Title: Nintendon’t: 25 of the Worst Video Games Ever
Author: J. André Bardin
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath, from Kindle edition.
This book has one major problem, and that’s the misleading nature of the title and the introduction. This claims to be a book about terrible games, which could be an amusing light read. The introduction says he’s going to avoid talking about the obvious games that have been covered many times before, which is fair enough since the title doesn’t claim them to be the absolute worst games ever, just a selection from amongst them. The trouble comes from the fact that, once you get into it, the entries don’t even fulfil that criterion. Obviously, opinions are always subjective, but often the author doesn’t even seem clear as to why we should think it’s terrible.
The book starts off with a criticism of Super Mario Bros 2. His criticism is about how the proper sequel to the original game only came out in Japan and because play testers criticised the difficulty of it they released a different game in the US instead. The game is completely different to the first Mario, which may make it a bad sequel, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game, and if you finish reading the whole chapter, you realise at the end that there’s been hardly any mention of what the game itself is actually like. (I’ve played it. It’s not great, but there are hundreds of worse games out there.)
That sort of thing happens throughout the book. The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning features a couple of chapters later, and this time I haven’t played the game, and after reading the chapter, the only thing I know about it is that it was a reboot of the series which the author didn’t like. I’ve not got a clue what the game itself is like.
Elsewhere, games are included because they were overhyped or didn’t live up to expectations. Again and again there are phrases along the lines of “not the worst game ever, but not the best either, it’s just mediocre” but if it’s merely average why is it in a book like this? Even worse, when we get to the chapter on Sonic Adventure… well… I’ll quote directly from the review: “Sonic Adventure was a solid series and was a completely enjoyable experience in almost every aspect of its playability and design…” So, it was enjoyable and well designed, but it’s one of the worst games ever? Apparently it’s here because it introduced too many new characters to the Sonic series and this was a trend that would later ruin the franchise, but whether that’s true or not, it’s certainly not a reason to include this game rather than, say, one of those later games that did ruin things.
Occasionally there’s a game that clearly fits in to the theme of the book. I can’t imagine anyone jumping to the defence of Make My Video: Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch for example. But then you’ll get Brutal: Paws of Fury, which seems to be there mainly so the author can mock the furry community. It just gets more and more tenuously related to the idea of worst games ever as the book goes on. Towards the end of the book, it’s covering a free advertising game for the Toyota Yaris, and frankly, if we’re covering free games then that opens up a whole host of crap. And then, joint for most ridiculous entry of all with the Sonic Adventure one, we get ET: Digital Companion. The reason that one is so pointless is that it’s not even a game, it’s personal organiser software with an ET theme. I’ll quote again “Being able to print out your to-do list and reminders is a nice bonus but the fact that the game revolves around this is where it fails…” That’s because it isn’t a game. If we’re getting down to criticising the lack of features in a personal organiser application things are getting a bit desperate.
The writing is occasionally amusing, but not enough to sustain a book that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The subtitle might better read “25 Things the Author Felt Like Writing About”. It’s more like a series of articles you’d expect to read on a website than any sort of coherent book. Readable, but sadly not something I can really recommend.
Arbitrary Final Score: