A miserable little pile of coding. But enough, have an article!
The lovely header comes to us from a game called Franko’s Crazy Revenge, a Polish Amiga/DOS game with questionable controls and absolutely amazing character designs. I was introduced to this title with the ever-amazing Kusogrande tournament (Full Disclosure: I participated in that match and ended up 4th) thanks to a specifically made edition that tried to remove all of the cussing due to the tournament itself being held on a PG-13 Twitch channel, replacing them with hilarious sounds such as Toad, Kanji Tatsumi and various other things.
Franko’s Crazy Revenge is undoubtedly a bad game. It controls weirdly, hurtboxes are a myth, the difficulty ramps up weirdly, it overstays its welcome and the music is an abomination.
Yet I can’t stop playing it.
I’ve gone back to that game more than I’ve gone back to my usual standards. I know I’ll offer it as part of my typical 1 Credit Clear challenges as a poll choice (even though there’s no credit feeding or even continues in this game. You die, you die.) I’ve documented the controls for others in the group to play if they want to play it more (or if the Game master wants to offer it to others.) I don’t know why - Maybe it’s the swole leathermen featured as both side-protagonist (Alex has a sleeveless leather vest, no shirt and studded bracers) and antagonists (just look at that screenshot above) which, at low enough resolution, are strangely compelling. Maybe I want to understand everything that makes this game tick. Maybe I’m just a masochist and playing bad video games are how I deal with it.
It’s not the first bad game I’ve developed a fascination for. Even my favorite “bad” game, Deadly Premonition wasn’t. Regardless of what you think about Greenvale and its denizens, it undoubtedly is a bad game. The sound mixing is atrocious, the shooting controls are tacked on (If I recall correctly, the publisher forced SWERY to put shooting in the game to appeal to the western audience), the driving is outright a chore until you get York’s car back (where it becomes outright dangerous because that thing goes pretty fast), and the barely MIDI covers of popular songs at the time (York’s Car’s track is blatantly American Idiot, for example). Couldn’t put it down until I completed it fully on my second playthrough.
Even so, would I want to compare something like Franko’s Crazy Revenge to Deadly Premonition? Should they even be compared? Are these games even bad, really?
What makes a game bad, in my opinion, is the craftsmanship of the game. Put aside, neither of these games are “bad” narratively - Franko wants to avenge his dead friend from a bad guy, and the atmosphere certainly does resonate with that. His is an angry Poland where everyone says fuck a lot for some reason (unless you’re playing the customized version, of course). Meanwhile, the unsettling atmosphere of Deadly Premonition has a certain appeal to it - It lingers in many people’s minds and there’s a reason why it became the world’s most critically polarizing game as according to Guinness Records.
When you play them though, there’s no question - These games are bad. Both could have been good, but due to lack of funds, lack of adequate testing, or anything else, they ended up being bad. That does not make them bad experiences. I certainly feel more enriched as a person having seen the absurdly bulging muscles of Franko when you select him and having spent time with Agent Francis York Morgan’s personality disorder (I’ll leave it at that as I cannot adequately identify it and IIRC “Multiple Personality Disorder” is no longer in use or not applicable to him. Hit me up if I’m wrong though).
Here’s a question for you all though: What’s your favorite bad game? What game that you can personally call bad, yet still end up loving anyway?