I think a lot of the hate is due to the episode's backstory and those who don't like cheesiness. I actually like it too. Season 2 has so many weaker or horrendous episodes (like The Outrageous Okona, The Dauphin). It does have a different feel and the elements are quite interesting (the casino on an icy uninhabited world, the astronaut from centuries ago). Twilight Zone-like does explain it (where's the one-armed bandit coming at Riker saying "Riker! Riker!" with a raspy, jangly voice? Though it seems more like "A Nice Place to Visit"). I found the idea of being trapped inside a recreation of a bad novel kind of a hilarious idea. It feels very different. It's far better than most holodeck episodes, I'll say that and seems to be on the better half of Season 2. It's no "Q Who?" but I'll take it over many other Season 2 episodes.
It seems whenever a dessicated or decayed corpse is found in bed, you know it's going to be a cheesy, campy episode. Was the case in "The Royale", so it was in "Favorite Son" too (Harry Kim being given the O'Brien treatment. A planet of babes, one even from Babylon 5, and they all want you Harry. Only catch- it's a one night stand because the sex kills. He's the Bad Luck Brian of Star Trek. Not as adventurous as Tom Paris yet he's the one who picks up the space STD ["The Disease"] or he makes contact with someone interesting and Tuvok bogarts her from him ("Alter Ego"). He gets back to Earth more than anyone else but the guilt constantly gets him ["Non Sequitur", "Timeless"]. He finally gets his own command, but it's a ship with a lot of issues and an episode that overlaps with 2 of the worst airdates in the 2000-01 season ["Nightingale"] or it's the smallest ship in the fleet [USS Rhode Island in "Endgame"]. He & Naomi Wildman are the only real/original crewmembers yet that doesn't give him any more clout ["Deadlock"]. Oh, and he gets tormented more than anyone else by a monochrome clown).