The Worst Console Games Ever Made

Not every title that reaches a video game console is a winner. Some titles flop, either due to repetitive gameplay, glitches that make the game impossible to beat or terrible ideas. Some of these games are so impossibly awful that it's hard to imagine anyone having the nerve to charge money for them. Here are five titles that rank among the worst games ever produced.

Pac-Man, Atari 2600
Arcade ports of Space Invaders and Asteroids had made the Atari 2600 the must-have home video game console at the start of the 1980s. Rabid fans couldn't wait for their next translation of the arcade hit Pac-Man. When the game was released in the spring of 1982, people stood in line to buy it and store stock disappeared in seconds.

Once people got the game home, it turned out to be a huge disappointment. First, there was the bizarre color scheme, with washed-out brown walls on a field of purple, a far cry from the sleek blue and white of the arcade game. Pac-Man's dot snacks were replaced with dashes. Pac-Man himself was rendered in the same dirty brown as the maze walls. The maze was changed from the arcade version and squashed horizontally onto the screen.

Worst of all were the ghosts. Because the 2600 couldn't handle so many moving items on screen at once, programmer Todd Frye decided to have them drawn at different times, resulting in a flickering effect that added to the eyestrain caused by the brown and purple palette.

ET, Atari 2600
After spending $25 million to get the licensing rights to Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster, Atari rushed to get a game in stores in time for the Christmas season. Coded in a matter of weeks, ET is a bewildering mess of a game that encourages players to fall into holes in search of parts for ET's interplanetary phone. When he's not falling into holes, ET needs to run away from a doctor and a government agent who are chasing him.

ET had a nasty habit of falling back into the holes after he levitated out of them by raising his neck. None of this made sense to most gamers, who had spent most of their time learning to avoid holes rather than falling into them.

Only about 1.5 million of the 4 million cartridges Atari produced were ever sold. Many of the packages and chips wound up buried in a New Mexico landfill.

Shaq Fu
While there are many poor fighting games on the market, none rivals Shaq Fu, a rare turkey for Electronic Arts that was released on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994. You play Shaquille O'Neal, who finds himself trapped in another dimension and trying to rescue a young boy from a witch named Voodoo and an evil mummy named Sett Ra. You know, because Shaq has incredible martial arts skills.

Laughable dialogue abounds, but what makes this game a true failure is the terrible gameplay and hit detection in Story mode. Simply back most opponents into a corner, start beating on buttons and win. Boss characters prove frustrating, because they'll back the mighty Shaq into a corner and unload on him, while most of Shaq's hits won't register at all. After a boss battle or two, the novelty of getting to the next ridiculous bit of dialogue wears off, replaced by a desire to roundhouse kick the cartridge out the nearest window.

Superman 64
It's hard to go wrong with the Man of Steel, unless you're Titus Software. Their 1999 release for the Nintendo 64 is actually duller, stranger, more repetitive and less fun than the Superman game created for the Atari 2600 in 1978.

In the earlier Atari game, Superman flies around Metropolis to round up Lex Luthor and his henchmen while looking for the parts of a bridge that Luthor destroyed. The object is to finish the game as quickly as possible. In Superman 64, the Man of Steel has to fly through a series of hoop checkpoints in a virtual Metropolis in a race against the clock. Most of the hoops are hidden by "fog" meant to camoflague the technical limitations of Nintendo's system. There's no bridge to rebuild, and Superman steers like a Lincoln Continental on a sheet of ice with bald tires and broken shock absorbers. 

Anubis II/Ninjabread Man
Bad game development is hardly a thing of decades past. The overnight success of the Nintendo Wii brought a hoard of game developers out of the shadows to capitalize on the system's success. Data Design Interactive should have stayed on the sidelines.

Anubis II and Ninjabread Man are essentially the same game in two different wrappers. One has an Egyptian theme, the other a nightmare in Candyland theme. Anubis attacks his enemies with a staff. Ninjabread Man uses nunchuks. Both characters frequently die on platforms because the controller isn't quite in sync with what's happening on the screen. Both feature motion-based attacks using the Wii controllers that work, at best, 25% of the time.

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