There are video games out there that are holy and beloved to many gamers. Here’s a list of some of them. But at the same time, there are video games known for simply being the worst. As is usually the case, it’s the bad games that often have complex or dramatic stories behind them. Some games are even so bad they nearly tanked the video game industry itself. A bad game can be fascinating- so let’s take a look at some of the most loathed games in the world and examine what just makes them so bad.
Are there any games you feel should be hated enough to be on the list? Say so in the comments!
E.T. The Extraterrestrial: The Video Game (1982)
While the E.T. movie is a beloved classic, the video game based off of it is the exact opposite. There’s not many games that could claim to be so bad that they took down a major video game company, but that’s exactly was E.T. did. Not only that, it’s been credited for throwing the entire video game industry into crisis. That’s impressively terrible.
Basically, Atari made the E.T. game in just five short weeks, trying to get it out in time for the Holiday season. The results are what you’d expect- the game was glitchy, the visuals were crude and to story was dull. One sticking point for many was the fact you fell into a pit every five seconds and this was monotonous and time-consuming.
Atari expected to sell five million copies of this game, but only sold 1.5 million when the games poor quality caused customers to send it back. Game stores were left with tons of unsold cartridges and demanded to be able to return them. Being unable to get rid of a games, Atari instead buried them in a landfill in New Mexico, along with some other games and material. There were 700,000 games in total. Many of them were excavated a while back by a team which made a documentary about the experience (It was called Atari: Game Over).
The failure of E.T. was a big contributor to the fall of Atari, which went from being a video game giant to doing so badly it ended up being divided up into divisions and sold to different companies. And the fall of Atari was a big contributor to the legendary video game industry crisis of 1983, where the video game industry went into a severe recession.
This was even known as “Atari shock” in Japan. The result of this was the United States lost its dominance in the video game console market and Japan instead seized market dominance. Nintendo rose and pretty much replaced Atari and the rest was history.
As a result, the game was deemed historically significant enough that the Smithsonian Institution has a copy. The excavated games were also auctioned off for quite a bit of cash. E.T therefore, is a game so bad it gets to be displayed in a museum as a monument to its badness. We salute thee.
Atari's Pac-Man (1982)
Another huge thing that led to the death of Atari was their port of the Pac-Man game. The conversion was a poor quality one, leading to bad, flickering graphics with sickly brown colors. The maze became a garbled mess and the sound effects were horrible. Millions of fans were disappointed as a result and it was the beginning of the end for Atari.
Custer's Revenge (1982)
A Swedish erotica group created a game for Atari and the result was the abomination that was Custer’s Revenge.Wow, 1982 was a bad year for Atari and video games in general, huh?
The game has the player control a naked General Custer who navigates a battlefield before raping a Native American woman tied to a post. No, seriously. That’s the premise. It’s not meant to be some clever satire of colonialism either, but is genuinely supposed to be erotic (because nothing’s sexier than an abstract block of pixels living out a racist rape fantasy).
Of course, when Native American and women’s groups got mad, the develepor tried to claim it wasn’t rape, that this Native American woman tied to a pole was totally consensually having sex with General Custer in a game titles “Custer’s Revenge”. Sure, buddy.
The game actually ended up being banned in Oklahoma City and Atari received so much negative feedback they sued the games makers. It was eventually pulled from circulation, but still lives on in infamy as a disgusting, crudely designed game.
Link: the Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamleon (1993)
These were Zelda Games released for CD-Rom by Philips Interactive Media with little involvement from Nintendo. And they are horrifying. The cutscenes alone showed the real face of Evil- and it was the fleshy masklike face the animators gave the Zelda characters. People also complained about unresponsive controls and bad voice acting. However, some reviewers maintain that if you don’t insist on comparing the games to the Zelda main series, they’re pretty good in their own right. Regardless, the cutscenes have at least serves as inspiration for countless YouTube poops.
Hotel Mario (1994)
Hotel Mario was another result of the deal between Philips and Nintendo and it is similarly reviled. The game was criticized for similar reasons- bad controls and bad cutscenes. People also felt it was dull that you had to close a bunch of doors to advance in the game. Though not quite as bad as the Legend of Zelda one, it was still the inspiration for many, many YouTube poops.
Catfight is…exactly what it sounds like. Even ignoring the eye-rolling sexism involved in the premise, the sexy-babe battle game failed to live up to anything, much less the fap material it was supposed to be. With horrible controls, weird sound effects, poor graphics and a repetitive squealing soundtrack, it’s embarrassing, low quality smut. PCGamer even said that “being caught masturbating would be less embarrassing than being caught playing this game.” Ouch.
Superman 64 (1999)
Perhaps the only game considered worse than E.T. would be the 1999 Superman game made for Nintendo 64. Once again, this is a game that was based on great source material (Superman: The Animated Series) but still turned out something atrocious. The game was stuffed full of bugs with unresponsive controls, not enough time to even begin to complete the “missions” set for the game and the ability to fly through walls (no, this is not one of Superman’s lesser-known powers). The game designers attempted to cover up the poor graphics and even poorer frame rate with a “virtual reality fog” since Superman is supposed to be in a virtual reality version of Metropolis created by Lex Luthor.
And the story of the game doesn’t save it ether- Superman goes through a virtual reality gauntlet to save a kidnapped Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. That IS the only story. All in all, this is a game that broke the hearts of many kids who bought it, so it’s reviled as a childhood-ruiner.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
This should basically only be known as the game where a hyper-realistic human woman kisses Sonic the Hedgehog back to life. Who wanted human/hedgehog romance? Nobody sensible, but this game gave it to us anyway. That would be enough to sink any game to the depths of hell, but on top of this the game had horrendously glitch controls, poor level design and convoluted, ridiculous storyline.
But seriously, Sonic the Hedgehog and a realistic human woman. It’s just unsettling as hell to even look at.
Postal III (2011)
This video game has been compared to the Uwe Boll movie based on the franchise and the game seems to consider that movie canon, which is all you need to know. It fails to even be coherently offensive, pelting the player with “shocking, un-PC” things but failing to land any real jokes. On tip of that, the game regularly crashes, has limited character models and about a million bugs.
Duke Nukem Forever (2011)
Duke Nukem Forever is one of the most infamous games out there, not just because it’s so bad, but because despite being so bad it took so long to make. This was a game fifteen years in the making (it was announced in 1997 and didn’t come out until 2011) and the result was an ugly mess with dated designs, tedious, plodding pacing and, as noted by several reviewers, a lot of creepy misogyny.
There’s a level in the game where the player as Duke has to shoot down half-naked women who have been kidnapped and forcibly impregnated with alien spawn as they beg and plead for mercy, all while Dukle quips and showing no remorse. Not only does it make the main character monstrously unlikeable, it’s so dark (yet treated so lightly) it’s jarring with the tone of the rest of the game. It comes off as saying "Murdering violated pregnant women- it’s sexy and funny"! Yeah, this game is a garbage fire.
Raven's Cry (2015)
Raven’s Cry was a pirate game that often crashed before the menu even loaded, had clunky controls, bad voice acting and tedious gameplay. Many reviewers weren’t able to even finish it. On top of that, the characters were a swathe of cardboard offensive stereotypes, the protagonist was utterly unlikeable and it’s just a mess of gross cliché. Steam ended up pulling it after the company behind it allegedly faked positive reviews.