Sometimes while browsing my local game stores, I run across some games that are attractively priced. To put it another way, I look for cheap games. Often, if the price of the game is less than $5, I will put some serious thought into buying it. Sometimes the games I get are well worth the money. Other times they really aren't
. Here's a sample of ten games that I found for $5 of less. My hope is that this list will convince you if you want to be a Seeker of the Value Software Titles.
Price I paid for it: $3.00
Mystic Towers is a game about an old man-wizard that has to make his way through towers filled with deadly monsters. At least that's what the back of the case says. It's my understanding that there is a level 2, and possibly a level 3, but I suck too bad at it to get past level 1.
To keep your wizard friend alive, you have to not only eat the food that just happens to be laying around all over the floor, you also get to make him drink the water from the toilet-shaped fountains that are all over the place.
The one thing that stands out about this game, aside from the hideously difficult quest itself, is that occasionally (and by occasionally I mean all the time) Mr. Wizard will fart with a mischievous grin on his face. Now I don’t know who came up with this marvelous innovation, but I hope he got a raise for this visionary idea. It would be years before another company realized the genius of the fart and turned it into a weapon in the Boogerman franchise.
Rating 4/10 Old men farting is never not funny.
Price I paid for it: $5
Tamagotchi was a fad that lasted from approximately the Summer of 1998 to the Fall of 1998, and in that time, Bandai was able to sell about 300 billion of the little virtual pet key chains to the world. Not content with the freakishly large pile of money that it got from this, they decided to make a version of it for the Game Boy. Whereas the keychain version restricted you to one Tamagotchi at a time, the Game Boy one let you ‘care for’ three of the freaky things at a time.
So what do you do with your Tamagotchi? Well, you can feed it, you can study with it, you can play ball with it, and you can play the ‘Smile Game’ with it. Anyone that tells you that raising a virtual pet is easy never played this ‘game’. The three games that you have to play with your Tamagotchi are a chore to sit through, and even more of a chore to play every single day, and it’s not
like real days either. Every day in Tamagotchi World passes in about 3 hours, so most of the time you get to sit there watching whatever thing you’re growing bounce around until you decide to play with it. Each of the games that you can play will increase one of its meters (the Intelligence Meter, the Athletic Meter, and the Happy Meter). Why would you want to increase the meters? Once a day, you can enter your Tamagotchi in a contest to see if it’s the fastest, cutest, or smartest. I’ve played through several Tamagotchis and every single one of them that I’ve raised has been slow, ugly, and stupid. I’ve tried to raise them in different ways, and this site claims that there’s more adult Tamagotchi than the one pathetic one that I always end up with, but I stopped believing anything that I read on the Internet a long time ago.
Rating 3/10. Not even potty-training your Tamagotchi can make this game good. I wanted to flush this game about an hour after I got it.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Price I Paid for it: $0.89
Don’t Quit Your Day Job is supposed to be a game about getting your big break as a stand-up comedian. Your goal is to walk around the night club you work for, and talk to all the guests in a certain order. If you talk to them in the wrong order, you get dropped to the Basement where you get to play some game or other to get out and then you get to continue where you left off.
One of the things that makes this game so great is the fact that you get absolutely no clues as to who you talk to next. Honestly, when a game tells me what I have to do, it makes the game entirely too easy, especially when there’s about a dozen or
so people that you could talk to at any given time, and only one won’t throw you in the basement.
Once you finally muster the courage to actually ‘talk’ to someone, you get treated to a short Quicktime movie of them doing… something (apparently funny according to the manual. They must have left the humor out of my copy.), and if it’s the
right person in the chain, then you get some comedy item like a Fire Extinguisher or a Banana Peel, and then you get to talk to someone else, get thrown in the basement, get out of the basement, talk to someone, get thrown in the basement, get out of the basement, talk to someone, get comedy item, etc. etc.
This game was made shortly after the advent of ‘CD-ROM’ and ‘Quicktime’ technology, and they are married here in a union of crap. The disc itself is crammed full of short llittle movies of random ‘comedians’ performing ‘comedy’. Trust me, if you are unfortunate enough to own this game, you will get all of the value of the game
by browsing the contents of the CD, then using the disc itself to clean out the cracks in the sidewalk in front of your house. Yes, the game is that good
KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
Price I paid for it: $0.99
This game is among the worst that I’ve played. I don’t know how this game managed to get out the door with this much suck in it.
I really have no idea what this game is supposed to be about. I played a little of the first level and got so frustrated at the controls that I just started to run directly into the ridiculously weak enemies to put myself out of my misery.
You start off with one of the members of the band in street clothes (sorry, I’m not any kind of KISS fan, so I can’t tell you who) and you need to find all the pieces of your KISS armor to do… whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. I’m sure there’s more band members and more costume pieces in the game or something, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to play this game again.
Now, in a game that has a band as the stars, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, KISS in their own video game. Sweet! That means I can run around gutting aliens while I listen to their music.” Sure, it sounds good, but the makers of this game decided to not do that. The game has in it some really bad ambient sounds
and music, and in every level there is a jukebox that contains *one record* that has on it about *30 seconds* of a KISS song, and thanks to the creative visionaries that crafted this fine game, you can only hear the song while you are standing next to the jukebox. So you would think that this would give you some super powers like invincibility, or invisibility, or a giant alien stomping foot, or something like that, but no, it just makes you stand there and listen to one riff of the song for a little while before you have to go slaughter more ‘things.’
I’d rate it lower, but my gauge doesn’t go that low.
Jazz Jackrabbit Episodes 2, 3, and 4
Price I paid for it: $3.99
Now this is an odd collection. I suppose the thinking of this was that Episode 1 was already installed on every computer in the universe at the time it was released. Episode one was shareware, and every computer you went to had this game on it, well either this or you spent time playing gorillas.bas. Of course by the time I actually bought a computer, episode one wasn’t even available any more, so I played it after completing these…
Jazz Jackrabbit, for those of you who don’t know, was a knockoff of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, with the following exceptions:
You control a green rabbit instead of a blue hedgehog
Instead of jumping/rolling into enemies, you use your shoulder mounted bazooka to blow them up
You fight a turtle trying to rule the universe instead of a fat man trying to rule the world
Really, the game itself looks and plays well enough. The levels are huge and take forever to complete. They are full of enemies and ammo for your gun, and that’s about it. The different ‘planets’ offer different backgrounds, but the game is still the same: run around 3 huge levels for an hour, kill the turtle at the end, go to the next planet.
Epic knows how to build a platform game and there are lots of platforms in this game. You will spend more time jumping between them than anything else in this game. In fact, unless you have some affection with pressing the ‘fire’ button a lot, you’ll have entirely too much ammo for the ‘army’ in this game.
So you get through episodes 2, 3, and 4 and then what? I don’t know. The game itself spans 10 episodes, and I wasn’t about to pay anyone for the rest of the series after I got ripped off buying this game.
Rating 4/10. The game is kind of fun for a while until you figure out that you aren’t actually doing anything.
Jet Grind Radio
Price I paid: $4.99
When SEGA finally killed off the Dreamcast, some of the games for the system became too cheap to pass up. I’m glad I found this one when I did, because at the time I bought it, it was going for $9.99 used (Such a dilemma).
Right, Jet Grind Radio. Okay, this is a strange game. The story goes something like this: Your character (Beat--fantastic choice for a name, SEGA) wants to start a skating gang. So he challenges a couple of people that just happen to be handy to contests. He wins, they join, and then they hit the streets spray-painting everything in sight with his gang’s graffiti, covering up the graffiti of their rival gangs. So all’s right with the world, until the police decide to try and stop you.
Now I’ve never actually been to Tokyo, so I don’t have first hand experience of how things work there, but if this game is any indication, the police has the authority to pull out the heavy artillery for any type of violation. All we have going on in this city is gangs fighting each other with spray paint. The police have on their side Storm Troopers, Riot Squads that shoot tear gas, Assault
Helicopters, and Tanks. Of course, these are superhuman kids of the future. They take several shots from a military grade tank before they fall down and faint.
The game continues like this for a while. Paint graffiti on walls, paint graffiti on rival gang members, paint graffiti on the police, etc. We aren’t looking at a realistic skating game here, just a few gangs of kids who want to show their art to the world.
Rating 8/10. How can gang wars between invincible kids with spray paint not be a good game?
The Dame Was Loaded
Price I paid for it: $0.89
The Dame Was Loaded is a game that’s patterned after games like Shadowgate and Déjà Vu. It takes place in the 1940’s and places you in the role of a detective who gets caught in the middle of a conspiracy to frame him for a murder.
The whole story is told from the detective’s point of view and everything is seen through his eyes through a mix of static screens and full screen video. Now, honestly, the video doesn’t look so great. It’s displayed in 256 colors, but as any enormous box of Crayolas will tell you, there are more than 256 colors in the world. A lot more. Once you get into the game, it really doesn’t bother you as much as you might think.
Everything in the game looks authentic enough. The cars look old, and the food at the diner looks... gross. It’s also easy enough to tell the males from the females, which is imperative for any game. The actors, all of whom I’ve never heard of, did an adequate job. Let’s just leave it at that.
This game is so big that it spans 2 discs. It also doesn’t hurt that I like this kind of game.
Crazy Taxi 2
Price I Paid for it: $4.99
Unless you live in a cave, you know what Crazy Taxi is. If you do live in a cave, you don’t have a computer and probably are at a friend’s house reading this. So for the cave dwellers, here is a quick run-down of what Crazy Taxi is. Crazy Taxi is a game where you, the cabbie, have to pick up customers and take them to where they want to go.
How boring does that sound?
Luckily, though, the game’s a little more complicated than that, and a whole lot more fun. You get tips for aggressive driving (driving down the wrong side of the road for example), as well as performing stunts (jumping over buildings or parked cars, or sliding around a curve). In fact, you have to do the stunts to get
your customers to where they actually want to go in the time that they give you to get there.
I could go on for pages and pages about how much I want to have this game’s baby, so let’s just end it here before I say something that I might embarrass myself with.
Rating 9/10. So good I forget to eat or sleep while I’m playing it.
Bubble Bobble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands
Price I Paid for it: $3.00
Bubble Bobble is possibly the strangest game that I’ve ever played. You are a dinosaur, you blow bubbles around your enemies, you pop the bubbles and the flying walruses or whatever you are fighting turn into food, you eat it, you go to the next level. I just can’t seem to get into a game like this. Sure, the challenge is there, but you have to do the same thing for 100 levels. 100
levels is more than my tolerance for freakystrange games will allow me to bear.
Rainbow Islands is the sequel to Bubble Bobble somehow. Maybe it’s because I never finished Bubble Bobble, but I can’t tell how these games are
supposed to be related. In Rainbow Islands, you are a little boy instead of a dinosaur. Instead of blowing bubbles, you create these little rainbows over your enemies and then walk across them to make them crash down on the head of whatever overly cute lethal animal is on your level.
Rating 5/10. I just don’t get it.
Price I paid for it: $0.97
Super Tennis is one of the first games ever made for the SNES. In it, you play the fine game of Tennis beautifully rendered on your screen by the graphical powerhouse that is the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The options that this game provides are truly amazing. You get to pick your tennis player from a wide selection of, I think it’s 8, players, each offering a unique combination of shirt and short color. You can select what type of court you’d like to play on, and you can even change the color of the ball if you decide that you can’t see the ball on the color of court that you’ve chosen.
All in all, it’s a good Tennis game to just pick up and play, just don’t expect it to be a simulation along the lines of “Super Tennis Tweaker 2000”.
Rating 6/10. It was worth the
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