In a potentially Esther Rantzen bothering move, I tend to play through these games with my children, Samus and Blanka. Kids have a high tolerance for shite (as proven by the ongoing popularity of Cheesestrings and Dreamworks Animation) and I often find that they are eager to carry on playing long after I’ve lost interest. Perhaps they’re just desperate for attention from their cold, distant father. Who knows. I certainly can’t be bothered to ask them.
My daughter Samus, inspired by the legions of you that hang upon my every word, has decided to pick up the pen and make notes alongside mine. As everything I do on this blog seems infinitely more popular the instant I involve my children, I thought it would be churlish of me not to share one of her contributions.
I think you’ll agree that there is a real honesty to her writing with a style reminiscent of a cockney version of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Her younger brother Blanka was similarly cutting this time round, screwing up his face within minutes and quickly going back to devouring styluses and gently massaging jam onto the screen of the Wii U pad.
This selection sees us just over the quarter way mark, leaving yet another 145 games to review and the magnitude of this task is starting to become clear. I’m sure I’ll look back on the decision to spend my brief, precious time with my children playing these stoopid gaims as a wise one.
4. Animal Blockes
The famous time waster Mahjong, popular with the kind of berk that owns a samurai sword or a dreamcatcher, is represented here with a rogue vowel because why the fuck not. Aside from the unexpected appearance of Look and Read’s magic, magic E, the only other point of note is the stupidly sensitive cursor which renders the game about as much fun as threading a needle on a bus after being diagnosed with Parkinsons.
54. Volleyball 2P
Single player, naturally, this nonetheless manages to be a fairly decent simulation of volleyball given that it’s absolutely fucking impossible to land a serve. The set dressing features a bunch of lazy bastards reclining on the grass whose clothes sporadically change colour. These fashion conscious layabouts watching a nouveau riche pastime do so in ethereal silence, giving the game an air of a cutting satire on our rampant Western consumerism.
166. Busy Bar
The sliding drinks along a bar sub genre seems oddly popular with game developers, no doubt much to the dismay of real world landlords the world over. This seems slightly more realistic than most given that I wasn’t able to successfully judge the distance a single time. The patrons include a furious looking panda, looking to unwind after a tiring day eating sticks and refusing to have sex.
Ask any person in the street what they think about the up and coming operating system Windows and you’re sure to get a whole range of glowing responses from “ugh” to “what’s an operating system”. Which is presumably why Puzzle has chosen to emulate the experience by taking place within one of its iconic windows, complete a close button which sadly doesn’t take the game away. The game itself achieves the incredible feat of making those sliding tile puzzles even more tedious by not even having a bloody picture to reward you, instead simply numbering the blocks which are in a eye-catching shade of “Milton Keynes Grey”.
102. UU Weapon
Whoever was responsible for the title is clearly the only person in history to hear the phrase ‘double u’ and assume it’s not the actual fucking letter. Finish singing the alphabet song mate, we’ll wait. In any case, the game is mechanically similar to the fondly forgotten Master System game Ninja and features a title screen that’s so half-finished it was surely signed off at four in the afternoon on a Friday before a bank holiday.
With a name like an ITV cop show staring Robson Green and someone they’ve poached off Eastenders, this plays a bit like the fly swatting game from Mario Paint but shitter because of course it is. The music has more stabbing synths than a league of Human Leagues and the hammer, resplendent in purple, looks the kind of smoking pipe that would be passed round one evening at the Marquees of Bath’s.
38. Frantic Fishing
Obviously about as frantic as an episode of Watercolour Challenge, your avatar painfully makes his way along the shore picking through a bait box containing various river pollutants and fishy favourites such as diamonds and entire roast chickens. The icons along the bottom suggest that your potential catches include mermaids, which would explain your characters huge black emotionless eyes. I’d have thought dragging a defenceless aquatic woman from her home by jabbing a hook through her mouth would result in some quite severe PTSD.
29. Video Poker
The fear I have in picking a card game from the menus is that it’s not going to give me an awful lot to work with. How can you fuck up poker? Well, to their credit, they’ve given it a good ol’ bash. The cards are ridiculously tiny and well over 90% of the screen dedicated to the scoring system which is displayed on a huge board like a particularly crap round of Family Fortunes. We asked 100 people to name something they’d rather do than play Video Poker…”Televised prostate exam”…it’s our top answer!
Not just the name of Ipswich’s premier student night (£1 bottles of CNT until 12 and Terry Bellraquette on the decks) but yet another skanky wanky tank game. Here, you desperately try to remain sane as the grass horrifically springs into life whenever you move and the speakers emit a constant BRRRRRR noise like an attention-seeking fridge.
14. Seaport Guarl
Apart from sounding like an indie band who were nominated for Best Newcomer at the Brits in 2004 and then promptly never heard of again, Seaport Guarl has very little going for it. You control a tank and are tasked with guarling the seaport from a battleship, but are given the distinct disadvantage of being loaded with Alka Seltzer bullets that dissolve on contact. This also has exactly the same music as Hammer&Nail, which would have completely passed me by if I hadn’t played them moments after one another, making me wonder how much more cheap repetition is sneaking into this thing noticed.
Apart from sounding like an indie band who were nominated for Best Newcomer at the Brits in 2004 and then promptly never heard of again, Greeds has very little going for it. Here, in it’s ongoing quest to do a Faith Brown level impersonation of every game in existence, the Retro Game Controller riffs on the original destroyer of pub conversation, Snake. Of course, simply replicating Snake wouldn’t be enough, so the game chooses to halve the speed and make the arena twice the size. As frustratingly tedious as being stuck behind your nan on the stairs.
Fairly innocuous shmup featuring a fighter plane painted in an camouflage confounding shade of pink; like a prop from a special edition of Top Gun that somehow managed to make the film more gay. Pretty sure I had to fill in an F-22 when I needed a replacement glass recycling box from the council.
182. Ghost Castle
This actually managed to get me to emit a genuinely excited “ooh” upon loading up the title screen which combined with the name had me expecting a Castlevania variant. Fortunately, that small glimmer of optimism has been well and truly crushed by yet another shooter; except in this one you can only shoot diagonally!!! It’s was like getting a Christmas present only to open it and discover it’s a shitty little controller containing 200 unfathomably bad video games.
43. Pizza Boy
The voices in my head take a brief respite from suggesting I kill again to scream “Paper Boy! It’s going to be like Paper Boy!” Well, fuck you voices; you may be my nearest and dearest friends but this is actually nothing like it. Instead this favours a birds eye view of small town where your customers scream for pizza before transforming inexplicably into what appears to be the radioactive hazard symbol. So take that you powerfully convincing, fictional know-it-alls. Only joking, love you really.
188. IQ Champion
Despite my ongoing quest to review these games reading like I hate my life and everything in it, what I enjoy is the anticipation that when I select a game I never know what I’m going get. IQ Champion; probably a puzzle game, right? Wrong! It’s another Space Invaders rip off featuring a trademark bothering appropriation of Astro Boy (one of Japan’s biggest cultural icons but I’m sure it’s fine) shooting bees and sentencing us to the honey free apocalypse that hippies keep warning us about. But my favourite bit is the splash screen yelling “Dongxin Techno Presents” who I’m pretty sure I saw at Glastonbury once on one of the stages that isn’t on any of the maps.