Unlike movies so bad they’re good such as The Room or Trolls 2, you have to interact with a bad game. We can look away from Tommy Wiseau’s bare ass or a particularly corny sex scene and the movies keeps trucking along, ready for us when we are. A bad game laughs at you while you struggle with its controls or wade through slow, tedious design. You have to push it along and bear the full weight of its flaws, rarely leaving enough energy left to laugh back. But a few games manage to stay just playable enough, or revel in their badness so much, that they’re still possible to appreciate.
If you’re the type that can see beyond hideous graphics or nonsensical dialogue and still find something to love in a messy game, then we have a few suggestions for your playlist.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair
EDF thrives on badness. This dead simple game is about blowing up as many alien bugs as you can with comically overpowered weapons, and it’s full-tilt ridiculous at all times. But the great part is that its story pretends to take itself seriously, with melodramatic voiceover and dialogue playing out over every mission while you blast giant ants with a rocket launcher. Ugly, simplistic graphics are its most noticeable quality, but those graphics allow EDF to pack hundreds of enemies on screen. That scale is pivotal to how fun and frantic the sandbox combat ends up being.
The bad English VO is really what does it for me, though. It’s either delightfully cliche or brilliantly self-aware, but either way, I love love love the clunky voice command system that lets players sing, line-by-line, the EDF anthem. What a game. —Wes Fenlon