ONS Awards: The Latest and Worstest Nintendo Games
ONS stands for Official Nintendo Seal, the esteemed honor that Nintendo bestows its retail products. This is of course slightly downgraded from the previous honor, the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality. The new version is a refreshing, almost stupid disclosure of the product's lack of quality. It's like telling consumers, "If we felt right about describing this as good, we would."
The Official Nintendo Seal, because "Look, guy. I'm going through a real messy divorce, and every morning I come to work to this huge pile of kids games. I don't really have time to try them all out. Maybe my wife's new teenage boyfriend does," doesn't fit on a sticker.
Classic gamers know that even back when its games legally had quality, a lot of suck got through Nintendo's quality filters. Now, with all oversights on suck lifted, may God help your Nintendo. Bad video games are stealing money from the stupid faster than Amazing Sea Monkeys and magic candy bar salesmen combined. The actual numbers would astonish you, so instead here are two others: 12, seventy-umpleen*.
* Novelty economic figures.
In this installment of the ONS awards, I'm focusing entirely on the Nintendo DS. In a recent television campaign, glamorous celebrities are depicted enjoying quirky, fun games. Sexy Beyoncé giggling at Rhythm Heaven? When is the media going to show an accurate representation of the Nintendo DS? Where are the "normal" women with bad skin, healthy hips and gills struggling through a game based on the monster truck, Bigfoot, with their cloven pig hands? Take back the night!
In the ONS Awards, each game will receive one to five Official Nintendo Seals in the categories of Graphics, Fun and Challenge. Many of these games were reverse engineered from market research based on how many copies they would sell to people who don't give a fuck if they're good or not, so the Graphics, Fun and Challenge will all be of poor quality. But remember, the Official Nintendo Seal never said anything about quality. So a high number of Official Nintendo Seals only means MORE not-quality. If you need an example, picture you're in a sack race. The sun in shining, the air is filled with laughter, and you score one ONS for winning the sack race, or five ONS's if you stay in one place and masturbate into your bag.
Writers often say that there are no bad ideas during brainstorming. Grey's Anatomy likes to extend that policy through the entire writing process until the actors are actually performing a scene about a doctor fucking a ghost or giving someone a feces transplant. Those, by the way, are real plot points. Women turn into lesbians, doctors were lizard doctors the whole time... you know, this could be a really good game!
Like the show, the game centers around boning people in a hospital. The dreamy men and nutbar slut-women are CGI'ed as realistically as possible which might have been a mistake. It ends up creepy. It feels like you wandered onto a crime scene where a talented but insane man made a lifesize Grey's Anatomy cast out of mannequins to watch him kill teen runaways. Hold on, let me try to sum this all up in case the re-release, Grey's Anatomy: Platinum Edition, wants a box quote: "Sexy... You'll feel like you're interacting with a murderer's mannequins!"
All I needed was 30 seconds to realize this was the Game of the Year. My, no bullshit, first challenge was to coerce Patrick Dempsey into sex. It gave me a choice between "Play Hard to Get" and "Be Flirtatious." So I picked "Be Flirtatious," put together a three-piece puzzle of Ellen Pompeo using my knowledge of where chins and eyes go on human faces, and did it.
My next goal in the game is to trace a circle to get Meredith to kiss Patrick Dempsey. I'm good at video games, so I do. Long and hard. And now Patrick Dempsey is giving me some speech about starting a relationship with me. He can't keep chasing me like this! What is this I'm feeling? Oooh, my inner woman is so going to town on herself. God, just look at me! I feel like a celebrity judge at a Phil Collins dicks-in-the-mouth world record attempt!
I have a new pity if not respect for women and the depressing materials they're given to jerk off with.
I wouldn't be so insulting as to say that curling is the worst sport ever invented, but a gold medal in this event is so meaningless that if you send one in to Cash4Gold, they return it with a rejection letter. You play curling by shoving a stone down the ice while two people with brooms sweep in front of it. This video game simulation is painstakingly faithful to the proud tradition of cur- where am I? I fell asleep typing.
With these competent graphics, you can certainly tell you're curling. But given the nature of curling, that's like giving perfect eyesight to someone watching themselves starve to death over the course of many lifetimes. Bad graphics would have been more humane in this case.
Surprise: this isn't fun. But it's a sport known for the sheer spectacle of its boring pointlessness, so what did we expect? It would be... impossible... to make it fun, right? Well, let me tell you another story about the impossible. One day a group of yogurt executives decided to market a yogurt that makes you shit. Poop yogurt, for your generation. These yogurt men called themselves Yo-Plus and they needed a graphic designer that could draw a logo that visually said both "taking a shit" and "delicious."
You might as well design a logo that travels back in time to invent leprechauns and buy stock in George Foreman Grills. It's a task that's fucking impossible flying on a luck dragon. People don't want to hear about poop while they eat creamy, lumpy dairy food! But that genius graphic designer somehow did it. He or she drew some bubbles churning in a naked woman's belly that said bowel loosening and fruit flavor all at the same time, and in a world where that can be achieved, some dickhead should have been able to program at least one fleeting moment of fun into a game about curling.
There are some who appreciate the challenge of curling. They are broomed people who throw themselves into the delicate war that rages between low friction and shoves! Are you one? Well, these unique winter sports fans all have one thing in common: they were born to a mother who competed in mercury eating contests during her first through fourth trimesters. So please consult with your local genetic research lab before attempting this game or any other wildly retarded activity.
Dreamer: Puppy Trainer
For many years, it was my job to review terrible games. Which means that I am one of the few people alive with the experience necessary to observe this: This derivative game brings nothing new to the taking-care-of-puppies genre.
Like the game itself, the graphics in Dreamer: Puppy Trainer seem to have been a long and painful undertaking. You play a girl working in a kennel, and every tiny detail of her horrible work day is forced upon the player. You watch your avatar slowly fall apart as she paints fences, brushes dogs, orders shampoo... and some poor asshole had to draw it all. You can feel, taste the misery. The artist somehow took all the soul crushing sadness of his own life and put it into a game about cute puppies, which is an artistic triumph any way you look at it.
I have to be honest, the idea of taking care of a puppy on a Nintendo is both kinds of gay. But at least in most puppy games it's YOUR puppy. You can feel whatever love or attachment your own sense of patheticalness will allow. In Dreamer: Puppy Trainer, you don't even get that. You're hosing down some rich bitch's puppy, rubbing it for hours with your stylus, and when you leave to finish your mopping, you'll never see it again. How long will it be before you forget its face? Does it think of you? They should call this Dreamer: Shitty March Toward Death.
I took this game out to make sure it wasn't some kind of prank, and in the time it took to inspect it for the Official Nintendo Seal, my DS had managed to lodge five sleeping pills in its cartridge port. I think it's trying to kill itself.
Rafa Nadal Tennis
Not being a big tennis fan, I think Rafa Nadal is the blue Jedi with tentacles on his head. This means I'm very disappointed with the totally ordinary nature of this human-on-human tennis video game.
The graphics started as 3D renderings, then got optimized to fit on a 1980s calculator. Then they were shrunk down and asked to move around and play tennis. It looks like an archaeologist unearthed a cache of sarcastically bad wood carvings from an ancient latrine. It's possible that this game is a historical preservation of caveman art centered around a tennis theme.
Aside from Rafa himself, there are no real tennis players in the game. Maybe as a joke, they invented a few. Fanny Howker, Ivana Zaichenko, all your favorite made up names are there! As for how it plays... trying to control Rafa or any of the money-saving imaginary athletes is frustrating at best. You play through a complicated series of drags and pokes of the stylus. For example, in order to get tennis star, Horsehop Pantso, to return a serve: run by sliding the stylus, re-angle it to select the power of the return shot, tap quickly to apply spin, then spell your favorite color in Esperanto.
The control scheme is ambitious and, as you can imagine, a massive failure by all the apathetic and incompetent people involved. So you're left with something that probably wouldn't have worked anyway, failing in every direction at once. It's like trying to play tennis via a French interpreter and Robocop. Your opponent serves the ball! You quickly tell the interpreter to return the serve. He puts this into a tube and messengers it over to Robocop. Robocop swoops his head around as he reads the foreign writing and says, "Translating orders from French... Orders Received! Robocop engaging tennis ball!" Too late, Robocop and Interpreter... we're down 14 billion to love, which is tennis for zero.
Sorry, I took a short time away from this article to work on the Act 2 of my Robocop and Interpreter pilot. But it's hard to come up with any believable conflict, since the only thing that can beat them is tennis, and Robocop killed that in Act 1. Maybe you can help. Send in your ideas for Robocop and Interpreter today!
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Great, another bad game adaptation of a classic Hollywood film. I just hope they're faithful to the scene where they have to put Hannah Montana down after she bites a camper.
As Hannah Montana, the very first thing that happened to me was my father, country standout Billy Ray Cyrus, ordering me to go to the back of the trailer and get dressed for my concert. So half a minute in and I'm watching a little girl change clothes. It's the perfect game to take my mind off the screams coming from my van! As a top-quality fashion sim, there was nearly three combinations of outfit, so I really hope this cartridge has a secret chip installed that calls the FBI if this part takes me longer than 10 seconds. More to the point, through my partially covered eyes I was able to notice that the graphics sucked.
During your concert, you drunkenly steer Hannah Montana around the stage and play mini-games that represent "singing" and "dancing." Apparently, there's also a part in every Miley Cyrus song where she lumbers over to a keyboard and pounds out a completely different song with one finger. Which brings me to this theological conclusion: if the sound engineer to this game isn't wearing earmuffs made out of the shrieks of tortured bats from now until forever, then our God is a merciful and forgiving God. Case closed, Old Testament!
This game is easy. People have dated handfuls of vegetable oil less easy than this. The "rhythm" parts are so hard to lose that it's almost racist. And the parts that aren't making fun of white people seem designed to test apes for evidence of shape recognition, not act as entertainment. It's like Hannah Montana accidentally got attached to a 450 step program to teaching your monkey sign language at home, and this is step one half. Fuck you, Hannah Montana.
The winner: After all the scores are tallied in the first ONS Awards, Curling DS comes away with the victory! With a near-perfect score of 14 Official Nintendo Seals, there is no doubt that Curling DS has been sealed by Nintendo, officially.