Diehard GameFAN Hall of Shame Nomination: MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch
Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: Gotham Games
Release Date: 10/14/2003
System Released On: Windows, Playstation, Playstation 2, Xbox
Genre: 3D Fighting

Who Nominated The Game: When I think about the worst games in my collection, this is one of the first if not the first game I think of every time. (Except maybe until I bought a copy of Leisure Suite Larry: Box Office Bust. I’ll never forgive myself for that.) When my turn came to nominate a game, it was the first thing that popped in my head.

Why Was It Nominated: I remember watching MTV far more than I’d like to admit when I was a teenager. Yes, I watched TRL. A lot of us did. We were so young as Carson Daley was so damned charismatic that we couldn’t help it. Forgive us.

Anyway, even back then actual music videos were a hard thing to come by. Instead, MTV filled up time slots with The Real World, Road Rules, Daria, and Celebrity Deathmatch. While I never watched the former two, the latter were a couple of my personal favorites. CD in particular was something I found no end in amusement it. There were wacky storylines, absolutely bizarre uses of clay, and the odd appearance of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who would build a time machine so the Stooges could finally battle it out to the death. I have nothing but fond memories of the show.

A video game seemed like a perfect idea. All you needed was a bunch of celebrities, a halfway decent fighting engine, and the show’s cast. However, the developer behind the game turned out to be the geniuses behind Simpson’s Wrestling, and the publisher’s biggest prior release seems to have been Austin Powers Pinball. Oh dear.

More to the point, the game came out a couple of years after the show ended its run, making it as untimely as hell.

Now, you might wonder why I would even bother nominating a licensed game. We all know that few few exceptions, they all suck. Shouldn’t the Hall be reserved for games that had a chance to be good, but ended is disaster? I say no. Even among licensed titles, there are games that are shocking in their lack of quality. I’ve played a lot of games, and the list of games that are worse than this is very short indeed.

But in either case, let’s find out if my fellow staffers agreed with me. Does Celebrity Deathmatch earn a shot in the Hall of Shame?

All in Favor:

Aaron Sirois – When we were tasked with coming up with nominations for this column, there were a lot of truly bad games that popped into my head. For some reason, Celebrity Deathmatch was the primary example I came up with.

You may remember the show. It was a fun and silly series that ran on MTV back from 1998 to about 2002. The game came out in late 2003, so it was after the show was canceled. By then, all of the game’s jokes were dated, as they relied on current events. You can see where the troubles start immediately.

They did manage to get a relatively sizable amount of celebrities in the game, but most of them are in the C class with only a couple rising to B status. They are also dated. They have ‘N SNYC in there, despite the fact that the band had broken up and Justin Timberlake was a solo star. Both Mr. T and Carrot Top are shilling 1-800-Collect, and the game has Cleo. I barely even remembered who she was.

OK. So the celebrity roster kind of sucks. What about the gameplay? Well, it is nothing more than a button mashing fest in an arena fighting style. Those are two huge things going against the game already. Celebrities use bizarre attacks that seem to go for laughs rather than usefulness. Ron Jeremy has attacks that don’t seem to do anything, while Timberlake farts music notes that are usually going in the wrong direction. The controls are stiff, and the action boring. Even if you laugh at a gag, such as the camera peeling away as Jeremy is clearly using his member to smack someone around, you’ll get bored because the game repeats these gags over and over again. Fights don’t even last that long, barely taking over a minute. I was so bored, I thought I’d turn up the difficulty, but I went into the options and saw that I had already done that. On the hardest setting, I was sleeping through the matches!

The worst thing the game does is completely crap out when it comes to amount of content. You can only fight in one on one matches, with Episode mode seemingly giving you context. However, there are only about twenty fights, and they don’t take long to beat. I beat everything, unlocked everything, and finished the game in barely over an hour. So, not only the game bad to begin with, it screws the player over. Even the create-a-celebrity option can’t save the game, as you can only have one on the memory card and the options are pathetic.

In short, the game sucks on every level, craps on a good license, and robbed players of their time and money. You want to know how bad this game is? Even Gamespot gave it a 2.8. When “average” for them is something around a 7.5. this should speak volumes.

And that’s why it deserves a spot in the Hall of Shame, if only as a representative for every crappy license game that ever existed. (Cause honestly, we could fill the hall with games like that in about ten seconds if we tried.)

Ashe Collins – Talk about too little and way too late. Not only did this game handle poorly but it came out long after the show it was based on was canceled, which isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, but when you can’t be bothered to keep your jokes and celebrities current, it’s going to hurt your game. Speaking of celebs in this, they really dropped the ball on who to have in it. It was like the people they decided NOT to have on the show for varying reasons got put into the game.

That makes as much sense to me as using discarded story modes for wrestling games because they sucked that bad. Oh, wait, they’ve done that too. Thankfully I only rented this one once upon a time and I do believe it went back that same night.

All Opposed:

Mark B. – So, it’s like this.

I own Celebrity Deathmatch for the PS2. I mean, I own a lot of bad games (three large tupperware boxes of them are taking up space in my storage closet as we speak) because they’re cheap to acquire from most game retailers, mind you, but the point is that I OWN Celebrity Deathmatch, and as such, have spent a decent amount of time playing it. Mr. J. Rose and I spent a weekend goofing around with it when I first acquired it, generally just trying to see if there was anything terribly redeeming about the product whatsoever, before it found its way into storage and was mostly forgotten about.

I bring this up because, for the life of me, I can’t remember a damn thing about the game.

Now, I’ve played a lot of terrible games in my time, so OF COURSE it might be hard to remember a terrible game on demand, especially considering I’m thirty one years old at this point, and my memory is basically shot anyway. But I can easily rattle off reasons why I think most of the games in the previous Playing the Lame columns I’ve written were terrible pieces of shit, and I can easily rattle off ten games I’ve played in the past, say, fifteen years that are colossal dung heaps and exactly why with little provocation… but I cannot, even after a week spend wracking my brain, think of ANYTHING to say about Celebrity Deathmatch, a game I own and have played more than three times.

I’m… going to say that this is a good indication that whatever the game does isn’t so terrible that it needs to be immortalized in this fashion, especially when I can remember whole sections of BMX XXX.

Result: 2 in Favor, 1 Opposed =SPARED (Not enough votes)

Conclusion: Well this is what happens when not enough people vote on a nominated game. As it turns out, almost no one on the staff has played this atrocity. (Lucky them.) If anything it shows how hard it might be for other licensed games to make the cut, seeing how most of us seem to have enough sense to give these kinds of game a wide berth.

Next Week: A popular turn based strategy series jumped ship the PS2 and changed gameplay styles when it did so. Will the resulting backlash be enough to put it into the Hall of Shame?

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