Stinkers – Nintendo 64


When the Nintendo 64 came around, I was in my late teens and video games were off of my radar.  I had actually not played it until this weekend at the arcade expo.  I know a lot of people hold this console dear, but as an objective observer with no prior experience, I thought it was crap.  I hated the controller.  The third “leg” is just weird and I didn’t know how to hold it.  There seem to be far more buttons than needed as well.  I played Super Smash Brothers and the graphics were not good.  I still think the pixelated look of the NES and SNES look ok.  But the polygon “3D” fad in games was not a good experiment.  It could have been the TV we were playing on, but I could hardly see what was going on.

I can only list a couple of games – Super Mario Sunshine and Goldeneye – that were famous from this system.  I had planned to get one at some point, but my hands-on experience this weekend has saved me a lot of money.  Nintendo has been a hit and miss company (for me, at least) since then.  I wasn’t a fan of the Wii, either.

Stinkers – Jumble Madness

Genre:  Word/Puzzle
Platform:  DS

I love puzzle games, especially word games.  And I REALLY wanted to like this game.  I was excited to get it and it cost more than your average word game.  I played it for a good couple of hours, but it just never grabbed me.

If you’re not aware of them, Jumbles are puzzles that have been around American newspapers for a very long time, since at least 1962.  I have enjoyed them for a while, though they are not my first choice of word puzzle.  Anyway, I found that this game was far too easy.  It’s not a fun puzzle if you can solve it in 20 seconds.  This game has some sort of story mode, but it didn’t add anything to the game.  It also has a strange “word-jong” mode, which just has you matching letters like a shanghai-tile game.

If you were looking at this one, skip it.  It’s not much fun.

Stinkers – Deal or No Deal, Nintendo DS

Genre:  Game Show
Platform:  Nintendo DS

I love game shows.  I am a sucker for the Game Show Network and BUZZR.  It really doesn’t matter the age or content of the show, I will sit and watch it.  I also really like Deal or No Deal.  The premise is fairly simple.  You pick a case and hope that it has $1,000,000 in it.  Throughout the game, you pick other cases that have other values in them.  Between rounds, the host talks to the banker, who makes you an offer for your case.  If you want to risk it and keep going, you can.  If you like his offer and just want to run away with that money, you do.  Nearly every time, people get too greedy and end up busted.

So naturally, I picked up this game.  I had a lot of fun with it, at least the first few games.  It was just like the TV show, Howie Mandel and all.  But then I noticed something.  It was a pattern.  And it destroyed the (video) game for me forever.  You see, this game has a big flaw and I can’t believe that the developers didn’t see it.  If you’ve not played this game and intend to, hit your back button now.

The critical error is that the $1,000,000 is always in the same case.  Every single time.  This takes away all of the fun.  The company that made this came out with a second “special version” of the game, but the damage was already done for me and I didn’t want to buy it.  It’s too bad because I really had fun before I noticed it.

Stinkers – Sim City (2013)

Genre:  Simulation
Platform:  PC

As I stated in my last post, I am a fan of city builders and Sim City.  I liked Sim City original, Sim City 2000, Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4.  So, naturally, I was really excited for Sim City (2013) and even pre-ordered it, as did my husband.

We picked it up on launch day, installed it and…didn’t get to play it.  This game was an online-only game at the time, and Origin’s servers were overcrowded and down half the time.  This was an omen of things to come.  To their credit, about a year later, they did create an offline mode, so if your (or their) internet is down, you can still play.

Once we started playing, we were having fun.  The game does do a lot of things right.  I can’t say this is the worst game that I’ve played, but there were some things that killed it for me.  Let’s start with the good.  The graphics are great and you can zoom in to street level.  It helps you feel more a part of your city.  Your citizens also ask you for help from time to time and you get rewards for doing so.  You have a nice selection of each item to build – for example, there are several different types of parks to add, all with their own rewards.  You have another type of road to add, a multi-lane street (non-highway) which can be nice for traffic reasons.  There are a myriad of special buildings to build.  Overall, this still feels like SimCity, and that’s a good thing.


Now for the bad things.  First, you are severely limited in your plot size.  Their biggest size is way too small.  This was the killer for me.  I liked to make large, sprawling cities in the previous games.  There are so many things to build, but you just won’t have room for half of them.  Next, water is always a problem.  You can still build pumps and water towers, but now the water depletes at a level that I felt was unrealistic.  Yes, this is a problem that real cities face, but let me have some fun, too.  Before 200 years, one of my cities was bone dry.  Finally, pollution is also a constant problem.  I had to destroy a lot of my buildings to make room for more trash facilities (see the small map size issue).

If you don’t mind the small city sizes, then you might enjoy this.  It was just too crippling for my play style, so I can’t say that I would recommend this game to anyone.

Stinkers – Toon-Doku

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  DS

Everyone knows by now that I love puzzle and logic games.  I enjoy a good game of sudoku now and again, so I thought the concept of Toon-Doku was fun.  You apply the same rules of sudoku – no more than one number per column, row or block – to a grid of icons instead.  I’m sure this would have actually been fun if it wasn’t for the horrible presentation.

The image above looks pretty good.  You can see everything pretty clearly.  This is not how it actually looks on the system.  The icons are so small that it’s hard to tell them apart.  This makes it impossible to fill out the grid, which really defeats the purpose of the game.  I really wanted to like this one, but after five minutes with it, I was done.  Skip this one.

Stinkers – Zuma Deluxe for the XBox 360

Genre:  Arcade
Platform:  XBox 360

I love Zuma.  It has entertained me for 100’s of hours on my PC or laptop.  This is a great game.  It’s very simple – you shoot colored balls at the other colored balls to match at least three and clear them.  So I was excited to play it on my XBox 360 quite a long time ago.  FAIL.  This is a terrible port of a game.  Of course, you use your 360 controller.  However, the controls are just awful.

You need to use the thumb sticks to control the cursor, but it is really hard to use.  I don’t understand why they chose to make this game difficult.  You have to hold the position with your thumbs to shoot the ball, but it requires a fair amount of pressure from your hand.  This means that it is slow and painful.

I was really good at Zuma on the PC using a mouse.  With this version of the game, I am horrible.  I can’t get past the third level.  Which means that this game is no fun.  I do not recommend anyone play it as you will be frustrated and disappointed.

Stinkers – Mahjong CUB3D

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo 3DS

I was really excited to get this game.  I like Mahjong games.  And this looked similar to Picross 3D so how could I lose?  This game has one fatal flaw and I will never understand what the developers were thinking, other than taking the easy way out and destroying their game in the process.

In this game, you are given 3D shapes covered in Mahjong tiles.  In typical Mahjong (which is actually the Chinese game Shanghai, not Mahjong) style, you match tiles to clear the play space.  It’s a very simple matching game, with just a smidge of strategy thrown in.  You need to know enough to clear outside tiles first.  That’s about it.  This game is the same in concept.  It’s the game play that wrecks this game.  Take a look at the picture below.  Do you see the problem?

Mahjong CUB3D play

You probably need to understand the 3DS to see the problem.  The top screen is a display screen.  The bottom is a touch screen which allows you to use a stylus to interact with the game.  However, this game uses the buttons to play.  That is the stupidest idea for a game like this.  It could have been as fun as I expected by using the touch screen.  But no, they had to go and use the buttons and D-pad.  Because of this critical flaw, this game is forever doomed to my stinkers list.

Stinkers – Civilization V

Genre:  Turn-Based Strategy, Simulation
Platform:  PC

It’s been a couple of years since this game came out, and it still hurts to have to put it on this list.  I wanted to love this game so much.  I have played A TON of Civilization over the years between Civ 3 and Civ 4.  This game was a monster disappointment.

Civilization is a turn-based strategy game, which means that you take as much time as you need on your turn (you’re playing either other players or the computer).  Once you are done, you end your turn and the other players do the same.  Then it’s your turn again.  The goal of the game is to win the world – peacefully with a cultural, space race or democratic victory or by force with a domination or conquest victory.  You build up your civilization with new cities, buildings, technology and military.

There are many out there who say that this was the best Civilization game yet.  I just can’t agree with them.  It was not a fun game for me.  They took out a lot of what I found fun about Civilization 4.  First, I could not adapt to the new combat method.  In Civ 4, you could have “stacks of doom” on a single tile, which had its advantages and disadvantages.  It provided a lot of defense bonuses to your army, but if you were flanked, you could take heavy casualties.  I HATE the new system.  It forces me to play a new way, but I just couldn’t adjust.

They also removed religion from the game.  Now, if you know me, you’ll find it ironic that I have a problem with them removing religion from anything.  However, it really added a deep strategic element to Civ 4 and I really missed not having that as a tool.  Now, they did add this in an expansion, but I had no interest in buying it.

There were some good changes as well such as ruins in exploration, natural wonders, barbarian changes and city-states.  These were not enough to keep me playing, though, and I never finished a full game.  If you’re a fan of the Civ series, I would recommend playing it and making your own judgement.  It just wasn’t a good game for me.  I’m a bit nervous about Civilization 6, which is coming out later this year.