Ultimately when we sit down to play a new video game, we are trying to see how much fun we can have with it. Sometimes we’re with our friends. Sometimes we are going on a solo adventure. But what do you do when a game you were otherwise having fun with, has glaring noticeable flaws? Where is the line between good and bad?
Perhaps the frame rate is too low. Perhaps the voice acting is very cheesy. Heck, maybe the whole experience is schlocky. But somewhere exists that line. The line between faults in a game that you can appreciate and faults in a game that ruin the experience.
When The Line Is Cheesy And Not Bad
As mentioned before cheesy voice acting might be a factor in not liking a game. But then there are games like the original Resident Evil and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. These games are considered masterpieces and their voice acting is looked upon in fondness and nostalgia. But in these cases, the voice acting doesn’t take up much of the game time. Both games spend much of the time having a single individual going through a large building alone. The voice acting doesn’t get in the way.
Then you have games like Life Is Strange, where dialogue takes up the majority of the game. It would be easy to say that since this is the case, the game is ruined by dialogue that doesn’t sound natural at times. And yes, for some this might be the line. But some others may find the theme of love and friendship to be more important and to shine brighter than the unnatural sounding dialogue.
What about going back to the concept of schlocky games? For some, Shadows of the Damned crosses a line where it’s so bad it’s good. All the guns are named after parts of the male anatomy, after all. But Lollipop Chainsaw, which is another schlocky horror game gets panned by critics and players alike. The truth is, it all comes down to a simple, perhaps difficult to pinpoint aspect of gaming.
Is The Experience Fun Or Interesting?
This is the most important part of a game. They need to be fun, interesting, or both. And once the initial fun and intrigue appears, can it stay there? For example, it might be interesting to play as a cheerleader chainsawing zombies in a B movie horror aesthetic. But if the gameplay of Lollipop Chainsaw is dull and repetitive, it can lose the player’s interest. The newest No More Heroes game recently released. I haven’t played it, but a lot of reviews are saying that the gameplay is repetitive despite the crazy set pieces in the game.
The Endurance Of Fun
So, looking deeper, it’s not necessarily the lack of fun or intrigue that makes and breaks a game. But rather, the endurance of said fun and intrigue. Once the initial shock of where you are or what you are doing wears off, you should still be having fun. And not every game is meant to be fun. But when it’s not, you better hope that what you are doing is interesting enough for you to keep on going.
I acknowledge that different people find different things fun and interesting. Experience is subjective. But the line between so bad it’s good and so bad it’s just bad is small. So small that it’s up to us to give everything we play the benefit of the doubt. Only then can we appreciate the good in the bad.
But what do you think? Where is the line between game flaw and aspect that ruins the game? What are some “bad” games that you love? Let us know in the comments below!
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I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been playing video games. I also do standup and improv. The game that made me realize that video games could be more than just a toy, was Metal Gear Solid 2.