With hundreds of video games being released each year since the late 70s, there are bound to be some terrible titles that stand out from the rest. There are several factors that determine the quality of a game including gameplay, graphics, and story, among others. Much like with movies, in some rare cases a game is so bad that it can be considered good, usually played for comedic purposes. It isn’t easy creating a game that is universally loved by gamers and critics, however, creating a game that is unfinished or poorly implemented is a regular occurrence in the industry. As with any form of entertainment, there are some games that are universally loathed, with the following 12 titles representing some of the worst video games ever created.
12. Rambo: The Video Game
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Rambo: The Video Game is a light gun game without the light gun. Don’t be duped by the screenshots on the back of the box, as this is not a regular first-person shooter, but rather Time Crisis without the colorful plastic pistols. Released in 2014 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, Rambo: The Video Game is an arcade rail shooter developed by Polish Studio Teyon. The game is based on the Rambo film series and puts gamers in the role of John Rambo, with the story and locations set during the first three films.
While fans were initially excited by the premise of playing as John Rambo, after the game experienced several delays it became evident that disappointment was imminent. Upon release, Rambo proved itself a shallow experience, featuring some dated graphics that only highlighted the fact that it would have been better suited as an arcade game in the 90s. Essentially, the game encourages you to shoot everything in sight, including cops, making for a mindless gameplay loop that unfortunately isn’t any fun. What a missed opportunity for a great game based on an iconic action character and franchise.
11. Hotel Mario
Platform: Philips CD-i
Hotel Mario is a puzzle game developed by Fantasy Factory and published by Philips Interactive Media and Nintendo for the Philips CD-i in 1994. The primary character of the game is Mario, who must find Princess Peach by going through seven Koopa Hotels in the Mushroom Kingdom. Every hotel is divided into multiple stages, and the objective is to open all doors on each stage. Defeating a Koopaling on the hotel’s final stage takes the player to the following building.
The gameplay is similar to Elevator Action, but unfortunately suffers from poor controls and enemy hit detection. Hotel Mario features some terribly animated cutscenes that look like they were made in MS Paint by a high school student.
10. Shaq Fu
Platform: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Gear, Gameboy, Amiga
In 1994 NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was involved in everything from movies to music, and even videos games. Shaq Fu is a 2D fighting game released for the Genesis and Super NES and later ported to the Game Gear, Game Boy, and Amiga platforms in 1995. The game’s story revolves around Shaquille O’Neal, who must use the deadly arts of ‘Shaqido’ in a mystical alternate dimension to rescue a mysterious boy from an army of servants loyal to an evil, powerful mummy known as Sett-Ra.
The game has a ridiculous premise that is matched by some ridiculous gameplay. While Shaq Fu featured some decent graphics and animations for its time, the game was widely panned for its silly concept, frustrating controls, and inconsistent hit detection. The butt of jokes for decades since its release, Shaq-Fu somehow received a follow-up release in 2018 titled Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn. It wasn’t very good either.
9. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Sonic The Hedgehog (often referred to as Sonic ’06) is a 3D action platformer developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega as the long-anticipated reboot of the storied franchise. Unfortunately for Sonic fans, the game was not only underwhelming, but was a complete mess that was rushed to market in time for the holiday season. Sonic the Hedgehog follows three hedgehogs—Sonic, Shadow, and Silver—who battle Solaris, an ancient evil pursued by Doctor Eggman.
Gameplay is split into three separate campaigns for the hedgehogs, each of whom has their own unique abilities and must complete a series of levels to advance the story. This disappointing game features a complicated (and cringe-inducing) plot, poor controls, frustrating camera control, and loads of gameplay glitches that lead to the game receiving strongly negative reviews. In 2010, Sega delisted Sonic the Hedgehog from retailers, as part of the company’s decision to remove all Sonic games with poor Metacritic scores to increase the value of the brand.
8. Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
Platform: Phillips CD-i
Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon is an action-adventure game developed by Animation Magic and published by Philips Interactive Media for the CD-i in 1994. The Philips CD-i was a commercial failure due partly to poor software and in that regard, The Wand of Gamelon certainly contributed to its demise. There were three CD-i Zelda games that were the product of a compromise between Philips and Nintendo after the two companies failed to release a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The Wand of Gamelon stands out in that you didn’t actually play as Link, but as Princess Zelda on a quest to save Link and defeat Ganon.
The game features a side-scrolling view much like Zelda II, but doesn’t perform well due to the CD-i’s poor controller. Coupled with some slow and tedious gameplay and poor character animations, the game initially received mixed reviews but over time The Wand of Gamelon has proven to be one of the worst games featuring a Nintendo character.
7. Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties
Platform: Panasonic 3DO
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is an adult-oriented “romantic comedy” graphic adventure game/dating sim developed and published by Kirin Entertainment for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The reception to the game played a large part in the failure of the 3DO console, which was already struggling at the time of the game’s release. The game stars Edward J. Foster and Jeanne Basone as John and Jane, two people who are being pressured by their respective parents to go out and find a spouse. The player’s task is to get John and Jane together.
The game’s title is a good indication of just how terrible it would be and didn’t exactly help to promote sales. Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties plays essentially like a DVD menu or PowerPoint presentation, with very little interaction or skill required. With a poorly written script, terrible acting, and an absurdly sexist storyline the game is one of the worst to ever be released.
6. Ride to Hell: Retribution
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Ride to Hell: Retribution was originally announced in 2008, but canceled later that same year. The game was re-announced five years later and hit store shelves on June 25, 2013. With some of the worst scores ever on Metacritic and GameRankings, Ride to Hell was panned by critics and is considered one of the worst games in recent memory. An action-adventure game developed by Eutechnyx and published by Deep Silver, it was clear that little had been done to the game in the five extra years before launch.
The game opens with a terrible motorcycle driving segment but main levels generally consist of a mixture of third-person, cover-based shooting and beat-’em-up gameplay. With an average score of 17% on Metacritic and GameRankings, it’s no surprise that Ride to Hell features completely broken gameplay, terrible controls and dated graphics. It also has a ridiculous premise that offended many in the gaming community for its offensive portrayal of women, leading to even further disdain for the game.
5. Bubsy 3D
Platform: Sony PlayStation
The game that sent the franchise into dormancy for almost two decades, Bubsy 3D was released for the Sony PlayStation in 1996. A platforming game much like the first three entries in the series, this time around developer Eidetic opted for a fully 3D environment. A part of the infancy of 3D platformers, Bubsy 3D was simply poorly made and never reached the developer’s lofty goals. The game follows Bubsy, an orange bobcat and central character of the Bubsy series, who must stop a race of aliens known as the Woolies from stealing all of the Earth’s yarn.
Bubsy 3D received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics, with criticism being directed at the game’s control, camera, voice acting and overall personality of the main character, who became loathed by gamers. Truth be told, the Bubsy series has never been one that has been held in high regard and with 2017’s release of Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back also being a commercial failure, we may have finally seen the death of the franchise.
4. Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing
Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing is a game so astoundingly bad that it manages to transcend nearly every boundary put forth by some of gaming’s absolute worst. Big Rigs was intended to be a racing game based on long-haul trucks that speed through various US trucking routes in some kind of effort to deliver cargo before the competition gets there first. Unfortunately, the game is a complete mess, with computer-controlled opponents who never actually move. Due to your opponent’s ineptitude, you win every single time and are treated to a screen that reads “You’re Winner”.
There is no real point to playing Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing aside from the hilarity of driving around the game’s broken environments, which are completely devoid of physics and collision detection. The game allows you to drive through buildings, trees, and other vehicles, which eventually drive off into the abyss. Big Rigs obviously received terrible reviews and is regarded by many critics as the worst game of all-time.
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Platform: Atari 2600/VCS
Designed by Howard Scott Warshaw in just five and a half weeks, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released on the Atari 2600/VCS in December of 1982. Intended to be an innovative adaptation of the popular film, the game was critically panned with nearly every aspect receiving heavy criticism. The game is viewed as one of the most important releases in gaming history but not for a good reason, as it is frequently cited as the catalyst behind the video game industry crash of 1983.
Well known as one of the worst games of all-time, E.T. was a massive commercial failure. Over the decades since the game’s release, an urban legend began to circulate that hundreds of thousands of unsold copies of the games were buried in a New Mexico landfill. The rumor turned out to be true, as millions of copies were made and Atari was stuck with the majority of them once word got out that game was so bad. Often cited as a cautionary tale about the dangers of rushed game development and studio interference, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of the worst video game ever released.
2. Superman 64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Superman: The New Superman Adventures, commonly referred to as Superman 64, is an adventure video game developed and published by Titus Interactive for the Nintendo 64. The game is based on the television series Superman: The Animated Series. Superman 64 was released in North America on May 31, 1999 and was largely a mess, with development being hampered by the relationship between DC Comics and Warner Bros.
Although the game was unfinished and full of bugs, it somehow still made its way to store shelves. The gameplay of Superman 64 can be best described as broken, frustrating, and uninspired. The game’s controls are simply terrible as a result of many gameplay glitches, such as when you are hitting an enemy and constantly miss, despite the fact that you are literally touching the enemy. Unsurprisingly, Superman 64 was heavily panned by critics, with an overall negative score of 23% at GameRankings.
1. Hong Kong 97
Platform: Super Famicom
Hong Kong 97 is hands down the worst video game of all-time. Though the game is unlicensed and extremely hard to find a physical copy of, it’s possible to find a ROM online and experience this hilarious dumpster fire of a game for yourself. From the hilarious intro song that loops over and over, to the persistent use of stolen images and foul language, it’s easy to see why Nintendo wouldn’t give it the official seal of quality.
Released by developer HappySoft, a Japanese homebrew game company the game is a multi-directional 2D shooter. The gameplay is terrible and frustratingly difficult, with players being sent back to the beginning after dying from being hit just once. Hong Kong 97 has been called a Kusoge in Japan, which translates to “shitty game”, and is definitely a game considered to be “so bad that it’s good”.