Features & News

Team Talk: Guilty pleasures: Terrible games we love!

July 1, 2011, Author: The TIMJ Team

Hello again, it’s time for another Team Talk. This time we gather around to discuss our guilty pleasure games.

You know the ones; games that are so undeniably awful, yet somehow, in spite of all the valid reasons that you shouldn’t play them, you find a way love them regardless.

Make sure you let us know what yours are in the comments!

Neil Hughes (Site Manager) ~ Lips

Try not to laugh childishly at the name…

I am going to regret confessing this, but when I have the house to myself (not very often) I lock the door, ensure the key is firmly in the lock to prevent anybody walking in on my guilty pleasure. Once the perimeter is secure I crank up the Xbox and insert one of the Lips games.

If I’m feeling melancholy I will put on my best tortured soul voice and sing “Sometime Around Midnight” by The American Toxic Event. I have even been known to don a black cowboy hat and take a sip of Jack Daniels before launching into “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison and blast it out with all the wannabe rock god that dwells within me. Equally, sometimes a little cheese is required and dog walkers may be walking passed to hear me singing “Take On Me”, all while I’m in my pants with a pile of biscuits by my side.

After a crappy week, nothing is more therapeutic than belting out a few tunes, but this you understand, is my dirty little secret so please; don’t tell anyone.


Andy Corrigan (Editor) ~ Raven Squad

Crap name, crap game, but Andy loved it!

I’d never heard of Raven Squad before I’d taken a gamble on a secondhand £5 purchase in the back-end of last year. It had all the hallmarks of a terrible game; cheesy title, crap box art, topped off with a ‘Best of E3 99’ badge of honour on it, yet there was something that just made me want to try it. The game promoted itself as one that crossed the FPS genre with the RTS, letting you change your perspective (and therefore play style) at any time to take full tactical advantage.

It didn’t start very well, with the sluggish and finicky controls in the FPS mode reminding me of Hour of Victory. After playing through two levels and damning it ‘the worst game evaaar’, something strange happened, I started really enjoying myself. It was still terrible in every which way, and if I was reviewing I would have quite rightly panned it, but it had this charm that carried me through to the end. One of those where the developer’s good intentions made up for some of the poor execution.


Paul Clark (Staff Writer) ~ Facebook Games

Paul likes Facebook games? Where’s the dislike button?

Yes, I said it; Facebook games. I think part of me tries to justify playing these as some kind of research, but in truth, these things are just addictive. Whilst most don’t have a great deal of staying power, and what begins as a simplistic joy becomes an arduous slog where the game is practically mocking me for not investing real money into it, nothing seems to sway me from trying the next game, and the next, and so on.

From Army Attack to Cafe World, from Farmville to Dragon Age: Legends. I even played Jollywood. The list could go on all day, but I think it may be time to slink away knowing my secret shame is now public.


Trent Pyro (Staff Writer) ~ Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance

Some will never have heard of this game…

My guilty pleasure is Beat Down, which had me wandering around a dank city at night, beating the shit out of other hoods and recruiting them. Story-wise it’s a shoddy mess, never deciding if it’s a gritty urban thriller or an exaggerated comic-style beat em up.

The gameplay is pretty good, with combat handled in two ways; one-on-one Tekken style or street brawl Double Dragon style. Both work well, although the single fights are more intense. As you go through the game you get more objectives and see little cut-scenes; it all moves along well enough, but the problem is that it’s all wafer thin.

The characters have about as much personality as a Ritz cracker and even though the locations are different they all feel like new skin on an aging set of bones. All the elements are there, but they’re held together so incredibly lightly, a single breath could pull it apart.

It didn’t sell well, nor did it deserve any awards or classic status. It’s just alright, but for me, aged 14, it was one of my favourite games on PS2. I’d still play it today and it still holds some value, but really it’s a pretty piss poor excuse for a game.


Phil Ubee (Staff Writer) ~ Carcassonne

For most, this was yawn worthy…

I Picked this up on XBLA when it was offered for free back in 2007 and despite the fact it’s very basic, looks rubbish, has the most annoying soundtrack ever and you’ll never actually find anyone on live to play against leaving just the average (at best) A.I. for company, I can’t stop firing it up on a regular basis.

Basically it’s a turn-based strategy game that was originally a board game. Each player (up to four) has seven followers and on your turn you place random pieces on to a board. The idea is to create Roads, Monasteries, Farmland or Cities and “own” them with a follower. When all the pieces have gone, you are scored on what you have with more points gained for larger areas. You can place a follower as soon as you lay the first piece of a plot but they will be lost to you until that is complete, adding an additional strategy element to the game as you can potentially steal a plot started by your opponent. It’s awesome, I promise!


James Sheppard (Staff Writer) ~ Katamari Damacy

They see me rollin’, they hatin’…

I know I’m not the only fan of the cheeky little green Prince and his love of balls, but when I’ve admitted this in this past I’ve always received a thorough heckling from my mates. Katamari Damacy is a ridiculous game series, involving rolling up everything in sight to make your (Katamari) balls grow as big as possible. The presentation is equal parts camp and childish, with flamboyant, brightly coloured cartoon graphics and a joyfully cheesy J-Pop soundtrack.

I’ve gleefully rolled around in Katamari games across the PSP, Xbox 360 and PS3. The essence of the series never changes from release to release, starting you out in small houses gathering up toys and food and culminating in enveloping entire cities, and even planets. It’s all obscenely good fun, and beating your previous high scores can be an addictive fixation, if only to make the absurd and ungrateful King of All Cosmos throw some praise your way for a change.


Paddy X (Community Manager) ~ Bejeweled Blitz

To many, this game is a gem!

Based on the early 90’s DOS game ‘Shariki’ by Russian programmer Eugene Alemzhin, ‘Bejeweled’ and its many imitators is the simplest of gaming pleasures. Create a chain of three or more identical coloured balls or jewels across an evolving grid during a limited time frame. Personally, I always go for the ‘Endless’ option. After all, why on Earth would I want all that candy-coloured fun to stop?

It’s all the shiny that does it, I’m sure. Maybe it’s the sense of smug self-satisfaction I gain from the explosion of yet another four or five jewel chain. Don’t even get me started on what I’m like when I hit a chain reaction, taking out numerous jewels at once.

This game should come with a government health warning, it’s the gaming equivalent to Meth. I can often be found staring at my Android phone with a manic grin on my face, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.

What can I say? Ours was a love was born in the stars.


Andy Knight (Podcast Editor) ~ FIFA Games

Same game, new clothes!

I love sports! There isn’t a sport in the world I can’t watch or get emotionally involved in. This follows over into my gaming world too, and you can guarantee whenever there is a big sporting event going on in the real world, I’ll be recreating the action in video game form on my 360. However, I play one game more than others purely for the love of the sport, rather than the quality of the video game. That game is EA’s yearly FIFA release!

Thing is for me, the FIFA games aren’t very challenging. Each year when I pop the latest game in my machine, I set the difficulty to the hardest setting and it still isn’t testing for me. I have mastered EA’s game of simulation football, so it bores the hell out of me after short periods. Online isn’t much better, with a nightmare of quitters and “big team slags” ruining the experience.

Yet each year on release day, I am in line to buy my copy, because I love the sport… not the game!


Debbie (Staff Writer) ~ Boogie Bunnies

These bunnies dance! Sickening.

I don’t do guilty pleasures, but I suppose this one comes close enough. Perhaps a little-known game on the XBLA, Boogie Bunnies is like Bejeweled but with cute, colourful dancing bunny rabbits. What isn’t to love? Aside from its general addictive nature it is a pretty awful game with overly bright colours & ear-bleeding inducing sound, but there’s something I truly do love about it.

Being a massive fan of games like Bejeweled (read; huge time killers) I do so enjoy lining up things of the same colour and watching them explode into little bursts of colour to satisfy my OCD nature. The thing that I love about Boogie Bunnies though is the extreme rush of pure joy it can give you after a crappy day at the office.

Despite its awful exterior and gameplay, there is nothing I get more joy from in this world than watching brightly coloured rabbits dance for my amusement as I attempt to string an impressive chain of colourful explosions together. Oh, and they wear silly costumes too. It is a simple pleasure, but I believe those are the best in life, guilty or not.


James O’Leary (staff Writer) ~ Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero killed an entire genre!

My love for gaming is only equalled by my love for music, and as a young teen, the thought of a game that brought together gaming and rock music was a prospect I couldn’t ignore. I lined up at my local game store, pre-order receipt in hand and exchanged it for a small plastic guitar that I felt made me cool, because I could play all of these legendary songs. Oh, how I look back and feel stupid now. Everyone knows what Guitar Hero is now, and since its inception, the games have deteriorated and copied, with the franchise and concept milked dry for all genres of music. So much so, that the idea that brought the game to the table has been abandoned.

I put so much time in to Guitar Hero that I can confidently say I was good at that game. I was good enough at Guitar Heros 1 & 2 that I won a competition in my city that came with a prize of a week in a recording studio for my band. I loved, and still enjoy the game series, because it appeals to my ability to work with rhythm patterns, as the PC game Osu! does. Now I’m left with a stack of plastic instruments that I can’t even trade in, because all the game shops have stacks ten times as high. It saddens me that in ten years, there will be a landfill site that will be the graveyard for guitar controllers and drum pads, a memorial to a game series so big that it created the competitors that effectively killed it.


Ray Willmott (Site Manager) ~ LEGO Games

Ray can’t LEGO of the LEGO games…

I put it in my disc drive one minute, then, three hours later, I’m still playing. It doesn’t matter if it’s Batman, Indiana Jones or Star Wars, I am a sucker for LEGO games. Travellers Tales create compelling, fun experiences, that blend action and adventure with easy-going, pick up and play mechanics. More devilishly than that, they are developers that are constantly evolving their product.

It’s not just the scenarios that characterise the experience, it’s the background tweaks that prove the series is always changing, always growing, always improving. If you played the original LEGO Star Wars right now, then played the most recent instalment in the series an hour later, you would notice just how blatantly different they both are. The split-screen that tracks individual player progress, the updated graphics engine, the more complex hubs and diverse ways of play; you will see how much work and effort goes into these games, and that they’re not just simple cash-cows.

So, yes, these are guilty pleasures, but no, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a LEGO fan. I’m also not ashamed to admit I will continue to buy further instalments in the series. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.


Jesper Hauerslev (Staff Writer) ~ Deus Ex: Invisible War

Many wished this game was invisible!

I have a fetish! Cybernetic body-enhancement! There I said it! The possibility of replacing parts of your body with high-class tech to enable it to do things it was never suppose to do is fascinating and Deus Ex from 2000 allowed me to entertain that dirty little fantasy. So did the 2004 sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, although it didn’t really match the overall quality of its predecessor and crucially; it offered fewer options for cybernetic enhancements. This made it tricky to see through to its hidden qualities, which were there if you looked hard enough!

For instance, the game looked great (by 2004 standards!) but its overall gloomy atmosphere is what really stood out. Mankind is well and truly screwed in Invisible War and the possible outcomes range from bleak to less bleak, making your role in this all the more heavier to bear. This becomes abundantly clear towards the final act where the final choice proves much less obvious then you would want.

Rather disturbingly, I find myself, on occasion, returning to the gloominess of this Invisible War and indulge in it’s many choices of shades of grey, not black and white, not to mention strapping on a new set of cyber-legs and kicking some ass. Well, I gotta have something to do, while I wait to join the Human Revolution…