The lights are on
This generation has been densely packed with more amazing video games than most console cycles enjoy. Times may be good now, but it’s important to think back on your low points with video games. I’ve played some serious train wrecks, both in the name of personal masochism and answering the call of duty here at Game Informer. Most of these entries read like a summary of the worst Super Replays we’ve recorded (the first episode of our Illbleed Super Replay went live today!). From Castlevania 64 to Ride to Hell: Retribution, these are the biggest stinkers I’ve seen through to the end.
The first 3D entry in the legendary Castlevania series is regarded as its lowest point. I have a soft spot for the moody adventure despite its loose platforming and terrible combat, but my appreciation doesn’t make it any less awful. If you thought dodging flying medusa heads was difficult in 2D, the nuisances create even worse situations when combined with shoddy 3D movement. One remarkably crappy section requires players to carry volatile nitroglycerin through a section of the castle. Jumping or falling too far causes the liquid to explode and a delivers a swift game over. Despite taking my lumps, I struggled through each terribly unfair boss fight until I saw Dracula’s castle crumble and took a breath of relief as the credits rolled. Watch our Replay of Castlevania 64 here.
Rising Zan: Samurai Gunman
The Replay crew fell in love with this goofy PlayStation action game during one episode. We continued our adventures during an off-hours, impromptu Super Replay (before Super Replay existed). Dan Ryckert, Bryan Vore, and I all gathered with the intention of just playing a bit more of the oddball adventure. I had the dubious honor of playing. The Wild West/samurai hybrid was wonky and punishing, but never impossible. I battled UFOs, fought evil trains, and slashed my way all the way to the end all in one sitting. The “fun” ended at about five in the morning, but I was oddly happy to have the quirky experiment under my belt.
The Game Informer crew first ran into Overblood during an infamous second segment of our Revolution X Replay. We were so taken by the game’s cheap instant-kill traps, terrible voice acting, and awful graphics that we dedicated ourselves to beating it. While everyone poked fun at its aesthetic shortcomings and celebrated its goofy story, I silently wrestled with the clunky controls. Obviously inspired by the tank controls of the then-successful Resident Evil series, guiding Raz through his sci-fi adventure was an exercise in frustration, accented by unpredictable environmental kills like falling statues and hypothermia.
The sequel to Overblood eschewed the plodding survival horror focus in exchange for a high concept action game. Swordplay, gunfights, cybernetic t-rexes, and high speed “junk blade” races were all part of the rotten package. The game controlled better than its predecessor, but at the cost of illogical level design. Want to pass that gigantic tornado blocking the critical path? Hope you spoke to a specific vendor and connected the dots between the wingsuit and the swirling air vortex. Traversing the world using the hookshot-style grappling hook is among the game’s most frustrating sequences. Nevertheless, we managed to make it through to the end of the overlong adventure through sheer will.
Similar to Overblood’s Raz, Cyberia’s Zak made his debut at the tail end of an episode of Replay (watch the Batman Forever episode here). We were struck by the awful pre-rendered graphics, hilarious random deaths, and rigid shooting sequences. I never would’ve guessed what we were signing up for when we began our Super Replay of the game. Tiptoeing around deadly fan blades and security guards that can apparently teleport (affectionately referred to as Mike) was difficult enough, but the on-rails shooting sequences tested our patience. We played most of the early PlayStation title using the controller’s humble d-pad to blast down speeding targets. Little did we know the PlayStation mouse would offer more reliable control in the 11th hour. But it was still terrible. Aiming the sluggish cursor to gun down a requisite number of enemies delivered gaming frustration like I had never known. The final ascent to the end credits is some of the deepest relief I’ve felt while at Game Informer. Cyberia stands as the worst game I've ever beaten in all my years of playing.
Cyberia 2: Resurrection
The first Cyberia was plagued with awful checkpoints, unpredictable deaths, and unforgiving aerial shootouts. The sequel massaged away some of those issues, but replaced them with a host of new problems. Our Super Replay of the game brought back some awful memories. Progress was frequently halted thanks to cryptic goals, like browsing through a virtual computer and looking for a specific file among many. Failing to read the correct file results in instant death. Another confusing sequence requires players to avoid line of sight with patrolling guards by positioning Zak during an on-rails walk. Another demands you have the precognition to sit in an office chair is such a way that a random guard can’t spot you. Cyberia 2 wasn’t as unplayable as the first game, but it’s still Cyberia. And Cyberia is some of the worst gaming available.
This Japanese Dreamcast horror wannabe feels like it’s cut from the same cloth as Overblood 2. Actions like health recovery and attacks are restricted by agonizingly long animations. A boss battle against a huge monster hiding in a walk-in freezer is made worse when having to carve out 10 precious seconds to drink a Hassy recovery drink. Thankfully, I discovered that a simple fire axe strikes the perfect balance between stunning enemies and dealing decent damage. While this exploit made the game reasonably playable, it restricted us from experimenting with more exotic weaponry. Little touches like a giant crab with a jeep for a shell and Dogs Bower’s bad-ass attitude smoothed out a few of the rough edges. Watch our entire Super Replay ordeal here.
Ride to Hell: Retribution
For some reason, the Game Informer crew decided it would be a good idea to live stream some Ride to Hell: Retribution after work hours. I had no idea we would be driven to beat one of 2013’s most loathsome games. Jarringly edited cutscenes, mindless bike chases, and fully clothed sexual intercourse made this a mix of so-bad-it’s-good and just plain old bad. The frequent, overlong load times and cheap deaths tip this stinker over the edge. Spend just 20 minutes with this one and you’ll question how it was ever greenlit. Check out a Test Chamber video preview of this hot garbage here.
These are just a few of the awful games I’ve played and beaten in my lifetime of playing. What are the worst games you’ve seen through to completion?
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.