10 utterly baffling pre-order bonuses

Phoned-in pack-ins

Pre-orders are pretty great for everybody. As gamers, we can guarantee ourselves a copy of the hottest upcoming game--no one wants to be turned away on Grand Theft Auto release day. For developers, pre-orders are an early way to judge sales. To boost those numbers, they often include pre-order bonuses like character skins or bonus levels.

But sometimes pre-order bonuses can kinda suck. Maybe they have nothing to do with game, like Resident Evil's snow globe; maybe they don't even work, like Gears of War's RC tank. Either way, we wind up baffled and disappointed. Here are some of the lamest pre-order bonuses ever offered. Seriously, who would want these?

Finger puppets with Street Fighter 4

Street Fighter. All you need to do is hear the title and your brain instantly pictures fighters from around the world duking it out in parking lots, kitchens, and airports. It's a game about street fighting--champions from countries like Brazil, China, and Russia vying for the top tournament spot. So any pre-order extras should have tied into that intercontinental violence, right?

Nope, the marketers at Capcom decided to focus on the elementary school world of thumb wrestling, a far cry from the merciless beatdowns of Street Fighter. It's tough to even call these things "finger puppets." As you can see in the picture above, they're really just cheap fabric that slides over a thumb. I give this bonus two Blanka-covered thumbs down.

Extra lives with Sonic Lost World

You know what? Sonic Lost World is actually pretty good. It's one of the blue blur's best outings since the jump to 3D, and the pre-order bonus celebrated that with 25 extra lives. That seems like a nice number of extra chances, but with Lost World, it's not.

Thing is, Sonic is about running fast, zipping around dangerous spikes and over pits, not death. But Lost World gets really hard in its later levels, so you need lots of lives. Did Sega pull a dick move with the guys who didn't get the extras? I guess they could always just grab 2500 rings instead. That's not ridiculous, right?

Snow globe with Resident Evil 5

Few series are as intense as Resident Evil is (or was, if you're a naysayer). The zombie-killing, gun-juggling action, and creepy undead atmosphere create experiences of blood-soaked survival horror. With that much sanguine evil going on, you know Capcom had to deliver something bloody good for Resident Evil 5 pre-orders. What was the offer? Fake blood packets? Little gun keychains?

Nope, they went with a snow globe, also known as the "I don't know you well enough to buy you a thoughtful holiday gift." RE 5 doesn't even have any snow! What's that? The "snow" in the globe is more like African sand? Well that's extra lame. Who owns a sand globe?

Banana Wiimote case with Donkey Kong Country Returns

Despite the name, Donkey Kong is actually a gorilla. As a primeate, he spends his days swinging from trees, collecting bananas, and beating the crap out of kingly crocodiles. He did this in beautiful 2D with Donkey Kong Country, a series which made a comeback with the appropriately titled Donkey Kong Country Returns. Pre-orders for this baby netted you the case you see above.

Except it's useless. Google "Wiimote case" real quick, and you'll see that "cases" are rubber skins that customize the look of your Wiimotes. But Donkey Kong's was a carrying case. Who walks around with Wiimotes zipped up in fabricated fruit? Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see Candy Kong?

Football with Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Black Flag was a smart new direction for the Assassin's Creed team. It breathed new life into the series with its refined parkour and vast ocean to explore. Also, we got to spear whales. Word. Assassin, Templar, and pirate factions all going after each other left plenty of possibility for pre-orders and Ubisoft went with a football.

I'm not going to make a "gamers are bad at sports" joke here--I'm quite the water polo aficionado myself (you should see my sweet red swimming cap). Instead, I'm going to get a little factual. American football was first played in the late 1800s. Black Flag takes place in the Golden Age of Pirates, more than 100 years earlier. And the modern day sections of the game? They don't have footballs either. Touch-d'oh!

RC tank with Gears of War 2

Even though it totally made other stuff, Epic Games will forever be known as the mastermind behind Gears of War. Something about flipping over an assault rifle to chainsaw a tunneling Locust in half hooked us all with its limb-loosening goodness. With the sequel, we enjoyed some vehicle sequences using the Centaur tank, so it's kinda nifty that Epic included an RC version of the tank with pre-orders.

Unforuntately, the RC Centaur was total crap--just watch it in action. First of all, the wheels were designed so poorly that the thing can't turn. Not that you'd need to turn anyway, because it barely slugs along. Put it on carpet, and it literally cannot move. Cen-terrible.

Golden guns with Uncharted 2

Nathan Drake is the hero of Uncharted, and a role model to many a young gamer who's never seen Indiana Jones. His journeys are all about finding treasure--deep in the jungle, high on the mountains, hidden in the desert, wherever. So how did Naughty Dog show this materialism with Uncharted 2? A mini statue or some gold coins would have made sense.

Or you know, some gaudy gun skins. Pre-orders for Uncharted 2 came with the golden guns you see above. Drake is a bit prideful--he's a handsome, globetrotting womanizer after all--so maybe this is some genius metaphor in weapon form. Nah, it's just another way to look like a douchebag online.

Golden Optimus Prime and Megatron with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Robots in disguise! Michael Bay's statement on society's inability to skip god-awful movies! However you remember Transformers, you share one thing with all of its fans--you love watching big hunks of living metal duke it out. With the Revenge of the Fallen game adaptation, you get to do the duking yourself, with each Transformer looking more colorful and badass than the last.

This was ruined by GameStop's golden skin pre-order--it didn't stop with Uncharted. I mean, why would you want to see Optimus' iconic red and blue or Megatron's purple when you could make them look like poorly painted Warhammer pawns? The only reason to wrap something in this gaudy fashion is if there's chocolate on the inside.

Special melee attacks with Remember Me

For those who can't recall Remember Me--not the shite Robert Pattinson film but the game--here's the pitch: parkour and melee combat in futuristic Paris. It's a gorgeous world sometimes overshadowed by the uppercuts and leg sweeps from protagonist Nilin. What I'm getting it as that the combat was really good--the Pressen combo system was the best thing the game did.

So for pre-orders, Capcom decided to offer three unique attacks based on Street Fighter: the Dragon Punch, Flash Kick, and Spinning Bird Kick. But why limit cool moves like these to pre-orders? Wouldn't it be better to work up to them, making them actual rewards for mastering Remember Me's combo system? At least they didn't try to give us gold fists.

Glow-in-the-dark condoms with Infamous: Second Son

I I don't know even know what to say here. Let me start with this--Infamous: Second Son is the story of Delsin Rowe, a superhero who gains a variety of sweet powers, none of which revolve around contraception. Last time I checked, Conduits in Second Son didn't get their superpowers from STDs.

It's worth noting that this pre-order bonus was exclusive to Italy, but that's still a whole country made uncomfortable by the offer. And it would be one thing if they were simply Infamous-branded condoms. Why do they have to glow in the dark--was there a weird night time mission in Second Son I never saw? Did they glow so you could get funky in the dark and imagine your genitals at a rave? And God help the guy who mixed these up with his Street Fighter finger puppets...

But wait, there's more!

There you have it--10 pre-order bonuses nobody wanted. I can't imagine why the marketing teams thought these were good ideas. Do you own any of these atrocities? Do you think some of these are actually good? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more pre-order goodness? Watch the Alien: Isolation official pre-order trailer to see what it's offering, or check out this Final Fantasy designer's take on Batman--wouldn't that make a sweet bonus?

Freelance Writer

Tony lives in Maryland, where he writes about those good old-fashioned video games for GamesRadar+. His words have also appeared on GameSpot and G4, but he currently works for Framework Video, and runs Dungeons and Dragons streams.