Along with the smash hits have come the colossal misses that have ended up in the annals of history as the worst video games of all time. Every home console system has inevitably produced releases on cartridge or disk that were less-than-stellar; or, in some cases, downright definitively horrible.
In a bizarre way, these worst video games of all time have gained a certain notoriety and possibly even playtime, thanks to their reputation as being the bottom of the barrel in the digital entertainment field. For their broken gameplay mechanics, poor design choices, rushed development, and other factors, these are the truly historically bad choices in gaming.
Often mistaken as being titled Superman 64 thanks to the tendency of Nintendo to include “64” in the names of the titles of the cartridges for their 64-bit system, this superhero-inspired challenge is a game so stupidly developed that it almost seems like the only rational explanation is that the developers intentionally tried to make it as low-quality as possible. For example, the game starts you off controlling Superman, but you have to fly through a series of rings within a time limit. If you succeed, then you have to rescue a pedestrian from a potential collision of cars. Then, you have to perform more aerial maneuvering through a series of rings. These rings are featured in far too much of the game, and there is very little action, in addition to there being many glitches, bugs, and flat-out freezes throughout this putrid-looking, dumb excuse for a cartridge.
Designed by a former PC software company and boasting a stunning array of baffling design decisions even for an early 8-bit title, Hydlide has confusing gameplay compounded by a confusing combat system that consists of unclear hit detection. This is an overhead adventure game in which the protagonist character does not use a visible weapon, and requires the player to find several arbitrary items in a seemingly random order towards the generic objective of defeating the dragon to save the princess. This is not a fun title.
E.T. (Atari 2600)
Perhaps considered the archetype example of a licensed game produced far too quickly in an attempt to capitalize on a fleeting pop culture fixation, the E.T.: The Extraterrestrial video game for the Atari 2600 home console was a disaster of epic industry proportions. The game was so bad that most gaming customers actually returned their copies, and millions of the unsold cartridges had to be buried in a desert. The video game itself was an odd title that consisted of controlling ET as he fell into pits.
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties (3DO)
Many now know of this game solely due to the efforts of the Angry Video Game Nerd videos, in one of which he plays and reviews this sorry excuse of a video game. The 3DO was similar to the Sega CD console, in that it had full-motion video capability, yet beyond the introductory video, the entirety of Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is a bizarre, painstaking exercise in still-frame images with dubbed-over dialogue in between interstitial screens where you select one of two options as two men pursue a woman, each with a differing sexual agenda. The less said about this softcore porno the better.
Color A Dinosaur (NES)
Although technically considered a video game, this “game” was little more than a computer-graphic coloring book with a limited choice of pictures to color and an even more limited palette with which to color them. You know your video game has issues when it is outdone by a coloring book and set of crayons, yet that was the fate of Color A Dinosaur, that just had the controlling “player” select a cartoony dinosaur outline to color in portions of.
Many more horrible titles will be released in the future, but this selection represents the defining characteristics of the worst video games of all time: Shoddy code, greedy publishers, and an experience that is simply not fun at all. Hopefully, future developers will learn from the mistakes of the past.