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The 15 worst-reviewed games of the past 15 years

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- some dead philosopher

Everyone remembers the names of the great… the games that sold, inspired or won over millions. We still recall them with nostalgia and discuss them with reverence. We still play their sequels, their prequels and their remakes. We still celebrate their achievements in countless countdown articles.

But what about the opposite extreme? What about the worst of the very worst? Shouldn’t their names be equally famous, if only so that we may study their sins and promise never to repeat them?

What follows are the 15 games with the absolute lowest review scores, based on averages taken from Metacritic and GameRankings. Just to put things in perspective for you, here are some of the titles that ended up being too good for our list:

 

Are you sure you’re ready for this? Then let’s begin.
 

#15 Charlie’s Angels

Platforms: GameCube / PS2 (Europe only)
Average Review Score: 23.5%

What the press release promised: “Players will strike without warning, as they use clever disguises, tactical espionage and acrobatic martial arts to ensure a successful mission and the ultimate Charlie's Angels™ experience. The movie cast unites to lend their likenesses, personalities and voices to the overall gaming experience.”

What the game actually delivered: The foul hell beasts pictured above, to start with. Sure, you can kind of make out Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore’s likenesses somewhere in that terrifying mess, but only in the same way you can sorta recognize that Michael Myers is wearing a William Shatner mask in Halloween. The graphics are hideous.

No surprise - so is the gameplay. Charlie’s Angels features repetitive combat, amateurish level design, stiff animation, broken camera angles and laughable bullet-time sequences that, while described as “movie-style” by the publicity, really only succeed in slowing down the moronic enemies by a barely noticeable fraction. And movie tie-ins are usually so good, too… 

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “The control system works.” – IGN

The most scathing review quote: “This is the kind of game that's given away when you order a large pizza and get the second one for half price.” – GameCritics


#14 Hooters Road Trip

Platforms: PS1 / PC
Average Review Score: 23%

What the press release promised: “Buckle up for some good-ol', full-throttle action racing from Florida to California and compete for your chance to hang out with the Hooters girls. Choose from a garage full of smokin' rods. You can also blast tunes from Hooters rockin' presets.”

What the game actually delivered: A generous serving of buffalo-style LIES. This isn’t racing, but a torturous exercise in learning to keep a floaty polygon block (referred to in the game as a “car”) on a flat and blurry texture map (or “track”) long enough to reach the first curve. At which point, the oversensitive controls, nonexistent physics and spotty collision detection will invariably send your polygon block lurching wildly into the fuzzy green texture sometimes known as “grass.” Start over.

Oh, the Hooters girls? They’ll show up in short, grainy and completely unrevealing video clips if you finish in the top five. Which you’ll never do, of course... so enjoy ogling them in the manual, menus and loading screens. And if you’d rather do that than just head down to the damn restaurant, you deserve this game.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “Amazingly, for a game that costs 10 bucks, Hooters Road Trip is not the horrific tragedy it could have been.” – Electronic Gaming Monthly

The most scathing review quote: “You’d probably have more fun playing backgammon online with your mother-in-law.” – Gamer’s Pulse


#13 Rock’em Sock’em Robots

Platforms: GBA
Average Review Score: 22.3%

What the press release promised: “It's the classic game of battling robots! You power the punches. Move into position and hammer your opponent's robot until you knock his block off. Watch out...your block can be knocked off too!”

What the game actually delivered: Just what you’d expect. Two colored robots, with all the artistic intricacy and design of mass-produced plastic, punching each other endlessly with the same animations, same sound effects and same results each and every effing time. Rock’em Sock’em toys were the original button-mashers, played mindlessly by bored children decades before videogames were invented. How could the DS and GBA adaptations possibly be any different? This one didn’t go astray somewhere in development… it was crap from conception.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “Every robot can move back and forth.” – GameSpot (emphasis ours)

The most scathing review quote: “You have better things to waste your money on than this, like soap.” – Nintendojo


#12 Miami Vice

Platforms: Xbox / PS2 / PC (all Europe only)
Average Review Score: 21.7%

What the press release promised: “Players will need to decide between characters depending on their unique skills sets. For the swift and silent tactics, a player can use Crockett's cool composure and charismatic movements. For the more robust situation, blasting your enemy with a sawn off shotgun may be the only option. With Tubbs at hand your enemies will be pulp in seconds!”

What the game actually delivered: A bargain-bin third-person shooter that’s had the title “Miami Vice” cynically slapped on the box for commercial purposes alone. No thought or love for the original television series is evident in this bug-ridden cash-in. If not for the sunglasses and poorly rendered hairdos, these characters could be anyone. If not for the occasional palm tree shoved between generic warehouses and hallways, the setting could be anywhere. The storyline is copied directly from an old episode script, as the writers – if there were any – couldn’t be bothered to imagine anything new.

Fortunately, only Europe and other PAL regions had to suffer this shamelessness… though Miami Vice: The Game on PSP, unrelated and released a year later in America, isn’t that much better.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “There are some good things about this game. One being…that you can quit at anytime. No, wait you can’t. In fact, Miami Vice crashes my computer every time I try to quit.” – Jolt Online

The most scathing review quote: “A Crockett of crap, liberally sprinkled with several Tubbs of tedium.” – PC Format


#11 Drake of the 99 Dragons

Platforms: Xbox / PC
Average Review Score: 21.2%

What the press release promised: “Double-fisted shooting, fire breathing and Kung-Fu fighting... oh my! Drake is an intense third-person, action-shooter set in the comic book-styled, supernatural backdrop of Hong Kong. This distinct look [has] already sparked interest in producing a future comic book and animated series.”

What the game actually delivered: To be fair, there was a comic book… created by the same people as the game, though, and published before the game’s release as obvious promotional material. Let’s assume the animated series is still wrapped up in development, shall we?

Clearly, the designers were too focused on synergetic marketing opportunities to focus on proper programming. Drake of the 99 Dragons simply doesn’t work, failing worst of all on the two features that were supposed to set the game apart. The double weapon-firing is a nightmare of shoddy targeting and shoddier controls, while the storyline is unoriginal and – thanks  to choppy narration by our hero – utterly incomprehensible.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “Many of the voice recordings for the characters are halfway decent.” – Worth Playing

The most scathing review quote: “I briefly considered driving my car off a cliff on the way home one day, just so I wouldn't have to play it anymore.” – eToychest

99 comments

  • mozaralio - January 22, 2013 2:44 a.m.

    I liked fusion frenzy... and I remember playing elf bowling when I was 7, I feel like it had better graphics on the PC in 1999 than it does on the DS in 2007?
  • Fletchdawg - September 25, 2012 11:51 p.m.

    Awesome read, very funny stuff. Great list. That jackass game on ds wasn't on the list but was in the opening image, that thing was terrible to the point of unplayable, it was like a scaled down, non user friendly version of the insurance job parts of saints row 3 where you bounce off traffic. I never thought backyard wrestling was that bad a game I remember it being difficult from time to time but always enjoyed playing it and from memory liked the counter system, the hit detection worked and when you were playing someone with a similar skill leel it was pretty entertaining. Might need to fire it up tonight as I haven't played the PS2 in a while, why do I have fond memories if it is this bad? From memory it spawned a sequel too so they must have at least sold some copies...
  • tabuju - July 12, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    I used to have Nickelodeon Party Blast on my PC! That game was actually pretty fun.. right now, i understand, back then, i thought any game was great.
  • Octoboy - July 19, 2010 7:28 p.m.

    “So astoundingly bad that it manages to transcend nearly every boundary put forth by some of gaming's absolute worst of the worst.” That's great, really makes me miss the days Gamespot was reliable. On a different note: where is Superman 64?
  • LikaLaruku - January 31, 2010 7:54 a.m.

    That Liesure Suit Larry video wasted 7 minutes of my life I'll never get back.
  • bigkriem - January 6, 2010 3:44 a.m.

    no, you are not the winner, you are wiener for buying that crap
  • bigkriem - January 6, 2010 3:41 a.m.

    How to make Big Rigs better:1)have guns 2)make it look better 3)make stuff solid, or just throw that pile of elephant poo away.
  • kneehighsocks - January 4, 2010 1:06 a.m.

    I remember playing elf bowling on when I went to my grandparents house on their pc back in 1999. It was fun then, but then again I was like 8 years old.
  • dante1924 - December 28, 2009 6:57 p.m.

    No you are not big rigs. You are most certainly not WINNER! Elf bowling took 15 seconds to make? Oh yeah? Big Rigs took only FIVE! Big rigs is winner at that, right? RIGHT?
  • BertTheTurtle - August 28, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    Big Rigs sounds hilarious, but I always loved a game of Elf Bowling. Played it a lot when I was younger.
  • RandomIdoit - August 3, 2009 8:09 p.m.

    EEEEEEEEEEW!!! These games make me want to puke! And F'ing POWER RANGERS was too good for this list? BIG RIGS IS THE 2nd WORST GAME EVER SPAWNED BY THE MOST EVIL VIDEO GAME MAKERS IN ALL OF EXISTANCE!!!!!!!!!!!
  • thumperdh - August 3, 2009 5:27 p.m.

    I see every one forgot "Skydive" for the pc check it out yourself http://pc.gamezone.com/gamesell/p13236.htm http://www.games.net/external/103545/635/gamepro/skydive/
  • super0sonic - August 2, 2009 6:08 a.m.

    Wow i kinda want to play that big rig game.
  • lovinmyps3 - August 1, 2009 11:10 p.m.

    My god... the elf DOES have two dicks!!!
  • noobmasteroftehworld - August 1, 2009 3:57 a.m.

    why isnt superman 64 on this the game is so terrible that its good let that sink in for a moment
  • GMAN2 - July 31, 2009 6:34 p.m.

    Haha this has got to be one of the funniest articles.
  • Shrimpandwhitewine - July 31, 2009 3:43 p.m.

    Great article, really funny read.
  • matt588 - July 31, 2009 4:43 a.m.

    I actually enjoyed elf bowling and chicken shoot, but only because for some reason they were loaded on my high school's computers. Luckily I was able to play them instead of study.... on second thought maybe I should have spent more time studying because I seem to have been the only person stupid enough to buy destroy all humans:big willy unleashed. Just thinking about that abomination causes rage to swell up deep from within.
  • FriendlyFire - July 31, 2009 4:05 a.m.

    For some reason I was *sure* Big Rigs would be #1... Maybe it's just that special!
  • theschwartzb - July 31, 2009 3:31 a.m.

    I love how several of the "best quotes" for some of these games werent really good at all.

Showing 1-20 of 99 comments

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