We play video games for a number of reasons. We want to have fun, enjoy a narrative, or maybe connect with others. Have you ever played a game that has made you want to swear off gaming forever because of what a terrible game it is? Over the years, all the way back to the time of the Atari, there have been games that have been released and universally hated.
More often than not, a game’s critical failure can be boiled down to a combination of a few potential things: it’s based on a popular brand or IP and is meant to be a cash grab; its development was rushed or troubled, or a developer wanted to try and draw people in using adult situations and sex. This isn’t the case for all games that can be classified as one of the worst video games of all time, but for many it is true.
If you’ve played any of the games on this list, we’re sorry. Get ready to venture through our list of some truly bad games. From ET to Balan Wonderworld, we’ve got a little something for everyone to hate.
50 Cent: Bulletproof
Despite a few one-off reviews that were somewhat positive, Bulletproof’s reception was anything but. Critics lambasted the game for its linear storyline, clumsy playstyle, and difficulty thanks to a lack of any sort of aim assistance.
The game still performed well despite the poor reviews with over one million copies sold. The sequel, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, received much better reviews.
Aliens Colonial Marines
When you google “Aliens Colonial Marines,” the question “How do I fix aliens in Colonial Marines” comes up under what people also ask when googling the title. Why? Upon release, the game was so riddled with bugs and glitches, that many considered it to be unplayable.
Part of that is due to a typo in the game’s file that causes enemies to wander aimlessly. Oops! If that doesn’t qualify this as one of the worst video games of all time, I don’t know what else would.
In his review for Amy, Jeff Cork wrote, “Make no mistake: Whether [Amy] is delivered to you via download, retail SKU, direct brain wave, or retinal implant, it is terrible and should be avoided.”
It takes place during a zombie-type infection and it’s one game that will never find its way to our list of The Best Zombie Games of all time. It was critiqued for glitches, clunky controls, voice-acting, game design, and so much more. Don’t play with Amy.
Aquaman: Battle for Aquarius
Aquaman really went belly-up in this game. Not every superhero game can be as great as Spiderman, but Aquaman: Battle for Aquarius is woefully uninspired. The game looks aged, there is a lack of voice acting, and combat is very stagnant.
There are only three enemy types who always employ the same strategy. Also, despite a trident’s presence on the front cover art, Aquaman never even gets to fight with one. What a terrible game!
In an attempt to be edgy, BMX XXX features a lot of nudity, foul language, and adult situations. The back of the game case flaunts that players can “Create your own hard-bodied BMX honey… give ‘em all the jiggly you want.” At the time, these types of things in games were far from the norm, and the publicity garnered from it was wholly negative.
The game bombed in reviews, and its poor performance as one of the worst video games of all time was one of the factors that lead to Acclaim Entertainment filing for bankruptcy in 2004
Bad Street Brawler
In the 80s, developers were limited by hardware. Sometimes they also let themselves be limited by their own imagination. Bad Street Brawlers is one of those games.
Brawler’s music is uninspiring, enemy AI difficulty ramps up quickly, and the player’s own abilities remain stagnant. Despite having 15 possible moves, the player is only given access to three in each level.
The best part about the game is the quotes that appear on the screen before each level. Remember, “Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.”
You’d think a game published by Square Enix wouldn’t fall into the category of one of the worst video games of all time, but Balan Wonderworld is pretty awful. If the game had been released twenty years prior, it still would have been bad. With outdated game mechanics, a number of graphical errors, and a lack of expected platforming abilities.
The game’s costume mechanic is dull and repetitive and requires you to find keys and to farm multiples of costumes to even survive out in the game’s world. Wonderworld is anything but a Wonderland. Don’t fall down this rabbit hole.
Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
Have you ever played a game and thought that it would be wonderful if it lacked collision detection? Big Rigs lacks it and lets you drive through buildings and even bridges. In the event a player wins a race (and you will as the AI will not even pass the finish line thanks to a glitch), players receive a trophy on screen paired with the text “YOU’RE WINNER !”
It’s also one of the most poorly reviewed games on Metacritic with an average score of 8, which honestly seems generous.
Bomberman Act Zero
When you typically think of Bomberman, more realistic graphics and a dark, gritty dystopian setting are not usually what you think of first. For whatever reason, Hudson Soft decided to make a Bomberman game just like that.
Throw in the lack of a save feature over its 99 levels, repeated textures and graphics for every stage, and tedious gameplay, and you’re working with one of the worst games of all time.
Crash Bandicoot. Spyro. Lara Croft. These are characters from the first generation of PlayStation that have stood the test of time. Even characters like Gex and Tomba, while lesser-known, were memorable in their own right. Bubsy, however, does not fall into those same ranks.
You know a game is bad when the best part about it is the option to mute the main character. Bubsy’s voice acting is awful, the controls are dreadfully tanky, and the game’s art design is bland and uninspired.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
There’s nothing less appealing than an escort mission. In this game, you’re forced to escort a number of Oompa Loompas around to try and fix the factory and save all the children who have been up to no good.
Bad platforming, creepy graphics, and a major lack of fun make this one of the worst games ever. Many of the characters suffer from the unsettling uncanny valley effect which helps rank this as one of the worst video games of all time.
The game version of the 2003 film is made up of moaning grunts, voice acting that sounds like it was recorded in a box, and repetitive, slow, and mind-numbing beat ‘em up gameplay. Critically panned and universally hated, Charlie’s Angels is one of the worst games of all time.
The plot is also awful as it features a villain who is stealing monuments like the Statue of Liberty because, yeah, that’s totally possible. You just gotta get ’em back.
The less said about this game the better. The premise is you’re an old white man on a quest to sexually assault a Native American woman tied to a pole. Oh, and the character you’re playing sports a giant erection. It’s bad. Just don’t try to find a way to play it.
It’s offensive in every conceivable way and with it being as old as it is, it’s very pixelated so things look exceedingly worse. To be honest, we should be thankful for that.
While the PC version of the game received fine reviews, it was the PS4 and Xbox One versions that received incredibly low scores. The game is marred by low resolution and slow loading textures, game-breaking bugs, poor physics, T-posing NPCs, and horrible AI. If you’re a gamer, you know of the Hell this game caused in the community. With a rushed development and a number of outlandish and unfulfilled gameplay promises, it’s not a surprise the game is bad on consoles.
Despite a promise to fix things, the game still has a number of issues and that’s why the console versions are some of the worst video games of all time.
Can a game be one of the worst video games of all time if it was never officially released? In the case of Desert Bus, part of a collection from the Sega CD collection called Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, the answer is a resounding yes. It has somewhat of a cult following for its grueling gameplay. Players must drive a bus in-game from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time – an eight-hour trip with the bus’s max speed of 45 mph.
Even with the game being a bit of a joke game, it still has little to no redeeming qualities. If you drift off the road and your engine stalls, you get taken back to the beginning. You earn a single point per eight-hour trip completed.
Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem Forever took, well, forever to be developed. Once it was released, it suffered from a mixture of dated humor and mechanics thanks to so much of it being written and created years prior.
As with many awful games, it also suffers from slow loading times and bugs. It also handles and objectifies women in some really vile and disgusting ways.
ET the Extra-Terrestrial
ET was made by a guy who was given $200,000 and a trip to Hawaii if he made the game in five and a half weeks. With many children and families fawning over its eventual release, developers thought it would be a hit.
Over 4 million copies were made but only 1.5 million were sold and the quick decline in the game’s price (from $50 to $1) helped lead to the 1983 video game industry crisis. The game features very rudimentary and basic gameplay, even for 1982, with a number of glitches.
Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade
If you can play the title of this game in Scrabble, you’ll cause the world to end. Besides its random and nonsensical title, Family Party is just not fun. It holds the second-lowest game score on Metacritic, just behind Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
The game features absolutely no redeeming qualities. Gameplay, graphics, sounds, and literally, everything else is terrible. If you hate your family and want them to suffer, fire this game up for them. Literally set it on fire. Just look at it!
It’s easily one of the worst video games of all time.
The Guy Game
It is wild that some games get made. The Guy Game is one of those. In it, you answer a series of trivia questions and, depending on if you answer correctly or not, the women in the game will flash the player.
The game is notable for being banned due to one of the flashing girls in the game being underage at the time. It is illegal to own The Guy Game.
Boxing can be an exciting sport. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing two people punch the daylights out of one another? You’d think a game that offers the same thing would be fun, but HBO Boxing is not that game.
Graphics are poorly rendered, the gameplay isn’t fun, and controlling your boxer of choice is a chore. The game deserves to be KO-ed.
Hatred is a game where you play as a character who goes around and kills because he hates humanity. The game was developed as a response to political correctness in games, but unfortunately, the game doesn’t really offer much worthwhile commentary.
It does have a lot of gratuitous violence that seems meaningless and gameplay that isn’t particularly fun or innovative and the reasons why behind the main character’s, who is nameless, killing is never even touched on.
Hong Kong 97
Somewhat similar to Desert Bus, Hong Kong 97 is a bit of a joke game. It was made in two days and features a nonsensical story, awful graphics, terribly designed gameplay, and absolutely nothing redeemable. It even features images of actual dead bodies. Today, it’s still lauded as a terrible game but has garnered a cult following in some countries including Japan.
This is what happens when Nintendo hands off its most popular franchise. Its beloved Mario finds itself in one of the worst video games of all time. The point of the game is to run around and close all the doors in hotels Bowser has created and avoid or kill enemies while doing so.
The gameplay is repetitive and lackluster. The game also features several cut scenes that look like they were created in Microsoft Paint with a lot of questionable voice acting. It’s worth watching this cutscene compilation if you need a laugh.
Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
It seems to be a common occurrence for the worst video games of all time to feature questionable adult situations or images. While this iteration of Leisure Suit Larry doesn’t feature nudity and scales back on the sexual situations, it still features a few things like giant phallic cacti and rocks.
On top of that, controls aren’t super responsive and the gameplay is mindless and numbing, and there’s a lot of poorly written attempts at humor.
Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal
This is not how you use a great license in games. Bugs, Daffy, and friends are all great, classic television cartoon characters reduced to laughable shells in this very bad game.
Characters spout the same lines over and over and make annoying noises. The gunplay is not fun and the aim-assist is a joke. It doesn’t succeed at platforming either with
Mario Is Missing!
Creating an educational Mario game on paper sounds pretty bad, and you won’t be surprised to know it is just as bad as it sounds. You play as Luigi who must explore the world (our world, not The Mushroom Kingdom) and stop Bowser from melting Antarctica using hairdryers.
That is the actual plot and not a filled-in Mad Lib. To do so, Bowser steals famous things like the Mona Lisa and Big Ben, and you must take them back. It might sound like a fever dream, but if you play it, you’ll wish it really was.
Perfect Dark Zero
It can be difficult when a game series must follow something universally loved. Perfect Dark, originally on the Nintendo 64, became so well-loved it practically demanded a sequel. Unfortunately, Perfect Dark Zero was not nearly as good as its predecessor.
The gameplay is shallow, there is odd product placement, and it loses all of the charms of the original. Even with somewhat positive critic reviews, the game is often panned by fans because it gets nowhere close to touching the original.
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties calls itself a game, but it’s truly presented as a voiced-over Powerpoint. The point of the “game” is to bring two single characters together through a series of choices you’re able to make. In some instances, if you pick the “wrong” choice the game’s creators chastise you and send you back to make the “correct” choice.
The game is billed as a full-motion video, but it’s actually just a series of photographs with terrible voice acting. It was recently announced to be coming to current-gen consoles. But why?
R.I.P.D. The Game
Based on a movie that failed and a little-known comic, R.I.P.D. was doomed from the get-go. In fact, it was actually more or less just a reskin of Saber Interactive’s previous game God Mode. The game has players killing poorly controlled AI zombie-type creatures in a series of too-similar maps.
Nothing in the game feels fresh or fun, and even bosses are just regular enemies with more health. It’s very much a chore to get through.
Rambo: The Video Game
Many of the worst video games are based on movies or television series and suffer from a lack of attention and care put into the development process. Rambo is one of those adaptations. It has no redeemable qualities with its rail-based shooter gameplay, outdated graphics, and poorly designed world.
Besides that, Sylvester Stallone even refused to do voice acting for the game. Could he tell what a terrible game this was going to be?
Ride to Hell: Retribution
Ride To Hell is exactly that. With terrible voice acting, fully clothed sex scenes, broken gameplay, and an excess of quick-time events, it is no surprise this game is often regarded as one of the worst games of all time.
Worst of all, the game isn’t even short if you decide to try and get through it. Most playthroughs take at least nine hours, which is nine too many.
Rise of the Robots
Many fighting games succeed because of well-controlled AI and the need to constantly change your strategy. Rise of the Robots could be beaten blindfolded with how poor enemy AI is at times. While the game does look good, that’s really the only positive aspect of the game.
There is also a lack of playable characters that really keep things uninteresting. The characters who are available aren’t even particularly cool robots.
Road Rage is one of those games that is just a bad game. It’s not so bad it’s amusing or funny. It’s just bad. Like many games here on the list, it suffers from game-breaking glitches and poor mechanics.
If you drive into a wall, your motorcycle won’t explore but it will if you drive into crates. Missions aren’t varied and the game’s narrator is poorly performed and uninspired.
Do you know what would be great? A 2D fighting game starring Shaquille O’Neal! Said no one ever. Unfortunately, this game did come to fruition, and with it came an entire host of issues.
Button input lag, difficult controls, dull sounds, and unbalanced gameplay plague Shaq Fu. The game is so bad there is even a website dedicated to eradicating all copies of the game.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
With how popular Sonic is, the series has suffered a series of letdowns throughout gaming history. Perhaps the biggest is with the 2006 game Sonic the Hedgehog. Intended to be a reboot, the game was a failure in every aspect.
Much of the game’s problems were due to its rushed development. This caused the game to suffer from poor controls and cameras, a lack of in-game physics, and a convoluted and confusing story. If you play it, you even get to see Sonic be kissed by a human character. Not creepy at all.
Stalin vs Martians
We love a self-aware game, even if it’s bad, and Stalin vs Martians has a little bit of that going for it. The creators referred to the game as “”trashy and over-the-top.” Other than that somewhat meta moment, the game is incredibly bad.
It’s a real-time strategy game with little RTS elements, it is short, and the graphics look like the game was made about fifteen years prior to its release in 2009.
Perhaps one of the most well-known worst video games of all time is Superman 64. Controlling Superman is exceedingly difficult and complicated. To fly, players must press forward on the joystick at all times, even if he’s flying into the camera. Players must do this a lot by flying through rings, and if you miss too many rings, you have to start over.
The game’s world looks awful thanks to a combo of outdated graphics and a very low draw distance. Boss battles are super easy thanks to a lack of challenging AI. The final boss in the game does nothing and just stands there. If you make it that far in the game, you deserve a medal of some sort.
With what a cultural phenomenon Survivor was when it first debuted on CBS over twenty years ago, it makes sense that they tried to capture some of that magic in a game. Sadly, the game is a boring, bland slog through the wilderness. Challenges are tedious click-fests, the social aspect of the game is confusing and not well-planned, and it’s just kinda ugly.
You’d have more fun crash-landing a plane in the mountains and trying to survive than you would with this game.
Vroom in the Night Sky
A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Vroom in the Night Sky released to universally bad reviews. Its main gameplay mechanic is similar to one of the worst parts of Superman 64 – flying through rings in the sky. Also like Superman 64, controls are shoddy and the graphics look like they are from the previous generation.
Not only that, but the English translation is so laughably bad. It almost reads as if the developers pushed it through Google translate.
With how bad it was, it’s quite a blessing that this game was released as free-to-play. Thankfully no one paid for this steaming pile of garbage masquerading as a commercial pretending to be a video game. The game, promoting the now-defunct Toyota Yaris brand, has players driving on a U-shaped track collecting coins and firing lasers at giant MP3 players and toasters.
It was universally panned and eventually pulled from the Xbox Marketplace.
Are we missing any of the worst video games of all time that you would have added to this list? Sound off in our comments section.