In Search Of A 'B Game'

Written by Joe Martin

December 3, 2009 | 10:32

Tags: #evil-dead #sin #sin-episodes

Companies: #games

I’m on holiday at the moment, so I’m not really supposed to be working – but one of the virtues of loafing around at my parents house for a week has had me thinking about something lately. Namely, B Movies. I’m a big fan of them and I’ve been watching a lot lately because in my family the Evil Dead trilogy is treated with same amount of reverence and awe as Russian Ark.

So, what I’ve been thinking about lately is whether or not there’s a computer game equivalent of the B Movie. I’m not sure there is.

Maybe it’s helpful if I clarify what I mean by ‘B Movie’. What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily some tawdry and over-gored piece of dross with no script and a Bruce Campbell cameo. What I really mean is something low-budget and with obvious faults, but which overcomes them through some (probably unintended) humour or charm.

Basically; that old ‘so bad, it’s good’ factor.
[break]
I can think of plenty of bad games, like Death to Spies. I can think of plenty of good games, like Braid. I can think of games which I know aren’t actually all that good but which I like anyway, like Sin: Episodes. I can’t think of a game that’s so bad it’s good.

Sin: Episodes is the closest I personally can find to the gaming equivalent of a ‘B Movie’, but I feel I’m forced to dismiss it. It’s a triple A game from an established developer in a successful franchise and despite the obvious immaturity and crassness of the game I do actually like some features of the game on their own merit – the skill charting and adaptive balancing systems are good. Too good to be part of a ‘B Game'.

In Search Of A 'B Game' *In Search Of A B Game
Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus is a B Movie classic waiting for maturation.

The problem is, I think, to do with the level of investment required for the medium. The original Evil Dead is obviously a bad film – the script is obvious to the point of punching you in the face, the acting as shallow and flat as an infinite and dusty salt plane and the camerawork is…well, you get the point. Still, it’s only like that for two hours, so the relative brevity provides a novelty which creates humour. The funniness would drain out of it if the film was 30 hours long.

That’s the problems that bad games have – they are so long and require so much more of a player in terms of skill, repetition and time that you’re far less willing to endure any faults.

And yet…I’m convinced that there has to be some exception to this rule. I’ve just got this inkling that there’s a game which is both bad and good. Something like the original Resident Evil, but without the undeniably effective tension that game creates, or the fact that it was on the cutting edge when it came out.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I still think there has to be one out there and while this sneaking suspicion definitely isn’t ruining my holiday, it’s definitely bugging me that I can’t find the game which might fit this definition. If you can think of one then please let me know in the comments thread below.
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