“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
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