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The 15 worst-reviewed games of the past 15 years

#5 SPOGS Racing

Platforms: WiiWare
Average Review Score: 18.2%

What the press release promised: “As a long-time game designer, I've learned that there's one defining factor behind a successful game – is it fun?" states Scott Orr, the founder and CEO of the company behind SPOGS Racing. "That question directs our entire strategy…and SPOGS Racing is a great example of that commitment."

What the game actually delivered: SPOGS is a great example of something, alright. “Fun” isn’t it. If you’ve ever complained about rubber banding in Mario Kart – the programming that enables last-place stragglers to suddenly catch up near the end – this game will shut you up forever. There are no logical excuses like blue turtle shells or invincibility stars here; in SPOGS, the speed of vehicles simply fluctuates however the computer sees fit.

Did we say vehicles? We meant pogs. You race as pogs. Pogs with pictures of angry teddy bears, vomit-colored skulls and electrocuted phone operators on them. Floating inside giant tires. Powered by nitro-fueled exhaust pipes that just kind of float next to the tires… or are they attached to the pogs somehow? We don’t know, we don’t want to know and we don’t really need to know. This thing ridicules itself.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “The sound effects…all sound very authentic.” – WiiWare World

The most scathing review quote: “Hyperbole is the internet's best friend, and there's an unwritten rule that anything that vaguely disappoints must be colorfully compared to the experience of watching Hitler's ghost sodomizing a beloved childhood pet, but SPOGS Racing really is that bad.” – Eurogamer


#4 NRA Varmint Hunter

Platforms: PC
Average Review Score: 16.5%

What the press release promised: “Shoot the ground hogs and prairie dogs so they don't dig up fruits and vegetables -- and see if you can bag the most! Test your shooting skills with close and long range targets…Travel to actual locations around the country…Realistic guns and ballistics.”

 

What the game actually delivered: You look at a screen. You aim with a mouse. You shoot varmints. Prairie dogs, groundhogs, etc. Their pixelated corpses fly comically through the air. Sometimes the varmints are close. Sometimes they’re far away. You can’t move yourself, so probably better to aim for the ones that are closer, we’d guess. You reload. You repeat. You reevaluate what your life has become.

Look, the game is called NRA Varmint Hunter… what else do you want us to say? The designers were probably thrilled to get anything above a 10%.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “Finally, there’s multiplayer. It doesn’t work [but] there’s a multiplayer button on the main menu.” – G4 TV

The most scathing review quote: “NRA Varmint Hunter proves that some videogames can be outclassed by potatoes.” – IGN


#3 Little Britain: The Video Game

Platforms: PS2 / PSP / PC (all Europe only)
Average Review Score: 15.3%

What the press release promised: “A fun and entertaining collection of minigames presented in the format of an episode from the TV show…The first in what we hope will be a long line of commercially successful games using our new business model…now looking forward to using the robust and proven technology on further titles in the coming year.”

What the game actually delivered: Little Britain is a British sketch comedy show that most non-British readers will never have seen or heard anything about. For these folks, Little Britain: The Video Game is merely an atrocious collection of tenth-assed minigames with bizarre characters they don’t recognize and irritating sound clips they don’t understand. Pray you belong to this group.

For fans of the series, Little Britain: The Video Game is an unforgettable affront, repugnant in its total lack of respect for their love and loyalty. It consists of only seven minigames (though the back of the box claims eight) and stars only a handful of characters. This is probably a blessing, though, considering how unpleasant each becomes in the context of their hellish, one-joke adventures. This is quite possibly the worst licensed product ever created. Do you dare watch below?

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “The characters are easily identifiable.” – AceGamez

The most scathing review quote: “The English language is insufficient to fully describe the atrocities this game comprises. It is an abomination in the eyes of God.” – PALGN


#2 Elf Bowling 1 & 2

Platforms: DS / GBA
Average Review Score: 12.1%

What the press release promised: “Strap on your best pair of bowling skates and polish up your shiny Christmas ball. It's time to save Christmas from those greedy little union elves. Help Santa show [them] what the true meaning of 'strike' is!”

What the game actually delivered: These aren’t games. These aren’t entertainment. These are barely interactive. We’d compare them to the animated banner advertisements that ask you to “shoot the terrorist!” or “whack the celebrity!”… but that’d be demeaning to the fine folks who spent 15 seconds putting those together.

In Elf Bowling 1, you don’t actually bowl. You tap the screen, watch a kindergarten drawing of Santa bowl and listen to festively dressed midgets bark at you in high-pitched squeaks. In Elf Bowling 2, you don’t actually bowl again. In fact, this time you play shuffleboard with naked elves. So even reading the words on the front of the box is not worth your time, because they’re wrong, too.

Plus, remember Chicken Shoot? And how it was available for free on PCs in 2003 before being ported to DS in 2007? Elf Bowling was available for free on PCs in 1999. Yeah.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “You get to knock over elves.” – Modojo

The most scathing review quote: “You'd be equally entertained by just tapping the stylus on the screen while the system is off.” – GameSpot


#1 Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

Platforms: PC
Average Review Score: 5.9%

What the press release promised: “Get ready for some brake jamm'in, CB talk'in, convey roll'in action acoss America! You'll be hauling loads and trying to stay one step ahead of the law as you climb into your Big Rig for non-stop driving action. And if that's not enough, you'll also be able to race your modified Rig on one of 5 different tracks for the ultimate driving rush as you crush the competition and set a new track record!”

What the game actually delivered: Joy and laughter to millions of people across the globe. Unlike the previous 14 entries in this countdown, you can’t hate Big Rigs. You can’t get frustrated. You can’t get upset. The game is just too obviously broken from the very beginning for anyone to become that invested.

“Stay one step ahead of the law”? The game didn’t ship with police included. “Race your modified rig”? It also forgot to ship with actual racing opponents. “5 different tracks”? When you try to load the fifth, the game crashes… and when the publisher released a patch to fix this issue, the fifth track was revealed as nothing but a mirrored version of the first. “Non-stop driving”? Sometimes, when starting a race, Big Rigs believes you’ve finished and rewards you with a congratulatory screen after five seconds. Genius!

You see? It’s impossible to stay mad at Big Rigs. Like Homer Simpson or Lennie Smalls, watching this dimwitted oaf of a game stumble across your screen inspires more pity than detest. In the end, all you can do sit back, drive your truck (preferably through a building or up a 90 degree mountainside) and enjoy the wonderful absurdity that such a product ever hit store shelves to begin with.

The nicest thing anyone had to say: “Quotation forthcoming.”

The most scathing review quotes:

“So pathetic it makes a sandpaper-and-vinegar enema sound positively delightful.” – Cheat Code Central

“If you hate someone, and I mean HATE someone, give them this game as a gift.” – Thunderbolt

“Since there are absolutely NO categories that this game can claim to have completed, it gets a 0. In everything. It's an absolute failure in all departments.” – netjak

“So astoundingly bad that it manages to transcend nearly every boundary put forth by some of gaming's absolute worst of the worst.” – GameSpot

“This is hands-down, the worst videogame to ever see the light of day. Really.” – G4 TV


Editor's note: Review scores averaged from the lowest available numbers on Metacritic and GameRankings. To guarantee diversity, crap-heavy platforms like PC and Wii were limited to two exclusive titles each. Extra weight, however, was given to games with low scores on multiple platforms.

Jul 28, 2009


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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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