Yesterday I took a look at 10 games that were important, they helped shape the gaming industry in positive ways. Today I'm taking a look at 10 games that also shaped and changed the industry, just in negative ways.
Keep in mind, this is not necessarily a list of 10 terrible games, though some of them are bad. I freely admit that I like some of these games, just that they had bad and sometimes unintentional consequences.
So bearing that in mind, here's the list.
Without a doubt, the original arcade version of Pac-Man is a timeless classic, an amazingly simplistic yet fun game that had it's own positive effect on the industry. The idea of owning the game on a home console was extremely attractive to many people, so the hotly anticipated Atari 2600 version could have been amazing. So what went wrong? Well to start off, the game is just awful. Gamers expected a come-down in graphics from arcade to Atari 2600, but the game was drab with very few colors, all of them ugly. The flickering of the sprites, terrible gameplay and the fact that it barely resembled Pac-Man hurt the game greatly. To make matters worse, Atari produced way too many cartridges, so many in fact that the amount of Pac Man cartridges outstripped the number of Atari 2600 consoles owned. I guess Atari thought people would be so hard for Pac Man that they'd all rush out and get the console. This is stupid, but it's even worse with the game being bad. Many unsold cartridges wound up crushed up and buried in a landfill, along with the next game on my list...
The story behind E.T. is a lot like the story behind Pac-Man. The game was hotly anticipated, way too many cartridges were made, the game itself was proved to be awful by almost all accounts (check out my video of it, in place of the usual screen shot.) The game was also crushed up and buried with pac man catridges and Atari systems that either never got sold, or in the case of E.T., were sold and then returned as unplayable. In the end, the game was so bad that Atari couldn't even manage to give away copies of the game, the children and gamers of America wouldn't even accept it as a gift. Along with Pac-Man, E.T. contributed to the great Video Game crash that destroyed the industry. It wasn't until Nintendo came along with their ingenious little box that the video games were shown to be viable again.
3. Custer's Revenge
Speaking of Atari...Back in those days, Atari made all the games. Even games based on arcade games made by other companies, like Namco's Pac-Man, were made by Atari. It was their console after all. Then some Atari employees got pissed off, left and formed their own company, Activision. They released games for the Atari 2600. Atari was like "nuh-uh!" and sued. They failed. The third party developer was born. Here's the bad side. Atari smut. I mean, the fact that there's video game smut doesn't surprise me. You actually kind of expect it, especially that video games are a largely Japanese phenomenon. But this was before there was really any chance of the graphics being titillating enough for pixel pr0n to be viable. Hell, the characters barely resemble what they're supposed to be. To make matters worse, Custer's Revenge was a game about General Armstrong Custer raping the shit out of a Native American woman tied to a cactus, while arrows shoot at him. Is there a single demographic that isn't offended by this? The game was so offensive that retailers who did bother to stock it kept it behind the counter. Meaning you had to ask for it. "Do you have that rape game with the Indians?" The damage the game did is obvious, and porn games for the most part kept out of America. Which really, is sort of a good thing.
4. Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog is proof that even great games considered by many (including myself) to be classics can cause lasting and powerful damage to the gaming industry. You may not even be aware of the shit this game caused, but now you will know. And knowledge is power, so you're about to become a little bit more like Mr. T. Anyway, Sonic was a great game that spawned many great sequels. It also eventually spawned some bad ones, but that's not the issue. The issue is that Sonic was created in a very odd way compared to his contemporary, Mario. Mario's entire design in Donkey Kong was created to both show off the graphics and to hide limitations in the graphics. Sonic was created to be "cool". The fact that he did turn out to be cool is kind of beside the point. All of a sudden, there were a hundred and one corporate crated "hip" cartoon gaming mascots with "tuuuuude, duuuuude". Thanks to this blue fucker, games like Awesome Possum and Bubsy exist. The 90's were plagued with these sonic clones and shitty, unimaginative characters. While some turned out decent games (Klonoa) most were just mung-quality. So for that, we have to admit the truth. Sonic was a great game, but it was responsible for a lot of bullshit.
5. Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat also was not a bad game, though it was vastly overrated. Made perhaps in direct response to Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat did things differently. Instead of focusing on gameplay and fun, they just decided to make it violent. Because this is what idiot teenagers in the 90's wanted. I lament the many, many times someone has looked me in the eye and told me that Mortal Kombat was way better than Street Fighter II because "you can kill people in it." Folks, is this what makes a good game? Am I the only one sane left? Mortal Kombat had shoddy controls, ugly digitized graphics and over-the-top gore that really added nothing but shock value to the game. Though some of the games in the series are good, even great, the fact is that Mortal Kombat was the first to do this and it was controversial. This shit was even on the news. We can thank Mortal Kombat for the government threatening to censor the gaming industry (surprised they didn't want to step in for Custer's Revenge), and the creation of the ESRB, our only, feeble defense against this. It also spawned an entire pseudo-genre of games that were nothing more than buckets of blood, and very little substance. Fuck that.
6. Night Trap
Night Trap is fucking retarded. We pretty much know this now, but believe it or not this Sega CD abomination was once really popular. Having C-list actors in it probably contributed to this. Suddenly games didn't look like little pixels, they had real people in them! And you could control the real people! Well, obviously not. But so many were suckered in by Night Trap, and it's success spawned the idiotic FMV craze that infested consoles, arcades and even PC games. With very little actual gameplay, and just some terrible footage of actors embarrassing themselves, these sorts of games glutted the market on the Sega CD, overshadowing games that actually were decent. The Sega CD was killed, and CD technology became tabboo in the industry, at least until Sony came along with their ingenious box.
7. Grand Theft Auto 3
Speaking of the Playstation...Grand Theft Auto 3 is a fucking abomination. No, I'm not saying it's a bad game. I would say it's depressingly mediocre, but that's beside the point. GTA3 gave birth to the Gramer. The Gramer is like the Gamer, only he doesn't like games. He claims to like games, but only ones called GTA, Halo and Madden. Fuck the Gramer in his stupid ass, and fuck this overrated game for creating that horrible abomination. GTA3 was basically a game where you had missions, but instead of playing them you could do whatever you want. Which means most people just sat there getting blowjobs from hookers then running them over with their stolen car. While giggling. The fact is, this is just Mortal Kombat all over again, appealing to the idiot who just wants to see and create carnage. This is their idea of fun, not innovation or well designed and balanced gameplay. There's a game in there somewhere, and some of the later GTA games even were fucking decent. But still, the focus was all on vicariously being a shithead.
8. BMX XXX
This one is so retarded I don't want to talk about it that much. Video game smut returns to prominence, this time masquerading as an extreme sports title. Originally this was going to be Dave Mirra's Frestyle BMX 3, until he saw the product and said fuck if you're putting my name on that shit. Aside from the "thrill" of riding around on a bicycle as a topless chick, the game had a "storyline" that was a cross between Jackass and the kind of retarded jokes only 12 year old boys think are funny. You gotta wonder if they wouldn't rethink the "M for Mature" rating on games, as this game is anything but Mature. Thankfully, it's damage was not great, as the game bombed horribly. But the attention it got in mainstream media certainly didn't help us.
9. Halo: Combat Evolved
Okay, it's not secret that I can't stand this game. You can spare me the comments. I know you love it, and I know you don't understand why I don't, even after I explain it to you. This lack of understanding and being a fan of Halo can be somewhat linked, though I'm no scientist. The fact is, Halo is fucking boring. Yes, we all know you love to gather around with your friends and play the shit out of the multiplayer. But if the campaign sucks and has level design equivalent to walking through the same fucking shit over and over again, then why bother? Halo has almost destroyed the FPS genre, and it's not because it's mediocre. It's not even because it's a gramer game, and that does play a part. It's the whole concept of lazy design and gameplay that offers no challenge whatsoever. Thanks to this game, everyone and their mother expects their life to magically refill in a game just because they ducked behind something. Maybe it might have at least had a thematic place in this game, but with games like Call of Duty 2 and Quantum of Solace doing it, you gotta wonder what's in that crack they're smoking. Other than crack that is.
10. Wii Sports
Finally, we have the top selling video game of all time. The ridiculously wide spread Wii Sports is actually a pretty damn fun game. The problem? Well of course there's the many imitators. It created a genre of full priced games that were nothing more than collections of mini games, usually with one or two fun ones in there, but mostly shitty ones. It also is the reason that many, MANY people fail to recognize the Wii as a legitimate gaming machine. Many people will say "That's the thing you play bowling on". The whole Nintendo collection is lost. Hell, my sister's boyfriend even said this, as he was surprised to see me playing Wario Land Shake It, he didn't know there were actual GAMES for the Wii. He thought it was all Wii Sports. Fail. That being said, I want to be fair. It sold a lot of Wii's, and it is a great machine. And it's getting non-gamers into our hobby, which (sorry elitists) is a good thing. That doesn't mean I can forgive it for "Carnival Games"