Seven of the Stupidest Videogame Titles of All Time
If you're one of the many people in this world who've gone through one of America's woefully inadequate public schools, you've likely accumulated more than a few nuggets of wisdom from your time there. I myself learned that pizza and french fries are considered part of a balanced lunch, that the American standard of free speech does not apply to racy rap songs performed at the school talent show, and that drawing a picture of a Calvin & Hobbes-esque decapitated snowman is enough to find yourself talking about your feelings with the school counselor. However of more pertinence here, would be the adage drilled into me by every English teacher I ever had.
"A title should be simple and concise," my first grade teacher Ms. Willis would tell us. "It should express the overall theme of the composition, and make it clear to the audience what the piece is about." Ms. Willis would've likely had some words for the following offenders: games whose titles are a bit less clear, or simple, or concise. In fact, most of them are downright stupid.
So, let's get this one started with a title worthy of my American education. I present:
By Vito Gesualdi
3D Ballz (SNES, 1994) It would be stupid to pick 3D Ballz for this list simply on account of its sexually suggestive name. After all, why poke fun at 3D Ballz with so many equally suggestive options abound? Pole Position, Irritating Stick, Bump n' Jump, Mario's Dildo Adventure... the list goes on and on.
The truth is, what earns 3D Ballz the honor of being spotlighted is just how bad the game's marketing was, with such stupidly cringing taglines as "Fighting at its Ballziest." I don't know how many people grew up reading game rags in the 90s, but the advertisements for this game were everywhere. Best of all, the ads focused almost entirely on the ball jokes, sometimes not even including a screenshot. To be completely honest, I had always assumed 3D Ballz was some sort of stupid puzzle game or something. Only now as I write this do I discover it's actually some awful fighting game where all the characters are made up of balls.
I would love to meet the marketing head in charge on this one. The guy who said: "Our game is bad, what do we do?! Wait... I know!"
Kickle Cubicle (NES, 1990) I'm assuming something was lost in translation here. This game, originally known in Japan as Mystery Island, is just some stupid puzzle game about a kid with earmuffs pushing blocks around. In America however, they figured we could relate more to... whatever the hell a Kickle Cubicle is. This seems backwards, shouldn't the Japanese name for the game be something weird and Engrishy? Then, shouldn't it get changed to something stupidly generic (like 'Mystery Island') for us simple-minded Americans?
According to Wikipedia, the main character is supposedly named Kickle, which maybe explains half of the name. I guess those blocks he's pushing around are actually tiny modular offices? Maybe the whole game is a bizarre metaphor for corporate restructuring? However, your character only pushes those dumb blocks around, he never kicks a damn thing! Why not call it 'Pushy Blockle', or something at least kind of close to what's actually going on?
Wild Arms (Playstation, 1997)
This one almost gets a pass, as it was actually a pretty darn fun, cowboy-themed RPG, and the title obviously seems to be referring to the powerful firearms within the game. That being said, I still can't help but giggle thinking of a game where you control a guy who continually waves his arms around like a maniac. The only objective of the game would be to tear ass through the city streets, screaming gibberish at frightened children, and knocking over unsuspecting passerby for points. I would play that game ALL. THE. TIME.
Bust-a-Move (Arcade, 1994)
Look, I'm not saying Young MC's 1989 rap hit wasn't an instant classic worthy of celebration, but what it has to do with a game where little dinosaurs work to match colored bubbles is beyond me. The original Japanese title for the game was Puzzle Bobble, which makes a whole lot of sense when you consider it's a puzzle game set in the Bubble Bobble universe. Bust-a-Move sounds like it should be a dancing game or something—and confusingly enough, it is!
See, Enix released a game in Japan called Bust a Move: Dance & Rhythm Action, which contained the proper amount of dancing and rhythm action that you would expect from a game named 'Bust a Move.' However, when 989 Studios tried to bring Enix's game to America, they were forced to rename it because Taito now owned the official copyright for all game related move-busting.
Keep in mind that in Puzzle Bobble, not a single move is actually busted. The game has 100% nothing to do with busting moves. This is a stupid and silly name, and even something like Dinosaur Bubblepop Adventure would've been preferable. (Dinosaur Bubblepop Adventure is (TM) Vito Gesualdi Enterprises. It's going to be a gritty FPS starring a cyber-werewolf. Look for it Q4 of 2016.)
Totally Rad (NES, 1991) Never before has a game been so succulently summed up within its own title. In Japan, this game was called Magic John, which is only a bit less stupid than the above. What's important to note, however, is that Jaleco painstakingly replaced all of the anime-style graphics of the original, just to push that RAD FACTOR(TM) to the max, replacing the fun little kids on a magic adventure with a totally wicked leather-jacketed kid (looking like he just got kicked out of The Cure) on a mission to save his babe.
Keep in mind, this game came out in 1991, when the whole sufer-dude 80s ascetic was starting to fade away, with kids putting aside their zebra-print Trapper Keepers and feeding into the new wave of alternative music. So at the same time that Nirvana is starting to develop this whole brooding counterculture of sullen teenagers, Jaleco decides "Damnit! We're going to make the most TOTALLY RAD game of all time!" Only taking minor breaks from their programming so they could shred hard on their electric guitars. Just another great example how NES games were straight up butchered for the West. Like how Capcom's 'Masked Ninja Hanamaru' had all the ninjas ripped out and replaced with firefighters and Elvis impersonators for the Domino's Pizza-themed sidescroller, 'Yo! Noid.'
'Yo! Noid' is an awesome game by the way. Especially when played with a piping hot order of CRAZY BREAD by your side.
Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (Genesis, 1992)
So first, let's talk inexplicable name changes. In Japan, this game was the fourth installment in the Thunder Force series of arcade shooters—Thunder Force IV. I don't know what happened, but apparently somebody at Sega of America decided that thunder was way less cool than lightning. After all, thunder is just like, a noise right? Lightning can actually shock and kill a guy, which is totally sweet and way more badass than thunde. Being that this was the 90s, the more badass you could make your game, the better. So rather than use the existing logo, they decided to waste some money and rename the game to Lightning Force. Lightning. L, I, G, H, T, N, I, N, G.
How the hell does a game make it to print without anyone catching the fact that the goddamn name of the game is mispelled? Lightening? Do you know how stupid the name Lightening Force is? What is being lightened? Is this "Darkstar" so heavy that it's warping space-time all around it? That this mythical 'Lightening Force' goes around the universe reducing the mass of planetary bodies in order to prevent the occurrence of black-holes? Why on earth am I stretching for a way to justify this game title, when I know just how asinine an error it is?
Eventually Sega abandoned the Thunder Force series. I like to think the crushing shame of this overwhelmingly stupid error played a part.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (Multiplatform, 2004)
The name of this game, let alone the entire concept, is just so unfathomably stupid that it hurts my brain. Following the wild success of Rare's 'Goldeneye 007', Electronic Arts paid out the ass for exclusive rights to develop Bond games from here until the end of eternity. The problem is, people weren't buying up copies of Goldeneye because of the Bond license. They were buying it up because it was the first truly awesome multiplayer FPS that had ever been released on a home console. Me and my buddies must've worn out the crappy thumbsticks on at least a dozen N64 controllers as we gleefully shot each other to pieces, fighting over control of the deadly RC-P90 submachine gun, while coloring the walls with our paintball bullets.
So, Rare made buckets of money by making an FPS Bond game with fully customizable multiplayer. First thing Electronic Arts did with the Bond license? They made a 3rd-person action game with no multiplayer whatsoever.
Somebody at EA must've eventually figured out their mistake though. As the new console generation approached, the guy in charge of the EA Bond games thought, "Well damn, I don't get it. Rare made so much money from their James Bond game, and yet our crappy Bond games don't make any money!" It was then that his eyes lit up like those of a child, as he gleefully realized what needed to be done. His decision?
Painfully and humiliatingly find the most ass-backwards way possible to put the Goldeneye name on an otherwise completely unrelated game.
Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, has absolutely nothing to do with the movie Goldeneye. Instead, it's about an evil James Bond wannabe, who has an eye made of gold. For starters, it's downright stupid to have a guy with an eye made of gold. Not only is there no benefit whatsoever to having such a prosthesis, but the sheer weight of a golden eye would likely cause your head to slump forward, and constantly compensating for your unbalanced head would likely be a hindrance to any "rogue agent" trying to properly line up a shot.
The game had multiplayer, and it still sucked. As for the ethical ramifications of actively tricking consumers into thinking they're purchasing the sequel to one of the best games of all time—well that's just downright not okay.