I have been playing video games for almost my entire life. Some of my first memories are of watching my brother play games on our old Atari ST computer. Once I got old enough to play games myself, my childhood was dominated by Nintendo consoles. The SNES, N64, Gamecube, and significantly later, the Wii, were the consoles of my upbringing, and I loved it. But through the eons of time spent on a console, there are a few games that everyone else seems to love that I just can’t stand. This is my latest Awkward Geek Confession, despite the risk of firestorm, three well-loved video games that I just can’t stand.
1. Super Mario Sunshine
The first is special. I never played it when it was originally released, but once I got married this game was added to my library. Over a recent weekend I decided to pick it up to see if it lives up to its reputation, and it definitely does not. The controls are garbage, the levels frustrating and monotonous, and the game is filled with so many gaming sins it hurts. That game is Super Mario Sunshine.
When I first began playing Sunshine, I was instantly bugged by the inverted water-shooting controls, which you can’t change. While not a completely reprehensible sin, it is just one of many. I was stunned by how bad the control of Mario was. The world might as well have been made out of ice considering how slippery our mustachioed heroes shoes are. Not only do you have to land on the platform, you can’t land anywhere near the edges of platforms or else you’ll just slip right off the edge. Also, never try to do your dive move, trying to stand up will occasionally launch your character into a front flip off of the nearest cliff. The garbage controls, including the little kicky move Mario does when he turns around, are salvaged by your water jetpack, which allows you to line up jumps perfectly. Don’t rely on it too much, though, because the game will suddenly take it away from you for some of the most difficult parts! Thanks, game!
Super Mario Sunshine is also riddled with bugs. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I was playing it, since Nintendo games are supposed to be high quality, but this game definitely is not. The camera is constantly drifting through walls, rendering you blind. If you are flying next to an edge, occasionally the edge detection will grab Mario and glitch him down the length of the edge and fling you into the abyss, and don’t get me started on the wretched wall jump mechanic. The wall grab detection is insanely picky. Not enough air speed towards the wall you want to grab? Too bad. Too much? Time to smash your face into the wall, then fall to your death. I wasted way too many lives on stupid, unreliable mechanics. Super Mario Sunshine is not a good game. It just really, really isn't.
2. Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes (Gamecube Version)
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is very well known and has a huge legacy, but almost exclusively for Sony consoles--of which the PS3 was my first, and as such Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes for the Gamecube was my first encounter with the series, and the experience wasn’t a good one.
The Gamecube has its fair share of good shooter games, like Timesplitters: Future Perfect and and Resident Evil 4, so my expectations were pretty high when I bought Twin Snakes. Those expectations were summarily crushed beneath a flood of inconsistent controls and other gameplay issues, the most glaring of which is still branded in my mind. One of the first bosses is a dude in a tank, and you have to defeat him by crawling around in some trenches then hit him in the back with grenades. I was in the trench, I had my shot lined up. I got into a crouching position, grabbed the grenade, threw it at the tank, and then watched it bounce off of an invisible wall where the corner of the trench extends farther than the texture. The grenade ended up rolling between my legs, killing me. Because of an invisible wall. Awesome.
And this wasn’t the only occasion that stuff like that happened. Constantly as I was trying to fight enemies, my bullets would bounce off of invisible corners and walls because I was trying to peek around corners or snipe enemies in the head. For a tactical espionage game, it really discouraged careful gunplay. Speaking of gunplay, hitting your opponent with any bullets at all is a miracle because the aiming controls are so bad. Like Resident Evil 5 bad. Shooting the ceiling and the floor was far more common than hitting bad guys. For a stealth game this could be understood. Maybe it’s the game developers trying to hint that you shouldn't be using your gun that often, but in Twin Snakes there are mandatory boss fights. You have to fight using the wretched controls which leads to some of the most frustrating boss fights ever.
3. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Oh, Skyward Sword. The first full motion-controlled Legend of Zelda game. The thought of swinging a sword and battling monsters in my living room filled me with glee. I had such hope for this game; I even preordered the special edition with the golden Wii Remote! But once I actually got my hands on the game, disappointment overload. Skyward Sword could have been so good. Its story is fun, the world is so open, the graphics are so beautiful! But none of that actually matters if the controls are so broken the game is unplayable.
The first worry about the controls began to set in with the bird flying mini-game. You are supposed to use the Wii Remote to flap up and down to gain speed and change your ascent or descent angle and it just doesn't really work that well. Controlling your bird is like trying to drive stick shift with a bad clutch. It’s soft and mushy and you really have no idea what the vehicle is going to do next. And if something as simple as a flying mini-game is this bad, imagine how the swordplay turned out.
Bad. That’s how it turned out. Almost every enemy requires you to attack them from a specific angle so you need to swing the Wii Remote in the exact direction. Unfortunately, the game only occasionally reads how you swung the remote in the correct direction. Almost half the time I swung the Wii remote left, it registered as a swing right and vice versa. Motion controls are nice and all, but they have to actually WORK. They need to be almost, if not just, as accurate as button controls, but Skyward Sword wasn’t even close. And why was there not a normal controller option? Even Ocarina of Time had direction swings depending on how your character was moving before you attacked, and that worked out fine, so a normal controller could have played Skyward Sword just fine. And trying to pull off the “hold you sword in the air to charge your blade” move in combat? Forgetaboutit. Not going to happen. This game is a perfect example of Nintendo's pride. They had motion controls as the only control scheme because they wanted to force everyone to use their creative system, even if it sucks.
There is it. Three games many love that I cannot play. Most of you probably disagree with me, and that’s what makes this an Awkward Geek Confession. Before the internet rage explodes all over the comments, remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my nuclear bunker waiting for this to blow over.