I think all of us kiddo gamers remember gaming-up whatever was given to us, from that amazing PlayStation Underground demo disk you played until it broke to the absolute trash (like Spice World… I’m ashamed of this one so I hid it here in the parenthesis). But being the uneducated and imaginative young gamers we were we could derive fun from anything. Here are a few from my youth how I remember them and the actual reality of them.
5. Cel Damage (PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and now weirdly PS4, PS3, PSVita, and Xbox One)
I spent years not knowing the name of this game until I saw it on the top shelf of a Game Stop. Essentially, Cel Damage is irreverent looney toons meets car battler destruction derby. What’s not to love!? All I could remember is the memorable zany cartoon art style, attitude, and the sleepless nights of being a kid having sleepovers, screaming, laughing, and the fact that it introduced me to the legendary song “TNT” by ACDC. I still have vivid memories of driving around the map chasing my childhood best friend with a chainsaw. *Sigh* those were the days.
I’ve found that co-op games are sometimes so much just about the experience you’ve spent with them. Nothing beats my memory of my best friend and I beating the remake of Gauntlet in a night (it wasn’t all that well received). That said, while critics have recognized the Cel Damage has some incredible art-style, there is little else in the way to make this game anything but forgettable. From a small number of uninspired weapons to not having a dedicated story or single player experience, Cel Damage does nothing to make this repetitive gameplay loop to stick long.
4. Batman & Robin (PS1)
I never actually played through many sections of this game because I was honestly afraid and confused, but that doesn’t stop me from wandering around and punching things! Even as a kid I remember this game doing crazy things; you could drive around the Bat-Mobile and explore an open-world in the original PlayStation era which is absolutely INSANE. Even as a dumb kid who could barely solve things, I knew the investigative elements within Batman were brilliantly realized (I was a comic obsessive). Even though based on the campy nipple-Batman with George Clooney, it was surprisingly dark, both in tone and physically. There was just nothing like being a kid and being able to be BATMAN himself. I mean damn, I still have that craving.
There are many that actually now recognize this game to have intense ambition. As I mentioned before, you could actually go around an open-world and as Batman! This game was the first time that was ever possible. Even the detective elements have never been fully pushed in Batman games since. But the game was bad. The game was needlessly vague and obscured. The game was not only hard for me to progress because I was a child, but apparently also because its difficulty, confusing mechanics, controls, and dreaded camera made the game flat-out difficult to play. This game can have all the ambitions in the world, but if the game feels absolutely stunted to play that’s where it loses its graces with critics and much of the gaming community.
3. Destruction Derby (PS1)
Need I say more than this game holds a coveted PlayStation classics label! There was nothing quite like running to boot this game up to drive a car as fast as you can into a bunch of other cars and watching them go flying. I could just play those first 15 seconds of each game on repeat (and boy did I). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how incredible the damage looked in this game – they actually had pieces FLY OFF THE CAR. That was absolutely unheard of in racing and car games of the era! Gosh, nothing beat that rush.
The truth behind this one is that it was actually pretty averagely well received at the time, getting relatively middling to review scores. However, Destruction Derby is the type of game to be stuck in time; being photo-realistic (for the time) graphics and gameplay that had nothing but its gimmick. Where this becomes a story of dislike and hate for some is the fact that Destruction Derby bore the coveted title of “PlayStation Classic” at the top and was overtly the weakest of the bunch. Where its largest weakness presented itself is surprisingly one of the great things I said about it – the beginning of each match was a blast, but when you have nothing much else to follow audiences and critics walk away with an empty feeling.
2. 3Xtreme (PS1)
Of all the games on this list, this is probably the one that least of you have played, but nevertheless, my siblings and I logged hours into this unknown game as children. At the time of this article I reached out to my brothers to talk about the games we used to play and this one was always the first out of our mouths (even before crash bandicoot). This game with a fast-paced downhill jam where you got to pick between rollerblades, BMX bikes, and skateboards and faced off in high-speed races and trick battles. This game even allowed you to punch and kick the other opponents next to you so you, propelling this game into extreme (or Xtreme) fun. Sitting down with my brothers and picking my favorite color bike vs his favorite red skateboard vs his favorite blue bike, this game made us feel unique and cool in its options and gameplay. Aren’t that what video games are all about: living vicariously and having a blast while doing it.
To be honest, this one was difficult for me to research. This game was hated. From critics panning it for its ugly presentation, sound design, and samey and uninspired modes. GameSpot back in the day wrapped up their review by stating that “there isn’t one redeeming thing about 3Xtreme that would warrant buying the game” (MacDonald). While I think that’s a bit harsh (I had some good times), seeing its weak parts broken down it’s hard to put together an argument in favor of this game due to other than nostalgia. But there had to be something that captured my heart back them. At least it will forever stay that crazy downhill jam fest in my memory for years to come.
1. Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles (PS1)
This is one of the most played games from my childhood other than Spiderman (PS1) which is an absolute classic to this day. But this game truly provided me with not only my first experience of what it felt like to be a Jedi and in one of my very favorite movies of all time, Phantom Menace (Don’t @ me I was a child), but it also gave me my very first true couch co-op experience. Booting up this game with me and my favorite brother, choosing what this game solidified as my favorite Jedi, that orange silent freak Plo Coon, nothing quite matched that comradery and power trip as we wiped out wave after wave of droids together. You could even REFLECT BLASTER SHOTS WITH YOUR LIGHTSABER! Oh man, I loved this game.
Yeah, this game sucks. Ugh, it pains me to admit that. I mean, the concept and even some of the execution is nearly there, but the base of this game is flat-out broken. A major problem with many games during the original PlayStation era was the fact that all systems still experimented with the basics of control and Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles was no exception. Critics panned this game for having unresponsive and unreliable controls, numerous graphical glitches, and atrocious platforming segments (okay I actually do remember this being difficult). Even the most generous of reviews that acknowledges the game’s strengths in lightsaber fighting and sound design also suggest this game be completely avoided due to things such as a camera that will kill you incessantly and unfairly. Of all the games on this-this is the game that calls to me most to try once more, but I can’t bring myself to ruin this part of my memory due to refined control schemes being taken for granted these days. I will forever play you in my head sweet Plo Koon adventure – you’re perfect to me.
The truth of this article is that even in doing my research of these “bad” games I got more than nostalgic. Listening to the sound of scoring a point or going through arches in 3Xtreme or seeing what used to be top-of-the-line graphics of Destruction Derby, waves of memories came flooding back to me… Emotions came flooding back to me. As a born and raised gamer, these sounds and experiences made me into the gamer that I am today. Each one of these broken games made a part of my childhood, and when I see people talking about the legendary games of the past they grew up with I’m not jealous one bit. Because regardless of me never picking these games up again, I had great times growing up with these lovable pieces of garbage. A game is only as much as it means to a person… and these games meant a lot to me. Don’t let anyone take your experiences away from you.
Thank you, garbage games.
What games did you love from your childhood but probably should never play again?
Do you want to kill me for loving the Phantom Menace?
Let me know in the comments below.