They’re each wretched in their own special way.
Rock Revolution (2008, PS3/Xbox 360/Wii)
Though Konami arguably brought band-based games to the world’s attention through brilliantly innovative offerings like Guitar Freaks and DrumMania, the company’s desperate attempt to cash in on Rock Band‘s success is as surprising as it disappointing.
Even worse, Rock Revolution‘s 7-pad drum set also baffled the world, the game lacked guitar peripherals, and it featured graphics that made the Muppet-mouthed ‘singers’ from Guitar Hero III look like a technological triumph.
Power Gig: Rise Of The Six-String (2010, PS3/Xbox 360)
Released just as the vultures were beginning to circle the plastic-instrument-based genre, Power Gig‘s big selling point was its authentic guitar peripheral that could supposedly help you learn how to play the real thing. Indeed, the guitar was technically real, but it was a slab of plastic junk that any guitar aficionado would be ashamed of.
Even sadder still, the game was a standard Guitar Hero clone and did nothing to actually teach you how to handle a real axe.
Make My Video (1992, PC/Sega CD)
Drunk with the power of CD storage-capable of holding hundreds of times more audio/visual data than floppy disks, the previous computing medium du jour-gaming industry insiders sagely assumed that digitised video and interactive movies, versus, say, creativity and innovative gameplay, were the future. Case in point: these ultra-repetitive outings starring Kris Kross, Marky Mark and INXS, which let you remix the visual accompaniments of featured tracks by stringing together a limited array of grainy video clips.
But while they may be more noteworthy today as technology experiments gone horribly wrong and kitschy pop culture footnotes, they’re also artefacts of a simpler, cheesier gaming era. For further pain, see Power Factory Featuring C&C Music Factory, a game whose oddly lit, neo-industrial backdrops and diabolical close-up shots better suit a Saw flick than anything rated as suitable for consumption by Walkman-loving children. “Things That Make You Go Hmmm,” indeed.
Virtual VCR: The Color of Modern Rock (1992, Sega CD)
Nothing dates a game faster than a carton of milk stuck behind a furnace than putting the words ‘Virtual’ and ‘VCR’ together. Sadly, The Color of Modern Rock didn’t give users the dignity of controlling their own torture. Instead, all they could do was suffer through some grainy Eric Martin music videos and take screenshots for the purpose of… well, who the hell knows?
Once again, the Sega CD explicitly demonstrated that video games and live-action FMV were never meant to go together, so thanks for taking that bullet, Sega.
Rap Jam: Volume 1 (1995, SNES)
Despite the misleading title, Rap Jam was actually an SNES-era basketball game that starred some of the biggest rappers and hip-hop groups from the ‘90s including House Of Pain, Coolio and Queen Latifah. Sadly for a title about fancy footwork on the court, the game played as if everyone was wearing ice-skates.
What’s more, the background music was completely lacking; talk about a waste of Naughty By Nature. Still, things have a strange way of working out in end. After all, there was never a Volume 2…
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The ‘80s (2007, PlayStation 2)
Otherwise known as Guitar Hero: Where it All Started to Go Wrong, Rocks The ‘80s garnered a lot of criticism for charging full-price for what was essentially an expansion pack (and a lacklustre one at that).
In 2007, digital song downloads had yet to really take off, but even so, GH Encore: Rocks The ‘80s is a sign of what was to come for the franchise: overpriced and oversaturated, two of several key factors leading to its eventual downfall.
Dance Praise (2005, Mac/PC)
Considering that the Bible is stuffed with talking snakes, sex, genocide, destruction and monsters that make Resident Evil‘s slavering corpses look like extras on iCarly, there’s no reason why Christian video games shouldn’t be brilliant. Unfortunately, the opposite often tends to be true: these games generally tend to be weak alternatives to religiously agnostic outings. One such example is Dance Praise, a rhythm game based on Dance Dance Revolution.
Not only was the game derivative and insultingly easy, but the music was sanitised in order to be appropriate for “young Christian ears”. To quote Bart Simpson: “Everyone knows that the best bands are affiliated with Satan.”
Excerpted from new book Music Games Rock by Scott Steinberg, which is 100 per cent free to download online at www.MusicGamesRock.com, and available in iBooks/Kindle ($US2.99) and paperback ($US24.99) editions. The head of video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global and host of online video series Game Theory, he’s a celebrated business speaker and regular on-air technology expert for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CNN.