Yes, Terraforming Mars is a total clusterfuck mechanically. I think people like it partially for the theme, partially because it usually tells a story.
Like the last time I played it, I happened to stack up a bunch of bonuses that allowed adjusting the temperature threshold for playing cards. Which allowed me to take on the role of this group of scientists that became more and more detached from the reality as the game went on.
So I’d play the Fish card, and give a short little spiel about how only a genius of my caliber could genetically engineer barracudas to live in the chilly Martian oceans. Somebody would object that the actual planetary temperature was -10 degrees, and that a frozen block of ice doesn’t count as an ocean. "Well, that’s not what my calculations show! Release the fish! "
And then we could all chuckle at the mental image as this crack team of scientists tipped over crates of fish on a glacier, and wondered why they weren’t submerging into the ice. When I at some point made a mistake and forgot to activate some special power that required a oxygen level of smaller than X, thinking it had to be larger than X, you could tie that right into the same narrative. “Look, my specialty is temperature. Not this air nonsense”.
Or my friend in the same game who might as well have been roleplaying a megalomaniac who liked explosions and smashing progressively larger rocks into Mars. And then could pretend to be very cross when somebody cracked open the crust of Mars to create a new super-volcano. Muttering about irresponsible show-offs, and about how he could have done that if he really wanted to, etc :)