Since so many articles have been done on the games themselves. It's time to figure out what it takes to make a bad NES game.
So what is a bad NES game? How are they made? Why were they made?
Many games come to mind: Top Gun, ET the Extraterrestrial, Bible Adventures, Where's Waldo?, and the ever popular Ghosts and Goblins. These games represent the bottom rung in the history of game development. They are mostly unplayable, and/or boring as hell. There is a formula for making a bad NES game. You need to add certain elements to actually make an NES game horrible. Three basic things are common with all of these games.
First is graphics. Let us say the standard for decent NES graphics is Super Mario Bros 3. It had pretty good detail and colors for its time, and Mario's mobility was satisfactory enough. The game wasn't very glitchy, and was very nice to look at. That being said, there are games out there that fall under "undefinable" graphics wise, and even some that were down right painful to look at... like this:
Damn you, Waldo!!!
That's right . "Where's Waldo?" for the NES. All you have to do is find Waldo amongst the stick figures and clip art in which he is hiding. This is probably one of the best examples of
bad grotesque graphics. Who at the development meeting thought "Yeah, a Where's Waldo game will be fun"? "Where's Waldo?" was never fun, although he is an illusive bastard. Just look at it for a second, the whole game is a series of screenshots and a clock, that's it. There are many other graphicly challeneged games that were made, but this game takes the cake.
Next is how well the game plays. Most of us have heard of the "Top Gun" game, and how impossibly hard it was to land that fucking plane on the aircraft carrier.
So close, yet so far...
This game is not the worst offender, however. "Silver Surfer" was impossibly hard, you couldn't touch anything in the game, for fear of death. Many games were made too difficult to play. Yet still, some like "Top Gun", simply had functionality issues and/or points where the game didn't know what to do with you. In "Top Gun" there is a point where you have to refuel mid air with an air tanker. If you were to screw up (which is a 99% possibility) the tanker left you alone, to die as you ran out of fuel. That is it, the game had no other way to get rid of you. So it let you run out of fuel and die a fiery death.
Too many games provoked the throwing of controllers. Either from impossible standards or non- responsive controls and glitches. Some games were down right unplayable, add that to the fact that many games of the time didn't have a save feature, or appropriate life and health bars (Silver Surfer). Challenge is one thing, but fuck, you couldn't touch anything.
This is the killer, probably the producer of the most horrifying NES games known to man. Games based on movies, what more needs to be said. Back to the Future, ET, Total Recall, Top Gun, Batman, Indiana Jones, Friday the 13th, The Karate Kid... and the list goes on and on. These games are the pinnacle of bad; the absolute worst. Not only are most of them unplayable, but they often have nothing to do with the movie that they are portraying.
"Remember this part of Back To The Future?"
This is what a bad NES game is, games made purely to profit off of a movie or show. It seems very little thought was put into these games at all. Most are just crap with a movie title pasted on the cartridge. You can't help but think that the programmers were held against their will, and forced to make such games. Instead of putting out the game that was intended, out of spite, they put out games that didn't make any real sense, possibly as a cry for help. A cry that was never heard.
As we look back to these games, let us remember the struggles of their creators. (Also, we have to assume a large amount of cocaine was involved.). Let's not look at these games as bad games, but for what they really represent. A cry to stop the maddness of crappy games driven by movies. A lesson that to this day has yet to be learned.