This is a list of games that--be it aesthetically, thematically, or unintentionally--mimic or pay homage to the lovable genre of sloppy and cheaply produced but quirky and weird "second-rate" fantasy/ horror/ action films. They capture the feel of these films through use of controversial stylistic choices and mash-happy, uncomplicated gameplay. Much like their cinematic counterparts, these games shine best when they indulge in gratuitous bloodshed, caricatured characters, exploitative fanservice, laughably corny dialogue, or flat-out ridiculous premise--without shame or pretense of trying to do anything else. Often they're tasteless. Sometimes they don't know when to stop. Other times, they're just bizarre for the sake of it.
A few are actually polished and well-funded, while others are true to their low budge roots, but they're all worth checking if you like your games flavored like low-brow cinema. Some are definitely better than others as far as game design goes, but that's besides the point. I've ordered the games from the "campiest" to the least.
(Ironically these are mostly 360 exclusives and I don't even have one. That's what happens when I have a generous friend who is even a bigger gamer than me. I feel Shadows of the Damned and Duke Nukem Forever should be on this list but they're not out yet.)
You know the guys who bombard Godzilla (uselessly) with their lasers, missiles, and artillery in every movie? In this game you're one of them, defending Japan against Kaiju invaders. Except you're armed with super-weapons that are actually effective, battling a lot more than just Godzilla.
Bayonetta answers the question: What if B-Movies were expensively made but maintained their campy factor? Not my cup of tea, but I can't deny the brilliant game design at work here. Beneath all the deceptive muzzle-flash/ booty-flash lies combat that is deeper than most "serious" action titles.
Isn't the essence of Grindhouse 1/2 naked chicks, reload-free guns, sharper-than diamond blades, busted fire hydrant blood-sprays after clean decapitations, with bad plot and worse dialogue in between? Because this game is the very epitome of that. What more do you want?
Arguably the game that kicked off this gen's zombie frenzy, it's also one of the best in its genre. Few games come close to capturing the feel of the Living Dead films, but this game does so easily with a Japanese flair. The sandbox gamplay is liberating if you don't mind it being a bit... mindless.
Ever wanted to be a gravure-idol photographer who also played games with the photoshop-perfect ladies while they frolic on the beach wearing nothing but flimsy dental floss strings? Don't lie, you know you do. Even if you're a girl. Did I mention you help them form quasi-lesbian relationships?
Before Cavia made the ambitious beast that is Nier, they made this fun little throwaway game. Far less polished than the other witch game on this list, it's got some sexy, satisfying charm of its own. The ease of play and simple but cool weapons make this a much more "arcade" title.
If Onechanbara is the perfect Japanese Grindhouse game, Wet is the complementary American Grindhouse counterpart. Even more stylish, varied, and probably the better game, Wet is loaded with all sorts of cliched but dynamic gameplay mechanics that genre fans love seeing in action.
This game has a somewhat confused identity. Does it want to be serious or hilarious? Japanese or American? The next Ninja Gaiden, or the next God of War? Whatever it is, the results are certainly strange but enjoyable, and deserving of more attention than what it got at release: none whatsoever.
Like Wet but with more carnage/ debris and less acrobatics. However, Stranglehold came first and is a direct tribute to none other than the master of flying bullets and doves, John Woo. An American game, it lacks a true feel of a Hong Kong movie, but once the action kicks off it never lets up.
This game is best taken as nonstop hand-held documentary footage of 2 washed-up criminals on their last legs, blasting through the seedy underbelly of Shanghai in an attempt to escape the city over a course of 4hrs. Lacks variety, but the ambient atmosphere/ level design is wonderful.
Downright self-parody, this celebrity tie-in is actually decent (!). The plot is amusing in a stupid way, the banter is surprisingly tongue-in-cheek, and the action is speedy with a scoring system. This is about as far away from art as you can get, but as a game it entertains.