One of the many beauties of video games, in my opinion, is their subjectiveness. Games can create fandoms and praise no matter how well they are critically received. A poorly reviewed title can find champions for its qualities (no matter how few!), and a critical darling can find detractors willing to argue about any positive aspect. It's quite fascinating how an individual title can generate so much discussion and debate.
On that note, I'd like to share a few games I personally feel are overrated by critics and by fans. I wouldn't say that they are terrible games, per say, but I do not understand the devotion or high marks granted to them over the years. So, without further delay...
1) Battletoads (NES, Rare/Tradewest)
Battletoads was one of the most hyped NES games when I was a wee lad. Nintendo Power gave it its largest strategy coverage during that period, and devoted tons of resources into making the game's universe seem as radical as the obvious inspiration, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I requested the game for Christmas one year, and lo and behold, I got it. And so, I dived into the world of the 'Toads, ready to rescue Pimple and some princess (her name escapes me) from the clutches of the evil Dark Queen. Well, Battletoads is made well enough, I will say that. It has a kooky sense of humor and runs hand and hand with cartoon violence gags. The gameplay is adequate an engaging. The level design and diversity of challenges provides many opportunities to surprise and wow the player. And it clearly was a high-quality production, well funded and excellently crafted. However...the game is too bloody hard. It starts off slow and gives gamers a chance to experience the mechanics and flow of the game's combat, but once Level 3 -- the infamous Turbo Tunnel -- shows up, the gloves are off. Rare's sadistic addiction with difficulty ramps to ridiculous heights here, with precise memorization and frequent death the only solution towards conquering its speed. There are a couple of warp points that allow players to bypass this level (or shorten it), but this moment is when I knew that this may be too much for me to conquer. I did beat this level proper once, but only once, and even with some Game Genie magic I was never able to beat the whole thing. Frustration kicked in, and I'm not all that sad about never playing this again.
2) Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2 (SNES, Nintendo)
This game is one of the few games I rarely, if ever, see any complaints about. And I understand why. It's a lush, deep and cheery platformer that takes the Mario mechanics in a different direction. It controls well, it has a unique and marvelous look, and the levels offer a nice amount of achievable challenge. And somehow...I cannot get into it. I played Yoshi's Island when I was a teen at a Toys R Us kiosk, and failed to grasp the appeal. And, more recently, I traded some games with a forum buddy and got this, in the hopes that I would understand the praise it receives. And I tried. I made my way through the first three worlds or so, and I had a good enough time that I could see why people enjoy it so much. But I wasn't having the time of my life, which is the impression I get from people when they talk about Yoshi's Island being one of the finest platformers ever made. My loss, I guess.
3) Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC, Nintendo)
Wind Waker is certainly controversial in the grand Zelda mythos. It abandoned the more serious visual aesthetic the N64 titles pioneered, and its "toon" presentation turned off a lot of fans. I wasn't among them -- I considered Wind Waker's graphics to the look of Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, but with higher quality. And this is the sole title out of the five I'm discussing here I've beaten. And for the most part, Wind Waker is exquisite. The combat is incredible; no other Zelda, except possibly Link Between Worlds, offers the freedom and versatility Wind Waker does for Link's options. If Wind Waker was set on land the entire time, I'd probably consider it the greatest Zelda in the series. Unfortunately, it's not. Exploration -- my favorite aspect of gaming! -- was dictated through sailing in Wind Waker, and you're traversing large spans of water with little to no breakup in the monotony to reach far-off destinations. A key component of the game's plot spun around this tedious mechanic: The Tingle Triforce Parade (as I call it). To restore the Triforce of Courage, Link must sail all over the enormous map and find maps. He can't read them, so he has to go to Tingle to have them deciphered. This costs Rupees, so you have to farm money as you hunt down maps. Next, Link must sail to these specific points in the ocean to fish out chests with the shards, and this happens multiple times. A dungeon or six would have been far more fun and clever, but alas, this moment stains the entire experience for me. I've heard that the Wii U HD port enhances the sailing via a fast sail and makes the Triforce quest less of a bore, so I'm curious to try it out whenever a Wii U falls into my lap. The GC original, however? I'll never touch it again.
4) Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, Bethesda)
I adore Morrowind. It's one of my favorite games, and I continue to debate if it's better than Skyrim, despite the gameplay advances the latter brought to the franchise. Oblivion, alas, disappointed me something fierce. It's not a bad game. It's certainly competent, and it provides a lot of game for your buck. It's just...so dull to me. One aspect of Morrowind I enjoyed was the creative bestiary. The native creatures of Morrowind were awesome and innovative, and the Daedric foes even more so. It was a joy to cross swords with Golden Saints, outwit Winged Twilights, and conquer Ascended Sleepers. Cliff Racers were the only enemy that mucked up the pleasure, but even they had some uniqueness. Oblivion mined the fantasy backlog of creatures so much that I had to stop and wonder if Cyrodill actually existed in a different plane of reality than Morrowind. Where's the creativity? Where's the originality? Trolls, ogres and imps are so wrought in gaming lore as it is; why did Bethesda cease coming up with new ideas? The challenging Land Dreugh and Spider Daedra almost make up for it, but not quite. Secondly, wandering about Oblivion's massive environment suffers too much from the "sameys". There's hardly any landmarks or subtle changes in the world that makes one piece of Cyrodill stand out from any other (save the mountains). This carried over into the dungeon design, where the tilesets sure did seem identical in those caves, tombs and fortresses. While Oblivion is cobbled together well enough to have captured several hours of my time, eventually I felt I had done everything I wished to do with it and moved on. I can't say the same for Morrowind and Skyrim.
5) Demon's Souls (PS3, From Software/Atlus/Sony)
Finally, we come to the latest game on my list, Demon's Souls. I completely get why people love love love this game. It's well made, complex and is rife with challenge. It's designed to push players to their limits, and to overcome odds well stacked against them. For me, I just couldn't get over that initial hump of challenge to feel like I was making any sort of progress. Demon's Souls doesn't let up, and mistakes can kill you very, very quickly. If you can recover your soul after your demise, then it's all gravy and you can march on into the depths for more chaotic fun. If you can't -- like me -- the joy slips away and making any strides forward becomes unpleasant due to the fear that death can literally be right around the corner. Some gamers thrive on such adversity, but I don't. I like to have some sense of control over my fate in a game like this, and while I don't mind making mistakes as I play, they typically don't doom me to a huge chunk of replay to make them up. Every death in Demon's Souls where I made any real plunge into a level felt like a loss I couldn't recover from, and it sapped any pleasure right out of it for me. Just not my type of game.
So, I couldn't get into these five games and find them to be overrated. How about you all here in the GoG community? Please share any games that you find overrated, or discuss some of my choices, here in the comments!