Densetsu no Kusoge: a game designed to hurt you

The discussion of “bad games” on the internet is somewhat frustrating. As gamers have this weird expectation that making games is “simple, actually,” it leads to people dismissing the developers to be lazy. It’s absolutely not true, because it takes a lot of effort and work to make something “bad,” let alone “good.”

There’s also the fact to consider that a lot of these bad games are weighed down by mismanagement. The 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game is regarded as a huge piece of shit and a blow against the franchise (though to be fair, people that hate Sonic say that about everything related to Sonic), but what’s typically ignored is that the development team got split up partway through development and the game got rushed on top of that. In hindsight, I don’t think the developers deserved so much grief when they were dealt a terrible hand.

In my honest opinion? The only truly bad game I’ve played was YIIK: A Postmodern RPG in that the developers sincerely thought they were onto something when the game is actually awful on a fundamental gameplay and writing level, while also taking three extra years to rethink their mistakes and not fixing any of them. Fuck you Allansons.

However, some bad games rise above the pack to gain some kinda cult following status. Maybe it’s because a game approaches a “so bad it’s good” category that people can’t help but love it. Maybe a community recognizes the potential of a game and view it as a monument of what could have been. Maybe it’s because playing bad games is good content fodder and people love to see suffering. For me, it’s because I love to suffer through bad things. It’s a form of self-harm that doesn’t involve me hurting myself and I think breaking myself works as a good coping mechanism. Is it healthy? I dunno, therapists are expensive.

But sometimes, there’s some people that try to make intentional shit games to inflict suffering on the world.

Densetsu no Kusoge (Legendary Shitgame) is an RPG Maker game made by Ratty524, named after a fan nickname for Hoshi Wo Miru Hito (STARGAZERS). Hoshi Wo Miru Hito is a science-fiction themed Famicom JRPG, which would have been interesting for its time if it weren’t weighed down by… everything else. Densetsu no Kusoge is essentially a tribute to that game and all of its flaws.

You play as a child with psychic powers that’s inexplicably named FECES regardless of what you name them. Also, FECES doesn’t actually start out with powers. Anyway, the United States Congress has usurped the President and taken over the world, and honestly, I wish that first part came true. FECES heads out to save the President’s daughter since the role of President is somehow hereditary, so hey, maybe it’s a good thing the presidency was deposed.

Densetsu no Kusoge is a pain to play for many reasons, but let’s start out with how it feels. While a universal timer ticks down in the corner of the screen, you move at a horribly sluggish pace. Adding on to that, almost all the messages in the game have a horrendous text speed that inflicts pain on me. Most of these text boxes come in when you trigger random events, so you never know when you’re about to have your time wasted.

Earlier, I said that it takes a lot of work to make a bad game. In this instance, a lot of work was put into making the game intentionally bad. The base RPG Maker VX Ace is rather rigid and requires scripts to create something more open. However, Densetsu no Kusoge instead uses scripts to fucking break everything.

Not only do you move slow, but you’re essentially on tank controls, as “up” moves your forward and the “left and right” keys just rotates you around. In battle, numbers make no fucking sense. An enemy will attack you for around 200 damage when you actually take, like, 10 damage. This may be to ape how Hoshi Wo Miru Hito‘s HP displays infamously condense to the tenths digit, but also, I don’t know how the hell you make the battle system just lie to you. It’s both frustrating and mystifying.

Besides fucking around to feel bad to play, Densetsu no Kusoge follows in the footsteps of its inspiration to have bad game design. There are random encounters, but the encounter table is just fucked. Maybe you’re lucky and get in a battle with a slime, which does not attack at all but takes forever to kill. Maybe you wind up in a battle with a Wyvern or two that will paralyze you and just stunlock you to death. Or maybe you get in a fight with a slime that actually does attack you for more than half your health per hit to throw you for a loop. Oh yeah, and not only does your attack do only one or two damage at the start, but your accuracy is just abysmal and the escape option doesn’t work. Cool!

All of this makes playing the game a trial in luck where you have to savescum and hope for good encounters as you slowly traverse the map. Hopefully you get a random chance of getting potions and hopefully they’re not mimics.

It also goes without saying, but the music and art are terrible. However, I admire the art because it goes out of the way to be terrible in different ways. The battle sprites range from bad MS Paint drawings, normal RPG Maker sprite, RPG Maker sprite that’s stretched horizontally for no reason, deep fried art, etc. I salute this Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff-esque commitment.

I tried my best to power through Densetsu no Kusoge. After almost half an hour of playing later, I ended up in the game’s first town – and then I succumbed to despair when it turned out that towns also had random encounters, which kept slaughtering me before I could get healed.

What really made me give up on the game though is the game overs. In adapting a bunch of bad game elements, Densetsu no Kusoge also adopts the genuinely bad one of deaths being flashing lights and loud static. I hate it. It gives me headaches, and with how often you’ll die playing this game, you’ll be getting a lot of headaches. If there was to be a sincere “fix” for this game, this should probably be fixed so that epileptic people can suffer through the game like everyone else.

If you’re one of those people that find bad games fascinating, Densetsu no Kusoge is a work of art, a monument to all that is bad. It takes a lot of work to make something that’s bad – it’s just that this game intentionally aimed to do so. If you’re going to play it though, well, keep that serious epilepsy warning in mind.

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