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Old 11-27-2011, 01:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Retronauts: Thanksgiving's Leftover Turkeys

It's been a few days since Thanksgiving, so it's likely that any food you had left over has gone rotten... much like these games! Here are a few titles from the 1980s and 1990s that are sure to ruin your appetite.

Atari 2600

This unholy diver was given all kinds of names... not just by the handful of fly-by-night developers who released it, but by those unlucky gamers who were suckered into buying it. Froggo called it Sea Hawk, Funvision called it Skin Diver, and the gamers, well... I can't repeat their titles in polite company. What makes this soggy seafaring shooter such a buttnutter is the fact that your diver nearly sinks to the bottom of the ocean after leaping from his boat. You can't control him during his descent, making it ridiculously easy for one of the game's three massive fish to sink their teeth into him (complete with obnoxious crunching noise) before he has a chance to react. In the unlikely event that he survives, his wimpy retractable harpoon leaves him vulnerable to attack while he's reeling in that catch of the day. Maybe the diver should have left the skinsuit at home and taken some dynamite with him instead. Hey, it works for these guys!


Next up is the perfect seasonally-themed stocking stuffer for those naughty kids who write on the walls, put gum in their sisters' hair, and threaten to burn down the house. Winter Games shares the honor with Super Pitfall as one of the rare NES games that's actually worse than its counterpart on the crusty Atari 2600 hardware. There are only four events, the gaudy, tile-heavy artwork is an eyesore, and the controls are as crisply responsive as a stoned slacker ("Fun's not here, man!"). On the plus side (and you have to look really hard for one), there's an opening scene with a stick figure lighting the Olympic torch. You won't find that in the 2600 game... but after you've been forced to sit through it a few times, you won't consider it a bonus. More of a brutal interrogation tool, really.


Okay, I love the Genesis to pieces, but there are some things it just shouldn't do, and computer rendering is at the tippy top of that list. It's like expecting subtlety from a Michael Bay film, or any kind of entertainment from a Anyway, X-Perts is one of the ill-advised spin-offs of Sega's Eternal Champions, along with the stink-o-riffic Game Gear release Chicago Syndicate. This ambitious fighting game was already hampered by the low color output of the Genesis, but X-Perts puts a glaring spotlight on this handicap with grainy characters pasted onto simplistic, grey-heavy backdrops. The shabby exterior could be forgiven if the fighting were as complex as it was in Eternal Champions, but alas, the action is split between stiff, unsatisfying fisticuffs and tedious resource management. Move this guy here, purge that airlock, turn off those force fields, wish you had rented something else... you know the drill.


Capping things off is the Japanese exclusive Cosmic Race, universally regarded by the gaming press as the worst launch title for the Playstation. NeoRex hoped to distinguish its game from Mario Kart by letting its racers soar through the sky, but racing rarely works without the forces of gravity to hold players to the track and keep the ride dangerous. Take the original Ridge Racer, for instance. There's great risk in taking a corner at top speed, and huge satisfaction in sliding around that turn without so much as a scratch to your paint job. However, with Cosmic Race, there are no solid edges to the track and no obstacles that can't be flown over, making each race hugely dull. But wait, there's less! As a further test of the player's already thinning patience, the control forces you to turn your hovercraft with weird combinations of the D-pad and action buttons. Sure, you could get used to it, but you could save yourself a lot of time and annoyance by just playing WipeOut instead.
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