Editorials and Features
Article by: MrCHUPON
Column: Snakes on a Game - The "So Bad It's Good" Phenomenon [Written 2006-08-21]
Sometimes bad is, well, so bad that it's good.
Will there ever be a Snakes on a Plane of the videogame world? Has it already come and gone? Maybe I've missed it by turning my nose up at anything looking remotely stanky. The recently famous Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (and by recent, I mean in the past two years or so) may come the closest to the coveted Snakes on a Game moniker. However, I can't find hard sales data to see just how successful the game fared on the market. At best, due to Gamespot.com's Associate Editor Alex Navarro's review, it's garnered a cult following as a laughingstock... on Gamespot.com's message boards. Who knows if there is a similar "following" on the Gamespy or 1up networks? Furthermore, as much money as the videogame industry has gathered, videogames aren't yet as ubiquitous as movies or music - while simultaneously being generally more expensive to procure. Thus, spending money on a crap-tacular game might be less acceptable than spending money on a crap-tacular movie.
As such, I can't imagine too many people actually purchased the title.
So, where is this so-called Snakes on a Game? Is the concept even feasible? How much of a risk would it be for a developer and publisher to team up and say, "Hey guys, here's this incredibly campy game that's going to have a ridiculous storyline, totally whacked-out game controls, slipshod dialogue, and stupid - I mean stupid - graphics and art style. You guys're gonna eat it up - it'll be so bad it's good, and so good it hurts."
If we stretch things a bit, perhaps we can consider that Capcom has made an attempt... sort of. Resident Evil: Deadly Silence for the Nintendo DS was essentially a port of the original Resident Evil on the Playstation, with a few added gameplay bonuses. That means that all of the horrendous voice acting was kept in the game, much to the unexpected delight of quite a few game reviewers.
"You were almost a Jill sandwich!"
"You, the master of unlocking, would make better use of this!"
Ah, yes. So bad, it's good.
The problem is, that's only on the aesthetic, audio level. The actual gameplay of Resident Evil - depending on your views regarding the tank-like control - is fundamentally sound. So is there another game that we'd play, or one that's coming out, which intentionally breaks itself for the sheer amusement factor of being the Snakes on a Plane of videogames?
Here's one that, with a tip from retro gamer extraordinaire m0zart, I stumbled across some moons ago. It's called Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors. This game, 80% complete on the Sega CD and not yet developed for its other planned platforms, was never released. As Wikipedia informs us:
"The game starred the comedy-magician duo Penn & Teller. The developer Absolute Entertainment went out of business before they could release the game, yet the game was featured and previewed in various gaming publications such as Electronic Gaming Monthly. Electronic Arts bought the rights to publish all unreleased Absolute games. However, because the only complete version was for the struggling Sega CD, whilst the PC and 3DO versions were only 80% finished, they decided not to release or complete any version."
What about this game makes it a Snakes candidate?
"The game is composed of several minigames and an adventure/platform game starring Penn & Teller. All the minigames were made for the sole purpose of enabling the owner of the game to fool their friends (except for the Desert Bus minigame, obstensibly a joke on the owner himself) by many different means."
So, let's talk about that blasted Desert Bus minigame. From what I've read, it entails an eight-hour trek on a desert road. Sounds dumb, but not so bad, right?
Allow me to summon Kiefer Sutherland to drop the bomb on you: "Events occur in real time."
Eight real hours of driving across the desert, on a Sega CD game? Sure, you could just tape the button down on your controller, do your taxes, make a sandwich and possibly a baby or three in the process. The bus, however, automatically veers ever so slightly to the right such that eventually, it'll go off the road, crash, and get towed back to your starting point - again, in REAL TIME. The only thing you could do to alleviate this is summon Homer Simpson's half brother, Herb Powell, and have him bring you one of those water-drinking bird toys that dip their heads down to foot-level every so often. Then you'd have him peck away at the d-pad, keeping the bus - hopefully - on the road.
For eight hours. Uh huh. Right.
This game never was released, but what if it had been? Would it actually be purchased legitimately if only to piss your friends off with the Desert Bus minigame? Is this the closest we'll ever get to Snakes on a Game? Hell, do we even want Snakes on a Game?
I sure as hell don't. But maybe I'll surprise myself when Ernest Goes to San Andreas is released.
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