If you've played "Fruit Ninja," "Cut the Rope" or any number of games on your iPhone, you probably aren't very impressed with their graphical capabilities, especially when compared with modern games such as "Gears of War" and "Skyrim." But as one panel on mobile gaming at PAX East 2012 this year demonstrated, you should probably be thankful for what you've got.
That's because there are a lot of games out there that aren't merely bad but look as though they were designed by orangutans that have been heavily dosed with peyote and psychedelic mushrooms while being placed in pitch-black solitary confinement and forced to listen to the greater works of Alban Berg and John Cage for months on end. Even veteran app reviewers can find themselves stunned at the sheer insanity it takes to concoct some of these games and can come away disturbed that their fellow humans are capable of such demented creations.
In this article we'll take you through these horrifyingly bad mobile games and provide some choice comments from the mobile gaming panel at PAX East 2012, which was comprised of "Seven" of the AppNation Podcast; Patrick Mulhern, the co-creator of Lorehound; and Russ Frushtick, senior editor of Vox Games.
Bad Game No. 1: "Super Turk"
Developer: dzllcom, inc. Cost: Free
The lowdown: The fact that this game is based on a Turkish movie is a terrible sign straight off the bat. (Seriously, have any of you ever seen the Turkish versions of "Star Wars" and "E.T."? Then you know what I'm talking about.)
So Super Turk is basically a Turkish version of Super Man and his sole power seems to be emitting laser beams from his eyes that are capable of zapping houseflies. And while we all applaud killing such annoying insects, does their slaughter really amount to a heroic deed? Or is Super Turk just the most over-dressed and foppish bug exterminator in history?
Panel comments: "It's Turkish, if that helps you," said Seven, explaining the game's uniqueness.
Our verdict: While we give Super Turk props for his superb fly-slaying skills, we have to question his future as a professional exterminator. After all, it's not hard to imagine him misdirecting his eye-zaps and accidentally melting a client.
Bad Game No. 2: "Pony Unicorn Astronaut"
Developer: Mother Gaia Studio Cost: Free
The lowdown: It's hard to imagine what sick, cruel human would launch an adorable pony into space where it would be left by itself to fend off incoming asteroids. Or as the demented minds at Mother Gaia Studio put it in poorly translated instructions, "you command a mighty Pony Unicorn that braves the space only with his magical powers and his Astronaut Helmet with WiFi antenna. You won't something crazy like this on App Store!" Shudder. That's the sort of deranged rambling we'd expect to read in a Ted Kaczynski manifesto, not a game instruction book.
Panel comments: "If you run into one of the asteroids as a Pony Astronaut, you apparently die by turning into sparkles," said Seven.
"How is it possible for us to actually see the unicorn pony when it's supposed to be moving at the speed of light?" remarked Frushtick.
Our verdict: Only horrible people with a hatred for the goodness of ponies would relish hurtling these magical creatures into giant rocks at the speed of light. And no, doing it just to see the psychedelic sparkle explosion is not reason enough.
Bad Game No. 3: "Crying Poo"
Developer: iTales.ru Cost: 69p
The lowdown: No, this game isn't what the title makes you think it is. Instead it's a game about forcing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to cry over and over again. If you make him cry a lot his tears eventually create a giant puddle that floats him up to the top of the screen. This was obviously designed by Russians who don't have a lot of love for their current political leadership.
Panel comments: "I have no idea why there's an antique floating below him," said Seven. "It's got to be some weird Russian thing."
"I'm worried that somebody may have been assassinated for making this terrible iOS game," said Frushtick.
Our verdict: Unless you have a uniquely strong distaste for the Russian prime minister, there's probably not a lot of replay value to "Crying Poo."
Bad Game No. 4: "Epic Beard 2"
Developer: Full Circle Game Studios Cost: 69p
The lowdown: This game is sort of like "Skyrim" if it were directed by Terry Gilliam. You play a little red ghost that's being chased around the screen by a gigantic Viking head that attacks you with its one giant foot, with dynamite and other assorted weapons. This is one of those games that can get terribly depressing because, in the end, there is no way to actually defeat the monstrous disembodied Viking that is attacking you for no apparent reason. It's like one of those "I'm-being-chased-forever" nightmares you have every now and then, but infinitely more frightening.
Panel comments: "It's terrifying," said Mulhern.
"At one point a giant fish falls in the middle of the damn map," said Seven.
Our verdict: If you want to spend 99 cents for the right to play "Epic Beard" we won't stop you. But playing it right before going to bed would be extremely unwise.
Bad game No. 5: "Jump Rope!"
Developer: K.K. Amuzenet Cost: Free
The lowdown: I bet you thought that game about jumping rope would just be boring, right? Wrong! Well, sort of wrong. The game itself is pretty boring but not in ways you expect.
The plot of the game is that you're a guy who sleeps on a bench all day before being prompted to play jump rope. Once you get good enough jumping rope, your fellow park dwellers are apparently inspired by your example and start jumping rope along with you. Oh, and there are also two chickens that live in the trash can nearby that disappear one-by-one whenever you accidentally step on the jump rope.
Panel comments: "You're a guy who wakes up on a bench and your job is to jump rope and then creepy people join you," says Seven.
Our verdict: Aaaaarrrrgh. This game is truly one of the worst of the worst. Give us giant Viking heads and unicorn astronauts any day over this thing.