“kusoge” and “bakage”

Much like any specific terminology, kusoge and bakage aren’t really terms you need to talk about games.  On the other hand, a convenient shorthand for “The Japanese think this game is terrible or stupid” is handy.  So what’s the hallmarks of this kind of game?

Spelunker is a pretty typical cave exploration game - mostly notable for the fact that the hero dies from the tiniest of falls.

Well, typically a kusoge is a game that has a terrible feature or features.  Usually it’s a low budget game or an early one with fumbling attempts to figure out gameplay conventions.  Hoshi wo Miru Hito is a common reference for kusoge.  It’s slow, badly programmed, unfair, hard on the eyes, unpleasant to play, and doesn’t give you many rewards for trying to advance the game.  Spelunker is another popular example, mostly due to the fact that you can die terribly easily from slight falls.  Cheetahman, a NES un-liscensed game with a catchy tune, has had remixes playing in dance clubs, even though the game is horrible.  Bakage is commonly used for games with ridiculous elements.  Maten Densetsu: Senritsu no O-parts is a 1995 SNES RPG.  The basic plot is that Japan floated up into space suddenly one day, and the people are still living on the country above the earth.

Maten Densetsu reminds me of the 1980's cyperpunk look in series like Shadowrun. It's an interesting art style.

From an academic point of view, these games are interesting.  Since people feel passionately about them, you can often find tips about bugs and problems in the game online.  (There is, in fact, a website documenting every bugged monster you can run into in Maka Maka.)  Many terrible games have a curious sort of charm about them.  Hoshi wo Miru Hito has flashes of the chilling dystopian future it’s trying to show you.  Maten Densetsu has a ridiculous plot, but a pretty interesting art style.  Maka Maka is a buggy mess, but, much like watching a bad movie, there’s an inclination to keep playing it.

  1. yukie’s avatar

    My mind immediately went to that evil-as-hell Getsu Fuuma-den game that one guy could absolutely not finish. I mean, come on Konami. There’s difficult (Castlevania III/Akumajou Densetsu) and then there’s SADISM.

  2. Rav’s avatar

    Maten no Soumetsu is a good example of difficult to the point of being ridiculous. That was that Genesis RPG where you lost half your health in walking to the first town. There’s a NES RPG that has weird enemy distribution. Basically, your first level grinding is done via circling exactly around the first town. Go two steps away, and you’ll probably die due to difficulty. Eventually, I’ll probably talk about that game, but it’s tedious to level up to get more interesting shots of the game.


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