Recently some bloggers (myself included) have been sharing lists of games that they felt impacted them in some way, or were simply “the best.” But what about the worst? Sure, there have been many awesome games throughout the years, but there have been just as many terrible ones, and I thought we could expand upon the discussion. I didn’t really set any rules for myself as far as a time limit or particular genre or platform, but I did require that the games listed be ones that I played. Unfortunately, when I was young and couldn’t afford a new game that readily, some of these titles were added via garage sales or swap meets or used game stores (before chains existed), were bought on a whim, and were judged only by the title or cover art. As such, some were horrific flops, and yet I still poured hours into some of them for lack of anything better to do. Obviously you can’t put an arbitrary number on a list like this, because there are far more than 15 terrible games that have been made over the years, but these are ones I could think of, and I figured 15 was as good a number as any. With all that said, on to the list:
Last Battle (1989 – Sega Genesis)
This was the second game I ever owned for the Genesis. The system came packed with Altered Beast, and I beat that game the day I got it. I guilted my Dad into taking me back to the store to buy another game the next day, and this is the one I settled on. Man was that a mistake. If I recall correctly, I ended up beating it eventually, but it sat on the shelf for a long time before that day came. This game was ruthlessly difficult… there were no save points, the controls were wonky (as were hit boxes) so half the time your own twitchiness would get you killed. The bosses were ridiculous. Overall the story and gameplay were lacking. And yet, I spent hours trying to beat it. When I finally did, I never played it again, and I sold this game along with my Genesis and all other titles to buy my original Playstation.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 – NES)
I, like everyone else at the time, was a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles. I had the toys, I had clothes, I had books, sheets, towels, you name it, I was into it. I played the game in the arcade (which has seen ports on more recent consoles), I was all about TMNT. So naturally when I saw this game and I already owned the system, I needed to own it. What a HUGE disappointment. Not only was this not the arcade game I was expecting (That was rectified later with the “sequel” which was more or less the arcade port), it was a poorly executed nightmare. You had a weird overland map and then sidescrolling bits, you could control any of the turtles but only one at a time, and if they died they were “captured” and only available for “rescue” during later portions. Pictured above, is an underwater level where you had to defuse some bombs, and that pink stuff is like electrified plant matter that will kill you right quick. The most frustrating game, I never beat this one, and would never play it again.
Dick Tracy (1990 – NES)
A similarly made game, Dick Tracy had an overland map and then individual levels where you had to find clues to figure out who committed a particular crime, and then finally chase that guy down and arrest him. I never beat this game either, as it also had a frustrating difficulty curve, and when games don’t have save points it gets old doing all of the early content over and over. The map part of this game was a little more interesting at least, reminiscent of the original GTA, but the side-scrolling platformer part was where the irritations came along. Sad, because this was around the time of the movie with Warren Beatty, and I remember the movie being pretty cool, so the game seemed like a no-brainer. Yuck.
Yo! Noid (1990 – NES)
It goes without saying that pairing pizza and video games is a solid idea. Gamers don’t want to stop playing games to prepare a meal (and at the time our mom’s were doing it for us anyway), so ordering pizza is a great way to game right up until stuffing your face. However, pairing a marketing tool (The Noid) and a video game seems to fall flat. Particularly when the game is actually designed to be something completely different, and then some sprites are shuffled around and you have a pizza mascot performing in ways that are not congruent with fun, gaming, or being an annoying mascot. This like so many other platformers of the day is testament to why there doesn’t need to be a video game about everything. Just some things.
Kabuki: Quantum Fighter (1991 – NES)
This is one of those swap meet/garage sale/used game store finds. The name alone is weird enough, and then the story gets even weirder. You’re a guy that is digitized and sent into a computer world… in which you become a Kabuki Warrior, which presumably you were not beforehand. Aside from using your long red hair as a weapon, you also get some gadgets along the way. It’s basically Ninja Gaiden with a shitty storyline and even shittier gameplay. I do recall spending some time with this game, but am not sure if I actually completed it. Not that it really matters, as I this list is full of titles I would gladly watch burn.
Alien Storm (1991 – Sega Genesis)
Oh games where aliens invade Earth, why are you in such an over abundance? This is another beat-em-up style game, arcadey and all, but with such a generic shitty storyline and mediocre gameplay that I couldn’t be bothered with it beyond an hour or two. It was a rental, and I remember it clearly enough to put it on this list, but not clearly enough to warrant any further commentary.
Ecco the Dolphin (1993 – Sega Genesis)
The Genesis was still in its hey day when this game released, and this was one of those titles that was critically acclaimed from day one. I remember gaming magazines I subscribed to having huge articles dedicated to this game, and I didn’t get it. I still don’t. Why would I want to play as a dolphin, learn its language and communicate with other sea creatures? Why would I want to go through level upon level of swimming around, as only a dolphin can? I didn’t play this game when it released, it was a few years later, and when I did finally give it a try, I was still mystified. Why this was such a sought after and raved about game is beyond me.
Comix Zone (1995 – Sega Genesis)
Oh man how I wanted this game when it was being advertised. The next gen consoles had already released but I was still sitting at home with my Genesis (probably playing a Shining Force or Phantasy Star game). I was heavy into comic books at the time, and playing as a dude who gets sucked into a comic book was right up my alley. I didn’t end up playing this game until years later (I can’t remember if it was on virtual console or what), and I don’t know if the time gap messed it up for me, or if it was just a really bad game. I think it’s more of the latter, because I can still go back and play games from that time period and enjoy myself, so this is not something we can consider “timeless.” This game was entirely too hard (and from what I have read, too short) and not at all engaging. All of the typical side-scrolling tropes are there, it’s just dressed up like a comic, and things are drawn here and there by an “artist.” Overall it’s a cool concept that fell flat, for me at least.
Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft (1996 – Playstation)
I’m a D&D fan. I’ve played more games than I can count that are based on the various rulesets. I’ve played the pen and paper game. I’ve been a DM. I also enjoy fighting games, and so a marriage of the pair sounds great right? Yeah, until you play this game. I never bought this pile of shit, but I did rent it and recall spending a weekend playing it with my neighbor Pete. He and I spent a lot of time gaming together when we were in high school, and we would take turns staying over at each other’s houses playing games that we would acquire though various means. This was a weekend of disappointment. Knowing me, I picked the game and then had to hear about it from him the whole time. So this game had the makings of something cool, like a predecessor to Soul Calibur, but it just fell flat in all ways shapes and forms. Clunky gameplay, a lack of decent combos, and pretty terrible graphics all made for a wonderful time. Go me.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997 – Playstation)
Another fighting game related disaster, the Mythologies sub-set of the Mortal Kombat franchise was meant to be a series. Thankfully they didn’t continue on beyond this garbage. Sub-zero, one of the main characters in the fighting games, is now depicted before the tournament and has to go about doing stuff. To be honest I don’t remember the storyline at all. What I do remember is the horrific gameplay. A side scrolling “action” game, it used similar controls to the fighting series, except now you were expected to confront multiple enemies and go through side-scrolling tropes. This didn’t work out so well, and the series was abandoned. But that would stop the series from branching out in other horrible ways.
M.A.X. 2 (1998 – PC)
During the hey day of computer gaming for me, the late 90s saw a huge amount of RTS games. I’ve already mentioned Starcraft as being my favorite of all time, but there were many others I played, looking for something else that would suffice. This game, was a sequel, and that means a couple of things. One, the original game was successful enough that a sequel was deemed a worthy investment, and two, that there was enough area for improvement on the original that a sequel was also warranted. I see no indication for either of these though processes. The game had shitty graphics even for the time. Your red blobs vs. my green blobs. The interface (as you can see above) was clunky and took up too much of the screen. I remember there being a level of depth here that maybe I could have appreciated given different circumstances, but I tried this game a few different times and just couldn’t get into it. I think this was a bargain bin purchase, but either way it was not worthy of my time, or yours.
Hard Corps: Uprising (2011 – PS3)
A Contra or Metal-Slug clone, this side scrolling Shmup is testament to the fact that pretty graphics and a penchant for days gone by does not a good game make. Sure it’s like playing an old school Nintendo game in a new suit, but it’s still the same old shit, and you’re going to suffer through mediocrity. There isn’t really anything redeeming here, so I’m glad this was a free title via PSPlus.
Deadliest Warrior: Legends (2011 – Xbox 360)
Making a TV show into a video game is almost always a bad idea. In fact, I can’t recall the last time it was done when it was a good idea. Still, I used to watch Deadliest Warrior on Spike, and I thought it was an interesting idea, comparing warriors of various nations and using experimentation to determine who might win in a real battle. However, that seems to translate into a strategy title rather than a fighting game, but the company responsible for this chose to go with the latter. And for the most part, this game had a lot of cool ideas. The combat is quick, in that a couple of solid hits would take out your opponent, instead of having a huge life bar and being able to withstand multiple whacks from a sword. It’s also neat to have ranged and close combat weapons that you can switch between. That’s about where the coolness fades and the irritation sets in. My roommate bought this on his 360 when he still had one, and we spent a couple of hours beating each other up until I started noticing that really every character played the same. And there really wasn’t much point after about 15 minutes. The concepts presented remind me of Bushido Blade, but I could play that game for many hours without getting bored, and that isn’t the case with Deadliest Warrior.
Choplifter HD (2012 – PS3)
Another Plus freebie, and another game I’m glad that I didn’t pay money for. Seriously, updating games from the past should come with an instruction manual. It should read something like this: Play the old game. Play it until you are sick of it. Actually beat the game. Take note of its strengths. Take note of its weaknesses. Don’t repeat past mistakes. Don’t make the same damn game that has “updated graphics.” Well, the creators of this game didn’t read my manual. And they didn’t really improve upon a classic game, or even make a game that is worth your time. Let’s fly in a straight line and pick up some people, shoot some stuff, and then fly back to another place. I remember a game that did those exact things, but was an instant classic. Desert Storm. Do yourself a favor and play that game instead.
Malicious (2012 – PS3)
This one seemed like a game I could get behind. It’s basically one boss fight after another, in a similar style to Shadow of the Colossus. But in SotC there is an actual world and you travel between locations to find the bosses to fight, in Malicious you just go from one arena to the next and fight a boss. Each boss you kill nets you new powers that you can use on the next boss. The graphical style is distinctly Japanese, but still high fantasy enough that it appealed to me. Then I played the game. What a joke. Not only was killing the first boss a grind fest, but the mechanics were just awful. Playing against the second boss was all I could stomach before I uninstalled. Thankfully, this was another free Plus game, so no money was spent. I’m also thankful that plus has improved over the years, because I rarely say “oh that game was shitty” anymore.
So there you have it. My terrible 15. Feel free to utilize the format and make your own post. Actually, I’ll take this a step further, and challenge a few people to complete their version of this list: