It’s been a while since I voiced a controversial opinion, so I felt compelled to do another one of these articles. For those of you with short memories or new readers, I typically take a look at some of the highest or lowest scoring games on Metacritic and see if there are any there that I disagree with in a bad way. For example, if I really liked a game that got slammed in reviews and was generally hated by most people, that game would qualify. I would then attempt to justify this standpoint. On the flip side, if a game was adored by the masses and critics alike, yet disliked by yours truly for whatever reason, it would also qualify.
This article will consist of three of the latter category: games that everyone else seemed to love, but which I just… don’t.
First up is Red Dead Redemption. My first glimpse of this game was through some of its more hilarious bugs in a video posted on YouTube. Horses mounting people and riding around on their back; dogs walking around wielding guns and jumping on top of walls: it got plenty of laughs from me, but I didn’t play the game itself for quite some time. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I gave it a shot – I must have borrowed a copy from someone – and my immediate reaction was negative.
To begin with, I’m not the biggest fan of the Western setting in the first place. I can put up with it when it’s in one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time (Back to the Future, Part III for anyone wondering), but outside of that I just never saw the appeal. The first Clint Eastwood movie I ever sat down and watched was Gran Torino, and that was just because I was bored. I thought the whole “open world” side of things might have been fun, but there’s a glut of those style of games available nowadays. Even the hilarious bugs had been patched, so there was no fun to be had in that direction.
Red Dead seemed to play to every stereotype of a Western film, which I suppose would be what fans of the genre enjoy? I don’t really know. I gave the game a couple of hours of my time, then quit to the 360 dashboard and ejected the disc. If I wasn’t enjoying it by that point, I had better things to do with my time.
This next one could just be a mismatch of perception, since I’m not sure if people actually love this game or if Sony just wouldn’t shut up about it. I know the critics went loopy for it, but once again, LittleBigPlanet’s (and its various sequels and spin-offs) appeal is lost on me. Aside from Stephen Fry doing the voice-over, I didn’t really enjoy myself when playing these games, both of which I managed to pick up for free. Despite loving the idea of creating whole worlds to play around in, the premise was bogged down in frippery and window dressing.
I don’t want to put stickers on things. I don’t care about what expression my sack-thing has on its sack-face. Why didn’t you spend more time on making your physics engine and platforming feel like the gravity switch was accidentally set to “Moon”? The lack of proper gameplay and a thorough dislike of the art style left me disappointed with whatever time I spent in LBP’s worlds. It’s unfortunate, since I really like the look of Tearaway on the Vita. It’s one of those games that makes me almost want to buy the system now, instead of waiting and hoping for the Slim. But when I see who made Tearaway, the price it’s being sold at and the fact that they’re bundling a free copy of LBP Vita? I think again.
Last up is an indie title that everyone fawned over endlessly. Super Meat Boy is a game I love to hate. Just about every aspect of it makes me grimace, from its character design to its unforgiving nature. Some people may find the cutesy characters endearing, but I’m not among them. The main character is literally a cube of meat who is depicted with a swollen eye and a missing tooth, while his girlfriend is a bandage and the villain is a foetus in a robot suit. I’m not sure what sort of message or deeper meaning (if any) the designers were trying to elicit with these choices, because they could quite easily have been left out. I mean it. Replace Meat Boy with anything else and the game remains the same, except less distasteful. Same goes for every other character.
Art choices aside, the brutal nature of the game itself is something I take issue with. I’m sure that some people love the challenge of a game that punishes the slightest mistake, where even a split-second delay in pushing a key means death. I enjoy challenge as much as the next person, but within reason. When the average level in Super Meat Boy is about 80% “touch this and you die”, there’s very little left to enjoy. I don’t want the games I play to be a cakewalk, but neither should they feel like hard work.
In my opinion, there are much better indie platformers out there that people could buy and have fun with; Dustforce and Giana Sisters, to name just a couple. Both of them are challenging in their own right, but there’s no emphasis on perfection. There’s rarely “one right way” to do things. Platforming should be about freedom, not tunnel-vision-like restriction. I wish I could get the £3 I spent on Super Meat Boy back, because I could then spend it on something more worthwhile. Like toilet paper.
That’s all from me for now. Hope I didn’t offend anyone by insulting their favourite game. Be sure to check back here at Zero1Gaming for more articles like this in the future!
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A twenty-something gamer from the North-East of Scotland. By day, I’m a Computer Technician at a local IT recycling charity, where I fix and build PCs. Outside of that, most of my time is spent either sleeping or gaming, which I try accomplish in equal amounts.