Every month, EGM gives me a stack of terrible games. Games about bunny grooming, vampire mysteries, nude racing… If you throw out a random combination of words, I’ve almost certainly hated it on my Nintendo Wii. And that’s exactly what I was doing this month until I came upon something special—a game so bad, it demanded my full attention. A game that makes the Jonestown Massacre look like a diversity rally. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chuck E. Cheese’s Gameroom.
A FAITHFUL ADAPTATION
There’s no easy way to adapt the Chuck E. Cheese’s experience into a DS game. Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza tastes like an unfortunate side effect of testing tampons on animals, and their games have been peed on so many times that the entire restaurant is legally zoned as a public restroom. And all this would be horrible enough, but while you’re eating weaponized cholera, a clanky robot band watches you the whole time. When Saw was first released in theaters, Chuck E. Cheese’s employees thought it was a training video.
So how do you capture that in a game? The developers had no idea, so they made a Chuck E. Cheese’s game the same way they make the actual Chuck E. Cheese— they trapped the 13 stupidest, most confused things they could find inside a mouse suit and shoved it out the door. It’s 13 minigames that fail in 13 fantastically different directions. Let’s take a look!
Chuck E. Cheese’s bowling is special in that it contains no physics. And I don’t mean that as a criticism of its physics engine—I mean that it has no physics. When you touch the ball, it goes straight down the lane and clears a narrow trail through the pins. The pins don’t bounce or move; they flop directly down and stay there. You get the same impossible split every frame—every single frame. Hitler was a better bowling videogame than this.
PIANO AND ORGAN
In Piano and Organ, you’re given an octave of keyboard keys to poke. What’s strange is that they forgot to include a game of any kind in this. You don’t normally see this level of disinterest in your child’s happiness outside the lead-paint industry.
The object here is to stop a slow-moving slot machine to match a picture. It seems too easy. Suspiciously too easy—almost as if they tuned it for the reflexes of children dying in some kind of game-testing dungeon. I’m not saying that’s what they did, but if they didn’t, there’s no satisfying explanation.
BUILD A CAR
Build a Car is awesome. You pick out five parts for your car, and hardly any of them are car parts. People try to kill Chuck E. Cheese wherever he goes for either revenge or pelts, so his car has to be ready for war. Wings, rayguns, rockets, drills, continuous track treads—this engine of death will destroy his enemies. Unfortunately, it seems like there was kind of an internal argument halfway through development: The soundtrack to your savage war garage is seven looped seconds of Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2,” and when you unleash your abomination, it gently drives past a beautiful city park and nothing else. I feel like someone walked in and said, “Wait, are you building a tank?! We hired you to make something that pasteurizes breast milk! Never mind—this can be both.”
Coloring Book is exactly what you expect—an opportunity to draw 12 different colors of dongs in the hands of monster mascots. The extensive coloring tools feature both a crayon and an eraser, and when you’re done coloring, you can hit the “DID IT!” button. Maybe this was supposed to display your artwork or animate something, but right now, it literally only takes away your ability to color. You have to admit, it’s some pretty inventive failure to screw up “Coloring Book.”
It’s a train carrying cheeseburgers that you can’t control, but you can watch for as long as you want. It’s less fun than it sounds, though.
Spotting the differences between the mundane details of two pictures is the perfect way to coax the autism out of your child. But there’s a problem with games this simple: the inflated sense of self-worth that comes from this accomplishment. Once a kid knows he can spot the difference between a chicken in a hat and a chicken, he’ll strut around like he owns the place. That’s why Chuck E. Cheese’s Gameroom has taken all the accomplishment out of winning. Go ahead and pick the five differences between the pictures. Or, if you feel like it, poke five random areas. The game ends with the same shot of Chuck E. Cheese clapping either way. That’s right, kids—even Chuck E. Cheese has stopped paying attention to you.
Lead Chuck E. through the maze, but watch out for fun prizes like balloons and presents, because every single one of them is a trap…I think? The game seems to be upset with you if you stop to touch one, but there’s no time limit, no points, and nothing can kill you. Oh, my god! Just like the real Chuck E. Cheese! No wonder this game tries so hard to be miserable—trapped in a costume where no one can hear you scream, it was the only way Chuck E. Cheese could cry out for help.