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Feature: The Worst Games of All Time

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Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon screenshot

© Phillips


Some games go down in history for pioneering new forms of gameplay, breaking new ground graphically or simply being impossible to put down. Others stick in our minds for all the wrong reasons.

While there's no uniform definition of a bad game, factors such as temperamental controls, bugs and glitches, indecipherable graphics and confusing gameplay are what many of them have in common. There have been some abominations over the years, and Digital Spy has rounded up the worst offenders.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600)

Video game studios trying to make a quick buck off a high-profile licence have been around since the early days of home computing, and movie tie-ins don't come any worse than E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Atari 2600. The game was a lazy, garbled mess pushed out of the door to ensure its release coincided with the Steven Spielberg film.

Not only was the title derided by fans for its poor graphics and head-scratching gameplay, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is often credited with sparking the video game industry crash of 1983. Truckloads of unsold copies were allegedly buried somewhere in New Mexico, so the game may have broken some ground after all.



Superman 64 (Nintendo 64)

Superman 64 is another prime example of a studio placing its faith in a licence without putting in the work to do it justice. Titus Software's N64 abomination did the Man of Steel more harm than a kryptonite bullet to the head. The controls were horribly unresponsive, the graphics blocky and the gameplay painfully monotonous.

Despite being super-poor in every conceivable way, the game was actually a bestseller in North America. Nevertheless, heavy criticism from the press influenced Titus to overhaul the title for its PlayStation port, which mercifully never saw the light of day due to the expiration of the licence.



Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (Philips CD-I)

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most important franchises in gaming history, but just look what happened when it fell into the wrong hands. The Wand of Gamelon was one of three Zelda games released by Philips for its CD-I console after Nintendo's plans for a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo went awry.

All three titles were plagued by bugs, awkward controls, lacklustre gameplay and some of the most cringe-worthy animated cutscenes ever committed to CD-ROM. In short, handing the Zelda licence over to Philips was the equivalent of allowing Ganon to lay his hands on the Tri-Force.



Catfight (PC)

There is one thing worse than a bad licensed game, and it's called Catfight. Not only did Phantom Card's all-female brawler break new ground for sexism in video games, it set the standards in torturous gameplay and frustrating controls.

The game was slaughtered by the press back in 1996, with this choice quote from PC Gamer summing up the general consensus: "[Catfight is] so bad, being caught masturbating to it would actually be less embarrassing than being caught playing it." The title's only real achievement was being parodied in an episode of The Simpsons back when the show was still relevant.



Shaq Fu (Multi)

Video gaming has a long, sad history of celebrity tie-ins, but the medium hit a new low in 1994 when basketball star Shaquille O'Neal set his sights on the fighting genre. If you could get past the absurdity of Shaq Fu's concept, there was always the appalling collision detection to put off any right-minded players.

Developer Delphine Software took a similar approach to Mortal Kombat in a bid to capitalise on the fighting craze of the 1990s, and the result came across like a clone of the Midway gore-fest, devoid of everything that made the game a classic.

> Retro Corner: 'Shaq Fu'



Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600)

Sex simulation games have been around almost as long as home computing itself, and Custer's Revenge for Atari 2600 is one of a vast number that could have made this list. The game cast players as the horny military leader on a mission to deflower a native American girl, and it was every bit as crass as it sounds.

Custer's Revenge was hit by allegations of racism and caused outrage among women's rights groups for its depiction of 8-bit indecent assault, but they weren't its only crimes. The graphics were as crude as the concept and the gameplay as much fun as banging your head against a brick wall.

> Feature: Video Game Controversy



Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (Multi)

The Leisure Suit Larry series has always been crude, but its early adventure instalments had redeeming features. Box Office Bust, however, does not. The eighth game in the long-running series is a mixture of open-world exploration, platforming, racing and puzzle-solving - all of which it failed spectacularly at.

Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust contained humour bad enough to make Rob Schneider look highbrow. The gameplay was monotonous on every conceivable level, and the storyline pointless. Aggregated review scores rank this as one of the worst multi-platform releases of the current generation, and it's not difficult to see why.



Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (Multi)

Sega's attempt to establish its mascot in the current generation may not technically be one of the worst games in history, but it was certainly among the most disappointing given the character's legacy. Despite having a couple of good ideas, Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was an unholy mess. It was riddled with bugs, the plot was downright bizarre and the controls and physics left much to be desired.

Sonic has struggled to make an impact since the 16-bit era, and his 2006 outing is often cited as the moment he fell from grace. Although the gaming icon has recaptured some of his former glory with the likes of Sonic Generations, this one remains an ugly black mark on his reputation.



What do you think are the worst games of all time? Post a comment below.

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