The 15 worst PC games of all time

Richard Cobbett at

11. Virtuoso

Bad games are ten a penny. True stinkers have to go that little bit further. Virtuoso goes all the way. It’s a shooter where you play a rockstar blowing off steam by playing a computer game, with draw distances apparently based on how far a corpse can spit, and a main character who can’t even move and shoot due to having to duck out of the way to let you see what you’re shooting. If only it could have been the godawful indie band seemingly dragged off the street to cement Virtuoso’s position as a true rock-and-roll suicide. The most bizarre thing about the whole game is how irrelevant the rockstar element is. The three levels take you to Mars, the bottom of the ocean, and into a haunted house, but they could be from any game, being played by any lanky-haired idiot. On the plus side, having them all here in one place made it easy to actively not play any of them.

12. Extreme Paintbrawl

Sometimes, you play a game so sloppy, it feels like it was thrown together in a couple of weeks. eXtreme Paintbrawl actually was. That’s not a joke. To give its creators some credit – a little, anyway – they threw together a full game, with five levels, team combat, and even the unique selling point of being ‘the
first non-violent 3D shooter’. Unfortunately, things that didn't make it into this first and final build included functional AI, multiplayer code that could connect to other computers, characters who didn’t walk through walls, or any sense of fun whatsoever. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose. Still, it'd be rude to just mock. After all, you might wonder, what exactly have we sneering journalists made in the last fortnight? Not eXtreme Paintbrawl, we answer. Between us and you, we think that means we win.

13. Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge

This obscure game has enjoyed a new lease of life recently due to internet mockery. Part FPS, part interactive movie, the designers had such little faith in their creation that they didn’t even bother with an ending. Not only is it one of the worst games ever made for PC, it’s a strong contender for the most
unfriendly. Many bad games punish you for breaking their poorly explained rules, but few so completely demand you be psychic – constantly punishing you for mistakes you couldn’t possibly know about, like which items you're allowed to take out of the video sequences without having evil spirits empty your inventory. The most terrifying thing about it is that someone, at some point, may even have sat down to design it. That person is either a mad god, or the devil himself. Nothing in the middle.

14. Big Rigs

Nobody seriously argues that this is the worst commercial game ever released. The only question is whether calling it that is actually being too nice. After all, that implies that it deserves to be thought of as a game. How bad was it? It was a racer where your opponent never left the starting line. A racing game with no collision detection, letting you drive through houses and fall through bridges. The only thing saving it from actual damnation – the only thing saving it from causing actual physical pain – is that almost nobody played it without knowing all this in advance, making it more of a toy for gaming masochists than a game that anyone might have fallen prey to. Even so, its dark legacy (probably) lives on. "Yeah, that's crap," we hear some publisher types musing. "But really, is it as bad as Big Rigs? I think not. Ship that thing."

15. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust

Folks, this is what Hell looks like. The Larry games are often unfairly slammed (the first, third and seventh are perfectly good games), but a few minutes in the presence of this advert for chemical castration make it impossible to protest. It doesn't just fail, it fails at everything. It's one of the worst platformers. The worst open worlds. The worst comedies. The worst adventures. It even fails at being shameless misogynistic trash, and not in a good way. Play it, and you'll be glad this supposed sex comedy is far too cowardly for actual sex. Its characters come straight from your worst cheese nightmare, and while Larry may eventually get past first base, it takes godlike reserves of patience to get past the first levels. Even then, you’ll wish you’d spent the time plucking out your gallstones with a spork.