Modern gaming has come a long way from the brightly colored pixels of our youth, but not all of those changes have been for the better. There are times when many of us wish that we could hit the reset button on all the cash-grabbing DLC, the terrible licensed games, and the obnoxious motion-controllers that have taken over gaming in recent years and go back to the halcyon days of Nintendo and Sega. However, many of the things we dislike most about modern video games have been skidmarks on the industry for longer than the Super Mario Bros. movie.
6Escort Missions: Wing Commander (1990)
For the benefit of those readers who are blissfully ignorant of the term "escort mission": Imagine for a moment that you're playing a video game. You've spent most of the game as an elite badass who shits plastic explosives, answers to no one, and isn't happy unless they're bounding from dangerous situation to dangerous situation with the type of wild abandon that can only be referred to as a death wish.
Then the game suddenly comes to a screeching halt, because now you have to play babysitter to some random computer-controlled character with the survival instinct of a drunken kitten and make sure they get to the end of the level without getting murdered by enemies or stumbling blindly off a cliff. This is called an escort mission, and it is the bane of gamers everywhere, because it takes the parameters for success or failure almost entirely out of your hands. After hours of attempting to pass this mission, you're no closer to escorting your new friend across Space Normandy, so you turn off the computer, sell the game, and begin abusing heroin, confident that it will be better for your stress levels in the long run.
Still beats the shit out of Fable.
Yes, escort missions are terrible affairs. At best, they're designed just to pad out a game's length. At worst, they form a vital part of the game's content, so much so that any good or fun aspects of the game are brutally clubbed to death like an angry gorilla with a table leg, like in Metal Gear Solid 2, a game that seemed to be created for the sole purpose of angering fans of Metal Gear Solid. Consequently, many gamers long for the days when escort missions were but a twinkle in the eyes of the terrible assholes who would eventually create them, and video games were all about you dominating a sea of enemies without having to be bothered with anyone's well-being but your own.
But Actually ...
Contrary to popular belief, old-timey games also suffered from the curse of the escort mission, most notably 1990's Wing Commander, a simple game about detonating spaceships cunningly disguised as massive blocks of pixels.
At various junctures within the game, you're asked to escort large, unarmed ships across enemy territory. Simple, right? Wrong. If you leave the ship's side for even a minute trying to shoot down the enemy fighters riddling it with bullets, your escortee will just speed off without you ... right into the path of the next group of enemy fighters, who'll succeed at blowing it into atoms because you're still 20 billion light years away.
In space, no one can hear you curse a blue streak because could you just hold up for one fucking second?!
That is, of course, if your escortee doesn't decide to ram you to death while you're busy trying to keep it alive:
"Hey buddy, how about keeping your eyes on the endless, blank void, eh?"
Along with serving as a reminder of how adorable old-timey games look, the crude nature of the graphics meant that the game couldn't reliably detect where you were in relation to literally anything around you. As such, going near the cargo ship would often register as a collision, meaning that you had to fly at a distance from the thing you were supposed to be defending, which helped the mission graduate from "stupid bullshit" to "impossible bullshit."
5Celebrity Editions Of Video Games
Of all the ridiculous trends in modern gaming, perhaps none is quite as baffling as the celebrity video game. To clarify, we're not talking about video games based on movies or TV shows, featuring celebrities portraying characters they are known for. We're talking about games like 50 Cent: Bulletproof, wherein you play as the titular millionaire rapper as he blasts his way through an urban criminal underworld (or the sequel, Blood On The Sand, where Fiddy goes to the Middle East to hunt terrorists and go on archaeological digs for fabled springs of Mesopotamian Vitamin Water).
These games, seemingly released just to stroke a celebrity's ego, have you play through an elaborate fantasy based on a famous person's image rather than anything that person has ever actually done, such as the series of games in which you help Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen solve mysteries, despite the fact that we are relatively certain neither one of them has ever been part of a criminal task force. They're all just relatively new cynical cash-grabs from people with absolutely no business appearing on the cover of a video game other than "making shitloads of money."
The sole unlikely exception being Mike Tyson and his army of ethnic caricatures.
But Actually ...
Celebrities have been dipping their toes into the sweet sweet video game market for extra walking-around money for decades, since the earliest days of video gaming. For instance, there's the archaically racist Bruce Lee (1984), which casts you as the legendary martial artist as he attempts to kick a sorcerer to death while being chased by a ninja and a sumo wrestler. Please note: Bruce Lee had already been dead for several years when this game was released.
Making it Game Of Death the game (of even more death, we assume).
Then there was the weird trend of giving rock bands an entire game, regardless of whether the plot read like a peyote-induced nightmare. For instance, there was Journey, in which players were asked to help reunite the members of the titular band with their instruments (sadly, there wasn't an option to say no and spare the suffering of the virtual audience), as well as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, which asks you to spiritually develop your character while trying to solve a murder, because apparently those two things were very important to the band.
In 1994, this genre reached its dark nadir with Revolution X, a light-gun shooter in which you have to rescue the members of Aerosmith from a terrorist group presumably planning on using the chemical sludge collecting in Steven Tyler's liver as a poison to wipe out mankind. Among other things, the game challenged players to be able to distinguish between the band's female groupies and the actual members of the band.
Virtually indistinguishable from '90s Brad Whitford.
However, the mother of weirdly shit celebrity video games is Fonz, a 1976 motorbike racing game starring everyone's favorite shark-jumping delinquent. The game was just a rebranded version of an earlier video game, Road Race, which Sega quickly bedazzled with publicity shots of Henry Winkler once they realized they were part owners of the intellectual property rights over Happy Days.