Gotta go with the first game to come to mind. I just bought it again for Halloween after losing it in a red-ringed 360 years ago. I could have come up with a way cooler answer. It’s pretty uncool.
It’s Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
Yeah, the character designs (especially the humans) are almost offensively bland, the comic strip cutscenes come off as a time-constrained compromise, the character voices are Rareware farts and screeches taken to breaking point and the story is a hacky facsimile (the butler did it!) BUT…I appreciate the pork-fisted punch ups and REALLY like the environments. Most of the rooms are rendered with soft, haunted lighting, hand-painted shadows and spooky splashes of colour. And they’re jammed and crammed with clutter and bustable knicks knacks that ground the atmosphere in a way that feels…hangoutable. For me. It’s stuffed with self-referential debris as well (Conker, Killer Instinct, Banjo, Sabrewulf…)
In a lot of ways (groan-worthy innuendo-based ”humour”) it’s the most Rareware of games, but in a lot of ways it’s not. This was the big sign (if Star Fox Adventures wasn’t enough of a hint) that Rareware were on a downward slide. It’s a modest game by their standards, a compromised game that started on the Gamecube and was painfully ported to XBox and rushed out the door significantly downsized (there’s a grotesque creature you meet at one point, behind bars and seeming to allude to a future confrontation that never happens. Likewise for the intended penultimate boss who just kicks it in a cutscene after clearly being built up as a future battle throughout the game).
It came out two months after I put 2,742 miles between myself and my hometown to start college and a month after my 18th birthday. My taste in video games was changing. I was bummed about Rareware’s moving to Microsoft and really wasn’t feeling their last few titles (in my mind, this was another exercise in Nintendo Shadowing (Super Mario 64 > Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Kart 64 > Diddy Kong Racing, Ocarina of Time > Star Fox Adventures, M̶e̶t̶r̶o̶i̶d̶ ̶6̶4̶ ̶>̶ ̶J̶e̶t̶ ̶F̶o̶r̶c̶e̶ ̶G̶e̶m̶i̶n̶i̶, Luigi’s Mansion > Grabbed by the Ghoulies). This one though, it felt like a postcard from a friend who was staying back home, settling for something that maybe was less than they deserved. A heartfelt goodbye from a station platform (laced with an in-side joke) drowned out by the locomotive of Next-Gen. It doesn’t feel like a lonely game but it feels like a game that is lonely. Like, no one hangs out with it but it could really use a friend to play with and it’s actually quite nice despite being a total dork.
Gameplay-wise, yeah, it’s a Brawler for Babies (intermittently injected with Baby’s First QTEs). The input is underwhelmingly simplistic and rather frictionless BUT the impact of attacks is quite satisfying, be it a garlic gun to the face of a chicken, a boot to the bum of a ninja Jinjo or fast food flung into the face of a zombie pirate. The whole game has foodfight slumber party pillow war energy. The environment is a much more interesting weapon than your limited moveset. It’s good dumb fun.
And that’s my little love letter to a goofy game that started as nothing more than an uncle joke of a title referring to the seizure of one’s testicles.
Why is this a game I’d like everyone to play? Because that would be hilarious to think about, let alone watch. I don’t think many people would find it terribly interesting… I can’t defend it as, like, brain-tickling exciting gameplay, but those who might vibe with it, I raise the Ladle of Big Beatdowns to you.