Jim Power: Why bad games are good

The lure of interesting games overrides the stink of bad ones

Okay... look. There's no way to dance around this. There's no way to sugar-coat the inevitable. Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D is a load of old shit. Sorry, but it is. It's an almost completely inept piece of game design, distracted from by a parade of visuals that focus on the large and impressive over the practical. It's not the worst game in the world by a long, long shot - in fact, were I reviewing it, I'd probably give it a five; bang average.

Here's the thing about my standards, they're low. That sounds bad, doesn't it? I see it another way. I say this not to elevate myself in any way, or to say that anyone should deign to feel the same way as me, but I think there is a general culture of negativity around gaming. Frighteningly, it's also particular to classic gaming. I'm repeating myself to some extent, but I blame the likes of Game Grumps for their frankly cruel dismissal of perfectly alright video games as "garbage". Games I've talked about before on here and elsewhere - Alfred Chicken, Cool Spot, etc; the sixes, the sevens out of ten. If you ain't Mario, though, you're hot garbage. And at the risk of sounding a bit aggressive, that's not really on.

Jim Power, then, is a game I feel very strongly about; strongly enough to do the tired game journo "[name of game], then" cliché, even. Because while it is - and I quote myself a mere few words ago - a load of old shit, it's an interesting load of old shit. Think Ian Malcolm with the pile of triceratops excreta. I feel like I'm being excessively harsh here and undermining the point, but it's important to understand that a bad game is not always a game not worth playing. I think Jim Power is a bad game, and I would not hesitate to recommend you buy it immediately on Steam, Switch, Xbox, whatever. Maybe not Switch, actually. I have to advise you not to buy that version. Sorry, QUbyte, Piko, or whoever, but you didn't do a good enough job with this. The Switch version's sound emulation is all wonky, like it's not being emulated properly. Insult to injury, too, because the QUbyte branding is obnoxious as hell and all over the place.

The PC is the way to go, and here's why - not only is it better-emulated, but you also get more versions of the game. The Switch and presumably Xbox versions feature "16-bit" and "8-bit" options, which are the SNES port and the new NES port that was Kickstartered for a physical cart relatively recently. On PC, though, on Steam, you get not only those but also the unreleased Mega Drive version of the game, as well as the DOS port which is the second-best one of the lot and a lot fairer than any of the other below it. Best of the lot though - not particularly shockingly - is the new NES port, which is an actively alright game; a six out of ten, a translation of a really messy, dodgy old "classic" that someone obviously loved to death.

And that's what resonates with me about Jim Power. It's an almost complete failure, but it was cared about it enough to meticulously design some fascinating sprites and push some radical effects out of its host systems. For that reason and mostly that reason alone, I sincerely recommend you check out Jim Power on Steam and explore something of a rabbit hole. A game that got essentially years of updates (the Mega Drive version was added to Steam after a long time) and a brand new, bespoke 8-bit version made of it... and it's Jim Power. Jim Power!!

Jim Power!!!