A Question for the Readers #3: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Whether we play a game, read a book, listen to music, or watch a film, forming an opinion of it is inevitable. Even the standby of “I don’t much of an opinion on it” is itself an opinion, paradoxically enough. Most of the time, where we stand when it comes to assessing a work begins to form once the credits roll, the final word is read, or the closing track fades out. The positive and negative feelings we are left with form the basis of our opinions.

However, as time goes on, it’s not uncommon for our opinions to change. Sometimes, we’ll begin to think highly of something we once dismissed while in other cases, opinions of things we used to like will begin to sour. For the purposes of this question, we will be focusing on the latter scenario.

On the subject of films, there is only one answer I could give that would even begin to do the question justice: District 9. When I walked out of that theater back in 2009, I was thoroughly impressed. I even bought into the wildly unrealistic premise that, in a first-contact situation, human beings would throw aliens into the slums. Nowadays, I consider it one of the worst films to have ever gotten that level of critical acclaim.

A major turning point occurred when a famous internet personality declared it to be terrible. I brushed it off at first, but the more I began thinking about that video, the more I realized that he was right all along. The idea that humans would throw aliens into slums at the first opportunity is an example of an unrealistic premise getting a pass because it’s cynical. I, on the other hand, feel it doesn’t just ruin the suspension of disbelief; the premise was seemingly conceived treating the phenomenon as an alien concept. Even worse, within the confines of the District 9 universe, first contact was made in the eighties when science fiction and space travel were arguably at the height of their popularity. I get that this was supposed to be a metaphor for the Apartheid era in South Africa, but I think it would’ve been more worthwhile to create a film focused on that rather than resort to misbegotten metaphors which only succeed in cheapening the subject matter while coming across as openly misanthropic. One cannot bring to light a serious issue with a defeatist’s attitude.

District 9 - Somebody here needs a moment, but I'm not sure who

Not pictured: Realistic human behavior

So why did I originally like it so much? A lot of it had to do with me having gone such a long time without seeing a good film in theaters. Even all these years later, I can attest that the summer of 2009 was a horrible season for summer blockbusters. How can I demonstrate my case? Simple. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen spent most of that time dominating the box office. Even something as drab as District 9 looked like a masterpiece by comparison. Followed up by the pretty-but-lacking-in-substance Avatar, science fiction was really not putting its best foot forward that year (despite Hollywood issuing the great Star Trek reboot earlier).

When it comes to video games, longtime readers might expect to me to answer with Mother 3, as it’s not exactly a game I’ve viewed favorably in hindsight. Though it would be a good answer, I don’t think it would be the best one. The main reason why this is concerns the fact that I was never really on board with its heavy-handed diatribes in the first place. However, I also still think it’s redeemable enough to the extent where I couldn’t quite dissuade people from trying it out for themselves.

No, I think the best possible answer I have for this question would be Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures. I really liked this game as a kid for its unique gameplay and Pac-Man’s hilarious animations whenever something bad happens to him, which was often (and in some cases, unavoidable). When I got older and watched somebody’s Let’s Play of it, I wondered what the hell I was thinking and began to see what a flawed experience it was. Granted, I was eight when I tried it out for the first time, so I didn’t know any better, but still. I am amazed I managed to complete it without a guide when I’ve seen many adults fail to do so. As my friend, Aether, so aptly put it, “this is a game you don’t so much as play as have some mild input and hope it works out for the best”. How could I even begin to recommend an experience like that?

So now it’s your turn.

What is a work you used to adore, but strongly dislike nowadays?

21 thoughts on “A Question for the Readers #3: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

  1. This one’s tough for me. I’ve had a lot of the opposite recently, where something I felt ‘meh’ about when I was young, I came to appreciate later.

    If I had to choose something, though, I remember loving ‘Ghoul Patrol’, the sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, as a kid. It was a cool new story, it followed the the same characters, and it was just video game candy when I wad a kid.

    Having played through it again recently, I realized how flawed it is- super short playtime, slippery controls, cheap deaths and near zero of the charisma that ZAMN had. I realized I had been so excited about a sequel to my favorite game that I let all of that slide as a kid. I definitely had a revelation that day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean. I’ve noticed a lot of people lament that they couldn’t play games that either weren’t released in the West or were made after their childhoods, but I’ve never found that to be an issue. I may not have as much time to play games as I did back then, but there were so many games I’m glad I played as an adult (i.e. Undertale and Planescape: Torment), as they would’ve gone over my head as a kid (remember, this is a kid who thought Pac-Man 2 was a good game).

      Yeah, I think the excitement we build up for a game can cause us to overlook flaws we normally wouldn’t. I remember getting very excited for Pokémon Gold/Silver and later enjoying it when it came out. When I replayed it a few months ago, I realized it had aged very poorly with the ridiculous amount of level grinding you have to do and what would now be considered poor pacing. Even then, I wondered how anyone managed to train a team up to level 100 for Pokémon Stadium 2 when I had difficulties getting them to 50. I didn’t think to use it to answer this question, though, because I don’t really actively dislike it.

      Between those two games, I’ve only ever played Zombies Ate My Neighbors; I remember it being pretty fun, though it’s been some time since I last played it. I didn’t even know it had a sequel until you pointed it out; guess that demonstrates how poorly it has fared in hindsight, huh?


  2. The example that comes to mind is Final Fight on the Atari ST. I was obsessed with it as a kid. In hindsight, it was because I couldn’t own it -it would only play on the slightly more advanced Atari STE my auntie had.

    I watched a YouTube video of ST Final Fight about six months ago….and couldn’t believe how choppy and slow it was. I also played through the arcade game with infinite credits around the same time….it’s an absolute slog, the only joy is the spinning pile-driver and that gets old after six levels….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a lot of people feel that way about games that were only ever released in Japan. Granted, there have been a few legitimately great games that failed to leave their homeland, but in reality, it was more common for that to happen because they were garbage rather than because they had a hit on their hands they didn’t feel like sharing (just look at Transformers: Mystery of Convoy).

      Anyway, I heard a lot of beat ‘em ups really haven’t stood the test of time because there isn’t much variety to them. It would take a lot of talent to make an experience like that anything other than a monotonous slog.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is tough to answer, usually what happens is that a work I find enjoyable gets a degree of recognition that it catches the attention of very vocal detractors who just want to strip away any and all merit it has to elevate themselves intellectualy, so my enjoyment turns sour, however it has less to do with the work’s actual qualities and more about being equated to a mindless victim of the bandwagon effect, after all these detractors love that argument.

    There is just one instabce where I ended up agreeing and my likeness to a game turned permanently and that was with Super Smash Bros Brawl, I was near obsessed with that game, checking news about it every day, it possibly had evrything I could ever want, It had a lengthy single player with loads of fanservice, it featured both my favourite Nintendo character (MetaKnight) and my favourite pokemon at the time (Lucario). But after finishing the single player and unlocking all the characters I found less and less incentive to keep playing and it was due to just how sluggish the game felt , especially compared to Melee. This was beyond the removal of advanced mechanics (I didn’t even know those existed or what their purpose was) or the random tripping, characters felt floaty and many lacked any ability to do proper damage due to either being to weak, or the changes in frame data not allowing for many combos, and the character balance was beyond terrible, this was beyond competitive level too, many characters didn’t feel good to play, especially the heavy ones.

    I might fallen out of this game due to some circumstances, I usually played melee a lot with my cousins and friends but we had less time to play together when Brawl came out, but even so I played Melee a lot by myself and I can’t say Brawl held my interest as long and the times I booted it back up I just wasn’t that compelled to keep playing, my distaste for Brawl was finally cemented when the new Smash Bros came out, even if it was very similar to Brawl in some ways, it was different in the most important details in my opinion, experimenting with different characters was fun and it felt like each had some degree of usability, physics felt notably less floaty and there was more room for combos, It made Brawl pretty much irrelevant to me.


    • Along those lines, I feel a lot of pioneering independent critics such as Yahtzee had a lot of problems. Chief among them was that they were at least partially responsible for perpetuating an anti-Nintendo bias. There was at least one notable exception in the form of Bob Chipman (a.k.a. Moviebob), but he is often derided for being a Nintendo fanboy, which is ridiculous because there are way better angles from which one could lodge criticism at him. Outside of their sphere, Nintendo’s games seem to be popular targets for detractors – especially when one gets universal critical acclaim. In any of those cases, I blame their fans as well for refusing to think for themselves.

      Yeah, I have to admit I haven’t really looked back on Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a favorable impression these days either. I don’t think the game is bad (hence why I didn’t consider it for my answer), but it really wasn’t that much of an improvement over Melee, and in many ways, it was worse. With Melee, I always found myself coming back for more, but with Brawl, I ended up getting bored of it relatively quickly. That tripping mechanic was just plain stupid; it doesn’t add anything to the game, and you could lose simply because of bad luck. I heard the Wii-U/3DS edition of Smash Bros. was a major improvement, though I haven’t quite gotten around to playing it.


  4. Interesting take on the matter. I know where you are coming from, but for some reason I can’t think of any examples of works I used to like but that I dislike nowadays. I am sure there must be at least one, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. District 9 I still consider a great film, but far from perfect. I can still enjoy it. It’s way above garbage like Jupiter Ascending. I mean, again, Blade Runner 2049 I thought was pretentious, boring nonsense, the same goes for the Dark Knight Rises, which I think is horrendous. Nolan has since improved things a bit!

    In terms of games I think the tedious hype surrounding any GTA title isn’t worthwhile. I can’t stand the Bayonetta games, either, but then appreciate it’s not aimed at me. Mass Effect 2 is moronic, but I appreciate the effort. BUT! FFVII is still golden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I won’t dispute that; even from the the review I saw of it, I could tell Jupiter Ascending was terrible. District 9 at least has a few things that resemble redeeming qualities.

      Yeah, Nolan seemed to hit something of a rough patch for awhile there, but he really managed to bounce back with Dunkirk.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Double Dragon on the Amstrad CPC. Back when I was a kid I replayed it loads of times with friends and family. Looking at it now I don’t know what I was thinking. The game has barely any sound and moves ridiculously slow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I looked at footage of it on YouTube just now; it looks pretty awful. I think back then, we were so impressed that we could get the arcade experience on any home console that we let the unpolished ports slide. Nowadays, there’s no reason to go back to them considering that for a lot of those games, we can easily download the original version easily enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Opinion paradoxes?? *mind blown* 🙂

    I can’t really think of something I’ve grown to hate. If I replayed a few games I loved as a kid, I wouldn’t be surprised if my opinion on some of them has changed. It’s very neat how we change over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s fair enough. Even today, I don’t think I could say that (unlike District 9) I outright hate Pac-Man 2, but I’m willing to look past any nostalgia value and declare it one of the worst games I played back then, though I’d say the NES Friday the 13th and Quest for Camelot managed to edge it out in terms of sheer badness. I think it’s difficult to outright hate something you once liked unless it’s particularly extreme example.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mortal Kombat 2. As a kid, I was big into the hype of it. My parents wouldn’t let me have it in the house, but for whatever reason had no problem with me playing it in the arcades or at friend’s places, so that made it seem like forbidden fruit, and it was huge on spectacle, and to my child eyes, seemed a contemporary with the other fighting games out at the time. But I come back to it later, and although I still have a lot of love for the spectacle and a weird enjoyment of their 3D games, now that the forbidden fruit and the violence aren’t a factor anymore, it was waaaaaaay behind all the japanese fighting games coming out at the time.

    Same with Earthworm Jim. A game I really enjoyed when I was a kid, although it’s still pretty creative and has good gameplay variety, a lot of it is just a pain now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have heard that the first few Mortal Kombat games really haven’t stood the test of time. Back then, there was indeed that forbidden fruit appeal given that many parents likely forbade their kids from playing it, making it all the more enticing. Indeed, the idea of digitized actors fighting and killing each other in gruesome ways really pushed the envelope back then. Nowadays, people discovering it for the first time are going to be judging it on the merits of whether or not it’s a good game, as the novelty has long since worn off. All in all, there is a reason why the history books tend to give more credit to Street Fighter II and a lot of SNK’s output over Mortal Kombat – even if they acknowledge the latter’s status as a cultural phenomenon.

      Earthworm Jim still has quite fanbase to this day. Maybe I’ll try those games out to see how well they hold up, though I’ve found one has to be wary around cult classics because they may have reached that level of admiration simply by having all of the potential detractors move on or otherwise be uninterested in commenting on them.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.