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Article - 'Kidz Gamez' by GaZZwa

An item about Miscellanious posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

Kids games, TV lisencing - it's the stuff nightmares are made of. GaZZwa explored this dark world of colourful graphics, stale gameplay and repetetive movie quote. This is what he found out.

Body



Games for children are so overlooked by games developers these days. Many adult gamers who are not ‘hardcore’ so to speak see a children’s (that is, a game with childish, colourful graphics and perhaps based upon a popular kids’ movie) game and pass it off as rubbish. Why is this? Could it be they feel they are too mature for simple minded games with cartoon-like graphics? Could it be that they don’t want to be laughed at by their friends? Or could it be that children’s games in general are just plain awful?

Yup, it’s the last one. Games developers seem to think that just because they are kids, they can’t tell the difference between a good game and a bad one. Of course they can. What are they, pint-sized versions of Maxtwo? I would love to see what is going on inside games developers heads when they begin to churn out the next instalment of “The Lion King – Simba’s Pride: The Game”, but ten bucks says it is something along the lines of this:

Scene: Big giant publishing corporation conference room

Director: Good news developers, we have the rights for yet another Lion King game. Any ideas?

Developer: Well, we do need to make use of our 5 year old engine. Y’know, the one we used with the last 4 Lion King games.

Executive: Yeah, that crappy thing. But they’re kids – they’ll never notice.

Developer: Plus we could through in a few bugs for good measure. Maybe some control defects or some serious graphical faults.

Executive: Ooh! Ooh! I know what! We could make it crash on the title screen, so when the sorry little bastards spend $40 on the game it turns out they can’t even play it!

Director: Boy, you’re an evil SOB. I’m giving you a raise.

Developer: Hmm…I’ll get to work straight away. After we’ve reached the pre-production stages, we could take all the faults of the previous Lion King games and multiply them by 10!

Director: Good idea. Wait, the last Lion King game got 3/10 in one of the reviews.

Executive: Oh no!

Director: That’s just not bad enough. You people need to work harder! I wanna see this game get a 1/10, you hear me? A 1/10!!

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Ok, so I’m sure it’s not like that in real life (but you can never be too sure) but that’s what it seems like. I remember being screwed over many a time when purchasing my old PS1 games. There was The Lost World (which was by far one of the worst games I ever bought – it was so excruciatingly hard that it was almost impossible to get to the T-Rex level – y’know the one they show on the adverts?) Oh, and let’s not forget about Independence Day. I bought it simply because I liked the movie (yeah I know, I was a bad critic back then – but it had pretty explosions) and I was so bored to tears after an hour of trying to see past the foggy, grainy and drab graphics I gave up on Christmas Day and went to play with my other gifts (which can’t have been special considering I can’t remember what they were.) Oh, and recently I fell for buying South Park. At the time I didn’t have an N64, but my friends had all said the 64 version was good. Come review time for the PS1 conversion, and it got sparkling scores. The unofficial mags all rewarded it with 8/10, 9/10 and similar scores. So I went out and bought it. I think I went wrong somewhere between going and buying it. Ok, so South Park may not be the best example of a kids game exactly, but it’s still a good example of TV licensing – most of which are kids games (The Lion King, Batman, Toy Story, Independence Day, The Lost World, Barbie Gymnastics, Woody Woodpecker, the whole travesty that is the Army Men series – the list just doesn’t stop!)

I mean, do developers not realise that they are churning out complete and utter crap in a box? The CDs may as well be used as shiny coasters. Do they expect a child to sit down and play these things, and what’s more – to enjoy them? I’m not saying all kids games are bad, there are a lot of good solid platformers out there (note: platformers are generally considered as kids games due to the heavy use of bright vibrant colours and cartoon environments) but in general if you are going to buy a kids game you could almost expect it to be bad. But then calling platformers kids games isn’t exactly true. The decent platformers (and kids games) out there are usually highly enjoyable for both kids and adults. Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario (every single one of them), Donkey Kong, Maximo, Ape Escape, Rayman – all of these are highly recommended, yet very much so juvenile games.

So, what am I trying to say with this article? Well, read reviews of games first. Don’t go buying a game without knowing what it’s like (especially if it’s a kids game or a TV licensed game). The gaming world is a haven for dodgy developers and bad men who just want to ruin your fun by swapping your CD rack of quality games with ‘orrible turds. Kids: if you want a quality game, you can find one anywhere. There are a handful of good children’s games out there, and I can understand if mommy won’t buy you GTA3 or Resident Evil (and in some cases they may have good cause) but you should really persevere. If you want GTA3 or Resi 3, tell your mother this:
“I am old enough to distinguish real life from fantasy, and even if this game contains a little blood or violence, it is of that that our society is based. I can handle it, and I promise you that I won’t steal daddy’s car and run over people with it.” If that doesn’t work, you better wait a few years junior.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a very concerning trophy case of bad games.

The “Style over content award” is given to The Lost World. EA has a smart television advertising campaign to thank for the frankly undeserved chart success of The Lost World. The 30-second advertisement highlighted the game’s stunning T-Rex animation - in which the outsize reptile emulates the movie beautifully by crashing around and stomping on everything in its path. Unfortunately, excited purchases of the game were disappointed to find out the T-Rex only appears at the end of the game – this left too many players to struggle with the incredibly hard first stages of the game, with little hope of ever reaching the televised sequences.

The “One set piece doth not a good game make” award goes to Independence Day. The highly successful movie was a giddy rollercoaster ride of stunning effects and action sequences. The game chose to ignore such possibilities as a canyon run or the spectacle of big dog fights, preferring the pit the player against dozens and dozens of alien motherships. While blowing up these huge saucers was great at first, by the time you’d repeated the process in Antarctica, or yet another desert, your interest was waning.

The “The only good movie spin-off is no movie spin-off” award goes to Monsters Inc. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. No, really – it’s so bad it’s scary. Opting for bland and below par graphics, stale, repetitive and downright uninspired gameplay, the creators of this travesty should hang their heads in shame. The only good part of Monsters Inc. is getting to watch clips from the movie. But that still doesn’t make up for it.

The “5th time lucky” award goes to the Army Men series. When will 3DO learn? They have churned out something along the lines of 7 Army Men games, on varying platforms and not a single one of them has been even slightly rewarding, fun or even recommendable to an arch nemesis. These games are possibly the worst of the worst, and they only get worse. Avoid at all costs.

The “never buy a game made by BBC Interactive” award goes to Tellytubbies: The game. So some of you may not have heard of it? I envy you. This game is by far the worst game ever made. It is a kids game, granted. It is a pre-school kids game, granted. But it offers no challenge (click on the tubby toast – well done! You clicked on the tubby toast!) and has no gameplay, at all. Very tedious, very bad. It isn’t really a game at all.

I hope I have made you all feel a lot worse about games now. And if you’re a kid, please complain to a software company for me please, because they won’t listen to me seeing as I’m not a kid. Happy gaming folks.



-- GaZZwa