Shack Ten: Games That Got a Bad Rap

The Shack Ten is back, with a community-inspired list that takes a second look at games that were poorly received and didn't deserve it.

18

Welcome to another Shack Ten, our bi-weekly breakdown of the best, worst, weirdest, or other-est of video games. This week is all about the okay-est! As always, we shoved the Shacknews staff into a room with the Hamster Dance on loop, and wouldn't let them out until they made a list of ten games that may or may not be great, but at least aren't as bad as the community seems to think. This time, though, we enlisted the help of the Chatty, so check out their thoughts for these and many more Games That Got a Bad Rap.

10. Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine certainly isn't looked down upon critically. Like just about every Mario game, it was pretty praised as of the time of release. But in the intervening years the collective fan opinion on it has turned sour, and nowadays it's regarded as "lesser Mario." That may be because of its water accessory gimmick, FLUD, but Mario Sunshine had a lot to like. The acapela Shadow Mario stages were impeccably designed platforming challenges that led philosophically to Super Mario Galaxy. It lent some much-needed personality to Bowser Jr. The island was crackling with secret nooks and crannies. And even the widely derided FLUD itself was just a clever way to introduce some new mechanics to the tried and true wah!-whoohoo! Mario jumping action.

9. Alpha Protocol

Let's be clear: Alpha Protocol was a buggy mess of a game at launch, and as a result it passed by largely unnoticed into the dustbin of gaming history. Those who tolerated the bugs, or waited for its patches, were rewarded with a rich near-future spy setting, a dialogue system that emphasized different pop culture spy archtypes--nicknamed Bond, Bauer, and Borne--and snappy stealth combat mechanics. It was an RPG that eschewed the hard science-fiction or fantasy settings, and that alone made it unique in the space.

"Playing stealth and pistol made the game much more fun. When I played it, I didn't run into too many bugs, and it was such a great game that it was easy to overlook the flaws." - Matt Burris

8. Syndicate

The fact that it shares a name with a classic PC strategy game probably didn't do this plucky shooter any favors. Which is a shame, because it's a pretty solid game. Fun gunplay, bosses with varied abilities and attacks, a bizarre future world, and cool hacking mechanics used to take over a person's mind all made Syndicate a smash-and-grab shooter with some very undervalued features.

7. Binary Domain

Binary Domain is the best '80s action movie that was never made. A game about evil corporations and a robot takeover, it includes a great sequence where a man who doesn't realize he's a robot begins peels his own face off in a moment of horror, like something out of a bizarre Terminator sequel. From there, it's non-stop shooting with a great variety of level design and modes ranging from third-person cover action to on-rails sequences and awesome boss fights. It's silly, it's cheesy, and it's more fun than anyone truly gives it credit for. 

6. God Hand

It's easy to write off Shinji Mikami's PS2 beat-'em-up God Hand because of its lower production value and hilarious interludes, but it's actually quite entertaining and full of the silliness that pervades the genre. As a matter of fact, it released to pretty decent scores across the board from critics, whose main complaints were related to its production values. Grit, hilarity, and engaging gameplay are all you really need, however, especially when Clover Studio is involved. 

5. BioShock 2

BioShock was hailed as a masterpiece of interactive storytelling, setting nearly impossible expectations for its sequel. The word that original creative director Ken Levine wasn't involved made it seem like a B-team cash-grab. It was met with a ho-hum reception from the community, but removed from its predecessor's long shadow, it's a solid shooter in its own right. It expanded and refined on the combat mechanics, presented another thoughtful story, and gave us more of the creepy underwater dystopia of Rapture. Plus, it was the catalyst for the Minerva's Den DLC, which remains one of the best BioShock stories ever told.

"This game got Bioshock combat right for the first time. Yeah, the environment wasn't quite as fun to explore because you knew what to expect, but the visuals and environmental quality was still there. While collectivism did not make for as nearly an interesting philosophy antagonist as objectivisim did in the first game, the voice work, the father/daughter dynamic, and the importance of choices in the game were solid and deserve a lot more credit." - TraptNSuit

4. Mass Effect 3

The epic conclusion to a sci-fi drama three games in the making continually receives bad press for the narrative decisions made by BioWare and the lack of player choice or input to arrive there. Player outrage led to BioWare implementing brand new content to cater to those with complaints, but the game as a whole was an engaging, if not dreamlike romp that acted as a fitting end for the series. And saying goodbye to one of the game's fan favorite characters wasn't an easy task at all. 

3. The Order 1886

We may have been one of the few outlets to give The Order: 1886 a positive review, and that’s with good reason. The game featured a unique story with an equally interesting backstory and successfully blurred the line between in-game action and cut-scene footage. We were also very impressed with how it resembled an Uncharted game as its cover-based shooting mechanics were done very well. We appreciated the lack of unnecessary fluff, such as side missions and collectibles that don’t further the narrative, and encourage developers to offer more unique experiences like this.

2. No Man’s Sky

The controversy surrounding No Man’s Sky is bound to be one of the top news stories of 2016. On one hand, the developers can reasonably be accused of making certain implications about the game that didn't turn up in the final product. On the other hand, it is still an incredibly ambitious project, and impressive for such a small team. It was a victim of its own hype, partially brought on by the developers themselves, but the game as it actually exists is still a great science-fiction exploration game.

"People have a hard time accepting it for what it is (which is quite good) because they're so caught up in what they thought it would be (which is largely Hello Games' fault for miscommunicating). You have to separate the game from the drama, then you can enjoy it." - Rehevkor

1. Too Human 

Too Human’s spotty development history did it no favors, ambitious as it was, with its striking combination of Norse mythology and science-fiction. What made it shine in the eyes of the players who appreciated it was its use of cinematic theory to tell its story, making it one of the first games to take on game design with the seriousness that had been reserved for movies and television shows to that point. Unfortunately, after lackluster reviews and the closing of Silicon Knights in 2014, it’s unlikely the trilogy will ever continue. But it's still very much going back and revisiting, and doesn't deserve the negativity heaped upon it. 

"I think a big part of why it got dumped on was because of people expecting a conventional ARPG combat system or, at most, brawler combat like in God of War. In actuality, the combat system had a lot in common with tournament fighters, with extensive and complex move lists, combos, and super attacks. Once you wrapped your head around that, the game became vastly more interesting. Unfortunately, it takes a while for that to click, and the death sequences still sucked regardless." - Arcanum

Filed Under

From The Chatty

  • reply
    September 23, 2016 11:30 AM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Ten: Games That Got a Bad Rap

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 11:43 AM

      Oh cool, this is actually a really solid list. I would maybe change the order around a little bit but lists that say Mario Sunshine is underrated are ok with me.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 11:54 AM

      Binary Domain is the bomb!

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 4:52 PM

        yesss!@

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 10:44 PM

        BIG BO!

        https://youtu.be/uV0D0lk0qDY?t=365

        • reply
          September 23, 2016 10:50 PM

          I actually played with a headset on PS3, it made for some pretty hilarious moments both when it broke and when it worked. I was always surprised at how often it did work decently though. I have to say despite the kinks, when it worked it was pretty damn amazing. Holding a conversation with party members while giving orders to others in the middle of combat is pretty damn rad.

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 10:47 PM

        Binary Domain is as cult classic a video game as they come. It's fun and memorable.

      • reply
        September 24, 2016 2:00 AM

        I don't think it has a bad rap, it just has next to no rap. Motherfuckers won't give the game the time of day for whatever reason. It's so fucking good :(

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 12:00 PM

      Nice, traptsuit got a credit.

      Bioshock 2 is great.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 12:42 PM

      No Far Cry 2? List is invalid!

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 1:05 PM

        That's because it deserved the bad reputation.

        • reply
          September 23, 2016 1:06 PM

          It really did. Fuck that game. Only cool thing was the fire mechanic.

          • reply
            September 23, 2016 1:25 PM

            You know how I know you both failed at eliminating checkpoint reinforcements on their way to their new jobs?

            • reply
              September 23, 2016 4:29 PM

              You know how I know you have shitty judgement of game mechanics? :D

              For real though, I only enjoyed the reinforcement part for a couple of hours before it became tedious.

          • reply
            September 23, 2016 2:11 PM

            I enjoyed it more than any of the other Far Cry games. I actually liked that the game kind of steps on your balls a bit in the beginning because it makes unlocking all of the equipment so much nicer, and by that time you're so used to fighting with guards and stuff that all the new equipment is basically different toys for the sandbox. But I can also understand why other people didn't like it.

          • reply
            September 23, 2016 7:45 PM

            I'm not sure why the game gets all the hate.

            The lack of a hug was awesome, it really put you in the world.
            The buddies were great. There to help you out in a tight spot, but rely on them too much and risk their death.
            As you said, the fire was really well done, and could help block enemies in or out of an area, but you had to be careful to not get surrounded yourself.

            Things people complain about:
            The malaria. it was a bit of a pain, but only took you out of the game for about 30 seconds (after the start of the game), and only occurred maybe 1 an hour of game play, not not much of an issue.
            The respawning checkpoints. You clear out a check point and then leave for a while, do you really expect the local militia not to send more troupes? The game expected you to either enjoy taking then back, or find ways of driving through or going around. It wasn't hard to avoid most checkpoints.
            The jamming weapons. These were generally not an issue if you used your own weapons. Your own weapons rarely jammed. It was only if you were out of ammo and had to use found weapons that they were likely to jam, and this was normally a case of poor planning on your point. While it could put you in a bad spot, it increased the tension and made you scramble and re-plan on the fly, and could mostly be avoided if you planned ahead.
            The ending. The ending of the game is the only real complaint. It was a bit different than the rest of the game, and you were in a separate area and couldn't re-supply like you could in the rest of them game. I think this is the only true complaint that could be leveled against the game. The rest of the complaints are basically that the game isn't like other games and took some risks with different mechanics.

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 3:55 PM

        Yeah, fuck that

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 6:53 PM

        Far Cry 2 is a great concept for a game, wrapped in a mediocre actual game. It had moments of true brilliance, marred by other design decisions that really sucked the fun out. Looking back, I loved it, and I love many of it's features (no HUD!). But I probably wouldn't play it again. A real enigma.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 12:48 PM

      I had a blast with Too Human!

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 2:16 PM

        Yeah I picked up Too Human for $15 back in 2010 or so just because it was cheap, ended up getting totally sucked in. The death sequences weren't too bad in my opinion, I felt like waiting to respawn was pretty much the only penalty for dying. IIRC you could die during a boss fight and just respawn without the battle starting over/boss getting health back, etc. I feel fortunate to have grown up playing RPGs where dying can be a harsh penalty, be it in MUDs where you'll lose 10% of your total exp knocking you down several levels, PvP MMOs where players can loot everything off your corpse, or standard SNES JRPGs where you can lose a good chunk of time depending on your last save. Too Human's death sequence wasn't even a slap on the wrist IMO. Not that it really matters but that's always the biggest complaint about the game that I hear about.

        • reply
          September 23, 2016 2:51 PM

          I suspect the long death animation existed, at least in part, precisely because there was no other penalty. It's honestly not a good design choice from the standpoint of making a fun game.

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 3:56 PM

        Me too. It was fun coop too.

        • reply
          September 23, 2016 4:17 PM

          Co-op was the best. Better loot, tougher mobs.
          I'm only sorry the original plan for 4-player co-op that had gotten pushed out of the first game, would have had a chance in the rest of the trilogy.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 1:29 PM

      It's not a great SIXTY DOLLAR science-fiction exploration game. I think as a full release AAA early access game, NMS deserves what it got. Unfortunately, what it got was away scot-free.

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 4:45 PM

        Yes it is.

      • reply
        September 23, 2016 6:24 PM

        I'm still blown away that people were expecting something other than what was released. They telegraphed big procedural world hooked up to a player-name data table pretty hard.

        • reply
          September 23, 2016 6:26 PM

          they also telegraphed a bunch of other stuff that wasn't in the game

          • reply
            September 23, 2016 6:28 PM

            If you watched the videos they showed you what was in the game. A little flashier but pretty much the same content. All the other talk was just fluff and optimism destined to burn in the flames of QA & ship date.

            So pretty much like every other game.

            • reply
              September 23, 2016 6:38 PM

              Can you see yourself? "No, but other people can"

              So, there is multiplayer? "... Yes"

              • reply
                September 23, 2016 6:40 PM

                And to your point about stuff being removed prior to release, they continued to keep answers purposefully vague even though they knew they had changed the game.

              • reply
                September 23, 2016 7:48 PM

                They showed videos of big space battles 's between factions you Can jump into. Never materialized.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 8:44 PM

      Too Human. Haven't thought about that in awhile. If you could get past the dated graphics, the horrifically long death and restart times ( that you will see a lot of) and spending the first 1/3 of the game very frustrated.

      The game gives up trying to convince you its an ARPG at about 1/3 and finally let's you know its a bullet hell game with the combat mechanics of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden it was actually pretty good.

      Fuck that death sequence tho.

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 10:56 PM

      For the first time Too Human is number one on a game list!

    • reply
      September 23, 2016 11:21 PM

      You should all play Alpha Protocol.

    • reply
      September 24, 2016 1:53 AM

      I like this style of top ten much better than the videos.

    • reply
      September 25, 2016 10:10 AM

      No Man's Sky is not a bad game its just the developers created the mess they are in. They over promised and under delivered and even in some cases outright lied about features. The game may be fun to some but others feel cheated that features claimed to be there are missing.