October Community Game-Along: Kusoge

Deadly Premonition Screenshot

Ah October, a time of pumpkin spice lattes and spooky decor! This used to be my favorite time of year when I lived in a country that actually celebrated these things, but now I have to satisfy myself with shrimp on the barbie or some other appropriately Aussie thing whenever the holiday season rolls around.

But I digress! October would be the perfect time to do another horror-themed Community Game-Along like I did last year, but I thought it would be fun to shake things up with a different kind of horror this time. That horror is… kusoge! Literally “shit game” in Japanese, kusoge can range from unplayable garbage to diamond-in-the-rough titles that have some unpolished aspects but shine in other areas.

You know the drill by now – play a game that fits the theme, and you’re participating in a Community Game-Along! Of course, for everyone to know you’re participating, please use #kusogemonth on social media to share your experiences/impressions of your chosen turd. It’s much more fun if we laugh/cry together!

The nature of kusoge make them very hard to define, but I want to be clear that this is all intended to be tongue-and-cheek, so don’t be offended if one of your favorite games shows up! Here are a range of titles that all could qualify for the kusoge theme for different reasons:

Valhalla Knights 3 screenshot red light district

Valhalla Knights 3 (PS Vita) – I think Valhalla Knights is a series that really owns the “kusoge” moniker. Three titles in and they somehow continue to get made, despite pretty lackluster reception and sales. Valhalla Knights 3 is an RPG like its predecessors, but its claim to fame is a “sexy time” mini-game where you poke and prod girls in the fantasy red light district for better gear. Apparently the game’s combat is a redeeming point if you can stomach the poor presentation and meandering storyline.

The Last Rebellion screenshot

Last Rebellion (PS3) – Last Rebellion earns a very special mention for actually claiming the title of Kusoge of the Year in 2010 (yes, that’s a real thing). This RPG was developed by Nippon Ichi Software, but unlike its popular Disgaea series of strategy games, Last Rebellion featured more action-oriented combat. I don’t really know much else about this generic-looking JPRG aside from the fact that it was apparently so bad the president of NIS America apologized for releasing it in English.

Deadly Premonition Squirrels

Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – Discussions of kusoge almost always mention Deadly Premonition, a title that has developed a strong cult following despite receiving many negative reviews upon release. The surreal, Twin Peaks-inspired title may not have the best graphics or gameplay, but it made up for its limitations with unprecedented style and atmosphere. If you’ve been a member of PlayStation Plus for any amount of time, you may already have a free copy of this one in your library, making it one of the more accessible titles on this month’s list. It also doubles as being a good title to play for the spooky month of October!

Time and Eternity screenshot

Time & Eternity (PS3) – I don’t really know anything about this one aside from the fact that Elliot Gay will probably never recover from the trauma of playing it.

Hometown Story screenshot

HomeTown Story (3DS, iOS) – It pains my heart to include a title by Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada on this list, but all signs to Hometown Story being kusoge. Wada created this game to spread happiness, but it apparently only spreads frustration. The gameplay revolves around managing the shop you inherit from your deceased grandmother, with different events unlocking as you tend to the store. With limited features and unclear conditions on how to progress forward in the game, it left a lot of Harvest Moon fans very unhappy.

So, what will you be playing this month? A kusoge with some redeemable qualities, or a game that’s just plain shit? I’m going to continue my playthrough of Nier, which, while maybe not the kuso-est of ge, surely fits in the category due to its wonky controls and lackluster graphics.

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.