When the video game industry was in its infancy in the 1970s, games were riddled with imprecise controls and game-crashing bugs.
Now that technology has come leaps and bounds, you'd assume errors like this are a thing of the past. In days gone by, games were made by a handful of people, whereas now, entire teams of highly skilled creatives spend years making the best games possible. Ironically though, the games of today are littered with just as many bugs -if not more - bugs as they were decades ago.
The majority of bad games suffer the same issues; poor collision detection, uninspired gameplay, generic design, bad graphics, etc. Most games with these problems are forgettable.
But there are some games we can never forget. There are a select few that are so terrible, their memory will be felt through the annals of history.
There are many reasons why a game doesn't turn out well. It might be because the developers lack experience or foresight, overhype, financial troubles, or studio interference. More often than not, understanding why a game turned out so badly is more interesting than the game in question.
How come Duke Nukem Forever turned out so badly despite taking over ten years to make? Why don't the Xenomorphs attack you in Aliens: Colonial Marines? And what the hell happened to Superman 64?
14. Bubsy 3D
When the studio, Eidetic, released their 1993 game, Bubsy, the title character was expected to be a rival mascot for Sonic and Mario.
The game was good but not the showstopper that was promised. When Eidetic tried to make the transition to 3D with the PlayStation game, Bubsy 3D, it was a disaster.
The camera in the game shifts every time Bubsy jumps, making it difficult to manoeuvre him. Because the walls of each level look identical (a textureless polygon), it's nearly impossible to tell where to go. The whole time you are trying to play (emphasis on the word "trying"), Bubsy keeps spouting unfunny cat puns.
Although Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a scathing review, the box art for Bubsy 3D paraphrased part of the critique so it sounded like EGM was praising it.
You might think I'm being too harsh. It was a 3D game that came out in 1996. The technology was in its infancy. What did people expect?
Do you know what other 3D games came out that year? Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 64. Compared to these classics, Bubsy 3D was a laughing stock.
The reception was so negative, the franchise didn't release a follow-up for 21 years.
13. WWE 2K20
As last year drew to a close, many Top 10 Worst Games of 2019 lists had WWE 2K20 ranked at #1. Despite containing 238 playable characters, the game was beyond terrible since it was plagued with game-crashing bugs.
If one error occurred, it tended to trigger a cacophony of glitches including wrestlers sinking into the ring, characters floating, ropes appearing and disappearing, faces distorting into nightmare fuel, etc. It's the closest you can get to witnessing a video game having a seizure.
Although the WWE games had a rough patch a while ago, the franchise seemed to have made a recovery in recent years. Sadly, WK20 is hands-down the worst game in the series. Panicked it would damage the company's reputation, the developers, Visual Concepts, rushed out a patch for the game as quickly as possible.
But there was a problem. At the stroke of midnight in 2020, WK20 suffered a Y2K glitch so nothing would work beyond the menu screen. This error is now known as the Y2K20 bug (which is pretty clever).
Although this problem has been rectified with another patch, it's safe to say that WK20 is tarnished beyond repair.
12. Rise Of The Robots
When footage of the 1994 fighting game, Rise of the Robots, was revealed, gamers were blown away by its 3D-like graphics. The characters were created with CGI instead of pixels, making Rise of the Robots the first game ever to use motion-capture.
It cannot be stressed how much hype this game received. The developers were expecting to franchise the property into comic books, cartoons, toys, and a movie. The studio somehow managed to hire Queen guitarist, Brian May, to perform the game's soundtrack.
How could Rise of the Robots be anything except awesome???
First off, you can only pick one character. Secondly, it is a fighting game with no moves. Your character can punch and kick. That's it.
The studio was heavily criticised for false advertisement. Despite the fact the developers said the AI learns from the player's techniques, you can beat any opponent (including the final boss) without looking at the screen. Also, only one of Brian May's songs was used for the finished game.
On the Mega Drive port, the default timer is set to 30 seconds. However, some enemies cannot be beaten in that time limit.
Why the developers were so confident in the game's potential is anyone's guess.
Speaking of overhyped games...
John Romero was perceived as a hero in the video game industry during the 1990s since he is directly responsible for popularising FPS (first-person shooter) after he designed Doom, Doom II, Wolfenstein, and Quake.
Every game he made seemed to surpass the last. So, when he announced a new game called Daikatana, players assumed it would be his magnum opus.
Despite a 30-month delay, an engine change, a team walkout, and 11 months of unused work, Romero vowed that Daikatana would "make you his bitch".
But the game did not make anyone his bitch because it was pretty rubbish. The collision detection was appalling, the music was repetitive, and the characters' movements were robotic. It's so glitchy, the player sometimes falls through the floor. The cut-scenes were long and dull, (including an 11-minute intro). Even the grammar and spelling was terrible!
FPS's released a year or two prior like Half-Life and Unreal Tournament seemed lightyears ahead of Daikatana in terms of quality. The game was so overhyped, it is now seen as the video game version of The Phantom Menace.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, "Daikatana" means "big sword".
Great imagination, Romero.
10. Duke Nukem Forever
The 1996 game, Duke Nukem 3D, received positive reviews and so, the developers prepared to release a sequel the following year. Instead of coming out in 1997, it was released... in 2011.
Most heavily delayed games are abandoned for months or years before the developers try again. However, the developers of Duke Nukem Forever were consistently working on the game for 14 years, meaning that it has the longest consistent production of a video game in history.
Delays are frustrating but necessary. As Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, said, "A delayed game is eventually good. A rushed game is forever bad". Resident Evil 4 was scrapped fours times before it was released and it went on to become a masterpiece.
Sadly, Duke Nukem Forever is the exception to the rule. It was met with terrible reviews due to corny characters, cringe-worthy dialogue, and bland levels.
Also, the title character came across as cheesy and dated. Nukem is a cigar-chomping bad-ass who spouts one-liners. Upon its release, gamers were into complex and intricate characters in games like Mass Effect and Dead Space. Duke Nukem didn't stand a chance.
The PC version received a Metacritic rating of 54%. It was the highest rating Duke Nukem Forever received.
9. Aliens: Colonial Marines
Gearbox Software worked on Colonial Marines for over six years. (If that sounds like a long time, it is same company that made Duke Nukem Forever).
Every aspect of the game was torn apart; low resolution, uncreative gameplay, technical issues, etc. It was so bad, the developers got sued for false advertising after they released a demo that gave the impression it was... y'know... a game.
But what it's infamous for is the atrocious enemy AI. Colonial Marines' reputation was irreparably destroyed after a video went viral showing a Xenomorph in the game casually walking by the player without attacking him.
Although Colonial Marines's inept AI is well-known among gamers, most people don't know why it happened.
The answer to this mystery is one of the scariest words in the gaming industry; code. The Xenomorphs are programmed with a tether system so they hunt and destroy any player in their vicinity.
So why didn't it work? Because the programmer misspelt the word "tether" as "teather". When a player approached a Xenomorph, a misspelt code activated, causing the alien to do nothing.
So, there you go. The entire game was destroyed by a single letter.
8. The Legend Of Zelda (Philip CD-i)
During the 1990s, the Philips company agreed to create a CD-ROM drive for the Super Nintendo if they were allowed to make a Legend of Zelda game.
When this plan fell through, Philips created two Zelda games for their own system, the Philips CD-i. The games, The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon, were released simultaneously and a third game, Zelda's Adventure, was released two years later.
The games are infamous for their dreadful cut-scenes, which were made by four Russian animators over six months. The animations are so bad, you'd swear it was made on Microsoft Paint (and maybe it was).
Although this is what the games are mainly criticised for, everything about these games is appalling. The voice-acting is dreadful, the controls are imprecise, and the collision detection is all over the place. Sometimes, your save file disappears with no warning, making you lose all your progress.
The difficulty level is really sporadic. Many regular enemies are punishingly difficult while most of the bosses can be defeated in one hit.
Ironically, The Legend of Zelda games were considered the best games on the Philips CD-i. That should give you a good idea of the quality of the console.
7. Mortal Kombat: Mythologies - Sub-Zero
After the success of Mortal Kombat 1-3, the franchise tried to branch out with an action-adventure spin-off starring fan-favourite, Sub-Zero.
It sounds like a great idea on paper but the finished product, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, was the worst game in the series. So, what happened?
Despite the fact that that Mortal Kombat games can be a little hit-and-miss, they've always been praised for their precise controls. These controls work great in a fighting game. However, they are completely ill-suited for an adventure-action game like MK Mythologies that focuses on precise platform jumping.
Each level is filled with instant-kill booby-traps that you cannot see coming upon your first play through, meaning that players suffer many, many unfair, cheap deaths. Sometimes, the foreground obscures the background so you can't even see what's happening.
The cutscenes had such dreadful acting, UGO Networks crowned them as The Worst Cutscenes in Gaming History.
If the game did well, the developers intended to create multiple spinoffs of the franchise. When this game tanked, the creators abandoned that idea and focused on the main series instead.
The only redeeming feature is the blooper reel of the actors screwing up their lines and breaking character.
6. Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Since half of the Sega team worked on Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, it was expected to be the best Sonic game since the original series.
In mid-production, the team was split in half; one team was tasked to finish the game while the other team was reassigned to Sonic and the Secret Rings. Because the team lost half its members and the game was rushed out for Christmas, it was incomplete, had terrible graphics, ridiculous glitches, and painful loading times.
The game is so amateur, you can hear the actors screwing up their lines. When Shadow is given an order to go to Wave Ocean, the actor flubs his dialogue and repeats it.
Even the manual has errors. The instructions states that Tails can fly until the Flight Meter depletes even though there is no Flight Meter in the game. It also states that Chaos Drives can level up your equipped abilities… but there are no Chaos Drives… nor are there level up mechanics.
Sonic the Hedgehog creator, Yuji Naka, said that he would never work on a Sonic game after Sonic 2006 was released. After 14 years later, Naka has been true to his word.
5. Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Fight Club, was adapted for the big screen in 1999. Although the movie tanked and received mixed reviews, it has since been hailed as a masterpiece.
Viewers were blown away by Brad Pitt's depiction of Tyler Durden; a counter-culture tour-de-force who despises hollow living and consumerism. This mentality is encapsulated in his line, "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy %^&$ we don't need."
However, Genuine Games didn't seem to understand the story's message and adapted Fight Club into a completely pointless video game. It has the same structure as Tekken except it's terrible. The moves are repetitive and the graphics are atrocious. The developers couldn't bother to animate most of the cut-scenes so they are mainly composed of still images with voiceovers.
Unsurprisingly, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton refused to return to voice their characters (although Meatloaf reprised his role of Bob).
And just when you thought the game couldn't be more pointless, you can unlock Limp Bizkit singer, Fred Durst, and American President, Abraham Lincoln. Nobody knows why and nobody cares.
4. Mario Is Missing
Mario Is Missing begins with Bowser kidnapping the title character and stealing all of Earth's famous landmarks. The Koopa king then prepares to melt the polar ice caps with hairdryers. (Based on the plot alone, you know this game is in trouble).
There's no challenge since you can't get hurt or die. If you stomp on certain Koopa Troopas, they'll drop a landmark like The Sistine Chapel. Before you ask, I have no idea how a Koopa Troopa walks around while holding The Sistine Chapel.
In each city you visit, you must answer multiple-choice questions from the locals to progress. If you get any questions wrong, you can just try again, providing no challenge for the player.
There are only three bosses and none of them can hurt you. You don't even fight Bowser since he is automatically defeated when you encounter him at the end of the game.
Since you can't lose, this isn't really a game. It's a geography test disguised as a Super Mario game (except a real geography test is more fun).
Everything that you associate with the franchise is absent; Fire Flowers, Mushrooms, Starmans, Goombas, etc. Sadly, everything that could make Mario is Missing special... is missing.
3. Pac-Man (Not That One)
Pac-Man is one of the most significant games of all time. It was so popular, it was ported over to more consoles than any game in history. Ironically, porting the game nearly led to Pac-Man's downfall.
It all started with the release of the Atari 2600 console in 1977. The system had no real competition when it launched since it was the only computer that had interchangeable games. The other consoles had several built-in games but there was no way to add new ones.
The company's profits declined as their games became available on other consoles. To make sure Atari stood ahead of its competition, the company rushed its games out. Their games were only developed in six weeks instead of six months before they were released, which led to iconic games like Pac-Man being buggy, incomplete, and not fun.
Although Pac-Man was the most successful game on the Atari 2600, it was practically unplayable since the characters constantly flickered and teleported around the screen. Also, there was only one level.
Because of Atari's gross incompetence, the company lost $500 million six years after the console launched.
2. E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
On many Worst Games Lists, E.T. for the Atari 2600 wins the top spot. The game is slow, dull, monotonous, and imprecise. Also, you can win the game in five minutes.
It may not be the worst game ever but it is the most infamous since it nearly destroyed the gaming industry. The movie, E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial, was released in December 1982. Believing the movie was going to be a hit, Atari obtained the rights for a video game adaption for $25 million. Since the movie came out in December, Atari made the whole game in 34 days to make sure it was released for Christmas.
When word-of-mouth spread about the game's poor quality, the sales dried up and Atari was left with millions of unsold copies.
As has been mentioned in the previous entry, Atari has a reputation for creating shoddy ports and rushing out games. When consumers realised how unreliable the company was, people stopped buying consoles, which initiated The Great Video Game Crash. In 1982, the video game industry was worth $3 billion. By 1985, the industry was only worth $100 million.
Although The Crash wasn't entirely caused by E.T., it did play a major factor.
1. Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing
Big Rigs is a 2003 racing game for the PC. I am using the word "game" in the broadest sense since Big Rigs is unplayable and unfinished.
There are so many glitches, it's actually impressive. You can win a race by crossing the starting line because the game registers that you completed the entire lap. The only sound effect is the truck engine (which is ear-piercingly annoying). The game has the worst collision detection in gaming history as the player can pass through pretty much any object whether it is a tree, a traffic light, or a freaking mountain.
If you win a race, the phrase, "YOU'RE WINNER" appears. (A patch fixed this grammatical error but decided to leave in most of the other glitches).
You know what the dumbest thing is about this game? The programmers forgot to limit the speed of your vehicle if you drive backwards. If you reverse, you can travel 12 undecillion miles per hour. (Yes, that is a real number). That's an octillion times faster than the speed of light (which is the fastest thing in the universe). That's right. The game is so bad, it actually broke the law of physics.