Bottom-10 Wii Games list, I decided to also get the Xbox 360 and GameCube bottom-5s out of the way. As a refresher for what the Top-10s for both of these systems were like, I shall link to the original Top-10 GameCube and Top-10 Xbox 360 games lists.
I found making both of these lists extremely difficult because, quite frankly, I never played that many bad games for either system. Rather, these lists are going to be made up mostly of games which disappointed me rather than were just flat-out bad. Which is to say, if you enjoy the games here just remember that these are just my opinions and that you shouldn’t take them too seriously. And of course, I’ll only list games I’ve actually played.
So let’s get on with the list…
Bottom-5 Xbox 360 games
I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I quite liked the first Assassin’s Creed and frankly think it was a much better game than the sequels which followed it. The setting (Middle-East during the Crusades) was interesting as was the character of Altaïr. The game had straight-forward but novel gameplay and I liked it how the game let me go about completing the necessary goals for the game, without holding my hand so much.
I decided to give Assassin’s Creed 2 a shot based solely on how much fun I had playing the first Assassin’s Creed but my enjoyment of it was immediately hindered by its far more linear structure and the fact that there wasn’t really anything to pace the game properly. On top of the story missions, there were just so many secondary goals that kept distracting me and that whole mini Sim City that was added to the game was just too much. I finally stopped playing after getting stuck in one of those annoying painting highlight mini-games. Much as I love Cam Clarke’s voice, I just felt AssCreed 2 kept distracting me with useless crap and side-quests. Eventually I just lost interest in the main-plot and characters (who weren’t that interesting to begin with) and lost my drive to play.
Also, a minor thing but I felt this game completely undermined Desmond Miles, the lead character, which was another pet peeve. Sure, Desmond wasn’t THAT interesting, but it feels completely counter-intuitive to have him only play a part at the start of the game. In summation, AssCreed 2 probably isn’t a terrible game, but there’s just too much shit in it. I enjoyed myself for the opening when I still knew what I was doing, that whole Mario bit was hilarious, but in the end the game just gets so diluted that I stopped playing because I couldn’t muster the energy to care about Ezio and his hilarious accent.
After LucasArts brought out The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition to the PCs and Xbox 360, I was naturally curious to see what other classic adventure games they would possibly remake and release in the following years. Unfortunately, Darrel Rodriguez stepped down just as MI2: Special Edition was released and fans were left hanging in suspense once more. Monkey Island 2 was the natural next step for a Special Edition but the unbelievable sloppiness with which LucasArts handled the release is what was the most disappointing aspect about it.
For one, the analogue-stick controlled walking which would have actually been useful in the first game, was completely useless in MI2:SE since Guybrush could get stuck so easily in whatever nook and cranny was created for his walk-paths. The timed puzzles refused to work properly, LeChuck’s walk animation ran too fast, the Rap Scallion sequence was glitched beyond all hope and the game’s iconic opening credits sequence was left out completely. I was honestly left shaking my head. There were nowhere nearly as many and as severe problems with the first game’s special edition, which almost made me wonder if LucasArts had bothered to play-test the game before release. To top it off, Monkey Island 2 was already my least favourite game in the series, but I was willing to give it another chance with the Special Edition release.
On the PC front, fans were fortunate to at least get a patch that fixed the issues above while Xbox owners had no such bleeding luck. Still, MI2’s good points (as they are) still did come through on the Special Edition, the music was actually better than SMI:SE and the creator commentary with Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer alleviated some of the worst of the disappointment. But, a disappointment it was never the less.
As you’ll remember, Arkham Asylum was in my Top-10 Xbox 360 games, so obviously I was excited for the sequel. I was innitially confused with the title of the game and not perhaps too excited about its sand-box style gameplay. However, I still decided to give it a fair chance because the first game had been so good. What I discovered was that Arkham City was a let-down on numerous fronts, a practical downgrade from its predecessor and adding insult to injury, had some positively annoying features.
Gameplay wise, it was rather close to the first game, but I couldn’t understand what Rocksteady Studios were thinking when they redid all the quick commands and effectively made them useless in battle. Running around the isolated part of Gotham known as Arkham City (yes, that’s what that title means) wasn’t nearly as much fun because you were constantly pestered by the chatter from street thugs. This really robbed the game of that quiet, intense atmosphere of the first game.
The voice-cast was mostly so-and-so with a particularly terrible casting choice for the Penguin (who also looked terrible). By far the most disappointing aspect of this game was the plot. It’s a shame too since there actually seemed to be some potential to it, especially with the inclusion of Rhaz Al Ghul and the Joker being fatally ill. However, it all fell to pieces by the finale and I didn’t even think the Catwoman segments really added anything to the segments. I did notice, a strangely higher amount of fan-service, especially with the female characters which felt really strange and out-of-place.
All around, Arkham City was a let-down. It had some fun segments, I felt the boss-fights were mostly enjoyable (except for that obligatory slug-fests of course) and there were even a few fairly clever segments involving stealth and sneaking. On the over-all, I just kept thinking how much better everything had been done in the last game, which means that this sequel just failed to deliver almost anything worth while.
Sega pulled a bit of a dick-move by releasing the first episode of Sonic 4 on the Wii, but not the second, so I had to download it from XBLA instead in order to experience the full game. I discovered somewhat to my surprise that Episode 1 and 2 of Sonic 4 were rather notably different, to the point where they could be considered two different games. Whereas Episode 1 was perhaps a little too forgiving and easy, but at the same time, actually a fair bit of fun, Episode 2 was sadistically difficult and one of my absolute least favourite Sonic games.
The first world wasn’t terrible, but every other level from there on out switches the shit-switch on difficulty. You’re expected to navigate through levels with perfect pinpoint accuracy, whereas most likely every other level will kill you at least a dozen times before you learnt he ins and outs of it. I understand Sonic Team was probably compensating for the absolutely childish difficulty of the first instalment, but I think they honestly went more than a smidge overboard. Having Tails around really didn’t add anything since you don’t get to play as him.
Most insultingly, Episode 2 didn’t fix Episode 1’s most cardinal flaw which was its over-reliance on levels modelled after the Mega Drive era Sonic games. Sure enough, the 2.5D design of these two games was very intentional, but Episode 2 honestly felt like an even more obvious rip-off of Sonic 2 and CD. Plus, the soundtrack even took a slight dive with the second level themes for quite a few worlds being surprisingly lacklustre (although I admire that Sonic Team continued with the “slight variations in each stage” approach for each level theme).
In all, Sonic 4 just left me frustrated and annoyed.
One of the biggest reasons I got the Xbox 360 was so that I would get to experience the fourth official Street Fighter somewhere down the line. As it turns out, I also got to experience Street Fighter 3 through XBLA and that actually was a worth-while experience. SF4 was just a huge let-down. It just seems to me that Capcom doesn’t know how to make good 2.5D fighting games. I know I’m in the minority on this one as well, but Street Fighter 4 was just a terrible fighting game.
When people were innitially complaining that this was just going to be Street Fighter 2½, I thought they were being per chance a little mean. I could understand the high amount of Street Fighter 2 characters being in the game since the lack of them was part reason why I think SF3, an otherwise brilliant game, was ignored by most people when it came out. However, only four original characters appeared in the initial release and THAT felt like a rip-off. On top of which all four characters were pretty terrible to play as and not even remotely interesting (nope, not even Viper). I did like that the game included at least a few characters from the Alpha series, but basically, you were just getting Street Fighter 2 in 2.5D without the iconic background music.
That’s another thing that pissed me off. The music was so uninteresting and you only got to hear characters’ iconic themes during the grudge-match fights. That seemed like a total waste. I also assumed that the stickiness of the controls was due to the D-Pad on the 360, but as I played more fighting games on the system, I began to realise that the controls were just flat-out unreliable. Characters would jump unexpectedly and even simple special moves were difficult to pull off. Plus, I didn’t like it that this game focused so much on block-breaking moves, since it really limited my own gameplay (because A.) I use block a lot and B.) I couldn’t be bothered to learn the block-breaking moves). I also hated the art-style, but this same cavalcade butt-chins and googly eyes has been the norm for Street Fighter since the god awful Animated Movie came out, so I suppose there wasn’t much that could be done about it.
And the final enemy in the arcade mode is just a dirty, cheating bastard which deterred me from even playing the game through as most of the characters. In other words, I had zero fun with the game which instantly made it my least favourite Xbox 360 game and easily the biggest let-down for the console.
Bottom-5 GameCube Games
The first Metroid Prime was a pretty okay game. Although I’m not a fan of the scavenger hunt aspect of the Metroid-games, I could still enjoy the atmosphere locations and action of the first Metroid Prime to some degree. And of course, Metroid Prime 3 was my favourite Wii game. However, the second game in the Prime-trilogy never really clicked for me.
The dark world aspect was sort of interesting but badly executed. I sort of liked how this game tried to tell a bit more of a story than the first game, but frankly didn’t add much to the story-line (and of course it took until Other M before we got a good storyline out of the Metroid-series). Also, this game was unnecessarily cryptic at times and that once again led me to stop playing before I had a chance to finish it.
Much like with AssCreed 2, the game isn’t really terrible but I just don’t like the way you have to play it. If I get stuck and then feel zero-urge to keep on playing, I think the game has done something wrong. MP2 got on this list more because of frustration and less because it’s a bad game, but if the lack of an interesting setting and plot will just make it into a repeat of every Metroid game up to this point you can understand why I’d be unmotivated to finish it.
Once again, Donkey Konga isn’t a bad game in and of itself. But it is a let-down. Why? Because the GameCube offered a lot of solid titles for classic Nintendo series. We had a fun, if a slightly controversial Mario-game. We had an expansive and cool, if at times a slightly tedious Zelda-game. And we had a cool and atmospheric return of the Metroid series. Hell, I even loved StarFox Adventures. But that’s the problem. Rareware got bought up by Microsoft and for whatever reason, Nintendo decided that the GameCube didn’t need a proper Donkey Kong game.
What we instead got was a peripheral and two rhythm games which starred the tie-wearing gorilla. Sure, there was that “sort of” action-game using the bongo-drums but I never played it and frankly I wasn’t that interested. Through the first three Donkey Kong Country games and DK64, I had always enjoyed the platforming fun of the DK series, the colourful Kongs and enemy characters as well. This seemed like such cop-out from Nintendo it wasn’t even funny.
Of course, DK finally did return in full force on the Wii with Donkey Kong Country Returns. And like I said, Donkey Konga wasn’t a bad game, but it just wasn’t the Donkey Kong game that I wanted. Rhythm games are fun in short spurts and I even thought the bongo-drum controller was pretty neat. But, a music-game just isn’t a substitute for a well-crafted and challenging platformer.
Once again I fly into the face of public opinion. I’m just going to spill the beans on this one: Smash Bros. is a terrible fighting game.
To be fair, I enjoyed the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. It was a goofy, silly and novel idea of a cross-over between several recognisable Nintendo characters. However, I felt that was the extent of its appeal. Although a bit fighting game-ish it might have been, the controls were basic and at times frustrating and I didn’t particularly enjoy the mechanic of throwing people off.
When a sequel was announced for the GameCube, I was already not excited because I felt they weren’t really going to do anything new and interesting with it. And I was correct. The graphics were flashier and the roster was bigger, but it was still the same mind-numbing button-masher I had expected. Plus that frantic camera-zoom that wasn’t present in the original just gives me motion-sickness.
I felt a bit awkward about the fact that this thing became the most talked about and popular title for the GameCube, a system that gathered a lot of ridicule back when it was fresh and new. For me there were so many more interesting and better games, I couldn’t really understand Melee’s appeal beyond the social component. Even though I like it that Nintendo uses Smash Bros. to honour and celebrate their franchises, it would honestly be more enjoyable if Nintendo could focus on making more games in the individual franchises. Brawl is the only game in the series I enjoyed to some degree, because of the story-mode which was removed from the WiiU instalment and which is why I’m probably not going to bother with said game.
The very first Resident Evil game to break out of the PlayStation exclusivity void and also use real 3D surroundings was a big deal on the original Dreamcast. Of course, with the final Sega console failing, the game made the jump to PS2 and GameCube. While I rather enjoy the old-school Resident Evil games and prefer their atmosphere to the over-the-shoulder instalments, Code: Veronica X was one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played.
I’ll skim over the whole D-pad situation because that is honestly the least of the game’s problems. Code: Veronica X tricks the player into a false sense of security but the difficulty always spikes at the most inconvenient points in the game. Really, the only way to beat the game is through frustratingly high amounts of trial and error. Once you start playing a Chris Redfield, about half-way through the game, the game’s difficulty remains annoyingly high and if you used up even a little bit too much ammo, you’re pretty much fucked for the rest of the game.
On top of that, the storyline is a load of balls and the item-management is just really frustrating since you do run across items you need to pick up fairly often. Even though the cutscenes look excellent and the voice-acting has a so-bad-it’s-good quality, Code: Veronica X is just not a very enjoyable title and my second least favourite Resident Evil game ever.
It’s my understanding that the first two Rogue Squadrons were actually well-liked titles in the Star Wars game circles. I myself have only experienced the third entry in the series. I will say that Factor 5 at has some sense of humour and it’s not that this game is without its good points. As a space-combat game it would actually be very passable. The action is intense, the controls sensible (not great, but sensible) and the only annoyance while flying is that the game always corrects you to fly the right-side up (even in space). So yes, the flight segments in this game are actually pretty good.
It’s just everything else that’s terrible. The land-segments where you control either Luke, Han or Wedge are just abysmally bad. These segments try to emulate third-person shooters, but with terrible camera-angles and auto-locked firing (which kind of loses the purpose of these segments I think). While the graphics are okay up in the air, up-close the main characters look like plastic figures and move just as awkwardly. My absolute biggest gripe with the game is that I have no direct control over the camera and therefore can’t observe my surroundings.
The cutscenes are pathetic. There’s no proper action and the only time you’ll cheer is when they show clips from the actual Star Wars movies. The voice-acting is absolutely, catastrophically awful. Luke Skywalker is voiced by Bob Bergen whose played the role in numerous Star Wars titles, but here you can clearly hear that the voice-director of the game made zero effort to make sure the performances were consistent and sounded good. Bergen’s young luke voice is pretty awful and he seems to just read lines straight off the page. Han Solo’s voice-actor is terrifying. Not only does he not sound anything like Harrison Ford, it sounds like he’s choking on a vegetable while delivering his lines. Yoda is bad, real bad. Admiral Ackbar is so far off and so over-the-top he actually turns around to become pretty hilarious.
The missions get progressively harder, which is understandable, but quite a few them (especially any which involve tying up Walkers) are just frustrating. If Rogue Squadron 3 had stuck to being just a space-combat game, it would be mediocre at worst and pretty okay at best. But with its terrible production, lame story (intertwined with the plots of the Episodes 4-6), uninspired voice-acting and nearly broken land segments, it becomes a clusterfuck of unrealised potential. Easily the worst game I’ve played for the GameCube.