We've all bought many games over the years. Most of them good, we hope, but inevitably one or two of them just didn't live up to expectations. Perhaps an advertisement misled you. Maybe you read a review by an idiot who said a game was great when clearly it was not. Perhaps you just looked at the box and were swayed by the marketing copy and screenshots, but subsequently wished that you hadn't been. Perhaps the game was okay, but you just never ended up playing it for some reason or another.
Whatever the reason, what we want to know is which game do you regret buying the most - and why? As you ponder your least-favorite game purchase, here's the USG team to tell you their tales of regret and woe.
Dracula X: Rondo of Blood
The legendary "lost" Castlevania game, and the prequel to our recent USgamer Club project Symphony of the Night, Rondo of Blood deserves every ounce of its revered status. While the Castlevania franchise flailed about in search of direction during the 16-bit era, Rondo's team homed in on everything that made the NES games great while brilliantly upgrading the visuals and play mechanics to feel more up-to-date. Featuring the tightest action the series had ever seen along with the most elaborate and thoughtful level design, Rondo was a masterpiece. Still is, in fact.
So why would I regret having bought it? Well, because it was a lost game: That is, it was only ever released in Japan. Not only that, but it launched in minuscule numbers. Worst of all, it only appeared on a niche console, the overseas equivalent of the Turbo CD system. Between the obscurity of the game and the jumble of equipment required to run it, owning Dracula X set me back five hundred American dollars. But it was worth it, right? To own a game I'd coveted for a decade, ever since first importing Symphony of the Night? Yeah?
Yeah, for a few months it was great. But almost as soon as I'd finally saved up enough to splurge on Rondo of Blood and a PC Engine Duo (following years of longing), Konami announced that they'd be remaking the game for PSP and including the original release as a freebie. And then not too long after that, the game appeared on Nintendo's Virtual Console.
So, for the extra $490 commitment over the price of the Virtual Console release, I enjoyed a few months of owning a rare and desirable piece of video game history. One that everyone had access to almost immediately after. Unlike some collectors whose sense of entitlement leads to some twisted perspectives, I don't resent Konami for bringing the game to America — on the contrary, it's great! I just wish they'd announced it a few months sooner.
I don't know what I was thinking when I came up with this question - because when I sat down and tried to come up with an answer, nothing came to mind. I mean, I've bought games that I've been disappointed by, but even then, the most disappointing one of all ended up becoming one of my most treasured games.
Regret is another thing entirely.
So I guess I have to go way, way back to the early days of my gaming life. Back then, I was an obsessive and aggressive player, and notched up quite a few record scores on various arcade games. Something that drove my compulsion was a fierce temper. When I lost a life, I'd get really frustrated and would channel my anger into my next life. This worked most of the time, and would fire me up and help me sustain a high quality level of play for hours on end. However, sometimes when I wasn't on form and lost several lives in a row, my anger could get the better of me, and I'd end up yelling obscenities, punching the machine or, if I was at home, bashing the joypad or throwing it across the room. Yeah. I was a hothead to put it mildly.
Anyway, one night I was at home playing a crappy shooter called Arcadia that I'd just bought for my fairly new ZX Spectrum. The game wasn't particularly good, but I was determined to play through it so I could get my money's worth from it. However, I kept getting killed by the game's crappy aliens in the most stupid, cheap, unavoidable way. My blood pressure began to rise, and after repeated deaths, my tirades became ever more eloquent and creative to the point where I snapped. I really should have stepped away from the computer, but instead I pounded its keyboard in rage three times. The computer turned off, and so I took the few deep breaths I should have taken much earlier and turned it back on so I could reload the game.
Only the computer didn't turn on. I'd broken it. Anger gave way to panic, and then regret. Big regret. I felt like an idiot, a chump, a total bell end.
On the bright side, I prised off the computer's caved-in metal fascia, carefully straightened it out, glued it back on, and sent the computer back to the manufacturer saying that it had stopped working (which was true). They sent me a new one back several weeks later, no questions asked, so I was very, very lucky. I've hurled several joypads in frustration since then, but I've never hit a games machine in anger. That's a lesson I only needed to be taught once.
Legend of Mana
I love Secret of Mana. It's one of my favorite action-adventure games and I remember playing it for hours on the Super Nintendo. I actually purchased a Super Multitap just so I could play Secret of Mana (and Super Bomberman) with my friends. I rocked Secret of Mana so hard that I actually muddled my way through its sequel, Seiken Densetsu 3, despite knowing no Japanese at the time.
So when Legend of Mana was announced, I was ready. A new sequel to one of my favorite games! I walked my way from school to the store, plunked down my hard-earned money, and walked back home. I ripped off the shrink-wrap and threw the disc in my PlayStation, ready to taste greatness.
Legend of Mana was a slap in the face. As a standalone game, Legend of Mana isn't all that bad. A bit of action-adventure gameplay, a non-linear story, and the ability to meld the world as you saw fit; it was Square Enix trying something new. But I didn't want new. I wanted the Secret of Mana/Seiken Densetsu and taken from that perspective, Legend of Mana was a bitter pill to swallow.
The worse part was I wasn't rolling in money at the time. In fact, I was pretty poor. And I had just blown a significant amount of money on a game I couldn't return. I could only get so much from EB Games, making Legend of Mana a complete loss. Damn you, Koichi Ishii. My young adulthood rages in your direction.
Legend of Dragoon
I've been pretty fortuitous in my gaming purchases over the years. Even when I was about to make a bad decision, circumstances usually saved me. When I tried to get Rebel Assault 2, for example, my parents pulled me out of the Best Buy where they were shopping for a new computer before I could complete the purchase.
When I did make a purchase I regretted (Earthworm Jim for GBA, anyone?), it was usually because I was suckered into buying a bad launch game for my brand new console. The only exception I can think of is Legend of Dragoon, which is remembered fondly by some, but is otherwise a really dismal JRPG from the latter days of the PlayStation 1. It's like one of those knockoff copies of a Final Fantasy that you might see in a stall in Bangkok, only it's called "Legend of Fantasy," or something. And because dragoons are a big part of Final Fantasy, they threw the word in for good measure.
I played Legend of Dragoon when I was 17, which was about when I was starting to develop some real awareness as to what constituted a good game and what constituted a bad game. I quickly realized that Legend of Dragoon was in fact a bad game that had a lot of flash, but otherwise had a generic story loaded with JRPG tropes that had already started to become stale by 2000. Its main saving grace were the dragoon transformations, which were fun to look at, but also unskippable at a time when even Square was scaling back the ludricous summon animations. Being a high schooler with lots of disposable income, I paid full price for it. I still feel kind of dumb even now.
That said, it wasn't a total loss. When I tired of the relentless litany of cliches that Legend of Dragoon threw at me, I handed it off to my 11-year-old sister, who proceeded to have much more fun with it than I did. Of course, it also meant that she spent a lot of time in my room on my PlayStation. On second thought, I take back what I just said. Legend of Dragoon was the worst.
The early days of the PlayStation 2 era were an absolute wasteland—and yet, people still bought this consoles en masse. (Just in case you don't remember those nightmarish hardware shortages.) Even if the PS2 didn't have many great games, we could at least use it play our DVDs of The Matrix over and over again. That disc found its way into more homes than indoor plumbing.
Needless to say, desperate times cause people to do desperate things. I'd had enough of SSX and the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, so I scoured the shelves of my local Software Etc. to find something—anything—to help justify my $300 investment. In the summer of 2001, I stumbled upon a game that barely made any appearances in magazine previews: Ephemeral Fantasia, a new RPG by Konami. At that point in time I associated its developer with quality games, so I bit the bullet on this untested experience, dropped $52.99 (marked up from the MSRP of $49.99 simply because they could), and brought it home, excited just to have a different thing spinning around in my PS2.
Now, there's a reason you probably took a look at this game's title and went "Huh?" Ephemeral Fantasia commits the unholy crime of being terrible, but not in any notable way. In terms of novelty, Fantasia has some GuitarFreaks mini-games, and borrows the Groundhog's Day premise of Majora's Mask, but the game immediately whizzes any potential right down its leg. Even though my standards were measurably lower at the age of 19, this lousy RPG stunned me with just how ineptly it executed just about everything it did. Still, that didn't stop me from mining it for even the slightest trace of fun. I must have bashed my head against Fantasia for 15 hours before giving up, and sending it off to some unfortunate eBay user like the tape from The Ring. If you were this person, I'd like to apologize. Hopefully, as the game's title indicates, your pain was fleeting.