The 11 Biggest Frauds in Gaming
(Contributors: John Teti, Evan Narcisse)
From its inception -- [robotic voice] "WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF COMPUTER GAMES!" -- this industry has always promised to deliver the future. In the never-ending quest to be the first to deliver a day-after-tomorrow experience, it's no surprise that more than a few of these promises turned out to be as hollow as a stuffed animal you won at a state fair. Sure, it looks cute and all, but once you get it home, the seams start to show, sawdust begins leaking everywhere, and you're left wondering what you've "won" after all.
11. Wii MotionPlus attachment (2009)
Sure, it's better. But is it $20 worth of better? At this point, no. We've swung our way through three games that have been optimized for the Wii MotionPlus, including Wii Sports Resort, which was designed to show what the device can really do. Our highly scientific results: a few degrees shy of negligible.
10. Gizmondo (2005)
This hideous $400 game-playing GPS device stands as one of gaming's all-time greatest piles of sh*t. Only eight of the 14 promised games for the unit were ever released. And by February of the following year, sales were so pathetic that it was mercifully taken out behind the virtual woodshed and shot to death.
9. Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 (1982)
This cartridge promised an experience that would approximate what we were paying 25 cents for at the time in arcades. We all thought, "No way!" What we eventually got was a blue-and-yellow maze populated with one ghost that appeared to split into four ghosts at various intervals, and a circular object -- i.e., the Pac-Man -- that was about as easy to control as a car with wheels that are made entirely out of banana peels and Vaseline.
8. The Phantom (2002)
The Phantom promised on-demand PC games not unlike what OnLive is promising to deliver. But it turned out to be an elaborate hoax; one that's rivaled, to this day, only by the inglorious Piltdown Man. Viva la Piltdown Man! Viva!
7. PSP Connect/rearview mirror capability for racing games (2007)
Sony promised that the PSP could someday be used with the PlayStation 3 as a rearview mirror in racing games. Formula One Championship Edition was actually slated to include this capability, but at the last second, it was axed. It seems someone at Sony realized, at the 11th hour, that this was a totally stupid, uninteresting, wasteful idea.
6. VMU "Games" (Dreamcast; 1999)
The little memory unit with the LCD screen certainly was nifty. (We still fondly recall the satisfying "click" it made when you popped it into the controller.) But the unit also purported to be a portable game-playing device. The idea was a good one. But the execution? Very bad. Terrible, even. These games are fun only if mowing the lawn or cracking walnuts absolutely delights you.
5. Expansion Pak (Nintendo 64; 1999)
One of five different we-don't-need-no-stinking-C "Paks" from Nintendo (Rumble, Jumper, Controller and Transfer were the other four). The Expansion Pak plugged into the N64's memory expansion port and supposedly doubled the console's RAM storage. Only a couple of games -- Perfect Dark and Donkey Kong 64 are the two most prominent -- absolutely required it. But the Pak also supposedly enhanced a number of other games. Problem is, by "enhanced," Nintendo meant "no discernable difference whatsoever."
4. Mode 7 (Super Nintendo; 1991)
One of the big selling points of the Super Nintendo was its high-powered graphics chip that allowed -- hold onto your toupees, Dad -- MODE-7 EFFECTS. Every SNES game followed suit by featuring gratuitous, totally out-of-place look-at-me-I'm-rotating! moments. The quintessential example of Mode-7 abuse: Contra III: The Alien Wars.
3. Game Boy Camera (1998)
The low-tech, low-fidelity digital camera was designed to give the game-playing device an adult functionality. Problem is, it remains among the crummiest cameras ever made. (Though it does seem to be the camera of choice for taking photographs of blobby, black-and-white things like UFOs and Loch Ness monsters.) A close second here: the Game Boy Printer, aka the crappiest printer ever made. And because we don't want our parting guests to go home empty-handed, here's a bit of trivia: The Game Boy Camera was used to take the pics that appear on the cover of Neil Young's "Silver & Gold" album. Woot.
2. PSP Go (2009)
Sony's answer to the iPhone isn't even on the market yet, and already it totally stinks like Gizmondo in here. (Someone open a window.) It looks and feels about as hip as watching a 40-year-old shop at Urban Outfitters.
1. Michael Pachter
The industry's poster-child pundit feeds his "analysis" to the media with the same blend of aggression and love that a mother wolf brings to breastfeeding her young. It must be nice to make a living from stating stuff like the PSP Go costs "too much." Eureka, sir. Eureka.
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