Recently, I asked for the help of my Facebook friends to help me decide which game to list as #8 in The 10 Most Mediocre Games of All Time. The choices I provided were:
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Call of Duty 3 (PS3, 360)
Desert Strike (GEN)
Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Conflict: Denied Ops (PS3, 360)
Jurassic Park (GEN)
To my surprise, my friends didn't think that my list of options did justice to the subject matter. They began writing in such titles as Final Fantasy XIV, and Demigod. It was one such write-in that literally made me laugh out loud: Skip-Bo. Yes, Skip-Bo. The card game. I know, right? While my poll bore fruit and my next subject has been decided, I couldn't help but address Skip-Bo, if not for humor's sake, then simply to give a nod to the lateral thinker who noticed that my question did not confine the answers to video games.
So, without further ado, The honorable mention in the Top 10 Mediocre Games of All Time goes to Skip-Bo!
We've all played Uno, right? We've waited anxiously to shout as soon as our competition played that next-to-last card. We've facepalmed when we forgot to proclaim the magic word. And we especially remember those annoying cards such as Reverse and Skip, or my personal favorite: Draw Four. All these things combined to create one of the most popular card games of all time. And behind Uno, in the shadow cast by its fame, sits Skip-Bo.
It is Uno's shadow that allowed Skip-Bo to become famously mediocre. Without betters, it would simply be great, and therefore couldn't have ever made this list. However, Skip-Bo's thoughtful gameplay and sordid history keeps it from landing in the bottom of the barrel with Crazy 8s and Old Maid.
Skip-Bo took its name when it was first produced in the late 60s. Before that, it was a game called Spite & Malice. Before that, it was called Cat & Mouse. Even through the 70s, few had even heard of any of these names. It wasn't until Skip-Bo was purchased by Mattel in 1992 that the game's popularity began to ramp.
The concept was relatively simple. Its a competitive form of Solitaire. There are four stacks of cards in the middle of the table. A player starts a stack with a one, and numbers are added to the stack in sequence until it reaches 12, at which point the stack is removed from the table and a new stack may be started in it's place. The object is for a player to play out all the cards in his own stack. However, only the top card of the stack may be played and opponents will do their best to block. The game becomes even more zany with the addition of wild cards called (you guessed it) Skip-Bos.
It is the strategy that separates this game from its lowers. The ability to royally piss off an opponent makes the game a lot of fun to play. After all, who doesn't like pissing off the competition? Yet, without a catchphrase such as "Uno!" or "Go Fish!" Skip-Bo will never reach the hallowed halls of greatness. But that's ok. It's secured its place with its brothers in so-so. It's perfectly ok with being considered "middle of the road." Its not like people don't like to play it! After all, its not a bad game, just...alright; fun, but not memorable.
Still, it'd still be nice if there was something to shout during the game...other than #%&@!!!!!!!