I like to keep it positive, talking about games I fondly remember or ones I’m currently enjoying. However, ever game journalist knows there is a certain twisted joy that comes with writing about a game you dislike.
As playing games was my business for 8 years, the number of crappy games I’ve subjected myself to is not insubstantial. However, I usually avoided keeping those games in my vicinity for long if at all. Still, some slip through the cracks and end up in my physical collection for the long haul. Here are some of the worst games I currently own.
The Guy Game (2004, Xbox)
Metacritic Score: 47
We’ll start with the most infamous game on my list. Picture trying to turn Girls Gone Wild into an interactive trivia experience. There are many bells and whistles the game attempts to incorporate to turn this into something approaching fun. It never comes close. It’s barely hiding in the bushes at night with a pair of binoculars, peeking in fun’s window.
Of course, the main draw is The Guy Game’s inclusion of boobies. We all love boobies, but we don’t love paying $40 and then having to answer inane questions in order to get a glimpse of them.
Fun trivia for this trivia game: One of the female contestants shown ended up being underage. This got the game recalled. Don’t narc me out for having a copy, okay? I’ve already suffered enough having owned it for almost 10 years.
Power Factory featuring C+C Music Factory (1992, Sega CD)
I liked C+C Music Factory back in the day. I’ve even done “Things That Make You Go Hmmm” at karaoke. Hell, I even liked a lot of Sega CD games — Snatcher, Eternal Champions, Sonic CD. Speaking of things that make you go hmmm…
This “game” (and its siblings featuring Mark Wahlberg, INXS, and Kris Kross) entailed stitching footage of grainy music videos together to make a mildly customized finished product that is then somehow reviewed by your onscreen colleagues. There are 3 songs on this disc. There are 64 onscreen colors with which Sega CD could utilize to display video at 320×224 resolution. If you ask an artificial intelligence program what is the absolute worst part of Power Factory, it will dump water on itself in an attempt at AI suicide.
Fun trivia for this unfun game: I scored this a big fat zero when I reviewed it for Game Informer‘s Classic GI section. But only because I couldn’t give a negative number.
Simpsons Wrestling (2001, PSone)
Metacritic Score: 32
For about a decade, there were few things I loved more than The Simpsons, pro wrestling, and video games. Simpsons Wrestling blended all three, and yet was one of the crappiest titles in the PSone’s 2,418-game catalog. You may think, “That’s unpossible!” but it’s totally true.
At first, you’re fooled by the sort-of-okay looking graphics, authentic voiceovers and having a dozen playable characters. Things go south fast as you actually play the thing — which is an aspect of Simpsons Wrestling that I’m pretty sure the developers forgot to devote any time to. Everything gets mind-numbingly repetitive after about 6 minutes, and you will never want to play this again.
Obligatory trivia because I wrote trivia for the last 2 games: When I was a kid, I dreamt of owning every episode of the series on VHS. Of course, DVD came along. And of course, the show got awful to the point where I haven’t been a regular viewer since around the time this game came out.
Lowrider (2003, PS2)
Metacritic Score: 46
It’s 2003. I just left Game Informer after almost exactly 4 years. I’m looking to get into development or something. Meanwhile, I start doing freelance journalism full-time to pay the bills. I figure it’s easy: Play games at home, then write about them, then profit. Getting assigned Lowrider was the first red flag that things weren’t going to be as smooth as I’d planned.
This is a game about cars with no racing. It’s about a North American phenomenon yet is designed by a Japanese company that can’t spell “continue” correctly. It’s about street culture, yet using music more appropriate for a hospital waiting room. It asks you to pay money for it, yet they should pay you money to take it. So many contradictions. And while Lowrider is really the only game of its kind, I advise you to just play GTA and carjack a hooptie with switches.
Trivia: Around this same time, publisher Jaleco also put out Nightcaster 2, sequel to the Xbox launch title no one liked; Trailer Park Tycoon; and Karnaaj Rally, with one of the worst box arts of all time. Quite a departure from Bases Loaded and the NES version of Maniac Mansion.
Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth (1998, N64)
Gamerankings Score: 52.4%
The Japanese know their shoot-em-ups (aka shmups). Hudson Soft knows quality games like Bomberman, Bonk and Nectaris: Military Madness. So when I saw a Hudson shmup for N64 for cheap at a Japanese bookstore here in LA, I jumped. Maybe not literally, but I bought that sum’bitch with the quickness. Almost as fast as my smile disappeared once I got it home.
Maybe the game’s ambition was low, since there was virtually no competition in that genre at the time. And N64 wasn’t exactly overflowing shelves with new releases to spur competitive passion. But honestly, it seems more like a simulation of a shmup instead of being an honest-to-goodness full-fledged release. Like an alien culture was asked to make a shmup just based on YouTube clips. It simply lacks style and flavor, coming off uninspired.
Trivia: Until researching for this story, I literally had no idea this game ever got a U.S. release.
Bonus Trivia: The same time I bought this, I picked up the equally bad Air Boarder 64. I chose Star Soldier for this list, though, because it should have been good.