4 Most Bizarre Video Game Ports
Porting a video game, the act of making a game developed for a system run on a different system is a deranged business. Some ports turn out decent, with only a few compromises made to the final product. Some others are just bad, like console ports of PC games that have laughable graphics or unplayable framerates because the publishers couldn't shush their inner greed telling them to make a game for a system that just wasn't capable of handling it. The most well-known example is that of Cyberpunk 2077, of course – but this is not about that. This isn't about ports that are merely terrible. It's about ports of famous games that resulted in such bizarre final products that they verge on myth.
The Bizarre Japan-only Arcade Version Of Half-Life 2
One of the things people immediately loved about the original Half-Life was how it took the time to properly invite players into the fold by taking them on a highly immersive train ride that showed them the game's world. It's a really cool idea – for an intro. The Japanese arcade version of Half-Life 2, however, seems to have forgotten about the intricacies of the series' gameplay, and just made what's basically an on-rails version of Half-Life 2.
Remember how most complaints about Half-Life 2 fall on its waterbike segments? Welp, Half-Life Survivor feels like it was made by someone who only liked those parts of HL2 because Survivor extends those already drawn-out segments and makes them the entirety of the game. Survivor is an inexplicably lame-ass arcade shooter that uses the neat visuals from HL2 to reel Japanese pennies in.
Half-Life became a huge hit because it required players to think in order to advance in the story, so it's pretty ironic that they'd spend so much money on the creation of wonky arcades of a hellscape version of Half-Life 2 that's more simplistic than DOOM.
Interestingly, however, Survivor is the only game in the Half-Life series to feature an actual Gordon Freeman model.
*Complete with the formulaic characters we all know and love from the
Half-Life series every other arcade shooter.
Lost World Jurassic Park for the Genesis was better than the Saturn and PS1 versions
The Lost World: Jurassic Park kickstarted the trend of making absolutely awful Jurassic Park sequels, but it also gave birth to a game that is nothing short of a miracle. Yes, this Lost World: Jurassic Park (for the Sega Genesis) isn't an inexplicable port because of its low quality, but because it's much better than both the actual movie and the Lost World game versions of more powerful consoles.
Lost World was a big event, so they made video game versions for all the consoles of the time: the old Sega Genesis, the hot sh*t new PS, and the Sega Saturn. Interestingly, even though they weren't particularly terrible, they both sucked in comparison to their Sega Genesis counterpart. The PS1 and Saturn versions are just formulaic side scrollers that make absolutely no use of these consoles' coolest strength, the ability to make tri-dimensional adventures. The only cool thing about these versions is that in the PS1 version we played as a guy who has to shoot all dinosaurs,
and in the Saturn version, we played as a dinosaur. Both sucked, but this key difference at least makes the console war of the time sound really intense.
The Genesis version, however, opted for a game where we actually get to explore the island and do all sorts of dino-hunting related activities in an environment that felt way more 3D than what we got on any of the big 3D consoles.
It's the closest we ever got (and we assume we'll ever get) to a classic Zelda game on the Genesis. Reviewers of the time admitted that it was easily the superior version of the game, but it didn't get the attention it deserved because it came out when the Genesis was already on its last legs. Either way, it's the best swansong the console could have ever gotten.
Oh, yeah, but there's a reason why this game is actually straight-up bizarre! That's because the game's final segment begins with us murdering basically every dinosaur on the island while we play as guys who look way too much like Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant.
Maybe they were just (correctly) trying to prevent the sequels.
Spider-Man 2's inexplicable PC port
Usually, the ports that fail the hardest are those where the developers try to cram ultra-demanding PC games into a poor little home console. That's the exact opposite of what happened with the excellent video game tie-in of Spider-Man 2. For the few who might not recall, the PS2 version of Spider-Man 2 is the game that revolutionized Spidey games by creating that awesome web-swinging mechanic that's still present in the newest games. We can have a lot of fun playing that game even today, so long as we don't pick up the PC version.
It isn't even just a bad port. Instead of porting the PS2 version to the PC, the people behind the Spider-Man brand decided to task an educational games company with making a different game, one that just looked like the game we all love. Spider-Man 2 for the PC sucks on a technical level, sure, but its greatest crime is that of removing every single one of the elements that made people fall in love with the original (version of the sequel).
The thing we loved the most are the aforementioned web-swinging mechanics, and they've gone from:
The total freedom of movement got replaced by only being able to use webs when the game shows a huge “SWING” prompt. No worries, though, because web-swinging is only cool when we have an awesome city to explore, and that's gone in the PC version as well. The huge NYC that we're free to roam in the original game is just a bunch of small levels, and the most efficient way to traverse them is to actually ditch the webs altogether and just run to the objectives – as absolutely no superhero would.
And that's a serious problem because Spider-Man clearly doesn't have a regular human's ability to deal with street life.
Daikatana actually slapped.. on the GameBoy
There's nothing new we can say about Daikatana for the PC. Following up on his ultra-successful run at id Software as DOOM's level designer, John Romero rented the coolest offices imaginable to get his people to develop the coolest game of all time. Unfortunately, said offices turned out to be the hottest offices imaginable, literally so hot, in fact, that the heat emanating from their awesome windows prevented the dev team to work for a considerable part of their working hours. We didn't make that up. The game's promo campaign didn't fare any better after a douchey marketing exec coerced Romero into creating billboards announcing that Romero was about to turn all players into his “b*tches”. With such hubris, it's no surprise that the game wouldn't end up meeting expectations. Daikatana ended up releasing mid-2000, just two years after Half-Life but feeling two decades older.
But this isn't about Daikatana for the PC.
Even though Daikatana pretty much became a laughing stock at that time, and making use of that IP probably felt like commercial suicide, Kemco decided to keep on working on a previously scheduled port the game to the GameBoy Color. The release was canceled in the US because nobody believed in the brand, but it ended up coming out a year later in Europe and Japan…and it actually rocks.
Instead of going for the edgy '90s FPS vibe of the original game, Romero asked Kemco to make a more traditional adventure in the vein of the old Zelda classics, and the game ended up getting showered with praise… from the few who got to play it. Remember: one should never underestimate the power of the GameBoy.
Top Image: Valve