Media You Think is So-Bad-It’s-Good that Aren’t Movies


#1

There’s a storied history of people making fun of bad movies; it’s practically an art of itself. However, what makes a movie unintentionally hilarious is easier to quantify than with most other art forms. What makes say, a game, book, or song so-bad-it’s-good is a lot harder to pin down. So my question is: What are some so-bad-it’s-good media that aren’t movies?

CW: Gore & violence
I have two examples. One is Jaws Unleashed, one of the most befuddling games I have ever played. There are many, many things wrong with the game. The controls are loose, the camera is aggravating, and is frequently buggy. However it almost makes up for its flaws by having the most ridiculous missions I have ever played. The first mission is a great example. After sinking a bunch of buildings to the ground, you (as Jaws) are taken to a lab at Sea World. In order to escape, you need to take a scientist to a card reader in order to open a locked gate. After unlocking the gate you crash through your way through Sea World, flooding the place along the way. It all culminates into a battle with Shamu, which ends with Jaws jumping out of the water with Shamu in your mouth and snapping the mammal in half. This is one of several missions where you do the most ubsurd shit, from picking up barrels with your mouth and throwing them at buildings to fighting a giant squid.


Jaws also gets upgrades throughout the game, in which you can unlock special moves like body slamming boats, tossing people up and eating them mid air, and, my favorite, tail whipping someone into the air and having the explode into meat chunks. By all accounts a terrible game, but it sure is a laugh riot.

My second example is a song, specifically Limp Bizkit’s cover of George Michael’s Faith. Limp Bizkit are pretty much the face of the very worst of late 90s to early 2000s pop culture, and no song typifies that time and their brand more than this cover. There’s something about how blatantly disrespectful the entire thing is that I find so goddamn hysterical. It’s made all the more humorous finding out that George Michael hated it and the band upon first hearing it. Again, an abysmal song in almost every way, but every time I hear it I laugh my ass off. I ironically shout “GET THE FUCK UP!” way more than I should.

Any other non-film examples you folks have? Let me know!


#2

To start, I appreciate the spoiler screening for important plot points in Jaws Unleashed. I believe I speak for many of us when I say I haven’t played it yet.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand was an immediate grab for me. Everything about that gaem is simultaneously insane and paint-by-numbers. You have a swear button and can unlock additional swears. Swearing gives you a score boost in a Gears of War clone where no one to my knowledge has ever cared about score. The writing is almost uniformly awful, with the exception of two times when your companion tells you to hit that big-ass ramp. It’s a great time and would recommend it over any actual Gears of War gaem.


#3

So Shenmue is something that fits into this category. It’s not good, plenty of it is bad (especially going back now, where there is an established genre convention for much of what it attempted), and yet stuff like the performances have a certain something about them that is enjoyable (while clearly not being good).

Almost a clear two years before GTA3 solidified a lot of the open-world action structure of an urban RPG without much of what (in 1999) many would define a computer RPG as needing to contain. It’s actually kinda important inside games for proposing a load of ideas for an open living 3D immersive world. Then it’s also important in terms of Sega’s exit from hardware due to massive projects failing to attract commercial success (and exhausting what nest egg they had left). The curiosity angle combined with differing expectations we now have make it feel ideally suited (in much the same way a lot of cult movies get their place in the category).

GTA3 itself is showing a lot of age (especially technically, even with the rereleased editions) but the performances were good for the times (expectations have moved forward so far). Shenmue also shows so much of that intent (eg scene construction for the pivotal stuff) but it’s just a bit too easy to look back on and take away the way it’s not at all where you’d expect a modern AAA release to land. The upcoming re-releases are going to be interesting for seeing how people react to that who may not remember (or never saw) exactly how the game plays and how it reaches for what is now a very established genre (with cinematic ambitions tied to that).


#4

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13

The game is actually legit fun but the writing is stunningly bad and I think it might be in that it’s-so-bad-it’s-good category. I gained so much respect for Troy Baker playing LR: FF13. His commitment to such a awful script was absolutely inspiring. A true professional.


#5

After seeing Giant Bomb’s Shenmue Endurance Run, I 100% agree that it is a fascinating game that’s a crucial part of gaming history that is, for the most part, not a good game. But one with many little charming moments due to its many, many flaws.

Also Tom image


#6

#7

Does pro wrestling count?


#8

You know what song from the Space Jam soundtrack is legitimately good though? The Monstar’s Anthem:


#9

I’d say probably but there might be a lot of people who would proudly say no.


#10

I prefer the Austin Walker follow up:


#11

In 2007 Polish studio Reality Pump released an open-world fantasy RPG called Two Worlds. I hate it, love it, and own three copies. Most people who have heard of Two Worlds seem to know it from the speedrun, which uses a (now sadly patched) trick to kill the final boss 2 minutes in. He’s just hanging out near the first village, and if you attacked him then tricked him into hitting a villager, everyone in the village would run out and beat him down.

Two Worlds is also great played the slow way. There’s the script written in an astonishing stilted Fantasy English, all “pray” and “forsooth.” I don’t know what the original script is like, but the English translation is B-game brilliant. The action is stiff, but the RPG mechanics encourage silly exploitation. Like the upgrade system where you stack identical trash equipment to make it better, or the way you can kite enemies above your level to a mana shrine so you can use infinite mana to kill them. As a screw-around podcast RPG it’s a genuine good time, and I’ve spent more time with it than any Elder Scrolls game. Somehow almost everything terrible about it just makes it better.


#12

In all seriousness I think there’s some good pro wrestling out there and I want to say I’m referring to WWE but WWE is just straight up bad and not ‘bad in a fun way’


#13

To your original comment, I would say ‘absolutely’ albeit with the distinction that there’s both ‘good-bad’ and ‘bad-bad’ wrestling to be found. WWE, in most cases, seems to primarily deal in the latter category – especially as you go further back in the promotion’s history. That said, there are also promotions like Lucha Underground who, because they both recognize and lean all the way into the absurdity of pro wrestling, can be an absolute joy to watch for the sheer schlockiness on display. For instance: my favorite performer from there is a flippy man who is actually a dragon, has a 2-foot long black tongue, uses nunchucks, his best friend is a time traveling ancient Aztec, and I think he’s evil right now. There was also a gauntlet match last season between an arm-breaking skeleton man and a trio of badass female assassins (all of whom are some of the best wrestlers out of Japan – including NXT’s Kairi Sane). The show also has Dario Cueto; he’s the best!

There’s a ton of bad-bad stuff on that show as well (the earlier intergender matches on that show are…let’s say “not great”), but everything that falls into the “so bad it’s good” category carries a ton of weight, and end up making the show an absolute joy to behold.


#14

I may be stretching the definition of media here, but the first thing I thought of (probably because I just binge-watched this series) was Cedar Point’s now defunct coaster Disaster Transport.


It seems like the coaster itself wasn’t unpleasant to ride, but rather it’s issues stem from it being a desperate, flailing attempt to be a budget rip off Space Mountain. The utterly confusing narrative and poorly thought out theming managed to come off as strangely endearing.

Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to ride it as I have only been to Cedar Point once, and I don’t recall it being there (I think my trip may have been before it opened), but I really wish I could have experienced this hot mess in person. Welcome to Alaska?!?


#15

Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme

This game is an experience that spans years of on-going development, so you can actually see how the devs grew in real time (their second game, Max’s Big Bust is actually pretty good and they can draw art that isn’t …whatever was in the majority of this game).

The common thread through every chapter of the game is that they’re all goddamn ridiculous. The premise is that there’s two scientists working on a hair formula, though they’re really working on transformation technology that can switch a body’s sex, and one of those scientists is completely obsessed and basically goes mad with power and is responsible for almost everything that happens in every chapter in some way.

The early chapters are just awful, but in a hilarious way after the first chapter. The story in these chapters always goes in ridiculous directions that I actually have trouble describing. The terrible art, with anatomy going everywhere and hair a messy pile of random lines, just adds to this all. Bizarrely, as you go on, you find actual creativity beyond exploring the transformation fetish, resulting in stuff like meeting a literal demon and arguing with her Ace Attorney style, a sort of Hangover take-off that ends in a truly unexpected way (even for this game) and an attempt to write an actual transwoman in one chapter that cuts the wacky shenanigans for the majority of it for more grounded slice of life stuff - but it’s still taking place in this ridiculous setting, and it feels REALLY out of place.

It ends with a massive apocalypse where everyone in town becomes a monster girl and it becomes entirely clear by then the tongue is firmly in cheek and this team knew exactly what nonsense they were making the entire time.

It’s a long game, and it is painful at times (especially early on, not to mention filled with ideas that maybe shouldn’t have ever been put in a 25 dollar commercial release), but I can safely say I have never experienced anything like it before, and it did make me laugh on purpose and by complete accident.

Here’s a sampling (I have made sure not to show anything explicit)

Summary





#16

Does Bad Rats count? I’m not sure if it’s good but I’ve certainly have a lot of fun gifting it to my steam friends.


#17

I feel that I’ve just recently started to understand my appreciation for campy art and I think that for me it has a lot to do with seeing the way it is constructed. I like stuff that doesn’t suspend my belief and I can just appreciate the effort and conjecture on the motives. I actually think that it may be a growing appreciation for motive over technique. It feels like a form of sincerity I’m enjoying, but not necessarily the sincerity they are trying to present.
The art that I don’t enjoy is the stuff that the artist themself doesn’t seem to want to make or have a need to do so.
Here is the most recent example of something I found myself enjoying very much largely because extravagant technique isn’t hiding the motives or curcumstances of production:

I think this is just a great piece of art.


#18

@TheDesusAndMeroChain, that Limp Bizkit cover was spectacularly bad. Thank you so much for sharing that!

Too Human. Yeah that trainwreck where the devs sued Epic Games for sabotaging the release with Unreal Engine or something odd like that. Frankly, the game is bad. There’s a murky loot system that doesn’t do a good job of explaining anything, repetitive combat, recycled level design etc etc. There was something resembling an interesting story with cybernetics crossing into Norse mythology, but it never went anywhere.

I still really enjoyed the time I spent with it, for some reason. I guess I’m such a sucker for mythology.


#19

Blood On The Sand is amazing. 50 destroys an entire country because, and I quote, “■■■■■ took my skull!”

50 is also HILARIOUSLY hard to kill in that game, it takes multiple RPG hits to die. on the Chip and Ironicus LP of it, Ironicus once speculated that somebody at the studio heard “We’re making a sequel to 50 Cent: Bulletproof” but it got jumbled up during production into “We’re making 50 Cent bulletproof”


#20

I think it’s interesting with games, because the bar for playability in games has to be passed there, I think. If a game is truly unplayable, it’s a bad game, but it’s not fun to play suddenly.

But you know what’s great? McGruff.