Retrospection is 20/20 vision, it is very easy to see flaws and problems in moments when you seemed to have thought of everything. However, it still doesn’t explain why I loved something I did when I was younger. I can guess, say I was new to the genre or had too small a palette, maybe I just sought out something more “meaty” as I’ve grown older playing games. Regardless of how I think about it or try to reason it, I just don’t know why I liked some things I did, worse the things I still don’t understand why I like. Whatever reason it may be, it is clear these games are my guilty pleasures.
Checking out some games at the local shops when my parents pulled me with them to go shopping as they do. I spot a strange little game with a small girl holding a giant hammer and what appears to be an evil, giant dog behind her. The game in question is A PS2 game known as Malice.
The game had been through some trials and tribulations getting out, eventually released long after its intended PS2 launch title window and being the last game released by the developer who closed 2 months after its release. Yikes, it would be somewhat assumable to believe the game was bad. While it is indeed bad, it wasn’t awful so much as being a mediocre experience for all. Regardless, as a kid I enjoyed playing the game, I remember disliking the speed the character walked, the odd jumping physics and the simple combat, yet it was always met with a smile or a giggle thanks to a strange world to explore. The first mission for crying out loud is to help a tree get rid of some pests that look like big floppy tongues bouncing everywhere, just smacking them with a club in the most basic fashion was fascinating to say the least.
Another big point I always thought was cool? Dying doesn’t actually end the game in anyway, you get sent to the underworld where you not only can find the few last collectables in the game (you couldn’t go back to previous levels so you either got them all or loaded a save or something) you could also just play around in the underworld before talking to the Grim Reaper. Due to extenuating circumstances with the main characters existence, trying to process her into hell is “an administrative nightmare” and just sends you on your way back. Not a massive gameplay element perhaps but to a younger mind the novelty of it all was something.
Looking back at it now, there are a few key concepts that really drew me in as a kid, nowadays these are the things I sort of miss the allure of, or at least the strength of those aspects in catching my eye. Malice would likely have bored a younger me if it wasn’t for the few small things that egged me on. I clearly remember thinking how cool it was to see the magic system in the game, knowing that there would be spells learnt throughout the games story was exciting. What were they like? Did they look cool? How useful would they be? As I am now I probably wouldn’t get that excited about the notion….actually I tell a lie the promise of cool and interesting spells has convinced me to purchase a game more than once, it was only earlier this year I spotted a magic demonstration of PS3 game Dragon’s Dogma. I pretty much convinced myself I was interested purely from watching someone cast a viciously large tornado upon an enemy and just threw him around like a toy. The only difference between me now and some years ago is where the money is coming from, coming from my pocket has made me much more wary when looking for something new to play.
It is an odd notion when you think about it, something that from all logical standpoints shouldn’t be enjoyable and I should just be sighing, yet I am smiling and giggling as I do things I normally would despise. It makes me think of the hype monsters and marketing powerhouses that follow some games, they try so hard to convince people and often just end up being disappointments, such a high bar is promoted to the point it doesn’t even seem viable for the end product to attain those lofty goals. On the other end of the spectrum, there is sect of games like Malice, it has no marketing, isn’t very good yet I suspect I liked it because the only judgement I had was mine. I wonder if I enjoy the game because I have nothing to think of it, had someone even played the game as well or I had read any sort of impression about it I might have not even thought much of it.
The concept of a guilty pleasure is a funny thing really, sometimes I wonder if I tried them at a different time I wouldn’t have any fun with them, that the circumstances turned something that shouldn’t be transformed the experience. I haven’t gone back to the game since it is more than a bit of a hassle to set everything up for the PS2 now, yet I always feel like it is one of “those” games sitting in my drawer. The ones where I don’t remember having a fantastic time, yet I still played through the whole thing multiple times. What ever possessed me to persevere through this game? Who knows, I am 100% certain the game is bad and had I played it new now I would toss it away. Why oh why does my mind go to things that objectively shouldn’t be all that good or worse I know I dislike passionately and still find fun in it!
What are some of your guilty pleasure games? What about them do you like despite the obvious shortcomings? Do you find there are games everybody loves you don’t or vie versa that really stick out to you? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you all around.