They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But since I've never heard that expression used against video games I figure that it's open season on the box art you see every day. This is The Cover Critic, your guide to what's good and bad in the world of video game boxes. In this episode we cut out a big chunk of video game history and make fun of it. Think we're done scouring the bottom of the barrel for bad Amiga covers? Think again, because this week we're back with five more examples of terrible box art. In the 70th episode we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the worst covers of the year. While there were plenty of terrible covers, there was one system that stood head and shoulders above the competition. That system is the Wii. Sure it's selling three times more than the competition, but it's also getting three times the amount of garbage games. Worst of all, these games come with some of the worst covers I have ever seen. So let's take a short trip back in time and remember the five Wii covers that truly made us sick.
Imagine Party Babyz (UbiSoft)
[ Wii - 2008 - Final Rating: F ]
If I shut my eyes and imagine the scariest thing in the world, UbiSoft's Party Babyz is right at the top of the list. It manages to beat out a sleepover at Michael Jackson's place, a non-stop Freddie Prinze Jr. marathon and a world controlled by oppressive carrots. This cover is so scary that for awhile I didn't actually think this was real, I figured it must have been some sort of parody or an episode of WORST GAME EVER that I accidentally posted. But it's
not; instead it's a real game that I came across while trying to buy my copy of Rock Revolution. For those keeping track, this isn't the first Imagine game from UbiSoft. The publishers of Prince of Persia have also put out Imagine Figure Skating, Imagine Fashion Designer and about a dozen other Nintendo DS games that make absolutely no sense. But as pointless as those "games" seem, they don't hold a candle to Imagine Party Babyz. This game is more disturbing than anything else currently on the market.
I should probably start off by saying that I hate babies. Oh sure, I understand that being a baby is a natural part of life, but their selfishness, crying and their lack of attention span drives me to drink. Not to mention that they drool, they refuse to work and it's always "me me me." Well I can't stand them, so you can imagine the kind of nightmare it would be to meet any one of these Party Babyz. It's bad enough that they are useless little poop-makers, but to see them plan and host a part is more than I can bear. However, I do give UbiSoft extra points for not giving any attention to this cover art. They know that the type of person that would buy this game doesn't care if you PhotoShop in party hats, maracas and a tiara. They don't care that this cover is about as natural as Joan River's face. Actually, I'm not sure I want to meet the type of person that would buy this game. (Does it make me a bad person for being a tad curious about what this game actually is?)
Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Warner Bros.)
[ Wii - 2008 - Final Rating: D ]
How the hell do you make a video game out of the Guinness Book of World Records? Chances are you've been given one of these books before, but I'll bet you money that outside of skimming it, you haven't actually read a Guinness Book of World
Records book. I know I haven't. And that works out perfectly, because I haven't actually played Guinness World Records: The Videogame ... I've just skimmed it. The books are about chronicling the freakish (foolish, stupid, whatever you want to call it) records that people set out to break. I'm talking about a record for having the longest toenails, a record for having the most safety pins in your face at one time and a record for having the longest maggot bath (no joke). If these people can step up to the task, then their names will be immortalized in a book that nobody actually reads.
You know what's even sadder than actually bathing in maggots? Playing a videogame where you're the guy doing it. This isn't like Quantum of Solace where you get to be James Bond, nobody wants to be the guy who bathes in maggots. Hell, not even the guy that bathed in maggots wants to be the guy who bathes in maggots. It's gross and pointless. Thankfully the cover spares us from any maggot bathing, but it does suggest that we get to play a young boy who can balance a car on his head, a woman who has the strength to hold up a silver medal and some guy who can rip phone books in half. What, ripping phone books in half isn't exciting game fodder? Kids these days and their unrealistic expectations.
Pool Party (South Peak)
[ Wii - 2008 - Final Rating: C- ]
When young Ashley and Jessica were invited to John's pool party, they spent all week looking for the right bathing suit. There's a lot of pressure put on young women to look good, especially when they are going to be baring all in a sexy revealing bathing suit. They
went from one mall store to the next; looking for just the right one ... the same one that Halle Berry was wearing last season in the latest issue of People. The two of them stayed up all night talking about how this was going to be the night when Jessica let John get to second base. The two of them couldn't wait to hang out by the pool and watch all of those muscular men get wet. This was going to be the best weekend EVER.
Imagine their disappointment when they got to John's house and realized that the pool party had nothing to do with swimming pools, but was rather a billiards tournament. Suddenly the two of them were woefully underdressed. Thankfully John's mom had some conservative tops the girls could wear, but that doesn't make up for the fact that these two young, hot, available women are now forced to stand around and watch John and his friend Jim play pool. Oh sure, they put on a brave face, but deep down they know that they would rather be doing something else (like shopping or playing Imagine Party Babyz). Thankfully we know going in that this isn't going to be some hot and wet pool party, so it's easy for us to completely pass over this turd without a second thought. But won't you think of the girls? They spent all week picking out that bathing suit.
Family Party: 30 Great Games (D3)
[ Wii - 2008 - Final Rating: D+ ]
Here's a good rule of thumb: If a game has the word "Great" in the title, chances are it isn't. The same goes for the word "Fun" (I'm looking at you Garfield Fun Fest). Oh, and Mr. Kanye West, if you have to tell people that you're the "voice of this generation," then you aren't! Okay, now that I have that out of my system I can try and explain the horrors of Family Party: 30 Great Games. Or is it 30 Great Games: Family Party? Or maybe 30 Great Games isn't actually part of the title, maybe that's a bullet
point. Or maybe Family Party is the bullet point. I don't know, this cover certainly doesn't make the title very clear. And it's probably not a good sign if I can't even figure out what the damn title is supposed to be. As far as I'm concerned this game could just be called You'll Buy Anything: 30 Great Games Family Party. But I'm not so stupid; I'm not going to buy this. Instead I'm going to wait for Super You'll Buy Anything: 30 Great Games Family Party Turbo HD Remix Edition.
So here we have 30 Great Games, though part of me thinks that "Great Games" may have been meant ironically. Judging from this cover one of the 30 great games is holding a soccer ball AND a Wii remote. You know, because just holding the soccer ball wasn't fun enough. Another great game appears to be watching your dad saw wood. Really? Watching somebody saw wood is a great game? And who saws wood while wearing a tie? Another great game appears to be climbing rope, because we all remember how much fun that was when we were 10. In another bubble we have a young girl walk across a skinny piece of wood. I'm not actually sure that's one of the games, I think they just needed some sex appeal. With 30 great games you would think that the developers would have more than enough content to put on the cover, yet even they seem confused as to what some of these games are. How else do you explain the bubble with the ball and the question mark? If they don't even know what that game is, then why should I care?
The one thing we know about the Wii is that it's great for mini-game compilations. Well, at least that's what we've been told. When you really think about it there aren't that many great mini-game compilations on the Wii, and Celebrity Sports Showdown is yet another example of this. Now, I would say that I'm up on entertainment. I'm constantly
going to the movies, I watch a lot of TV, I listen to music and even read the occasional gossip rag, but I honestly don't know half of these people. I know Fergie, I can't stand her music and I would rather have a goat burrow itself into my stomach than play as her in a sports game, but at least I know her. I also know Avril Lavigne and her faux-punk attitude. Sugar Ray Leonard? Check. And I know that Keith Urban is married to Nicole Kidman. But Paul Prince? Mia Hamm? Paul Pierce? Maybe I'm just out of it, but I wouldn't consider these people to be celebrities.
Actually, most of these people aren't celebrities. Fergie has had a couple of hits, so maybe she passes as a B-list celeb, but on what planet is Kristi Yamaguchi a celebrity? The truth is, if you have to remind people that you're a celebrity, then you definitely aren't one. I suppose I can't complain too much, these days TV shows have no problem throwing around that word or something similar. Dancing With the Stars? Since when did Cheryl Burke, Drew Lachey and Julianne Hough become stars? Celebrity Rehab? I'm more of a star than Steven Adler, Sean Stewart and Nikki McKibbin. I guess at this point we've all become numb to the idea of "celebrity," but that doesn't mean that we have to accept a second-rate Wii compilation with Fergie on the cover. And it doesn't even look like her. Hell, none of them right. I suppose it doesn't matter, because nobody knows who most of these people are anyway.