Wednesday, March 18, 2009

EXP Podcast #17: The "B" All and End All

It seems like most people have their favorite examples of the "so bad it's good" class of film. Low-budget, occasionally self-aware, "B movies" often form strong followings of people who love them for their effort and entertainment value. This week, we discuss a recent article by Christian Nutt of Gamasutra that examines the obstacles and efforts in the creation of "B" video games. We invite you to join our conversation about chainsaw arms, "Sweet" dialogue, and NPH by commenting on this post. As always, you can find the original article in the show notes for your enjoyment.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you ever enjoyed a game you knew was poorly designed or implemented? Would you consider this a "B" videogame?
- Is it possible to have "B" game mechanics or must "B" games rely on thematic implementation?
- Can you think of any games that you considered "A" level when they were released, that now seem campy or "B" level?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
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Show Notes:

- 27min 18sec
- "Can The Industry Make a 'B Game'?" by Christian Nutt, via Gamasutra
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Well, the godfather of all B videogames has got to be Zero Wing of the "All your base are belong to us" fame.

    I didn't know about Zero Wing before it's cult fame though. For me, the most personally relevant B game is Magician Lord for the Neo Geo. There was a business in a little strip mall near my house called "Play for Fun" that would allow you to pay by the hour to play the newest videogame systems. They had Turbographix 16, Super Famicom (before the release of Super Nintendo), and Genesis machines all lined up against the walls for players to enjoy, but their showcase system was housed in a separate room: in this room was surround sound speakers with a 3 foot tall bass woofer in the back, soundproofed walls, 2 banana chairs, two giant arcade stick controllers, and two large screen televisions with a Neo Geo hooked up to them. At the time, it was revolutionary. Playing Nam 1975 with volume so punched up that grenade explosions actually blew my hair around was the best videogaming experience I had ever had up to that point. But the one game that I loved, which my friends never understood was Magician Lord. I'm not really sure why I loved it either. The play control was terrible. Enemies ran and flew all around you spewing high speed projectiles, but your character couldn't be bothered to run. You were lucky if he would even work him up to a low speed saunter. Plus, you had to slowly climb annoying ladders everyway, making you easy prey for enemies waiting at the top with no way for you to dodge them, and even if you tried to time it, some flaming griffon would just come along and shoot your face off. The horrible play control was forgiveable in the first few stages, but as the game progressed it became so impossibly hard that you had to "continue" roughly every 5 seconds and the game quickly become unbearable without a zen like patience with no attachments to success that could allow you to stomach the unending defeats. Classic quarter-munching mechanics.

    Magician Lord also butchered the hell out of the English language with lines as

    "What imprudence, you human being! Face your trial by god!"

    "Your are very dangerous. Be dead down here."

    "That power is powerless in our presence"

    "You, persistent guy. But your life ends right now."

    Yet, there was some intangible quality this game had going for it that made me play it again and again at my visits to "Play for Fun". It did have great music, and there was a certain sort of magic to its fantasy world. I still play it every once and awhile and I don't know what it is about it... despite everything that is so god awfully terrible about it, I still like Magician Lord.

  2. I haven't played any yet, but I knew there were at least two Evil Dead/ Army of Darkness games out there. This is the one I knew about. After some searching, I found out that there are 5 Evil Dead games, including a Commodore 64 game made in 1984.

    Evil Dead: Regeneration 2005 PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox THQ Inc. 3.14
    Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick 2003 PlayStation 2, Xbox THQ Inc. 3.07
    Evil Dead (Special Movie Edition) 2003 PlayStation 2 THQ Inc. ...
    Evil Dead: Hail to the King 2000 Dreamcast, PlayStation, Windows THQ Inc. 2.48
    The Evil Dead 1984 Commodore 64 Palace Software, LTD. 2.00

  3. @JT

    That "Play for Fun" place sounds epic!

    Your Magician Lord example demonstrates the importance of nostalgia in creating a "so bad it's good game," something we didn't talk about in the podcast very much. Going back to old games reminds us not only of the game, but also what our lives were like when we first played it.


    Snap. Now I'm going to have to search those games out, buy some beer and experience what will undoubtedly be the awesomely-bad action!

    Just imagine how long it took them to construct Bruce Campbell's virtual chin!

  4. LOL @ Bruce Campbell chin physics engine! XD

    Oh, and lest we forget: