50 Awful Games

by Team DP

You know ‘em, and there’s a good chance that you hate ‘em, but one thing’s for sure, you’ve played ‘em at least once. Now that we’ve reached the 50th issue marker here at DP, we figured it was a good time to revisit some of the worst games we’ve had the dis-pleasure of playing. The games are in no particular order, but make no mistake, they’re ALL bad.

Shaq Fu, EA for Genesis

Shaq needed his own video game like, well, like Shaq needed his own starring role in a movie (Kazaam) or his own rap CD (Shaq Diesel).  You ever listen to that CD or watch that movie? This game is just as bad.  No, scratch that, it’s even worse.  While the graphics are passable for their time, the gameplay is more stiff than Shaq’s horrid acting. Stay away from this cart at all costs. - Dave G

ALL Mythicon games, Atari 2600

These three titles were amongst the first “value” games to appear for the 2600, at a time when the console didn’t need anything else that would make it look bad.  What’s terrible about these three games is that they’re all the same; change the sprites in a couple places, and you have a new game.  $9.99 retail was WAY too much for these horrid clones. - Larry Anderson

M.U.S.C.L.E., BanDai for NES

I actually collected these figures back in the day. Never played the game until years later, and it’s probably just as well. These graphics are amongst the worst the NES has ever seen, with the audio to match. Moves are nearly impossible to successfully pull off, and what moves the player might manage are a result of pure luck. Bizarrely, a TV series based on this franchise has been resurrected on Fox just recently. The show is not much better, I’m afraid.- Tony Bueno

Jaws, LJN for NES

I’d rather be bitten clean in half, much like Captain Quint in the movie, than play this game ever again.  You explore a tiny area and kill some fish while the title character stalks you.  In the end it’s you or him.  Tediously dull, like watching the tide rise.- Joe Santulli

Double Dragon, Activision for 2600

An utterly horrid piece of trash, to this day only one gamer has ever managed to complete the game without cheating. My hat is off to you, for this game is simply unplayable.  Using this game as a hockey puck is ultimately more satistyfing than actually trying to play it. Worst. Control. Ever. - Dave G

10-Yard Fight, Nintendo for NES

Having never had the pleasure of plugging in Atari’s Football, this has got to be amongst the worst sports sims of all time. If I ever had to play this one again… couldn’t you just give me a gun and show me the way to the bathroom? - Tony Bueno

EVERYTHING, Tiger for R-Zone

Why Tiger even bothered to pass this crap off as a game “system” is simply beyond anybody’s grasp. Essentially an interchangeable-cart version of their crummy LCD handheld games of the late 80s, the R-Zone is a ridiculous device that certifiably insane gamers would have strapped to their heads (provided they were still lucent enough to FIND their heads).  A tiny screen attached to the headband was then positioned in front of the players’ eyes like that doctor thing gone wrong. An NES style control pad plugged into the whole mess, but nobody cared. Nobody, except for R-Zone guy, the way-too-excited poster boy seen on all the packaging for this failed gameplay experience. - Dave G

Zaxxon, Sega for Intellivision

You’d think that a system capable of putting out cool isometric 3-d games (like the Congo Bongo translation Sega themselves did and Diner) would’ve gotten a kick-ass Zaxxon.  Well, it didn’t; Sega had licensed the title to Coleco, and while the Colecovision translation was nothing short of awesome, no brain power was left for us poor Mattel devotees.  Two levels, horrible graphics, and slow, slow, SLOW movement.  At least the box art is kinda cool.- Larry Anderson

Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum, Data East for NES

With a name that long, the game must be good, right? And check out the great box artwork! Plus, it’s published by Data East, the company who gave us plenty of fun arcade games in years past. Sadly, this game is chock full of crap and completely devoid of fun. Sluggish controls ruin what little gameplay there is, and the graphics aren’t so great to boot. Will have even the most patient players screaming at the TV in a vain attempt to make something happen. - Dave G

Taboo, the Sixth Sense, Rare/Tradewest, for NES

The aroma of a lit crack pipe must have been strong at Rare headquarters during the afternoon that this dung heap was slapped together. As if Ouija boards aren’t lame enough, someone actually felt the need to convert Ouija into videogame form? And all the while curling and badminton have yet to turn up on a console. What a world. There’s simply no game to even PLAY here, something that we at DP headquarters are 100% against. Plus, if the game worked at all, they could have used the prototype to figure out that nobody in their right mind would ever spend a dime on this turd. - Dave G

Astron Belt, Sega for Arcade

First Laserdisc game, first to overlay computer graphics on top of a laser image… and first incredibly boring rail shooter.  From a rather questionable targeting system, to the most annoying laser sound on the planet (fingernail scratching on the chalkboard bad), a 2 year delay of this game’s US release didn’t help it out any.  What may be even worse is that they tried to salvage the operators’ investment in this bad hardware with a follow-up (Galaxy Ranger) that wasn’t any better! - Larry Anderson

Sea Hunt, Froggo for Atari 2600

Here comes a strong statement. Sea Hunt is the worst video game I’ve ever played.  I still can’t believe Sea Hunt was ever made. The funniest thing of all is that the manufacturer of this game didn’t even program  the thing.  They bought the rights to it and resold it.  It’s the same game as Skin Diver (by Sancho) and Scuba Diver (by Panda).  Can you believe it? The worst game I’ve ever played was manufactured, re-packaged under a different name, then re-packaged AGAIN?- Joe Santulli

ANY Swordquest game, Atari for 2600

A reader in one of the classic magazines once wrote, “This isn’t a game at all, but a pointless, frustrating torture chamber.” Took the words right out of my mouth. Do you know ANYONE who has played this and said they enjoyed or even remotely understood it?- Tony Bueno

Tag Team Wrestling, Data East for NES

This game just might be the worst wrestling game ever made. The arcade version didn’t exactly bowl anyone over with state of the art graphics, but at least you could play the damn thing. Here we have two teams, the Ricky Fighters (worst. name. ever.) and the Strong Bads. The graphics look like a sick cat threw up on the orginal version, and you have exactly one move. Awful, awful game best remembered as the inspiration for beloved Homestar Runner character, Strong Bad. - Dave G

Gilligan’s Island, Bandai for NES

It’s kind of funny that someone thought this 60s sitcom would make a good video game.  The game, however, is anything BUT funny.  Unless you consider losing a toe in a freak garden weasel accident funny.  Here, you get to guide Gililgan and the Skipper around the island maze, looking for other castaways and hopefully a way out.  One thing’s for sure: playing this game to the end is as about as likely as seeing an episode where the castaways get back home. - Joe Santulli

Time Killers, Black Pearl for Genesis

The Time Killers arcade game was meant to be a funny, over the top spoof of the Mortal Kombat series.  Chainsaws, for example, are used to chop off the other player’s limbs, instead of merely punching and kicking an opponent to death.  Sounds better than it plays though, as the fighting system is arguably the worst on the planet and the art and sound aren’t very good either. It was only a matter of time before then-dreck masters THQ decided that a Genesis port of this dud game would be a perfect addition to their lineup of farm-fresh crap.  The Genesis cart was almost finished when even THQ realized how much it sucked, and the uber-crappy game was shelved.  However, in the dying days of the Genesis, Black Pearl managed to get their hands on the cart and went ahead with its release.  The Genesis Time Killers cart is a shining example of how to make a bad thing worse, and how NOT to make a game. - Dave G

Sneak ‘N Peak, US Games for 2600.

The worst game I’ve played, hands down, bar none. Hide in a freakin’ hidden spot on the screen while your opponent closes his eyes. Poor execution, minimalist graphics, only the basest music and sound effects. This is as bad as it gets. - Tony Bueno

Hudson Hawk, Sony for NES

You thought the movie was bad? The game is much, much worse. When Bruce Willis is in a movie, you’re guaranteed to see one of two things: either a mega-hit (Pulp Fiction, Die Hard) or a total disaster (The Jackal, The Fifth Element).  Hudson Hawk is one of Willis’ worst flicks, and the game follows suit. In that sense, it’s a successful conversion of the movie, but as a game, it’s one of the worst in a long, long line of bad movie conversions. In the days of the Arcadia or the Channel F, we could have let a game this bad slide, but there’s no excuse for this mess in the 8-bit era. Rent the mess of a movie instead.- Dave G

Amidar, Parker Brothers for 2600

What happens when you take a stellar coin-op like Amidar and then suck all the fun out of it? This game for the 2600, that’s what happens.  Fans of the arcade game angrily marched on Parker Brothers headquarters and they were right to do so.  They didn’t gain anything from the experience, and neither will you if you ever waste ten seconds of your life to play this game.  Slow gameplay with horrid graphics, practically no sound, AND tons of onscreen flicker to boot?  We’d rather hurl ourselves down a flight of stairs into a flaming pit of molten lava while listening to an endless loop of Michael Bolton tunes.  It would be much less painful than playing this atrocity of a game. - Dave G

Fighting Street, NEC, Turbo Grafx-16 CD

This game (along with Monster Lair) was one of the first titles available for the supremely expensive ($299 retail) Turbo CD add-on… and it’s no wonder it was a commercial flop.  This game barely taxed the capabilities of the hardware; the entire purpose of the CD was to treat you to some rather poorly done kung-fu style voice acting.- Larry Anderson

The Irritating Maze, SNK for arcade

Back around 1998 in Dallas, there was a laundromat which had an arcade game titled “The Irritating Maze”. Being a semi-masochistic individual, I had to give this 50 cent (!) game a try. Nearly identical to The Irritating Stick for PSX, this seems like one of those bad games that potentially sucks the player in. Now I may appreciate this phenomenon with movies, but I’ll pass when it comes to games.

- Tony Bueno

KAO the Kangaroo, Titus for Sega Dreamcast

Dear Titus Software: Why? How? Why would you rush a piece of garbage like Kao out to a stellar platform like the Dreamcast knowing full well that nobody is interested in playing your horrible, horrible game? The graphics are insultingly bad, the camera is quite possibly the worst ever, and there’s almost nothing to do or see in the game (a “me-too” 3D platformer no less) at all.  And HOW the hell you managed to ruin something with so much built in appeal (game featuring a kangaroo) is beyond us. - Dave G

ECW Hardcore Revolution, Acclaim for Sony PlayStation

Yet another example of how NOT to make a game.  First off, there’s about a 25% chance that any move the player executes will actually work. Second, even if the move DOES work, it usually happens the day after the player executed it. Third, the graphics are about as blocky as a Channel F reject. Fourth, the game even tries to warn unsuspecting players with a blurb right on the back of the case: “…ECW Hardcore Revolution takes you to Hell...” It sure does. And there’s just no excuse for this kind of hardcore rubbish. - Dave G

Shadow: War of Succession, Tribeca for 3DO

The graphics in this game are so badly animated that actual contact between two characters isn’t necessary to score a hit. Promise to warn anyone you meet with a 3DO to steer clear of this one. - Joe Santulli

Populous, Acclaim for SNES

I never had the instructions when I rented this one, so I really can’t say I got the full gaming experience. Having said that, I cannot fathom how on earth anyone could stand to play this one for any period of time whatsoever. - Tony Bueno

Scavengers of the Mutant World, Interstel for PC

Back in the late 80’s, this had the coolest cover art of all time. Sort of a Mad Max meets Dungeons and Dragons, this is the perfect example of a wonderful premise ruined by the poorest possible execution. Graphics sucked, gameplay sucked, sound sucked, combat system sucked, in fact, there was not one aspect of this game (aside from the box art) which DIDN’T suck. This game not only sucked, it swallowed. Even worse than Drakkhen, if that’s possible. - Tony Bueno

Wiz, Taito / Seibu Kaihatsu for Arcade

A waste of space in the arcade, and a waste of a perfectly good quarter to anyone to anyone who played. An attempt at a Super Mario knockoff, this one has inscrutable action, near useless bonus items, and no discernible goal. Oh, and the graphics and sound are no good, either.- Tony Bueno

Sssnake, Data Age for Atari 2600

Second in “blocky-ness” only to Pac-Man on this system.  It seems to have been left in the hands of those professionals who show you a picture of an inkspot and then leave the rest to your imagination.  Believe me, what you see on the screen here is strictly a matter of personal interpretation. It could be a “hunter” in the middle, shooting at “wild beasts,” including a ferocious “snake.” Or it could be an 8-bit representation of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Your call.  Also notable for its abbreviated scorekeeping.  If you manage over 99 points (very easy), you go back to zero. Kevin Oleniacz names this “THE worst video game ever made.” High honors indeed. - Joe Santulli

Alpine Skiing!, NAP for Odyssey2

The early skiing titles all have something in common. They suck.  There is very little difference between playing Magnavox’ skiing game and having your own toes lopped off in an industrial accident.  Both leave you wanting more.  Blocky graphics and practically non-existent sound make matters worse. - Joe Santulli

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Tengen for NES

Never before has Atari 2600 emulation worked so well on the NES! I just don’t think that’s what Tengen was trying to do here. Abysmal. - Joe Santulli

Honestly, Temple of Doom on the NES is as bad an arcade conversion as Parker Brothers’ miserable Amidar on the 2600. Contains nothing that made the original coin-op a joy to play. Crappy graphics, crappy sound, and crappy game play make this game an utter pile of uber-crap. Avoid like a stray turd on the sidewalk. - Dave G

Drag Strip, Fairchild for Channel F

An absolutely painful idea of what a video game is.  You expect the graphics and sound to be bad for the Channel F system, but watching two capital “I”s race across the screen?  This forces the question, “What’s worse, playing Drag Strip on the Channel F or losing a toe in an industrial accident?” If you get a thoughtful look, don’t be surprised, just add: “...and it was smashed, not just cut clean off.” - Joe Santulli

Smurf Racer, Infogrames for PSX

How hard is it to rip off Mario Kart? If Smurf Racing is any indication, it must be damn near impossible.  In fact, there’s barely a game here at all. There are graphics, though they’re so bad you’d swear you were playing an old throwaway public domain Commodore 64 game. There are sounds too, but not racing sounds, just random, canned sounds. The game is presented in a split screen, but since there’s no urgency, no thrill, you simply don’t care. I kept wishing that Gargamel would suddenly appear and crush the entire village. He didn’t, so I threw this game out into the street. It bounced into a neighboring yard where a little orange cat immediately crapped on it and buried the entire ugly ordeal. True story. - Dave G

It’s Only Rock N Roll, Xonox for ColecoVision

A mess of a game done entirely in text.  Defies definition, but the idea is to start up a band and make a million dollars.  Warning: Do NOT use this game to turn a friend on to the ColecoVision. - Joe Santulli

Video Olympics, Atari for Atari 2600

It was called “Pong” at one time, and these “olympics” include hundreds of variations on Pong, basically.  I guess they couldn’t do a Pong version of track and field events, and who can forgive them for leaving out the equestrian or bicycling? The heartless bastards! - Dave G

Checkered Flag, Atari for Jaguar

Sega had a pretty big hit on their hands with their Virtua Racing game, and had modest success with their home versions on the 32X and Genesis.  Even the Genesis version managed to capture the flavor and the feel of the original coin-op. Therefore, the Jaguar take on the same theme should be 4 times better, right? Wrong. Not only does the game look like it was made on the 5200, it plays like a reject from the Channel F. Literally bad enough to make you immediately rip the cart from the console and run it over twenty thousand times. One of THE worst. Games. Ever. - Dave G

Kasumi Ninja, Atari for Jaguar

Kasumi Ninja was Atari’s failed attempt to cash in on the Mortal Kombat craze. Not only is this game among the worst ever manufactured, it’s even worse than other fighting games on this list, like, Time Killers.  To add insult to injury, they included a free “ninja headband” with the game. The hell? A ninja headband? Gamers who were forced to play this abomination by sadistic parents who actually shelled out fifty bucks for it cleverly wore the headband over their eyes to help ease the pain. It didn’t help much. - Dave G

Back to the Future 3, LJN for Genesis

Three games in one, each one worse than the last, and the whole cartridge worse than the two before it. - Joe Santulli

Karateka, Atari for 7800

It worked so well on the Commodore 64, you have to wonder what happened on the way to the Atari console. Few will ever see the ending because the controls - which are bad enough - are hampered by poor response. - Joe Santulli

Simpsons Wrestling, Activision for PSX

You thought Smurf Racer was bad? You thought Smurf Racer was a painful waste of a license? Well listen up, Jack. The Simpsons Wrestling takes the atrocity that IS Smurf Racing, craps on it, kicks it into a pit of raw sewage, then sets the entire mess on fire. The design team figured it would be best to make the worst wrestling game of all time and then slap badly drawn and poorly animated Simpsons characters on it - the ultimate F-you to Simpsons fans worldwide. There’s just no rhyme or reason to anything in this game. Marge is as strong as Groundskeeper Willie. Not that you’d care, this game is a horror. So unforgivably bad and such an insult to the Simpsons franchise that I will never, ever buy another Activision game. Ever. - Dave G

Midway Arcade’s Greatest Hits, Midway for Gameboy Advance

There are two levels of “suck” when it comes to bad video games. The first level is a game that’s just utterly bad in its own right. A game completely designed and created from scratch without an existing premise, movie, storybook or whatever. Then there’s the second level of suckiness. Games that ARE based on something, that have an existing template to match up  to, to use as reference and the only thing the designers need to do is recreate what’s already there. This game falls into the latter category. It’s supposed to contain emulated versions of some of the finest games ever designed. Instead, it contains absolutely shitty versions of some of the finest games ever designed. Put simply, there is NO excuse in this day and age for this kind of crap to A) get beyond the prototype stage, B) get mass produced and C) to wind up on store shelves without being recalled. None. - Dave G

Target: Renegade, Taito for NES

If standing knee-deep in quicksand while thugs pummel the living daylights out of you is your idea of fun, then you’ll surely love this game. If that’s NOT your idea of fun, don’t bother plugging this cart into your NES. An insult to the Renegade franchise. - Dave G

Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, Hudson Soft for SNES

For those of you who don’t remember Bill Laimbeer, he was a mediocre basketball player who was most well known for his stint with the Detroit Pistons in an era where they were almost championship material, and teammate Dennis Rodman hadn’t yet discovered tattoos, piercings, and ultra-insane behavior. Laimbeer’s claim to fame was t hat he wa a loudmouth crybaby who basically made a living fouling other players. So he was almost the perfect guy to lend a name to this horrible Combat Basketball game. Trouble is, nobody ever liked Laimbeer in the first place. An even worse use of a name than Sega’s Buster Douglas Boxing, and a much, much worse game to boot. - Dave G

Battle Chess, Data East for NES

Originally a PC game, but it quite honestly doesn’t belong HERE. Other versions moved much quicker. Ack! The movements and battle sequences on the NES are SO slow, it makes an already slow motion game appear to be moving in reverse! - Joe Santulli

Prize Fighter, Sega for Sega CD

How bad is Prize Fighter? Well, as bad as it looks, it plays even worse. In fact, you might want to turn on a real boxing match on TV and try and play that instead.  You’ll probably get more out of the experience and wind up with one less broken game. - Dave G

Frogger, Hasbro for PSX

An unplayable update of a fantastic classic game. Not only are the graphics and animation awful, the camera refuses to move along with the action. What that means to anyone masochistic enough to try and play this disaster is that you’ll be spending lots and lots of time screaming at the screen in a futile attempt to make the game remotely fun. Avoid at all costs. - Dave G

Activision Classics, Activision for PSX

This game is currently used in college game design courses as a textbook example of how NOT to emulate and package a set of old games. There is NOTHING good to say about this ill-conceived pile of crap. Simply seeing used copies at your local game shops will send you into a blind rage. It’s just that bad. - Dave G

Donkey Kong, Coleco for Intellivision

Yes, it seems third party developers had some problems getting the most out of the Mattel console’s 16-bit technology. It really shows here.  The familiar looking game looks strangely unfamiliar on Intellivision, with odd sounds, slow-motion action and horrific controls.  Coleco got better with Ladybug and Turbo later on, but this early effort just plain sucks. - Joe Santulli

Cliffhanger, Sony Interactive for NES

Did the world really need the Cliffhanger movie? I dare say no. Which makes the game based on the movie even more perplexing. Certainly there were other more worthy movies to license? Plan 9 From Outer Space immediately comes to mind. This game is a complete loser. Indescribably bad graphics, animation and sound don’t even give the player a chance to see how truly awful the supposed gameplay is. If you ever see this game, throw it off a cliff. Playing it will only make YOU want to jump off of one. - Dave G

Racquetball, Apollo for Atari 2600

Racquetball, the REAL sport of racquetball, is one of the fastest, most physically demanding sports around. Why Apollo attempted to turn it into a 2600 cart is beyond human comprehension. Suffice it to say that this cart is not only infinitely slow and dull - the antithesis of racquetball, it’s nearly impossible to even tell WHERE the ball is. Let me put it this way. If you’ve ever played racquetball in “real life” and gotten hit directly in the face with a ball travelling at well over 150 miles an hour, you have some idea of how painful this 2600 game is. - Dave G

Batman: The Arcade Game, Acclaim for Sega Saturn

This game is a complete mess. It’s impossible to tell where your characters are, what they’re doing, or who they’re supposed to be fighting. And everything seems to happen completely at random. Sometimes you’ll pull off a super move, sometimes you won’t. Now I know the instructions explain why these things happen, as a result of accumulating various icons, etc., but since you can’t really EVER see what’s on the screen, it’s a moot point. You can easily get through the entire game by mashing buttons as fast as you can. Not fun, not pretty, and certainly not what you’d expect from a game. A complete disaster. - Dave G


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