bit-gamer.net

In Search Of A 'B Game'

Posted on 3rd Dec 2009 at 10:32 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
I’m on holiday at the moment, so I’m not really supposed to be working – but one of the virtues of loafing around at my parents house for a week has had me thinking about something lately. Namely, B Movies. I’m a big fan of them and I’ve been watching a lot lately because in my family the Evil Dead trilogy is treated with same amount of reverence and awe as Russian Ark.

So, what I’ve been thinking about lately is whether or not there’s a computer game equivalent of the B Movie. I’m not sure there is.

Maybe it’s helpful if I clarify what I mean by ‘B Movie’. What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily some tawdry and over-gored piece of dross with no script and a Bruce Campbell cameo. What I really mean is something low-budget and with obvious faults, but which overcomes them through some (probably unintended) humour or charm.

Basically; that old ‘so bad, it’s good’ factor.

I can think of plenty of bad games, like Death to Spies. I can think of plenty of good games, like Braid. I can think of games which I know aren’t actually all that good but which I like anyway, like Sin: Episodes. I can’t think of a game that’s so bad it’s good.

Sin: Episodes is the closest I personally can find to the gaming equivalent of a ‘B Movie’, but I feel I’m forced to dismiss it. It’s a triple A game from an established developer in a successful franchise and despite the obvious immaturity and crassness of the game I do actually like some features of the game on their own merit – the skill charting and adaptive balancing systems are good. Too good to be part of a ‘B Game'.

In Search Of A 'B Game' *In Search Of A B Game
Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus is a B Movie classic waiting for maturation.

The problem is, I think, to do with the level of investment required for the medium. The original Evil Dead is obviously a bad film – the script is obvious to the point of punching you in the face, the acting as shallow and flat as an infinite and dusty salt plane and the camerawork is…well, you get the point. Still, it’s only like that for two hours, so the relative brevity provides a novelty which creates humour. The funniness would drain out of it if the film was 30 hours long.

That’s the problems that bad games have – they are so long and require so much more of a player in terms of skill, repetition and time that you’re far less willing to endure any faults.

And yet…I’m convinced that there has to be some exception to this rule. I’ve just got this inkling that there’s a game which is both bad and good. Something like the original Resident Evil, but without the undeniably effective tension that game creates, or the fact that it was on the cutting edge when it came out.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I still think there has to be one out there and while this sneaking suspicion definitely isn’t ruining my holiday, it’s definitely bugging me that I can’t find the game which might fit this definition. If you can think of one then please let me know in the comments thread below.

32 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Jamie 3rd December 2009, 11:43 Quote
Most of the indy games you seem to play...
knowle rohrer 3rd December 2009, 12:38 Quote
EDF. EDF. EDF.

Provided me and the partner with hours and hours of co op fun.

never did complete the last 3 levels on the hardest difficulty tho
proxymoron 3rd December 2009, 12:50 Quote
Typing of the Dead, surely.
leveller 3rd December 2009, 12:56 Quote
IT Came From The Desert, on the Amiga.

http://www.lemonamiga.com/?mainurl=http%3A//www.lemonamiga.com/reviews/view.php%3Fid%3D202

A game that is based on a B movie style and it worked really well.
Bauul 3rd December 2009, 13:57 Quote
I'll plus one for Typing of the Dead. It shouldn't work... but it just does.

When it was first released, Serious Sam may have been considered a B-Game. It was priced straight to the budget-bin, developed by a Croatian team no-one had ever heard of and had absolutely zero marketing money behind it. It's stupid, over-the-top, only appeals to your inner-five-year-old, but actually was brilliant cool to play.

Maybe we're thinking about this the wrong way. Perhaps the B-Games of today are things like Off-Road Velociraptor Safari or Da Blob. Very few B-Movies of today are classics like Evil Dead, and I think the same can be said of B-Games. There are probably loads, but like B-Movies, most are total dross.
zimbloggy 3rd December 2009, 14:18 Quote
I think that the problem with these bad games is that the "charm" has a whole lot more obstacles. The main thing is that many of these problems like broken controls, bad ai, etc. It's a lot more frustrating to play a game rather than to watch a movie, especially since you can't get a game over on a movie.
Blademrk 3rd December 2009, 14:19 Quote
Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick? (well it's got the Bruce Campbell cameo).

edit: Bulletwitch, shouldn't work but I found it strangely playable (and re-playable).

edit 2: Two Worlds: buggy as hell & the wildlife will kill you more often than the bandits at the lower levels, but once I got sufficiently leveled up it did start getting enjoyable (this isn't PJS either, I borrowed it before my friend ebayed it).
Skiddywinks 3rd December 2009, 14:24 Quote
There is bad, there is so bad it's good, and then there is Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus.
Digibull 3rd December 2009, 15:18 Quote
Whenever I think of what could be classed as a 'B Game' the 1st thing that pops into my mind are great games that stayed under the radar, such as 'No one lives forever' or 'Behond Good & Evil'.

The traditional sense of a 'B Movie', in my opinion, just doesn't translate to the gaming world. Any game which is budgeted, badly scripted and with dreadful voice actors just isn't fun, at all. Any game which tends to full under that catagory will be getting reviews of 30% or under will simply not be entertaining. Where as a B movie, alot of the time (though occationally crap) will still be entertaining.

It's like trying to translate a word or phrase into several different languages. What one person may view as a particular meaning, someone else may view the same word or phrase completely differently. And I think that same concept happens between the genres of movies & games.
Canalside 3rd December 2009, 15:35 Quote
Hi, I work at Canalside Studios and we have just created a 'B Movie' themed twin stick shooter.

It is set to be released on Xbox Live Indie Games sometime in the near future. We are just adding the finishing touches.

If you would like to know more about the game check out the website http://canalsidestudios.com/missingreel/

If anyone is a creators club member they can also play test our game. More information can be found here http://forums.xna.com/forums/t/40309.aspx

Also feel free to have a look at our other game Yo-Ho Kablammo http://canalsidestudios.com/yoho/ which is available on Xbox Live Arcade now!
leveller 3rd December 2009, 15:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canalside
Hi, I work at Canalside Studios and we have just created a 'B Movie' themed twin stick shooter.

It is set to be released on Xbox Live Indie Games sometime in the near future. We are just adding the finishing touches.

If you would like to know more about the game check out the website http://canalsidestudios.com/missingreel/

If anyone is a creators club member they can also play test our game. More information can be found here http://forums.xna.com/forums/t/40309.aspx

Also feel free to have a look at our other game Yo-Ho Kablammo http://canalsidestudios.com/yoho/ which is available on Xbox Live Arcade now!

Hmm ... are you saying your game is so bad it's good and falls into the category that the OP was originally asking about?

:(
Canalside 3rd December 2009, 16:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canalside
Hi, I work at Canalside Studios and we have just created a 'B Movie' themed twin stick shooter.

It is set to be released on Xbox Live Indie Games sometime in the near future. We are just adding the finishing touches.

If you would like to know more about the game check out the website http://canalsidestudios.com/missingreel/

If anyone is a creators club member they can also play test our game. More information can be found here http://forums.xna.com/forums/t/40309.aspx

Also feel free to have a look at our other game Yo-Ho Kablammo http://canalsidestudios.com/yoho/ which is available on Xbox Live Arcade now!

Hmm ... are you saying your game is so bad it's good and falls into the category that the OP was originally asking about?

:(

No its just that the OP didn't class one of the games as a good B Movie game because it was a AAA title, ours isn't They also asked if anyone knew of any B Movie games and ours is based on the same theme.

Its more of a 'B Movie' theme we were going for rather than it being so bad its good.
l3v1ck 3rd December 2009, 16:16 Quote
Does Peter Jackson's Bad Taste count as a B movie?
Paradigm Shifter 3rd December 2009, 16:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blademrk
edit: Bulletwitch, shouldn't work but I found it strangely playable (and re-playable).

Yeah, Bulletwitch was an odd one. Pretty good for a blast.
Skiddywinks 3rd December 2009, 18:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Does Peter Jackson's Bad Taste count as a B movie?

I'd be shocked to hear anyone thinking it could be classed as anything else.
AshT 3rd December 2009, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canalside
No its just that the OP didn't class one of the games as a good B Movie game because it was a AAA title, ours isn't They also asked if anyone knew of any B Movie games and ours is based on the same theme.

Its more of a 'B Movie' theme we were going for rather than it being so bad its good.

I see what you mean when I check out the aliens in your game:

http://canalsidestudios.com/missingreel/screenshots/originals/Mr%20Xbox-6.png

Looks like fun! Will you be releasing it on Steam?
paisa666 3rd December 2009, 20:27 Quote
I was asking myself the very same thing this week :D

ofc, my definition of a "B game" would be that of an "underground" game or some kind of stuff like that.

like back in the 80's with the cult films (last house on the left, necRomantic, pink flamingos, etc...), you know, stuff that mainstream studios just couldnt distribute or something :P
Chid 3rd December 2009, 23:02 Quote
Embarrassingly... I really loved Army of Two (on the x-box admittedly and in coop) but I think I ended up playing it through about 4-5 times with different friends. It's a game that has some really bad lines and questionable plot but it's really kinda funny and enjoyable because of this... it's not a long game though, ~6hrs I think I managed once or twice, so it kind of sticks to that theory.
stoff3r 4th December 2009, 01:17 Quote
How about Counter-strike: Condition Zero/deleted scenes? Most of us have it on steam already i guess, and it's a fun walkthrough to see some of the ideas valve?/sierra?/cliffe?? had to take the superpopular cs to the next level, but it never made it to the shelves.
Adnoctum 4th December 2009, 03:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller
IT Came From The Desert, on the Amiga.

http://www.lemonamiga.com/?mainurl=http%3A//www.lemonamiga.com/reviews/view.php%3Fid%3D202

A game that is based on a B movie style and it worked really well.

No way! ICFTD may have been in B-movie 50's sci-fi style, but it was easily an A-game. A for "Awesome!!!". That's right, it is three exclamation marks worthy.

B-games, if we are going to stay true to the B-movie model, needs to be made cheaply and independently of a large, mainstream studio, it needs to be serious or semi-serious (that is, not self-conscious of it's B-movie status or tongue-in-cheek), and it needs to be unsuccessful to mainstream audiences.
For instance, The Blair Witch Project is a B-movie that failed and became a highly successful A-movie. It could have been a great cult classic, but now it is going to be a meh but interesting mainstream movie.

When I read this blog I thought of Scarface (the game) that meant to be A-game, but turned out, I think, B-game.
1ad7 4th December 2009, 08:25 Quote
Oregon Trail..... NUFF SAID, the ultimate B game, its a horrible game but we all love it anyway.
Jamie 4th December 2009, 11:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ad7
Oregon Trail..... NUFF SAID, the ultimate B game, its a horrible game but we all love it anyway.

Yes! :D
esdubu 5th December 2009, 10:44 Quote
Definitely another vote for Earth Defense Force 2017 on the xbox 360. Best rubbish game i've ever played but only in co-op. You might struggle to find a copy though as it was only given a small release.
phuzz 6th December 2009, 14:35 Quote
Another vote for Serious Sam. For my mind it's the B movie equivalent in gaming;
it's got a nonsensical plot, the AI seems to consist of either shooting directly at you, or just runing directly at you (whilst screaming), the guns are each more hilariously overpowered than the last, it requires very little thinking to play, but most of all, it's bloody great fun.
(except for what playing through SS:HD did to my RSI)
PortalBen 8th December 2009, 11:46 Quote
Painkiller?

To quote Yahtzee: "All you really need to know is that there's a gun that shoots shurikens and lightening."

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/57-Painkiller
CardJoe 8th December 2009, 12:09 Quote
....Painkiller is a VERY good example, actually.
PortalBen 8th December 2009, 12:39 Quote
Thanks :D

I really enjoyed playing it and thought it was perfect for having some uncomplicated fun.
Skutbag 9th December 2009, 03:59 Quote
Typing of the dead sounds like the best fit for -so bad it's good: and on a Dreamcast related note might I suggest Sega Bass Fishing as well?

Fundamentally a one-note kind of game but (like B movies) you find yourself providing a lot of the entertainment: for me and old friends this was ramping up the suspense by generally shouting at and heckling whoever happened to be playing at the time. Whenever you got a bite, 'FISH' would flash on the screen in massive type and sterotypical 'crazy japanese guitar music' would start rocking out. This is the cue to start shouting. Don't forget this is before the Wii so the novelty of whipping that fishing rod around was something hilarious in itself. Lightguns = fundamentally cool, Fishing Rods = not as cool.

So to conclude- it's a B-Game because it is almost a parody of itself.

I am still waiting for the release of 'Fishing of the Dead' a combined fishing and lightgun game. Sometimes you get fish, sometimes you get zombie fish!
leveller 10th December 2009, 09:33 Quote
Sorry Skutbag ... disagree on the fishing games.

All the fishing games on Dreamcast are far too good to be so bad they are good.

I had weeks of pleasure out of them and they are family friendly as well which means a broad appeal.

...

It's a difficult OP question for me because if a game is bad, I turn it off and play something else, so they never get an opportunity to grow on me.
Kris 20th December 2009, 15:33 Quote
mm borderlands maybe? :)
fodder 31st December 2009, 10:22 Quote
The original Worms? Hours of fun and hilarity.

Simple idea, but so stupid. Worms in a strange platform landscape shooting at each other in turns until only one is left.

Seriously, if someone said to you 'hey, get this game. It's garden worms shooting at each other. nothing else.' would you buy it?
Mentai 9th May 2010, 05:37 Quote
Deadly Premonition definitely fits into this category. $20 game on 360, not sure if it has been released in PAL territories though.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums
CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Review

CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Review

24th October 2014

Corsair Gaming H1500 Review

Corsair Gaming H1500 Review

23rd October 2014

CM Storm Resonar Review

CM Storm Resonar Review

22nd October 2014