Bottom-10 Bad Games by Good Companies

We know that obscure and barely known companies often produce the most horrendous crap and horrible games. However, it would be hypocritical of us to think that famous and successful “good” gaming companies aren’t capable of churning out crap themselves. This list is devoted to all my favourite game companies that have been guilty of churning out some abysmally bad games.

10. Nintendo: Yoshi Story

Now to be fair, Yoshi Story is not even close to making it on my list of the worst games ever made, but it surely deserves its spot on this list for being an extremely disappointing sequel. Yoshi’s Island is my favourite platformer for the SNES and I was incredibly hyped up for the sequel on the Nintendo 64. However, Yoshi Story didn’t the deliver scope or the scale of its predecessor. Not even one tenth of it.

Now from a presentation point of view I have no gripes with the game. I’m a sucker for these kinds of “so cute it will make you barf” type deals. Where Yoshi Story fails is delivering the challenge and gameplay-content of its predecessor. This is where Yoshi Story fails miserably. Ten levels are all you get and you’ve beaten the game. Not bad if the game had come out in 1985, but this was 1998 and I was expecting a little bit more effort after the 50+ levels of the original.

Of course you can pick your levels freely for the most part, but Yoshi Story is still the biggest let down of a sequel in my book and no mistake.

9. Traveller’s Tales: Sonic 3D

The sad tale of Sega’s attempt at making a 3D Sonic game for the Saturn culminated in the utter break down of Sonic X-treme’s development crew. All the public got out of the project was a quickly hashed 3D flirt in the Sonic Jam anthology release, a shitty fighting game, a shitty racing game and a “3D” Sonic game which wasn’t even 3D. A pre-Lego Traveller’s Tales was enlisted to create the 3D Sonic game which Sega themselves had failed to do.

Sonic 3D, also known by its full title “Sonic 3D Blast: Flickies’ Island”, was a pseudo-3D platformer with an isometric view-angle which was ironically ported to PCs and the MegaDrive (Genesis) as well to maximize the profit gained from it.

But to be fair – in my view, Sonic 3D isn’t even in the running for the worst Sonic game. The controls are slippery, the level design is disorienting and pre-rendered Sonic looks like he’s been moulded out of plastic – but the soundtrack is good and at times the game can even be fun. The reason the game made this list is because it’s just a blatant lie.

8. Midway: War Gods

The popularity of Midway’s ultra-violent fighting game Mortal Kombat immediately launched into existence countless imitators, one more redundant than the last. Ironically, Midway themselves produced a crappy MK knock-off and one I regret even playing on the Nintendo 64.

On the surface the concept behind War Gods sounds promising: getting to play as deities from different mythologies beating each other to a bloody pulp MK style… except that’s not at all what the game is about. What you get is Anubis, a screaming asshole in a Kabuki mask, a long-fingered Voodoo Zombie, an Aztec priest, some rock monster, a Roman guy with a face-covering gladiator mask, a Duke Nukem wannabe shooting missiles from his arms, a poor man’s version of the Terminator and two scantily clad female characters: one Norse chick with a dopey looking Viking helmet and some kind of an S&M lady whose victory pose apparently consists of her punching her own reasonably large breasts.

The gameplay isn’t bad just redundant and none of the characters are really memorable at all. What makes them gods are these green stones that they all wear somewhere on their bodies and of course the last boss is made entirely of this green gunk. To be honest, Midway didn’t need to make this game and the only guy I ever wanted to play as was Anubis (since he was the only actual “god”) and Pagan just because I got a kick out of seeing her punch her own boobs.

7. Revolution Software: Broken Sword – The Angel of Death

I love Revolution Software’s Broken Sword series to death and can’t wait for Broken Sword 5 to hit store-shelves. However, I’d be a liar if I said that all of their games have been universally good. I didn’t quite get Lure of the Temptress, but to be honest I played that game for about 15 minutes so it would be a bit unfair for me to judge it on the basis of that. In Cold Blood also divides opinions, but it’s become one of those games with a bit of a cult following.

In my eyes, The Angel of Death was a horrendously mediocre follow-up to the Broken Sword series when it was released back in 2006. Considering this was the fourth game in the series, I had a feeling it might not be as good as the prior instalments but I was just incredibly let down by the storyline which seemed to have taken a note from Angels & Demons, only not as good (kind of ironic considering the plot of The Shadow of the Templars), and the characters who were mildly amusing at best and insultingly bad and uninteresting for the most part.

Those are really the big ones but there were several more, smaller annoyances with this instalment: frustrating puzzles, a blatant continuity error, uninteresting locations, George’s narration now bizarrely happening in present rather than past tense and a badly implemented reintroduction of the point and click control-scheme. No thanks, I’ll take the keyboard based controls of The Sleeping Dragon any day of the week.

6. Atari: E.T.

Now, to make it absolutely clear, I’m referring to the old Atari games company here. Not the current one making those horrible Alone in the Dark games and what have you. Admittedly, whenever there is talk of bad games, this one will inevitably come up. No matter which way you slice it, E.T. is a horrible game.

What made it’s appearance on the Atari 2600 so unfortunate was the fact that Atari had spent so much money, getting the licence from Spielberg and rather than let somebody do a proper job with it, they gave it to the same asshole who made the overtly cryptic Indiana Jones game for the 2600 to finish up as a rush-job.

The game is spent finding pieces of E.T.’s space-ship, avoiding pits which are everywhere and annoying secret agents that abduct you and generally just make your life misery. E.T. is admittedly one of the worst games ever made, but it was also done at a time when the industry didn’t know any better, so I’ll let it off the Top-5 this time.

5. LucasArts: Super Empire Strikes Back

In the early 1990s, LucasArts set out to create game adaptations of the classic Star Wars movies for the Super Nintendo. Appropriately referred to as Super Star Wars, these three games received critical acclaim but also massive notoriety for their insane difficult. Now I do enjoy Super Star Wars (A New Hope) in spite of its difficulty since it’s such a well put-together game. Super Return of the Jedi is at times a seriously frustrating game, but at least it has a password option and the difficulty at least rises in fair increments. However, there is no excuse for the horrendous monstrosity known as Super Empire Strikes Back.

You would think that the sequel to an incredibly hard platformer would only need a little improving to become a golden classic on the SNES (much like Donkey Kong Country 2). However, Super Empire is the most merciless game you’ll find for the SNES. The first level alone will kick your ass over and over again, and once you finally make it to the Imperial Drone boss-fight you still have the rest of the game to deal with.

Now, at least Super Empire gets easier the further you play but the lack of choice in playable characters, the frustrating challenge and the retarded force-power system make sure that you are not going to enjoy this game at all. And for a game where the cutscenes consist simply of paraphrases from famous quotes of the movie, you’ll be shocked and disappointed that the most famous of all “I am your father” doesn’t even appear anywhere in the game.

4. Rare: Donkey Kong Land

Regardless of what people may think of Rareware now, they are an above average game company on the average in my opinion. I became a huge fan of their games when I played the Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo. Of course their popularity prompted Rare to also make a little brother title for the Game Boy.

Donkey Kong Land 2 which followed the design of DKC2 very closely was actually a pretty good game, but the first Donkey Kong Land for the Game Boy was inexcusably bad. Firstly, though Rare did an okay job in transferring the pre-rendered look from the SNES to the Game Boy, the graphics in DKL still tended to flicker considerably. The already pretty high difficulty of DKC was also greatly increased due to the small size of the screen and especially if you were playing it on an actual Game Boy (instead of a Game Boy adapter or a GBC), it was quite a struggle to make out anything from the screen.

The final nail on the coffin however was that Rare made saving your game impossible without jumping through quite a few hoops, both literally and figuratively. In order to save your progress, you needed to collect all the KONG letters from a level which, as if wasn’t enough of a pain in the ass to do in DKC, was now mandatory unless you felt like having your progress lost when you ran out of extra lives. DKL wouldn’t be too bad of a game, but it’s asinine saving system ruins the whole experience.

3. Ultra Games (Konami): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Though they tried hiding their identity behind the faux-company called Ultra Games, we all know Konami was the company behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games for the NES and SNES. The first TMNT has definitely gone down in infamy and for good reason.

The game’s attempts at combining beat-em-up, platforming and exploration was quite ambitious and unfortunately what Konami might have hoped to have been a Metal Gear turned into another Simon’s Quest. The platforming is sub par to say the least and the game is ruined by its insane difficulty coupled with a pretty pathetic control-scheme as well.

If TMNT had attempted to do one of its many aspects right, it could have been a decent Ninja Turtles game, now the only reason anyone remembers it is because of how bad it was.

2. Capcom: Street Fighter a.k.a.Fighting Street

I love Capcom to death. Mega Man, Resident Evil and Street Fighter 2 are all games I’ve come to love over the years, yet we know that Capcom has had its weak moments and horrendously bad titles. I was never a fan of Mega Man: Battle Networks and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles seemed like a horrendous waste of space in the Wii’s game library, but I think everyone can agree that Capcom’s worst game, hands down, comes from their deep past.

I’m of course referring to their very first Street Fighter game, released under the jumbled title “Fighting Street” for the TurboGrafx CD. With a winning combination like that (an incoherent title and an unpopular CD-add on) you can only imagine how quickly this game disappeared into obscurity. Street Fighter tried to establish the fighting game genre at a time when the most promising title according to most was International Karate on the Commodore 64. Sadly Street Fighter was only a moderate step up.

Plagued by god-awful controls and hilariously bad voice-acting (but also having quite a catchy soundtrack), Street Fighter left plenty of room for improvement which Capcom thankfully did for the game’s far better known sequel.

1. Sega: Virtua Fighter 2 MegaDrive

I’ve mentioned this horrendous game in the past. No matter how many seemingly poor Sonic games Sega churns out, nothing in the world is ever going to top their pathetic 16-bit rendering of their best known 3D fighting game. Virtua Fighter on the 32X was actually a pretty decent game for an early 3D-fighting game, but this mess is just bad to the Nth degree.

Firstly, you’d think that by using 2D technology, Sega would have improved on the blocky graphics of the original. But they didn’t. Secondly, you’d think they’d take the care in redoing the game’s soundtrack for the MegaDrive’s admittedly primitive sound-chip. But they didn’t. Lastly and surely, they would have at least redone the gameplay to better match the system’s limitations. But nope, they didn’t.

Virtua Fighter 2 MegaDrive is the most pathetic excuse of a port you’ll find for any 16-bit system. It’s so bad you can barely believe it.