the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
What's new this week in loonygames? As our loony editor.
efore I give my list of the most overrated games of all time, let’s deal with the quickie business here. First off, we still haven’t resolved the problem with our [email protected] e-mail, so until it’s fixed, send your feedback to [email protected], with "feedback" as the subject. Since my sister’s off gallivanting around Seattle this week I’ll be handling the mailbag, so send in those letters, dig?
In other loony-doins this week, you’ll notice that this week’s issue is dedicated to the memory of Gene Siskel. Astute loonygames readers will note that our Monday update always occurs just after Siskel & Ebert ends here on the east coast. I assure you this is no coincidence. The show has been the highlight of my Sundays for years now, and during that time I’ve come to respect Siskel for his strong opinions (even when they conflict with my own) and he will be sorely missed. The show without him is just plain eerie.
Anyway, let’s move on to more…upbeat things, shall we? Like my list last week of the most underrated games of all time, this list is in no particular order, and are not picked by any other criteria than my own opinion. I seriously doubt there are many people who agree with every one of these. Regardless, let’s do this thing.
The Legend of Zelda: the Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear…I don’t hate this game, in fact I think it’s extremely well made. However, I have a serious problem with all those reviews out there that call the game, "perfect" or even, "the game of the century" as one magazine called it. Zelda 64 (as it’s commonly referred to) is far from perfect, and in many ways I found it to be downright irritating. How, you ask? Well, first of all, the game’s story is cliché, bland, and frankly, pretty damn flat. I forgive Mario 64 for this same problem because that doesn’t make any attempt to deliver a role-playing experience. Mario 64 is pure gameplay.
Zelda is not. Instead, Zelda attempts to merge the role-playing style of gameplay with the 3D platform action of other titles, and ends up being a hodgepodge of an experience. Man, I can’t believe how much some people love this game…and it simply doesn’t make sense to me. While the game has some terrific gameplay innovations, they falter under the awesome weight of some of its larger flaws. The story aside, the levels are laid out in a way that requires you to backtrack over and over again (something that’s fairly typical of cartridge games where space is a major issue). I grew tired of the, "hunt the key" style of level design back in the days of Doom. No matter how good a game Zelda 64 can be, it’s just that…a good game. It’s simply not up to the standards of what I would call a "great game". Nothing I would call a "great game" would be as much of a challenge to move through. Mario 64 was a pleasure from start to finish. Zelda was a pain in the tuchus, and I found myself having to make myself continue. The real crime here is that nobody’s saying this. If Mayamoto-san doesn’t get some constructive criticism, then he’s just going to put out another game with the same flaws…and that would be a tremendous waste of his brilliant skills.
Metal Gear Solid (Playstation)
Another good, but not great game, Metal Gear Solid suffers from many of the same problems as Zelda 64 did. The story was pretty weak, the characters pretty irritating, and the dialogue…well…it got irritating after the first five seconds. And damn…there were one too many non-interactive sequences for my taste. If the gaming press hadn’t taken to screaming its genius to the masses I probably wouldn’t have included this on the list…but damn…people made way too much of a fuss over this game. Check out Josh Vasquez’s piece on MGS for his experience of having the clerk at a Blockbuster actually shake his hand for merely mentioning the game. Now that’s overrated.
Wooo boy…where do I start here? There’s so much that I dislike about the game that it’s a genuine challenge for me to put it all into a quick paragraph. Let’s just start with what most people like about Myst (at least the fans of the game do). The story. Let me be the first one to stand up and point out, that Myst has no story. Sure there are fragments here and there, crudely "revealed" through the course of the game, but most of what people find in Myst, they’re projecting upon the game. Any sense of character that’s to be found is created by the gamer…there’s nothing else there. Ask any die-hard Myst fan about the storyline, and they’ll start quoting the books they’ve read. Sorry pal, but that’s the novel, not the game. Myst signaled the death of the in-game "puzzle" for me by having irritating experience after irritating experience…over and over again until I simply wanted to throw the damn CD in the microwave. Myst is overrated in so many ways it’s downright silly. (See my next choice for more on this.)
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it...or we'll just forget about you. Let's see how you like it.