I’ve got a confession: I’ve played a lot of video games in my life. I think it’s safe to assume that you, Mr. or Mrs. Reader, are in the same boat, or at least you’ve got a sizable interest in them. Over the years, I’m sure if you haven’t played that many games, you’ve heard a lot about a few of the more popular ones. Those popular ones are what I’m here to talk about today. Some of those games – I really don’t get ’em.
Of course, everyone’s got opinions, and some people straight up just don’t enjoy certain games, so it’s important to differentiate between merely disliking a game, and finding it overrated.
For example, I didn’t like the Pikmin series, but I still think it’s a great game. I just wasn’t very good at it. But a modern, 3D take on Lemmings is fantastic if you ask me, and I love what they’ve done with the franchise. Heck, I’ve got my Olimar amiibo next to me now, and I’m looking forward to having Hey! Pikmin delivered to my door in a week!
An example of what I considered an overrated game is Minecraft. I loved Minecraft and played it for probably a few hundred hours back in 2010 when it was still in alpha mode. The ability to mine and craft the world around you was awesome, and still is for that matter. But at its core, it’s still a block destroying and stacking game. It resonates really well with lots of people for being an outlet for creativity, and I understand that, and it sparked a flood of copycat block-stacking games, but I think it’s extremely overrated for what it is: a simple Lego game in video game form.
An underrated game is one that gets lots of praise, but I simply don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Whether you liked it or not is irrelevant.
Now I feel like I might ruffle some feathers here, so if you’re a big fan of these games and disagree with me claiming they’re overrated, I’d love to hear what makes them special to YOU, right down in the comments!
Right out of the game is a game that needs no introduction. The simplicity that comprises Animal Crossing is exactly what it’s fans love. It boggles my mind in the same way my fiancée spends $200 and then explains that because she got $250 worth of merchandise, she didn’t “spend $200,” she “saved $50”. Sometimes, I opt to not understand the darkness, lest I cross over to the dark side forever and get caught in a bear trap.
Originally released in 2002 in North America, Animal Crossing is played in real-time that uses the internal system clock to simulate a town, its citizens, and its day-to-day interactions. So when it’s night in the real world, it’s night-time in-game, there are holidays events in-game during holidays on the calendar, etc. You speak with anthropomorphic creatures that inhabit the village, run errands for them, and earn money to pay off your debt to Tom Nook, the local mortgage broker and/or possibly loan shark.
That’s pretty much the whole set up of the game. I don’t particularly care for story as it is, so theoretically this game should be perfect for me!
To date, I’ve tried to play two Animal Crossing games – the original game on the GameCube, and the other on the 3DS. Both times I was horribly bored within two hours. That’s not two hours straight, either, that’s two hours over a few real-life days. Now this is a series where players regularly report having spend hundreds of hours on, and I really don’t get how. The most common response I get is that it’s entertaining to play during “down time” or when doing other activities, like watching TV.
Personally, when I want to watch some YouTube and play some games, I’ll go for something void of story. Right now, it’s Pokemon Pearl or Ever Oasis, for example. Or I’ll pick up a game I can grind in, like an RPG. In a sense, doing favors for folks in Animal Crossing to pay off Mr. Nook is a grind in itself, so I get it. I just don’t understand how people spend so much time doing what I see as menial tasks that never really add up to anything.
Maybe when a Switch version comes around at some point, I’ll give it a shot and see the light!
During the height of the original Halo, I was in highschool surrounded by people who loved it. I had been playing Quake 3 Arena for years at that point and was intrigued by this new FPS that seemed to be taking over on this new Xbox thing.
Little did we know that years later, a) Microsoft would ruin online console gaming by charging for Xbox Live, making it the industry standard, and b) voice chat would turn every multiplayer game into a bullet-hell of foul-mouthed racist 11-year-olds. Not bitter or anything!
Here’s the thing that I thought was cool in Halo – split screen multiplayer in Blood Gulch, and slamming into each other with Warthogs. The multiplayer was admittedly tons of fun, and LAN parties I threw at my house started to contain as many Xboxes as actual PCs. The multiplayer was fun and super addicting, but I never understood the appeal that drew my friends away from their gaming PCs.
The multiplayer element was done much better a few years later by Unreal Tournament 2004, bringing all of my friends back to the PC gaming world, but I still don’t understand what about Halo made it the monster franchise it has become.
I played Halo when it released on PC a few years later, we’re talking 2003-2004, thinking that by playing the single player campaign I could finally “get” what made the game so appealing some years ago. This is when I realized that Halo just wasn’t my thing.
First, the whole health-recharge mechanic broke the game entirely. Even raising the difficulty did nothing, as it merely turned the enemies into bullet sponges, which was more challenging, yes, but with no additional fun factor. What’s even the point? Halo was a fun multiplayer experience, but I could never get into the single player which was hailed as being so perfect at the time. Just never figured out what made that game the powerhouse it is today.
It’s the biggest running joke of the entire gaming industry – when is the impending release, or lack thereof, of Half-Life 3? The first (and likely final) two games of the series are hailed as some of the greatest of all time. I have personally played and beaten Half-Life and Half-Life 2 probably at least a dozen times each. I went back and played the original Half-Life, Half-Life: Source, and all of the expansions, again, multiple times. Same with Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 and 2. I’ve also gone through Black Mesa during its beta phase.
I love the Half-Life series. But I think Half-Life 2 is highly overrated.
Now to be clear, I consider the first installment to be a masterpiece that transcends generations and stands the test of time wonderfully, or at least the Source version. From Anomalous Materials to Nihilanth, I found the game to be as close to FPS perfection we can possibly get.
But Half-Life 2, while it’s still a great game, is way overblown. There are tons of slow parts that just drag the game to a grinding halt. Most of the empty, open parts were essentially small physics demonstrations, presumably to show off the shiny new Source engine. A lot of “look what it can do!” moments, in other words.
This trend bled into all parts of the game, particularly the puzzles. All physics based, because that was really all they had to show off in 2004.
Most of my issue with Half-Life 2‘s pacing follows We Don’t Go to Ravenholm. That place scared the heck out of me and I still find it creepy to this day, even after cleaning the place out of ill-tempered barrel-throwing head crab zombies a bunch of times. They nailed the vibe and filled the player with fear for their lives, and then the game turns into a big open physics sandbox. Highway 17 is always where I grow entirely bored.
Every single time I replayed the game, I got less and less interested in finishing it, the commonality being the part of the game where it happened: right after Ravenholm.
Overall? It’s a great game for 2004. It has aged okay but it’s still nothing special. A game that you need to defend with “but it was good at the time” is hard to call “timeless” in the same breath. The gunplay was fun, the enemies were alright, if you ignore the awful sand lions, and the weapons themselves were pretty fun. And that includes the gimmick machine itself: the gravity gun!
Secret of Mana
Heading in the opposite direction of the aforementioned overrated games is Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo. I played this game for the first time not when I was a kid, but when it was released on the iOS App Store back in 2010. I actually found the game to be a blast, but during my playthrough I realized just how flawed it actually was. This is actually a perfect example to prove my point that a game can resonate very well with you while not nearly living up to the hype surrounding it.
There are certain elements and design decisions in this game that drove me crazy. On a more recent playthrough on a Super Nintendo emulator, I was unable to finish the game despite warm, cozy nostalgic feelings towards it.
One, I think the controls were terrible, and switching your weapon was among one of the worst offenders. The “ring” selector worked horrendously and was very klutzy feeling, and this was especially evident considering how often you are forced to change weapons to move throughout the levels, ie. switching to your axe to knock down random stalagmites, or pulling out your whip to pull yourself across chasms.
A lesson in game design: just because you have the ability to make the player do something to proceed, does not mean that you always should. Sometimes that thing simply isn’t fun.
There’s also the issue of dealing with the AI, which was an exercise in frustration. I didn’t recall having such difficulty on my iOS playthrough, but on my second try I couldn’t stand dealing with the other characters. This, combined with the plethora of ridiculous status effects that essentially grind the game to a halt again made me give up my second playthrough entirely.
Overall, Secret of Mana is a beautiful game with graphics and a soundtrack to match, but did not fair the test of time well at all. This is why I find it very overrated. I hope to revisit it with the SNES Classic and hopefully turn my opinion around!
I hope you enjoyed me rambling about some games that I personally found overrated and underwhelming! Again, I’d love to hear any and all rebuttals if you think I dug too deep on any of these – talking video games is why we’re all here – so leave your comment below!