Let's face it, bad games are brilliant. As long as you didn't do anything stupid like actually spend money on one, there's hours of fun to be had just savouring the failure.
Great games? They need no help. Mediocrity is never enjoyable. A true stinker on the other hand, a bad idea executed hilariously poorly, is a thing of beauty. The only real problem is where to draw the line. Here are 15 of the worst games ever made.
In-game advertising makes everyone cross, but what if the game itself was the advert? Yo! Noid, One Step Beyond, Spot... there were several of these bad ideas (although Spot was actually fun) but Animal was both the worst and the most inexplicable. A point-and-click adventure starring the poo-like Peperami mascot and voiced by Adrian Edmondson at his most shrieking. Really? Well, yes, and one of the most boring point and-click adventures you can imagine at that. Tedious puzzles and a completely forgettable world aside, it put its cards on the table early on by constantly insulting you for playing it. You deserved its scorn. The scorn of a game about a sausage mascot, which you'd actually gone out and bought with real money. Think on that and realise you'd never scrub away the shame, even if you used a wire brush.
There's a puzzle in this adventure where you need to give someone a bottle of green water. No problem, right? You've got a green bottle. Oh, but water's blue, isn't it? Never mind. Just add a bit of yellow saffron! When people talk about Limbo of the Lost, they usually focus on its minor faux-pas of being a commercial game that blatantly stole all its graphics from games like Oblivion and Wolfenstein, but that's unfair. It's so much worse than that, on a level so twisted, it borders on genius. The kind they keep in a padded cell to stop him picking fights with Batman. One minute you're stumbling through empty caves (stolen from Painkiller), the next exploring Death's house (stolen from Thief 3), the next solving a murder mystery in a game whose plot is never actually explained. It's so insane, it could actually have been funny, except for the fact that it's torture and will make you want to cry.
Normally, when developers come down to show off their hard work,it's considered polite to watch,ask some questions, and hold off on the gallows. Hellboy had an entire room of journalists rolling in laughter from the first line of dialogue. The only problem: it's not a comedy. After apparently vanishing, it hid in shame for years, aside from a demo with some of the worst voice over work this side of House of the Dead, until a reader finally tracked down a copy for its long-overdue scourging. Luckily, it came long before the movie, so not too many people ever fell prey to its awful controls, combat that made Resident Evil embarrassed, and those awful, awful graphics. Firing it up to make sure, just for the record, that it really was that bad, I managed to get to the end of the first level before microwaving the disc. For this, I deserve many, many gold medals.
Aside from classic gods and fantasy, games typically avoid religion in the name of an easy life. The You Testament... goes a different direction. So bad, yet apparently so sincere, philosophers could argue for years about whether it's actually the best troll ever, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a game about following Jesus around, and occasionally punching him in the face by accident. Sometimes he turns the other cheek, sometimes he threatens to kill you dead. That's what you get when the combat comes straight from a wrestling game. Later, you gain religion-themed superpowers, like terrain manipulation and seeing the world in wire frame mode. No, really. The best thing about all this craziness? There's a sequel. Same basic game. About Mohammed. Talk about actual giant, steel-plated balls.
Released during that now so long-ago period when nobody cared about Doctor Who, this is a pitch-perfect example of how not to do a tie-in game. Playing not as the Doctor or a companion, but rather some rubbish alien called Graak, this most tedious of games was all about stamping around the infinite possibilities for boredom in the Doctor's TARDIS on a fanfic-level quest to rescue his various personalities from the Master via the power of minigames and sheer bloodyminded endurance. Admittedly, it was more interesting than 2D platformer Dalek Attack, but only just. The only good thing in it was Anthony Ainley's full-motion video pantomime introduction and ending videos, which some fans think of as setting up the failed American reboot. At least modern Doctor Who games are awesome, right? Right? Oh.
Do I really need to explain this one? Unquestionably the nadir of the Tycoon world, this one literally plumbed the depths to bring us a game bogged down in its own crap rather than flushed with success, and I think you get where I'm going with this, so I'll stop. The idea of this one is to run your own toilet empire, starting with empty stalls and kitting them out with seats, cisterns, condom machines and everything else a passing person may need for a truly satisfying dump. There may possibly be a less appealing premise for a management game out there, but only if someone had the equally misjudged idea to turn Concentration Camp Tycoon from sarcastic pub joke into an actual product. This may not be the worst management game ever made, but it's definitely the one I least want to spend my free time immersing myself in. Brr.
“More like Bad Game LA!” quipped every single person exposed to it. But that's fair. McGee's one-man assault on his own reputation was the worst kind of bad game – the kind that could have been amazing. One man sees every possible disaster hitting town one after another – zombies, terrorism, earthquakes, the lot. That's a brilliant premise, something only games really have the budget for, and something I really looked forward to trying when I heard about it. Unfortunately, the game shared a very similar fate to the city, only with terrible graphics, even worse shooting, racism, bugs, and being about as funny as being force-fed leper vomit standing in for the different flavours of city busting apocalypse. At least we know who to blame. Not that it stopped McGee putting his name on future games or anything.
Pity the poor nerds of the past, squinting at this low-resolution smut and trying to persuade themselves the effort of mowing those lawns and sneaking it past Mom was worth it. This all-girl Mortal Kombat rip-off is widely regarded as one of the most pathetic beat-'em-ups ever misconceived, even by people who've played Expect No Mercy. Even ignoring the insulting premise, it offers dismal AI, awful controls, and it's about as satisfying as its target audience's social lives. Worst of all, just look at it. Look at this game that someone thought people would actually buy. Compared to this rubbish, modern successors like Bikini Karate Babes are Street Fighter II – the ZX Spectrum port, anyway. Never mind the girls. Catfight is so bad, being caught masturbating to it would actually be less embarrassing than being caught playing it.
This is where PC Gamer would usually dropkick Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, but we're bored of talking about that. If you don't know it, go here . Instead, I'll pick on a different interactive movie – issue 3's cover star, which got... let's see now... 79%? Wait, what? 79%? Then the great Tex Murphy got 32%? This will not stand! Critical Path was a 'control room' game, much like fellow interactive movie pioneers Night Trap and The Daedalus Encounter, only much less accomplished. The whole game was spent trying to figure out which button to press to make the half-hour or so of story drone on to its dismal conclusion, though the only one you needed was the big one in the uninstaller. Like most interactive movies though, I can't deny there's some fun in laughing at the FMVs. At them. Not with them. Trust me.
Back in the day, any licensed game was almost guaranteed to be a generic 2D platform game. South Park's gaming debut made those days seem like some great Age of Enlightenment. Not only did it idiotically use primitive 3D to create the characters instead of sticking with the 2D look, this blatant cash-grab went out of its way to leave every stone unturned in its quest to turn the show into an FPS. That cutting sense of political satire? Comedy? Any reason whatsoever to waste your cash to hear Cartman say something racist when you can hurl snowballs at armies of zombie turkeys until your trigger finger develops RSI? Of course not. The kind of cash-in that gives other cash-ins a bad name, South Park offended people in ways the show never could. Who liked it? Only idiots, that's who. Idiots, imbeciles, and people named Julian.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.