18. Dragon's Lair (NES)
It's not that I don't understand what the designers were trying to do, or the challenge involved in somehow creating a game that evoked the laserdisc coin-op. Believe me, I do. And I could even handle the laggy controls, the frustrating enemy placement that constantly forces you to crouch, the sprite breakup that occasionally makes projectiles go invisible, the way attacking drains your health, or the fact that platforms behave differently from almost every NES game out there.
All this, however, pales in comparison to the sheer, unadulterated dickishness of Dragon's Lair. Over and over again, it takes situations in which a normal game would allow you some wiggle room, some reasonable margin for error, and gives none. Moving platforms and barriers that should pause at one extreme, to allow you time to gauge your movements (and compensate for the awful lag), don't. Enemies spawn in ways designed to impede any sense of "flow", and force you to wait at awkward times.
The worst of all comes right before the final boss fight against Singe, where nearly pixel-perfect jumping is required to avoid an item that, if collected, makes the game essentially unwinnable. Got 7-8 extra lives in the tank? Too bad, you have to start over. And you have to replay this section every single time you face Singe (who's the one tough boss fight in the game, and a doozy -- the others are embarrassingly easy).
What's the point? Why make your own game so singularly unpleasant to play? It's not even that hard per se, it's just...a joyless, loveless experience with nice animation, good music, and no heart. F.
19. Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)
Though an infinitely easier game, this reminded me more of Dragon's Lair than I ever would have expected, in that most of the game's challenge is memorization and it can be annoyingly dickish, especially the platforming segments. And Space Mountain proves that you can have the shallowness of an FMV game in cartridge form, as you memorize long strings of inputs meant to simulate a cockpit space shooter.
Where's the fun? At least the Bump 'n Jump-style racer is sort of OK. D+.
20. Wayne's World (NES)
This might be the "objectively" worst licensed NES game I've ever played, with literally nothing to recommend it except the digitized voice samples and (to a lesser extent) graphics.
Bad though it was, the Game Boy port is, remarkably, an improvement in every way over this Action 52-level disaster, made with the utmost in lazy cynicism by our fine feathered friends at THQ. Actually, scratch that -- some games in Action 52 play better than this, and I'm not engaging in hyperbole here. F.
- Eltigro likes this