Recently I picked up a book called "Never Coming to a Theater Near You." It's a collection of movie reviews about good movies. Good, but not great. Basically middle of the road kind of movies that get decent reviews, but don't win awards nor do they develop any kind of cult following years later. And they're not awful movies that become punchlines and memorable for different ways. Sadly they are forgettable.

For example, one of the movies discussed is Ronin (1998), starring Robert de niro, Sean Bean, Jean Reno, and many others. It's a good spy/heist/action movie that is worth watching, but probably not twice. It's not making the best of Robert de niro's list, nor Best in the genre. It's just...good.

Film isn't the only medium to have such a level of product. God knows there are plenty of games that were good enough to play, but not good enough to ever play again or to even discusst. And starting with this blog I'm going to pay tribute to those games.
Posted by robio Wed, 25 May 2022 13:59:05 (comments: 20)
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Thu, 26 May 2022 02:57:35
#1. Sküljagger: Revolt of the Westicans

51143_front.jpgIt's all-out war as you fight savage Kiltish troops, battle wild Westican bladebacks, explore the ancient Lost City of Urnum, and bring the merciless Captain Skuljagger to his knees.

The 90s were not a kind time for pirates. We didn't like them back then. Remember that Gina Davis movie Cutthroat Island? That wasn't bad, but when you look at the reviews you'd think they recorded themselves wiping their butt with pages from the Bible and then debuted in omaha. Even aside from movies, there weren't any pirate TV shows. The brilliant cartoon Pirates of Dark Water got canceled after one and a half seasons. And even in literature, the only Pirates you saw were basically Fabio on the covers of romance novels. The one refuge for pirate fans was video games. We had Monkey Island and that was great. And then we had Skuljagger, that was basically okay.

Skuljagger was a fairly interesting game in that they created a pretty standard platformer with a pirate theme. The controls weren't anything special, but it was a really good looking game. The backgrounds in particular were very impressive. And really that should have been enough, but for reasons not really clear to anyone, the action still needed a gimmick. Collecting gems wasn't enough. So what do you do to make your pirate game really special? Bubble gum.

Despite making Roddy Piper proud, bubblegum was an odd choice. The story is basically you play a guy who's trying to overthrow an evil pirate had enslaved your people. And the swords just not enough for that. You need the power of bubblegum to help you float and become indestructible. Seriously, as much as I tried I could never really understand it. Perhaps there was a clue in the guide book that came along with the game. Of course, I didn't really want to read all 80 pages of it.

Yep, the most notable thing about Skuljagger is that it came with an 80 page manual, 70 pages of which were the background story. They literally threw in a novel with some illustrations in the box with the game. I'm not sure if that was to get more kids to read, but in an age where instruction manuals are dead and gone, I think this is worthy of some praise.

And at the end of the day if you can't have a legacy based on quality... You can never go wrong with offering quantity. So thank you Sküljagger. You might not have been the best game, but you definitely provided someone with bathroom reading. And that counts for something.
 
Fri, 27 May 2022 12:41:45
#2. Anarchy Reigns

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Set in the post-apocalyptic future, this is an over-the-top close combat fighting game, set in a massively open and fantastical world. Pick from an imaginative mix of human and cyborg characters and set out on a multiplayer challenge where anarchy reigns.

With a diverse range of multiplayer modes on offer, ANARCHY REIGNS pits players against each other in team co-op or last man standing battles.


Anarchy Reigns was Platinum Games attempt to bring back Jack Cayman, their main character from MadWorld. To avoid repeating the lack of success that MadWorld had, they happen to try a different approach. This time they were going to create a 3D brawler, a genre that I'm not sure anyone has had much success with. And even releasing at a budget price, they just couldn't get any interest in it. Part of that is deserved, because the single player is pretty awful. However, the multiplayer is actually pretty damn good. Sadly, you can't have a good multiplayer game without an audience.

In a post-Fortnite world, free-to-play battle royale games are pretty much a genre, and that's sort of what Platinum created. The multiplayer component is effectively a giant stage, with players selecting almost 20 different Fighters with random events occurring on the giant stage, ranging from missile attacks to a black hole opening up. You can play teams, you can go solo. If you check this game out you can easily see how it could have been changed to accommodate the modern Battle Royal world, and had that occurred this could have been a success.

The problem was the perceived "meat of the game"...the single-player mode. It was more or less crap every way you look at it. The story is terrible. You see the description at the top of this page? That's taken directly from Sega's promotional page and the box art. They knew mentioning the story would only make things worse (something about cyborgs and dead Japanese little girls). And as I mentioned before, the game was a 3D brawler, a genre that nobody seems to have gotten right or is it even interested in.

The ultimate takeaway is that less is probably more, though in 2012 releasing a game without a single player mode would have been suicide. Too bad. Because unfortunately that anchored down the multiplayer mode to be lost in obscurity. But hey we got Fortnight so....that's something...right?
 
Mon, 30 May 2022 13:42:22
#3. Deadly Creatures

912TQyh90YS._SY679_.jpgFeaturing a wide array of cinematic effects, action packed life-or-death battles, and graphics that will make your skin crawl, Deadly Creatures for Wii exposes you to the brutal realities of life in the desert. And you better be ready to defend yourself because you're about to take on this vast, dangerous world from the perspective of two deadly critters with a history of giving even the most stalwart people the creeps: the scorpion and the tarantula.

Deadly Creatures is a game with an interesting concept: play a game as a scorpion and tarantula that are just trying to survive in the desert. No guns, no magic, no story about saving the world. Just two arachnids trying to get by.

Since these are not anthropomorphized critters, there isn't much in the way of inner monologue or conversation here. However, the developers make them witnesses to a human story. While you go about trying to fight off other creatures, two thieves are digging up civil war gold in the background and often as your path lines closer to them you will hear them talk about what they're doing. Ultimately their story intertwines with the lives of the scorpion and tarantula.

How good the game is ultimately comes down to how long the player stays vested in the concept. A lot of the action does get repetitive. And because motion control features very heavily into the game, sometimes shit just doesn't work. Oh and if you're a purist when it comes to tarantula biology, the game will probably piss you off because a lot of her power-ups are web-based. I'll go ahead and let you figure out why that's a bad thing. But if you're curious enough to know how the story of the two thieves, George and Wade, turn out you might just be able to power through to the end.

Whether or not you actually enjoy the game, you have to give THQ credit for being fully committed. The graphics, when not in motion, are very impressive for the Wii. And they brought in top talent for the voice actors for the thieves, Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper. The game had a very niche premise, but they opened their wallets fully supported every aspect of development here.

...of course decisions like that may very well be why THQ is no longer in business.
 
Mon, 30 May 2022 16:08:09

All these seem to be “excellent” choices for this thread.

 
Mon, 30 May 2022 21:14:32
Yeah, there's really no shortage of good candidates for this list. The real challenge is trying to remember games that are in no way memorable.
 
Tue, 31 May 2022 07:15:48

I think if ever there is a game that merits discussion, it's Deadly Creatures. That this is the only game of your list so far that I've played makes me suspicious that the other games also merit discussion... Nyaa

 
Tue, 31 May 2022 13:00:14
Please feel free to discuss Deadly Creatures all you want. Just don't bring anyone else into it.
 
Tue, 31 May 2022 14:19:26

We're about the have a discussion?

I just want to come out and say that I am diametrically opposed to whatever point was being made prior to this post.  I can not and will not have it.

 
Tue, 31 May 2022 18:07:42
This is gonna be hard to remember.

Er, Operation Winback?

Hybrid Heaven?
 
Tue, 31 May 2022 19:48:36
This blog reminded me of Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter. It's was decently fun but totally forgettable FPS. I had to look at a list of original Xbox FPS games to find the name.
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