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The Greatest, Most Fantastic Game Ever
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 05, 2009   |   Episode 164 (Show Archive)  

   

Leave it to Bill Maher to bring some some half-naked women to an article about game titles!
I hate to steal Bill Maher's schtick, but I'm about to lay down a new rule. Games that proclaim how good they are in the title generally aren't worth playing. I don't care what system it's on or who makes it, telling people that your terrible game is "fun" is like telling your girlfriend that her butt doesn't look fat in those jeans. She may believe once or twice, but all it takes is one embarrassing scene at a company function and she'll never trust you again. Nobody likes to be lied to, especially when the very name of the game reminds you of how horrible it is.

Some may argue that conning people into playing your game is half the battle. And, to an extent, they're right. If you're a small developer with a tiny game, you will do whatever it takes to convince people to buy your product. It may be tempting to use a catchy name, like

Garfield's Fun Fest is from DSI Games, which shouldn't be confused with DSiWare!
The Greatest Game Ever or Super Awesome Action Game 64. But don't do it. Not only do you set up unrealistic expectations for your game, but it's hard to be taken serious when you're jumping up and down telling people how cool you are.

The most recent game guilty of this unseemly practice is a kid's game that most of you wisely ignored. The game is Garfield's Fun Fest for the Nintendo DS, and needless to say it's not much fun at all. IGN describes this game as a "mediocre platformer" that tries to add in "completely forgettable minigames." And if that wasn't bad enough, they go one step further and say that

You know it's going to be a party when Tic-Tac-Toe is involved!
they "spent more time YouTubing old episodes of Garfield and Friends than [...] playing this game from beginning to end."

Thankfully I didn't run out to the store and buy Garfield's Fun Fest. I may have touched it at a convention or two, but I certainly didn't run out to the store and buy it. You see, the moment I saw the word "Fun," I realized that this Garfield game was going to be anything but. I'm no dummy; I've seen games try this time and time again. I didn't get suckered into Putt-Putt's Fun Pack, Fun Casino or Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun, and I sure as hell am not going to get burned by Garfield.

But sometimes it's not as easy as looking for the word "fun". Take Goofy's Hysterical History Tour as a perfect example. If you were to simply look at the box art, you might think that this was going to be the funniest game on the Genesis. After all, the game stars Goofy, a lovable Disney character that has been known to make me laugh a time or two. And then there's the incredible

Not even Goofy can make this game funny!
concept of making jokes about famous moments in time. See, that sounds funny. But it's not. Goofy's Obnoxiously Annoying History Tour is more like it, and I guarantee you'd still remember the game if it had that honest name attached to it.

It's not only Genesis games that tried to pull this trick on an unsuspecting audience, just look at Greatest Driver for the MSX. Perhaps the guy in the driver's seat really is good at what he does, but this is far from the greatest driving game. And it's not that I've been spoiled by Burnout and Forza, it's that this game wasn't as good as its title suggests.

The same holds true for The World's Greatest Football Game. Not only is it not the "world's" greatest football game, but it's also not the best football game on

Although I hate the character designs, I had a lot of fun with the Bionic Commando reboot!
the Apple II computer. It's a perfectly good, but even back then the game was a little broken and hard to manage. I suppose the title they went with sounded better than The World's Great Kind of Broken Football Game.

And if you think that's bad, I guess you've never heard of 50 Great Games for the Amiga. Look, I'm a pretty easy guy to please. I'm the kind of guy that gave the much maligned Bionic Commando reboot a great score. I'm not asking for 50 games in one package, I just want one that is really, really good. The problem with a package like this is that none of the games are good, they are 50 mediocre games. Not exactly a stellar box quote.

What is especially frustrating about this phenomenon is that games seem to be just about the only art form that uses the name to hype up the product. The Dark Knight didn't need to be called The Greatest Batman Movie to get millions of people out to the theater. J.J. Abrams didn't need to call his show The Amazing Lost in order to make it one of the most talked about shows on TV. I doubt that Titanic would have been any more successful had it been called Cool Titanic.

Speaking of which, can we all agree that adding the word "cool" to your name does not automatically make you cool. Cool Boarders, for example, was a snowboarding game with abysmal gameplay. Cool World had you exploring one of the less compelling video game locations ever seen. Cool Cool Jam proved that your game does not improve every time you add the word "cool" to the title. And then

Hey douche bag, if you have to name yourself the "King of Pop" or the "voice of your generation," then you probably aren't!
there's Cool Spot, a game that is, well, incredible. This is easily one of my favorite Genesis games and perhaps the best use of a junk food license. But as good as the game is, I still hate the name. The only reason this guy seemed cool is because he was sitting next to Chester Cheetah and Yo Noid.

For a few seconds I start to think that not every example is bad. Could it be that all this time I've been unfairly judging these games based on their titles? And then I remember how terrible games like Amazing Penguin and Amazing Tater were. I'm reminded that Fantastic Dizzy was no better than regular Dizzy. I must not forget that even the Best of the Best on the NEW was really the worst of the worst.

It's true, you should never buy a game that suggests that it's more than it actually is. I don't care who makes it or what kind of game it is, you should run the moment you see the word "fun" or "great". It doesn't matter if Rockstar Games comes up with The Greatest Grand Theft Auto Game Ever, I saw put the product back on the store shelf and buy something else. Buy the game next to it with a title you can barely pronounce, I guarantee that it's going to be better than Garfield's Fun Fest or Amazing Tater.
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