Sure, we can call it the best year for gaming ever. That’s possibly true. However, no year is perfect, and the industry as a whole provides numerous opportunities to have fun. So, instead of those typical, boring, and cheaply planned out best of lists, let’s hand out some awards for the “less fortunate” people, places, and things from the industry we love… some times.
Worst Game Glitch: Madden ’06 PSP.
EA grabs the NFL license by shelling out enough money, adds almost nothing to the home console versions in ’06 (except for a passing system turned off by default in the Xbox 360 version since it was so pointless), and releases the first edition of their football franchise on the PSP. What’s it do? Shut down the handheld when trying to exit a game in the franchise mode. They counter with a ridiculous work around that fixed about 1 in 10 problems, and finally, this week, said to send them back. This after four months of waiting with no response, and all those Christmas copies already sold. Great recall EA!
Worst Game Company Blunder: Sex Scandal/”Hot Coffee” in GTA San Andreas
While it’s arguable that this never should have been a problem, this will be gaming’s Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident (another non-issue blown way out of proportion). When a gamer found a hidden sex scene (involving fully clothed polygons) that required hacking into the game to find, Rockstar denied it. In the face of desperate politicians and self-proclaimed anti-game activists (who just may find their way into this award ceremony yet), that was dumb… real dumb. So dumb we’re still reeling from the effects, including games like Indigo Prophecy being censored for the US release.
Most Disappointing System: PSP
Yeah, we fell for the hype too. There’s no question it had a great launch, and it was done properly in the spring long before the holiday season had time to take effect (*cough* Microsoftshouldbereadingthis *cough*). Unfortunately, since then… well, lets just say having Deuce Bigalow on UMD doesn’t do much for public perception. There’s a reason people are hacking into this system: They have nothing else to do with it. Raise your hand if you’re still playing Infected! No one? Oh, you didn’t even buy it? And we can’t blame you.
The “I’ve been on CNN 10 times and you haven’t” Award: Jack Thompson
Thank you Florida for this wonderful example of American justice. Less crazy anti-game activists even realize he’s over-the-top. After being tossed out of the Alabama Civil Case, Thompson tried to save face with a letter to major media outlets and his political pals. No one bought it. He even said he would donate money to charity if someone created a violent game to his specifications, and when they did, he said he was being sarcastic, backing out from his promise in the process. He then went after Penny Arcade who donated the money in his name. If anything, whenever we prove him wrong, he has a witty comeback like “I’ve been on CNN,” or “Are all you gamers on drugs?” That doesn’t even begin to dig into this psycho’s most hilarious rants and memorable quotes. We’re all anxiously awaiting for the ABC late night movie after he starts some religious cult centered on his new book. He decided to find god just before it released. Convenient timing, no? And to think these are only his highlights for the year… let’s not forget him comparing the Japanese game industry to Pearl Harbor.
Worst Video Game Awards Show: Spike TV Video Game Awards
Ok, there were only two major contenders (the other being G4’s also awful show), but it’s a tough call regardless. We’ll take Spike since 90% of their awards were handed out to games that came out in the past few months. Corporate sponsorship would never play a role at an award show, would it? Even if this wasn’t created by marketing teams, the sight of otherwise superb actor Samuel L. Jackson making himself out to be a racist idiot as he commentates on the “Black Super Mario Bros.” or 50 Cent thanking “video games” when he accepted his award for best song would have sealed its fate.
Best game We Haven’t Played… Still: Duke Nukem Forever
Yes, this game, now in about year 10 of development, keeps on going. They’re still acknowledging it exists. For all we know, it could be better than Halo 3. For 10 years, it damn well better be.
The “PR Can’t Save You Now” Award: Nokia
We’ll give them a few extra credit points for admitting they screwed up, but after two years and about 3 million consoles sold total, it’s a little late to realize this wasn’t the best idea. At the very least, it offered us internet types some fun Photoshop pictures involving tacos.
Worst Game of the Year: Peter Jackson’s King Kong DS
It’s irrelevant that the home console versions were nearly classic movie-based games. This DS version was apparently programmed by the same people who provide AOL’s customer support in Indonesia (the credits pretty much confirm this), and that’s the only logical excuse. The walls are so poorly constructed, the polygons look like they’re outlined in white. Glitches make Kong fly, allow T-Rexes to get stuck in walls, and lets players fall through floors because there’s no barrier programmed in like there should be. Level design offers nothing new for the entire game (and none of it takes place in New York except for an non-player controlled Empire State Building sequence) and you’re more likely to be killed by bees than a T-Rex. Amazingly, it failed to win a Spike TV Award.
Worst Game Players in the World: Chinese MMO Fans
If you’re going to give yourself a heart attack while playing a game, at least let it be something exciting. A marathon session of Robotron could kill anyone but an online RPG? Not the way a lot of us would choose to make an exit. They’ve even killed each other over these things. At the very least, these people can die knowing they weren’t dressed as a level 9 elf when the casket lowered. At least, we hope they weren’t.
Best New Term: “Columbine Simulator”
The second reference of Jack Thompson, which in and of itself isn’t anything special. However, his coined term for Rockstar’s upcoming Bully is even cheesier than “murder simulator.” Given that the tragedy at Columbine involved guns (Bully does not), a public school (Bully is at a private academy), trench coats (none in Bully as far as we know), and real lives lost, to make that a comparison to a video game should enough to discredit the man right there.
Worst Online Rentals: Gamefly
After taking weeks to receive or send games, it’s time to call it quits. Gamefly “wins” here because they’re the biggest of the online rental giants for gamers, and they are absolutely terrible. Canceling an account, even after explaining why you’re giving up on their service, is like trying to tell AOL’s Indonesian support team why you’re giving up on them. Oh, and then you have seven days to return your games or they charge you for them. Since none of the games made it back within that time frame when the games were being paid for, what are the actual chances of them making it back this time? Stick with Intothegame and their superior service and shipping times.