As the old saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and when it comes to video games that saying rings true. Yet somehow when a game is bad, as in truly bad, instead of just saying it’s bad and moving on, the current generation of gamers latches on to it. Videos are made degrading it, the game becomes one of the biggest games to watch streamers play on Twitch, and scores of articles are written as to how and why said game is bad. There may be a few people defending the game, trying to convince others of the game’s hidden genius, but they get drowned out by internet trolls and a less than friendly comment section. Over my years of being on the internet I’ve seen videos of people rain scorn and hatred on certain retro games for being terrible, and sadly I’m still not tired of it. So I’ve asked myself, “Why?” Why does a part of me want to play these games that people have said are so horrible? Why would I want to play something as panned like E.T. for the Atari 2600 or Superman 64? Why would I want to return and play bad games that I KNOW are bad? Well I’ve done a little bit of soul searching and have come up with some form of answer.
In the Disney Pixar film ‘Ratatouille’ the food critic antagonist nails it when it comes to negative criticism. To paraphrase negative, criticism is not only fun to read, but to write as well. You would think that people would gravitate towards the feel good articles or videos when it comes to games but sadly that’s not true. As a example if you were to go to one of my favorite YouTubers, The Completionist, you would see 2 videos for the best and worst games of 2020. Both videos have very impressive numbers but his Worst of video outshines his Best of by over 175 thousand views. It doesn’t stop there, going down the retro rabbit hole you’ll find more and more videos on gamers yelling at E.T., despising Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (the Xbox/Gamecube title that came out in 2003), and wanting to throw LJM games into a bonfire. There’s even a whole channel devoted to bad games, The Angry Video Game Nerd, who only seems to play bad games or Rerez where they take a look at bad plug n play consoles and bootlegs. The list goes on and on.
Bad games get clicks, and reviews or let’s plays that involve bad games get more views. It’s a little sad but we like watching people get mad at games. Be it the streamer’s reactions are hilarious, or just how they tear down a game to make it make sense. Yours truly is guilty of this as well, even when I know a game is bad, part of me really wants to go back and play bad game like Mega Man X7. I’ve even watched and sought out reactions of you tubers playing bad games because they’re hilarious to watch. The fact of the matter is that we love bad games because they are fun to make fun of. Seeing an over reaction to a bad game is funny to watch, but what about those who genuinely enjoy said bad game? Well then that’s good. If you love a game like E.T. or Mega Man X7 then more power to you. I would like to replay X7 because it’s been years since I last played it and I’ve only ever played E.T. for a little while at a trade show. Playing bad games isn’t a crime and even when it comes to retro titles they tend to hold a special place in our hearts. I most likely own a few in my collection and instead of just throwing them away I like to keep them for history and preservation purposes. Thats why I would love to own a copy of E.T. and Pac-Man for the 2600. Yes they are bad games but they are a part of history and as retro gamers, they need and should be preserved, even if they are considered bad games.