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E.T. (Atari 2600)
Most movie-to-game adaptations end up being labelled rubbish as soon as they are released, and the same can be said of game-to-movie. There are successful exceptions though, like Batman or Cobra for the C64 or the Silent Hill flick which, while not great, was at least passable. Regrettably E.T. for the Atari 2600 has no such luck, heavily flopping despite being hyped-up before sales.
For a big-time release the game seemed rushed with game-play as fun as filling your tax return. You might manage to collect all five ship-parts and wait eagerly as the pink flying-saucer, resembling some beaten-down boiler in your cellar, comes to get you. More likely though, you will not get out of the first pit, if you indeed manage to navigate that far.
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Stalin vs Martians (Windows)
Stalin vs Martians ill-famed reputation precedes its attempt at parodying an entire genre, putting the player against a Martian invasion in Soviet lands. Again the real let down here is general game-play, coupled with an abundance of ridiculous quotes and weapons like the Patrioticheskaya Pesnya (USSR National Anthem) -- used to defeat those listless aliens, who either wait for their impending doom or senselessly roam the map.
The game is fun for perhaps the first hour or so, after which the “Stalinator” theme or other complete aural mismatches simply do your head in. Not as bad as some other stinkers, but deserving of the trash-bin nonetheless.
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Hong Kong 97 (SNES)
Usually the developers of a game are mentioned so that enthusiasts have some info on the company behind the game. In this case mentioning Happy Soft is much the same as giving out the address of the boy who is harassing your sister, so you can hunt him down.
HK 97 is a mix of impossible game-play, propagandistic insanity plastered all over the screen and other content ranging from puzzling to nonsensical. All of which makes it a candidate in this top ten worst video games of all time list.
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Extreme Paintbrawl (Microsoft Windows)
The very title may sound promising for an FPS, but EP ends up being as extreme as a Sunday-afternoon macramé and crotchet session. Like all other FPS titles the point is to run-and-gun, by tagging your opponents in a paint-ball bonanza; problems arise though, as opponents end up disappearing, running into walls, and rapidly shifting vertically as the pixellated landscape splits for no apparent reason.
Add compatibility problems, embarrassing graphics and use of the largely unsuccessful “build engine” and you have a sure recipe for failure.
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Pac-Man (Atari 2600)
If anything, the home-console release of the arcade classics proves that huge sales do not necessarily equate to good quality. Though Pac-man for the Atari was much anticipated by arcade-players and sold well, it was criticised heavily for the poor quality and deemed a less than passable port from the arcade version. Sprites were botched and the ghosts just weren’t the same.
The Atari 2600 version was a hope-filled, best-selling flop and, together with E.T., marked Atari’s slow-but-sure downfall.
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FBI Hostage Rescue (PC)
In a set time-frame you must escort hostages out of buildings before a massacre ensues. Problem is, call it panic or lack of brain power, hostages will likely get stuck on anything they can, be it a door or a plant pot. Add poor graphics and repetitive game-play and this title ends up as another one of the forgotten.
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Games by “Mystique” for the Atari
Mystique set itself up as a video-game company catering exclusively to adult tastes, having originally been a company which produced porn flicks. Evidently they thought that they could break into the still-green video game market, with all the intent of making big bucks with the old “sex sells” business model -- wrong.
Games by Mystique are obviously filth, but this is not a factor which grants them our stinker’s accolade. The graphics are bad even for their time, the game-play worse and the premise of the games is completely inept, if one were to gloss it over. Take any of Custer’s Revenge, Beat’em & Eat’em or Bachelor Party to test how durable and tough those 80’s cartridges really were.
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Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
A racing game which breaks any possible law of physics is destined to fail. Big Rigs breaks them all, from driving through trees and climbing mountain ranges like they were hills to driving through a bridge (instead of across it) or right through your opponents. That is if the other cars can indeed be called opponents, since no AI is scripted and they hardly ever drive to compete.
All this results in an experience without much point, where you can’t really lose and, since there is no collision clipping, an experience where you can happily fall asleep at the wheel. Perhaps Zynga can clone this and make it into one of their long line of successful games for numb minds or sore losers.
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I do not own a Wii console and don’t particularly want one, but friends and owners of Cruis’n were enraged at how bad it looked and they were prompt to curse the console’s limitations for the game’s faults. Hardly the case though, as the game was bad because of a lack of thought from the developers, who put together an outdated product in every single respect. Some described it as a quick way to make money for the company, being released in the early days of the Wii.
I did have a go on it and, being accustomed to “turning the disk over” in the past, I patiently awaited the long-loading times expecting to be rewarded -- no such luck though.
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Since these kind of lists tend to include the same games over and over, I thought I’d include something obscure from back in the day. Though there is something that still fascinates me about this game, including the one page manual with the insane German limerick, objectively it would drive anyone mad. By design it’s a basic platformer, though good luck trying to find out what you are supposed to do in the game.
The music is by Frank Weinberg and it was developed by Kingsoft back in 87, though I doubt it was particularly popular, even amongst German gamers.
There we have some good candidates for a top ten worst video games list. Though there are many similar lists around I hope you’ve found this one entertaining and novel, for various reasons.
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All references from author's own experience and covers from respective games.