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What are the worst video games ever?

Video games have been around for over 40 years now, and we’ve had some real classics in that time.

Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of duds too. Here are some of the worst video games of all time!


Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

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Boy, where do we even start with this one?

From the moment you fire it up, it’s clear that Big Rigs is unfinished. Although ‘unfinished’ is giving the game too much credit; it’s more like ‘barely started’.

You play as truck driver hauling illegal cargo, which means you have to avoid cops while taking part in a series of races.

However, your truck has no cargo on it and there are no cops in the game. There are rival truckers, however, but the developers forgot to give them any AI so they just sit at the start line until you’ve finished the race. You literally can’t lose.

If you drive into an obstacle, you’ll go straight through it (including bridges). You can also drive endlessly off the side of a level into a grey Matrix-style void and reverse your truck at a speed far beyond the speed of light (although releasing the reverse key stops your truck dead in an instant).

The cherry on the cake comes as you cross the finish line, speeding past your still stationary rival, when the game declares in big, bold font: YOU’RE WINNER!

Needless to say, critics destroyed Big Rigs and it’s still the worst reviewed game on Metacritic. It’s hard to imagine any game taking its place.


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

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The story of E.T. is legendary. It should have been a surefire hit, but instead it nearly killed the video game industry entirely.

Keen to capitalise on the success of the movie, Atari reportedly paid $21 million to secure the rights to E.T. and got one of their finest developers, Howard Scott Warshaw, to create it.

However, Warshaw was given just five weeks to create E.T. from scratch, which was a short production period even in the Atari days.

E.T.’s concept is simple. Playing as E.T., your goal is to find various components to build an intergalactic telephone while dodging government agents and scientists.

These components are hidden in various pits dotted around the screen. Once the player has entered a pit and collected the component, they can hover back out and continue their search. Well, that was the idea anyway.

In reality, the game’s limited development time meant that E.T. was riddled with game-breaking bugs. The worst was E.T. getting stuck in one of the pits, meaning players couldn’t progress.

Still, Atari remained confident the popularity of E.T. would lead to success. They expected to sell around five million copies, and spent a reported $5 million on advertising.

The initial sales figures were positive, although word soon spread that E.T. had a lot of problems. Sales slowed and E.T. only managed to shift 1.5 million copies, setting in motion the events that led to the great North American video game crash of 1983.

Shortly after the failure of E.T., a rumor emerged that Atari had buried millions of copies in a New Mexico landfill. The E.T. burial site remained one of gaming’s greatest urban legends until 2014, when a company called Fuel Industries excavated the site and found copies of the game (along with other Atari games).

Today, E.T. is widely regarded as one of the worst – if not the worst – video games ever made. Electronic Gaming Monthly, PC World and FHM have all named it the worst game ever, while GameTrailers named it the second worst movie adaptation.


Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties

Back in the early days of gaming, people were very excited about full motion video. FMV video games were essentially interactive movies, with players making choices that affected the story.

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is one of the most notorious entries into this genre, even though it’s not actually a full motion video game (despite being advertised as one).

Only the intro is FMV, with the rest of the game presented as – and we’re not kidding here – a photo slide show. Yep, just like the boring holiday ones your neighbours used to force you to endure.

Still, that’s forgivable if the plot is engaging. Unfortunately, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is a bizarre romcom that plays out like the first draft of a high school play. It follows John (the plumber from the title) as he navigates a love triangle, although all manner of weird stuff happens along the way.

Throw in some bad voice acting and the fact that, yes, this is a slideshow masquerading as a video game and you have all the ingredients for one of the worst games ever.


Superman 64

Poor Superman. Despite having all the powers known to man, he still hasn’t starred in a good video game.

He has starred in a few terrible ones though, the worst of which is Superman 64.

The game kicks off with Lex Luthor imprisoning Clark Kent’s friends in a virtual recreation of Metropolis. However, it soon becomes clear that Lex isn’t a great developer; virtual Metropolis is practically empty and shrouded in a ‘kryptonite fog’ designed to cover the game’s limited draw distances.

Lex’s evil plan is even worse, though. Instead of throwing legions of ultra-strong baddies at Superman, he makes him fly through loads of hoops over and over again. Considering Superman once literally reversed the rotation of the Earth, this seems like an ill-thought-out plan… until you realise Superman 64’s controls are so bad that even flying through two of these hoops is a challenge.

When you’re not flying through hoops, you also get to beat up virtual baddies and use some of Superman’s other powers (like super strength) although the combat is terrible too.

According to Eric Caen, the game’s producer, many of the game’s problems were caused by heavy restrictions enforced by DC Comics and Warner Bros. For example, it was apparently their idea to set the game in a virtual Metropolis so that Superman wasn’t beating up ‘real’ people.


Games


Ride to Hell: Retribution

In Ride to Hell: Retribution, you play as Jake Conway, a Vietnam vet with PTSD, who joins a motorcycle gang to avenge his brother’s death. It sounds like the set-up to a latter day Tarantino flick, but it leads to something much, much worse.

Ride to Hell soon descends into a series of boring clichés and offensive stereotypes, with most of the women in the game reduced to mere objects for bikers to just over.

What really cements its legacy as one of the worst video games ever are the technical issues that make the game nearly unplayable. The controls are awful, with combat reduced to quick-time events and some severe lag when aiming your gun. It even manages to drain all the fun out of riding a motorcycle!

The open world turns out to be an illusion, with precious little to do outside of the linear narrative. Did we mention the voice acting is some of the worst ever committed to a game too?

Unsurprisingly, Ride to Hell got awful reviews and is one of the few games to receive 1/10 on Gamespot.


Rise of the Robots

Unlike many of the games in this post, Rise of the Robots had groundbreaking graphics for its time.

However, the impressive veneer hid what is arguably the worst fighting game ever made. You play as a Cyborg sent to liberate a company from an evil AI who plans to launch a robot uprising.

This ‘uprising’ consists of a few utility bots with slightly different skills, like Loader the forklight truck, Builder the construction bot and Military the…erm, military bot.

All of them share one characteristic, though: they’re all stupid, as pretty much all of them can be beaten by spamming jump kicks. Before the game’s release, the developers promised unprecedented levels of artificial intelligence.

Rise of the Robots also boasted a soundtrack by Queen’s Brian May, although a rights dispute meant that only one of the tracks he recorded appeared in the game.

The team behind Rise of the Robots launched a huge marketing campaign to support the game, including a novel and plans for toys, cartoons and even a movie. Only the novel surfaced, and Rise of the Robots main legacy today is as one of the worst fighting games ever made.


Rogue Warrior

Rogue Warrior had all the ingredients for success: Mickey Rourke (fresh from his Oscar nominated performance in The Wrestler) signed on to voice the main character; it was based on the bestselling memoirs of real Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko, and military first person shooters were at the height of their popularity.

A troubled development led to a jumbled mess of a game though, with bad controls, a ton of glitches and terrible AI turning Marcinko’s mission to sabotage North Korean missile launchers into a boring, frustrating slog (even though the game is only two hours long).

The biggest crime of all though is the script, which features more profanities than all of the Eminem albums combined. It tries to be edgy but is inadvertently hilarious.


Aliens: Colonial Marines

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What the world needs now isn’t love, it’s a decent game based on Aliens. How hard can it be to turn possibly the best action movie ever into a good video game?

Pitched as a sequel to James Cameron’s action classic, Colonial Marines places players in the armor of Marine Christopher Winter as he searches for survivors on the U.S.S Sulaco. The plot takes quite a few liberties with the Alien timeline though, the main one being the choice to bring back Corporal Hicks (who is quite clearly dead in Alien 3).

Aside from the plot, Colonial Marines also suffers from dodgy AI (with aliens sometimes running straight past you) and surprisingly bad graphics.

Like most terrible video games, a troubled development is to blame for most of Colonial Marines’ problems. Although Borderlands creators Gearbox are listed as the main studio, they apparently outsourced a lot of the game to other studios.

The difference between the gameplay shown at trade shows and the final product led to a lawsuit being launched by various gamers. Sega eventually settled for $1.25 million, although Gearbox were dropped from the case in 2015.


Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is like a bad remake of the original classics. It looks like them, it has similar music and it even plays a little like them but all the magic is missing.

It’s basically a Tony Hawk’s game minus the fun. The levels lack the detail that made the original games so addictive, the gameplay doesn’t flow as well and there are a ton of technical glitches.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 isn’t nearly as bad as some of the games in this post, but it deserves its place here for bringing a sad end to one of the best video game franchises of them all.


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