By: Johnny Marcondes
Lets face it, we all have that one game or gaming series we consider guilty pleasures. Be it anime based games, puzzle games or obscure titles, each gamer has a series or genre of games they can’t help but seek out. Guilty pleasures in gaming is one of the most common things any collector has in their collection, while some may hid their guilty pleasures in their collections other display them proudly. You may consider yourself a “hardcore gamer” all you want but I bet that if you were to look at your collection right now you’d spot a certain title that you know may not be the best made game or “hardcore” but you love.
There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking a certain series no matter how odd, badly made, embarrassing (I owned and liked Rumble Rose, come at me.) or repetitive they are. The older I get the less I care about how my collection looks, looking through my shelf I can see my guilty pleasure patterns stocking up and honestly I’m okay with it. I’m personally a sucker for a multitude of titles ranging for owning damn near every Dragon Ball/Z game and Naruto game to date to some well known “bad games” like Michael Jordan:Chaos in the Windy City. We all need a break from some the mainstream and popping in a random title can be liberating. As a gamer who has no shame publicly displaying their collection of odd titles here are just some of the few guilty pleasures I can’t help but love:
Spot Goes To Hollywood (PS1) :
Spot Goes To Hollywood is by no means a great or even memorable game. If you were to look at the character of Spot (Cool Spot) you’d realize that his stint in video game history was nothing more than a cash grab for a then popular soda company 7-Up. Being released in the 90’s when video games had some of the most obscure titles in the history of the industry, soft drink mascots with a game or two was nothing out of the ordinary(Pepsi Man anyone?). There’s numerous camera issues that make certain levels feel unplayable, clunky controls that feel as stiff as a rusted RoboCop on the dance floor and gameplay that’s one repetitive mess.
Spot has seen his fair share of adventures but his time in Hollywood is far from earning him a star on any walk of fame. With all it’s faults I can’t help but still love the little red dot as his quintessential 90’s cool guy sunglasses and Mickey Mouse like gloves run across the screen awkwardly. There really isn’t anything special about the game, the levels aren’t really unique and all in all it’s a fairly straight forward platformer that doesn’t do much to elevate the genre let alone stand out in it. However, Spot is just a fun character and his stint in Hollywood while rough around the edges and somewhat generic is still charming to me. The whole use of films and the Hollywood idea may not be as “cool” as they thought but it has this charm to it that gives spot more credibility than he probably deserves. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that nostalgia plays a major part in it for me having grown up playing this game, but this game is honestly fun to me and a timeless campy classic of my PS1 collection.
Judge Dredd (SNES):
Let me start off by saying that Judge Dredd for the SNES is arguably one of the more underrated titles to come out for that console. While one of the many action platformers released for the SNES this was one of the first times that a game “loosely based off the film” actually felt like it did the original property justice. Judge Dredd on the SNES is kind of a big deal for a lot of people, for the time that it was released the game was graphically impressive having sprites that stood out and a soundtrack that kept the excitement and tone of the material in tact. There are some quality songs on that game that to this day I can still remember and would gladly add to my gym playlist.
Judge Dredd as a source material is fairly dark and gritty, the film is cult classic and the game does a great job at finding it’s footing. As a fan of the film, comics and overall series I can personally say that when you play Judge Dredd on the SNES you definitely feel like you’re in that world. The game is dark, gritty, rough and while not the most complicated or challenging, it’s original enough to keep you invested. Even though I praise the game for being fun and having good qualities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really a great title if I were to break it down. Long drawn out levels, repetitive missions, uninspired enemy designs that feel like clones of the waves of generic baddies you encounter.
There’s a lot going on in Judge Dredd that unless you’re a fan of the material you may not want to dedicate the time to. Some levels trap you forcing you to restart the game/mission because you’re physically unable to escape. While the game has a lot of faults which is understandable given the time of it’s release there are plenty of qualities that keep me coming back it. Having the ability to arrest or kill enemies definitely gives the game weight as it does make you feel like the police, judge, jury and executioner. As far of film/comic based games go this one will always be a guilty pleasure of mine to dusty off and pop in on a rainy day inside.
Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (SNES):
If you thought Shaq-Fu was the pinnacle of weird 90’s games featuring basketball players than you’ve never really stepped into the surreal world that is Michael Jordan:Chaos in the Windy City. To call this game obscure wouldn’t be doing it justice, just talking about the games premise feels like you’re recalling the most bizarre fever dream anyone could ever hope to have in a life time. Following the adventures of Michael Jordan as he goes on a quest to save fellow basketball players who have been kidnapped by a mad scientist before an All-Star charity game, you have to battle numerous monsters with basketball based attacks to save your friends. Seriously, the games battle mechanic is basketball centered making you collect special basketballs that could freeze, explode, ignite or stun enemies, this platformer is head over heels insane in the very best way possible.
Michael Jordan as a video game lead sounds fairly plausible given that it’s the 90’s but this game is so head over heels strange it makes most titles released that era seem coherent. As a character you can shoot basketballs at enemies or do dunk attacks on them, it’s weird and it’s awesome. Seeing Michael Jordan wield fiery basketballs as he hurls them at monsters is something that’s so visually outrageous you can’t help but love. For those of you thinking to yourselves that Mike vs Monsters sounds familiar it should be noted that this game came out two years before Space Jam making it that much more bizarre.
Why is this such a guilty pleasure? Well for starters, this game sucks. There’s no real polite way to say it, it flat out sucks from head to toe but damn is it so bad that it’s good. Michael Jordan:Chaos in the Windy City is the type of game that is so awful you can’t stop playing, like watching a horrible train wreck unfold you can’t look away once it’s in motion. Each level has a new layer of “what the hell is this?” thrown into it making you unable put the controller down as you awkwardly make your way through twenty four levels. Much like watching a bad film solely because it’s so bad, playing this game has the same effect. When it comes to guilty pleasures in my personal collection there is no title more obscure than this gem.
Any anime based video game:
For me to create a list of guilty pleasure titles I’d be here all day listing individual anime based video games. While I wouldn’t mind creating a list of those titles, to save time I’m going to just bundle those titles under the very large umbrella that is the anime genre in gaming. Ever since I was a little kid I’d love anime, to this day most of the shows I do watch are anime’s and I can’t help but be a sucker for anime based video games. Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, Naruto, Bleach, Saint Seiya, Pokemon, Digimon and Yu-Gi-OH are just some of the titles that come to mind when I quickly think about my collection.
Anime based video games are my weakness, I love everything about them from the characters to the cel shading graphics and over the top cinematic moments. Year after year I find myself returning the latest anime game even though I know that a good portion of them are practically clones from one another. Even though a good majority of anime based games have similar gameplay and all tend to look the same, I can’t help but constantly buy them. From console games to handheld, PC and mobile I’m completely obsessed with them. Anime based games have this grip on me that makes me feel like a kid again, while it’s nice to play more serious titles the option of popping an anime based game is always more than welcomed. After all who doesn’t want to put some of their favorite anime characters against one another in a fighting game? (J-Stars Victory VS may not be the best in the J-Stars series but damn is it cool seeing Younger Toguro take on Kenshiro)
Anime video games have a certain freedom that allow them to be bolder, flashier and break certain rules that games of the same genre have to follow. Each genre in gaming has a handful of anime based games that stand out, from RPG’s to Fighters and Puzzle based games no matter what genre you’re a fan of you’re bound to find an anime game. There’s nothing wrong with anime based video games so don’t get me wrong when I list it as a guilty pleasure, truthfully there’s this liberating feeling you get while playing an anime based game. The characters are always full of life or dramatic to the point of exaggeration but still feel real in the context of their own game, everything about anime games is solely focused on entertainment and fan service. Everything about anime video games is geared at fans and graphically they produced some of the most beautiful titles in gaming. Vivid levels with a colorful cast, unique designs and a story that’s usually convoluted if you’re not a fan of the particular series but overall they’re an escape from the influx of overly serious titles that flood the market.
The Sims have been one of my oldest companions in gaming, I spent a good portion of my young life playing The Sims and damn near every expansion and follow up to it. Honestly, I love The Sims. For a game that follows a pretty simple premise of creating a character, building a home and just living a life day to day as that character the Sims is a game that I often get pulled back in to. While the game simulates a life through virtual characters there’s something just so therapeutic about it. Some times in a game I don’t want to kill anyone or go on a long quest or really do much to be honest. Sometimes I just want to shut my brain off and create or enjoy something simplistic and no one does it better than The Sims.
The Sims has this massive charm to it and gives people enough freedom to control the game and experience it uniquely each time. The characters you make, the houses you build and the interactions you have with others isn’t decided by the game it’s all up to the player and it’s that kind of control that makes The Sims so much fun. Truthfully the Sims is a pretty uneventful game on it’s own, the fact that you’re in charge of most of what happens is what really gives the game life. Every Sims game is essentially the same with a graphical boost and newer items to fill your virtual life with, that being said they’re all amazing and have my money until the end of time.
The Sims is the perfect game to pop in and kill time, there isn’t much that happens that requires immediate attention yet the game just works. You could be the most “hardcore” gamer out there but I bet if you were to play The Sims for a little while you’d be hooked as well. No matter how old I get or how many console cycles have passed the Sims is always one of the few titles that always has a space in my collection. When it comes to mindless games The Sims is honestly pure clean fun. Building your dream home working a job you’ve always dreamed of and making friends in exciting ways it’s genuinely a perfect form of escapism in gaming.
On a side note, if anyone want’s to punish their Sim for whatever reason feel free to use my method: Build a shack in your back yard and line it toilets facing the wall. Place a clown portrait on one wall and remove all windows and the door once your Sim is inside. In time they’ll grow hungry and and have to use the bathroom only for there to be no food only a judgmental clown portrait glaring at them, unable to use any of the toilets that corner them they will eventually pass away in pool of their own urine.
While I go on for hours listing games that are my go to guilty pleasures, what are some of your guilty pleasures in gaming?