So Bad It’s Good Friday — Ride to Hell: Retribution

Welcome to So Bad It’s Good Fridays. Everybody knows about great movies, games, and books and what makes them so great, but what makes a great bad movie, game, or book? First up?

This seems like a good idea.

This game released quietly two years ago. In fact, when it came out, I wasn’t even aware of it. But then people started getting their hands on it and saying what a HUGE, epic fail it is. I watched a short preview and though, There is no way on earth this could be real. I mean, I have played bad games. (One day I will write about the absolute worst game I’ve ever played, but we’ll keep that in mind for a future post.) But I’ve never seen something that failed so magnificently at everything it did that it was actually kind of beautiful.

I had to play it. Call me a masochist. I played it on PC. Call me a dumbass.

The game stars this guy:

This guy’s name is Jake, I think, but I’m just going to call him Bubbles for his bubbly personality. When the game starts, we know absolutely nothing about him, because somebody thought it would be a really good idea to start off with a turret section that segues into a montage of madness.

You have to make a small sacrifice to the developers (I’m too lazy to look up their name) to make it through this section, because if the game thinks you’re not that into it or that you won’t call it in the morning, you’ll randomly die. This is where I immediately regretted choosing PC to play, because the PC controls are like trying to pee in the woods while blindfolded. By the way, you can’t change the controls, you can barely change the screen settings.

Anyway, after that . . . thing that passes for an introduction, we finally settle down into some building with Bubbles sitting there, bobbing his head like he’s listening to some hardcore rap, yo. Echoes of gunshots are heard, as well as voices, I think, the audio mixing is shit so you can’t tell. I think this signifies that he’s having some kind of Vietnam flashback? This game apparently takes place after the Vietnam War, but other than this weird insight into Bubbles’ psyche, it’s never mentioned again.

I’m actually glad that this game doesn’t give any deep insights into the tragedies and consequences of war, because . . . I mean, did you watch that video?

So Bubbles reunites with his uncle and brother, and this is where I absolutely broke down into laughter. I laughed so hard, I broke into tears.

You have to see it to believe it.

This is when I knew, this was going to be the best experience of my life.

After some shit with your brother running away because he wants to go see bands (no, seriously), you get into some trouble with some guys that look like half-assed Pixar models. One of them has an Irish accent because . . . One of them sounds like his testicles are in a vice as he asks your brother whether he’s ever “skinned the ear off’n a baby cow.”

I . . . I have no words for that.

These guys apparently don’t like the fact that your jacket’s cooler than theirs, so they chase you, even though the game makes it seem like you’re racing. Then, even though you get ahead, they somehow ambush you at a gas station. Not a 7/11, so you can’t even get a slushy for your woes.

After some more weird transitions and meaningless dialogue, your brother gets killed (BUBBLES’ BROTHER, NOOOOOOOO! HE CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO THE STORY WITH HIS WANTING TO SEE BANDS AND BEING A TALL SACK OF SHIT!) and you get shot . . . I think. I mean, it shows BB gun pellets hitting you somewhere, and you falling. The screen goes black and white like a David Lynch film, and then . . . you’re somehow back on your feet. Just fine. With no bullet wounds. Because reasons.

After that the thing that tries to justify this games existence just devolves into some revenge plot where you look for the guys who killed your brother. I don’t want to “spoil” any of the truly outrageous WTF moments because describing them with words won’t do it justice (though there’s two parts that need to be addressed, it NEEDS to). You will laugh. You will laugh so hard you cry. And then you will just cry, because you know you might never experience anything of this magnitude ever again.

Let’s talk about the game play, which is about as well executed as everything else I’ve told you about so far. It has two sections: biking and shooting. Your bike controls like you’re driving on an ice rink that’s being pulled by a magnet. If you even think about turning around, the game fades to black like you’re being swallowed into some void where the only way out is to drive into the light. Also, you have to go straight. There are no turns, no stop lights, and no cops. Occasionally, there will be guys you need to smack with your wrench, which I guess is your signature weapon. There’s actually an animation where you stab a guy (with your wrench), then smack his head against the bike handle, then twist the knife, then twist his neck, so you know Bubbles is no pussy.

Pictured: not a pussy.

Why are these sections in the game, you ask? Funny story, actually. At one point, this was supposed to be an open world game where you can ride your bike anywhere, participate in races, and all that jazz. Well, along the way, the developers realized that nobody got time for dat and decided to just make this weird Frankenstein’s monster of a game that isn’t quite open-world and isn’t quite linear either. You can see some of their open-world assets in some of the buildings that you can’t interact with. There are also levels that are big and open that have nothing to do in them. I guess the developers were too lazy to fix all that stuff. MAKING LEVELS IS HARD, GUIZE.

So the shooting. Oh, Lord, the shooting. It’s just sad. The guns sound like a child’s impersonation of what a gun would sound like. The act of pointing and shooting takes much more work than is necessary. With those big, beefy arms, you would think Bubbles would have a better handle on a gun, but it practically takes that malformed arm off its socket every time he pulls the trigger. Goons can take cover, and you can take cover, but I’ll be damned if any of it actually works. Sometimes the little pea bullets go through stone and wood like magic. The goons don’t duck, so much as fling themselves to the side like their trying to be a superhero and fly. There is hand-to-hand combat, but screw all that. The style is like the Batman Arkham games if Rocksteady decided programming was just too hard and life was meaningless. But like I said, forget it. Get a gun and shoot them in the head, if you can manage. The goons will sometimes stand there like they’ve never heard of the saying, “bringing a fist to a gunfight” or something like that. So you can take your time offing them while march helplessly forward.

Guys, I’m starting to see a trend here. The bike can only move forward. The goons can only move forward. Even controlling Bubbles, it’s like he refuses to stray from the path. If you go back, you’re sucked into a black hole of nothing, seeing nothing. You can only move ahead in a straight line.

I think I’ve figured out the meaning, guys. I know its secret — the ULTIMATE TRUTH.

THIS GAYME WAS MAID BY ETCH-A-SKETCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IT’S OBVIOUS.

There are two more things that need to be addressed before I end this. The first is an example of a typical level you’ll find in the game.

So at some point in the story you come across an electric fence. Bubbles radios his uncle and tells him of his important dilemma. “What are you going to do?” His uncle asks. Bubbles smiles and says, “I think I have an idea.”

OK, I thought.

So Bubbles runs across the street where he sees a truck and some truck workers. He proceeds to murder everyone because asking nicely is for pussies, and Bubbles is no pussy.

Still not a pussy.

Bubbles climbs into the truck and drives. Not across the street where I assumed he’d just drive through the fence.

Me: Bubbles, where are we going?

Bubbles: Watch and see. *Puts on his glasses.

The police start chasing you and blow up upon impact because Bubbles just exudes too much man for them. The driving section here feels like it takes two hours, like going on a real road trip and the AC is broken. Finally, just when you think you’ve exterminated all of the cops in WTFsville, you park the truck at an electric plant.

Me: Um . . . why are we here?

Bubbles: GO GO GO, THE TIMER’S STARTED!

Me: Why is there a timer? Is something going to explode?

Bubbles: DON’T RUIN THE SURPRISE!

Bubbles Not-A-Pussy murders all of the electric plant workers on his way to the other side of the building. He aims his gun, points at the truck, fires a few million times, and then the truck explodes. The explosion somehow goes behind him as he flings himself into the water in slow motion. There are no survivors.

Bubbles drives all the way back to the now un-electrified fence.

Bubbles: Problem solved!

Me: Wow, that was needlessly complicated. And stupid.

Bubbles: But hilarious!

He got me there.

At another point, you’ll encounter a woman being harassed by some fat guy in a parking lot. After murdering the guy, the screen fades to black. I’m assuming the woman knocked you out and took your money because that sounds like something I would do.

Instead, when you come to, this happens:

I don’t even know if I can say anything else about this. I wouldn’t even know where to start. All I can tell you is that this happens every time you meet a woman. Because:

Always.

So that’s Ride to Hell: Retribution in a nutshell. It’s poorly executed, it’s boring to play, and it’s a nirvana of bad dialogue, story, editing, graphics, level design, box art, trailers, PR men, developer, publisher, manual, just . . . It just does NOTHING right.

And that’s why I secretly love it. I mean, how can you not? This game is a miracle in that it exists at all, and because it exists, it makes the world a slightly better place.

Have you played this game? What did you think?

Also, if there is any type of entertainment you want me to talk about for So Bad It’s Good Friday, then feel free to tell me about it. I love watching, playing, and reading anything that inspires hilarity and joy.

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