Warping Minds Since The 70's
Since the inception of the Magnavox Odyssey in April of 1972, video games have been a staple of in-home entertainment. From Pong consoles to the rise of Atari to the video game crash of 1983 and the emergence of the Nintendo Entertainment System—for as long as most of us have been alive, video games have been there for us.
In celebration of the recent launches of the PS4 and Xbox One, we here at Rant Lifestyle are ringing in the new guard with a retrospective bang by re-visiting the 20 worst concepts to ever stain the world of gaming. From faulty game consoles to terrible design flaws and just plain bad ideas, these are the turds wrapped in tinfoil that are often found buried amongst the gems.
Read on to see what made our list of the most rage-inducing game concepts ever.
20. Konami Laser Scope
Back in the 1980s, Nintendo dominated the home gaming market. The 8-bit NES was the undisputed king, easily succeeding the Atari 2600 with nicer graphics, superior sound quality and more interactive and captivating gameplay. With the meteoric rise of Nintendo came a flood of accessories, all designed to enhance gameplay. Cutting edge was the way to go and few things could top the power of the classic Nintendo Zapper.
The Zapper exemplified this approach, using a light detection sensor to determine if the player was aiming at a target on the screen. Upon firing the gun, the entire screen would go dark for a split second and the target goal would be replaced with a white square, which the gun could detect, hence the Zapper's formal name of "Light Gun".
Because gaming companies are always looking to make peripherals more user-friendly, Konami threw its hat into the ring by introducing the LaserScope.
This device was essentially the same thing as the Zapper, except that the player could wear it on his or her head and continue using the controller to play the game. So, how did this thing function like the Zapper without a trigger?
Konami was way ahead of its time with the LaserScope concept, making the headset voice-activated. To fire at something on the screen, the player simply had to say the word "Fire!" into the built-in microphone and look at the on-screen target through the viewfinder. The LaserScope would register the command, and then fire at the screen, using the same light detection programming as any handheld Zapper gun.
The only problem was that this was 1990 and the video game industry was a long way away from voice-activated functionality. Though the LaserScope seemed like a good idea at the time, it was plagued by an inability to actually recognize voice commands. Instead, the microphone simply registered any noise input as a "Fire!" command, meaning that anyone using it had little control over shooting things on the screen unless they were in a completely silent room.
Dog barks, ringing phones, doors closing, side conversations, even breathing too hard into the microphone caused the LaserScope to go off. Comically enough, the LaserScope was actually advertised as a convenient alternative to loud games, by channeling the sound into the headphones. The official box actually promotes being able to "Read a book, talk on the phone, or have a conversation in the same room" during gameplay.
All while the player is screaming "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!"
19. Excessively Long Passwords
What you see above is the bane of every 90's kid's existence. The dreaded password screen.
Before games like the original Legend of Zelda introduced us to the wonder of battery backup saves, we had the password system. This screen was the one you accessed when you had to turn off a game, or got a Game Over and wanted to pick up where you left off. Most games of this nature would provide you with a password after each level or major accomplishment, which you would then enter at the password screen to resume your progress.
Unfortunately, few games got this right.
While some games like Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle contain a simple four digit password entry screen, most titles opted for something a little more "secure". Metal Gear on NES (not to be confused with its more successful cousin, Metal Gear on the Japanese home computer MSX2) had six individual lines of characters that had to be entered to pick up where you left off. The available characters consisted of both numbers and letters and a correctly entered password would not resume the game where you left off, but start you back at the beginning with a pre-determined set of items based on level progress.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on NES was one of the greatest offenders, sporting a 22 character password screen (in addition to awful gameplay.)
But the worst criminal scum in this category has to go to Independence Day for the original Playstation. A 3D perspective rotating screen, with characters that can only be accessed by moving one space at a time in either direction, very slowly.
18. Atari 5200
The Atari 5200 was a prime example of a game company over-estimating its competition. The first successor to the classic 2600 home console, the 5200 was created with the intention of competing with Mattel Electronics' Intelliision, though it actually ended up competing more with Coleco Industries' ColecoVision system.
Unfortunately, the 5200 was flawed and poorly designed, and Atari struggled to compensate for the myriad of problems the system came with. For starters, it was huge. The picture provided above should paint a subtle illustration of that. It dwarfs virtually every mainstream gaming console ever released, with the notable exception of the Phillips CD-I (more on that later.)
Along with the incredibly bulky size of the system, its primary components were difficult to operate. Atari, in an attempt to impress consumers with something cutting edge and efficient, decided to combine the A/C adapter and RF switch into one cable, but this proved to be more of a burden than a blessing. Atari accepted this fact by re-releasing the Atari 5200 later on with the more conventional two separate cables.
Though most of the games were arcade conversions of popular cabinet games, the system itself was doomed, ironically enough, by its controller functionality.
Atari 5200 controllers were highly unreliable and barely functional, using a flimsy rubber boot as opposed to a spring system for the analog joystick that proved cumbersome and ungainly, as well as 17 usable buttons (counting the numeric keypad). The combination of an overly-complicated mechanical design, extremely poor button layout and a cheap internal flex circuit system meant that, in layman's terms, the controllers just didn't work very well.
Atari tried to soften the blow of the faulty controllers by releasing the Trak-Ball Controller, primarily used for games like Centipede or Missile Command, but this peripheral was nearly as big as a VCR and about as reliable as the pre-packaged controller the system came with.
The console was discontinued and replaced just two years later and, thankfully, faded into history.
17. Superhero Games
There are few concepts in the video game industry that induce more headaches than the dreaded "Superhero Game".
A game featuring a superhero works well, on paper. Run around as Batman and use your gadgets to fight crime, string up foes as Spider Man, apprehend criminals and stop bullets as Superman, the list goes on and on. While this unique genre of action/adventure games has improved with technology and writing advances over the years, it's difficult to wipe those painful memories of the early years from our memories.
Perhaps the most notorious offender in the 80's and 90's was LJN Toys, Limited. Anyone who grew up gaming in the 8 and 16-bit eras should be familiar with the dreaded rainbow of death. LJN's legacy was accented by a litany of mediocre games and wasted game licenses.
Seemingly anytime a movie or TV show or superhero was due for a game, LJN was there to crank out a lousy adaptation. Hands down, the most dreadful of their Superhero entries were "The Uncanny X-Men" and its sequel "Wolverine". Both games featured sinfully ugly color schemes, clunky controls, terrible music, dysfunctional AI, and ridiculous hit detection. If you don't believe us, just check out the following video link:
But there was one title that lives on in modern lore and stands the test of time as the ultimate tarnish of an otherwise serviceable genre of video games and it needs no further explanation.
Superman 64. Play it if you dare.
16. Full Motion Video
Full Motion Video, otherwise known as FMV.
Before current-day gamers became spoiled on full cutscenes and fluid in-game cinematics, we had the FMV era. In the 90's, several noteworthy game consoles attempted to bring a deeper level of immersion to gamers. This was accomplished with Full Motion Video. The title was misleading, as FMV amounted to little more than pixilated video quality on par with dial-up internet, and really REALLY bad acting.
The FMV era was defined by an extreme approach to using the technology. Some games tried to incorporate it into the framework, with disappointing results, and other games tried to blur the line between playing games and watching movies by fusing them into some sort of horrifying amalgamation. Did we mention the acting was really bad?
The end result was a series of awkward sidenotes like Corpse Killer, Night Trap and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
For the bravest of video-goers, check out some footage from Sega CD's FMV-cult classic Night Trap. Yes, the acting is bad.
15. Apple Bandai Pippin
Long before the PS4 and Xbox One attempted to combine video games and personal computer features, there was the Apple Bandai Pippin.
Never heard of it? Don't be surprised. This mediocre white contraption was released by Apple in 1996 with the idea that it could balance video gaming with network computer functionality. The end result was a stripped down, underpowered, overpriced failure of a game system that left no more than a pockmark on the pages of gaming history.
The retail price upon release was $599 and remember, this was in 1996. Very few games were developed for the Pippin and though Bandai produced 100,000 units, only 46,000 were ever sold. Production was so limited that Apple actually produced more modems and keyboards that year than actual game units.
One short year later, the Pippin was thankfully buried.
14. The Multi-Game Cart
In the 80's and 90's, not all video games were created equal. The stringent quality testing and standards that we enjoy today were not so upheld back then, and bad games were just as common if not more so than good ones.
In terms of sheer playability, there may not be a game format that can top the horrors provided by the multi-game cart.
Though these are fairly rare today, multi-game carts were a lot more common in the 8 and 16-bit eras. Because of the limited space available on NES and Sega Genesis carts, quality was often sacrificed in favor of space and quantity. The prime example of this is Action 52, the unholy product of speed, ego and ignorance.
Released on both the Genesis and NES, Action 52 was priced at a whopping $199. Advertisements boasted the cart containing 52 action packed games, each one valued individually at around $4 a game. What gamers found instead were 52 untested, lazily programmed, barely functional entries in one big compilation.
The NES version contained a marathon of mediocre space shooters and a litany of clunky, horribly conceived titles, like Lights Out where you play as a bizarre humanoid figure shooting vampires on one screen to keep the lights on and Cheetahmen, where the player controls one of three kung-fu trained cheetah people, navigating them through an awkward landscape where hits don't register and walking near a pit will make you explode.
While the Genesis version was slightly superior, both games were vastly overpriced and extremely disappointing. A Cheetahmen 2 game was set to be released but was never tested or completed. Some 1500 of these unfinished carts do exist and currently command outrageous prices on eBay, though comically enough, the developers had to recycle the plastic case from the Action 52 cart and place a Cheetahmen 2 sticker on the back.
Thankfully, modern technology and quality standards have mostly eliminated the dreaded multi-game cart from store shelves, making Action 52 and its likeness all but extinct.
For the curious and slightly masochistic, please enjoy the below link of footage from the NES Action 52's "Cheetahmen".
In the 90's, before the launch of the Playstation, other companies attempted to capitalize on the growing potential of CD-based video games. One of these companies was the 3DO Company (creatively named) and their system, the 3DO.
Advertised as the R.E.A.L. game system, its commercials attempted to paint the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo as "kid's toys." However, most gamers will tell you, almost every kid playing games in the 90's had one of these "toys" and very few owned a 3DO. So why is that?
It might have had to do with the price tag. The 3DO was priced anywhere between $600-$700 depending on the source, making it extremely unaffordable to the common consumer. Though it had some good games, such as the definitive home release of Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo, it still couldn't justify the outrageous cost of the system.
On an interesting historical note, the 3DO also brought us what is perhaps the worst FMV-styled game in the history of gaming and given the mediocre nature of the average FMV game, that's really saying something. The game was entitled "Plumbers Don't Wear Ties" and it stands alone in history as perhaps the most awkward "game" ever created. It doesn't seem to possess any more attributes of a game than playing with menus on a DVD or Blu-Ray.
The "game", despite being advertised as Full Motion Video, only contains video in the very beginning. The rest of the game is nothing more than a bunch of awkward slideshow pictures peppered with bizarre filters, annoying buzzers, a myriad of narrators, and a baffling "adult oriented" plot-line that doesn't even succeed at being sexy or erotic in any way, shape or form.
Just in case you were curious, check out a brief selection of footage from this weird, after-school special:
12. Nokia N-Gage
It's a phone! It's a game! It's…both?
Feast your eyes upon the Nokia N-Gage. This spectacular hunk of junk was Nokia's bizarre and foolhardy attempt to compete with Nintendo's handheld juggernaut, the Gameboy Advance. Not only was this a bad idea, it wasn't even a properly executed idea.
Anyone who played both systems would know in an instant that the N-Gage couldn't polish the GBA's buttons. Nokia's device was awkward and clumsy, with buttons designed for a phone (because that's what its primary function was supposed to be) though folks who used it to make calls described it as looking and feeling like a "taco".
Despite the fact that Nokia moved its N-Gage service to a series of smartphones in 2007, it didn't stop them from finally, and thankfully, pulling the plug on it.
The N-Gage ended up being an impressive commercial failure, having sold only 3 million units in its 4 year life span.
11. Atari Jaguar
Atari strikes first blood as the first company to hit two entries on this list. The Atari Jaguar was a curious creation. After the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo rose from the ashes as the king of gaming. Hot on their heels soon after was Sega, who scored a major hit against Nintendo by launching the Sega Genesis, the first 16-bit game console.
The 8-bit NES couldn't compete with the Genesis and its superior graphics and gameplay, so Nintendo struck back with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and thus began the "Bit Wars".
While Nintendo and Sega competed neck and neck during the Bit Wars, Atari was still hovering in the shadows. With each step forward Nintendo took, Atari did their best to match them, but ultimately failed each time. The Atari 7800 had fixed the truckload of flaws that the 5200 possessed but it still couldn't compete with the NES. When Nintendo launched the Gameboy and began dominating the handheld market, Atari answered with the Lynx, a bulky system with a poorly lit screen that took more batteries than the Gameboy and drained them faster. Again, Atari lost.
When the Bit Wars were in full effect, Atari decided to try something different. Rather than try to compete, Atari would try to out-do. While Nintendo and Sega battled for blood, glory and 16-bit supremacy, Atari released the Jaguar.
Touted as the first ever 64-bit gaming system, the Jaguar would ultimately prove to be Atari's final attempt at a home video game console. The marketing folks at Atari wound up vastly overstating the capabilities of the Jaguar and it failed to deliver on just about every promise. It's processing system was only slightly more powerful than the SNES and Genesis and the console did little to convince people of its 64-bit abilities, showcasing games that looked no better than anything available on either of its competitors.
Atari mustered up one last ditch effort to save the Jaguar, a peripheral known as the Jaguar CD. Much like other disc-based add-ons of the time period, the Jaguar CD was glitchy and ineffectual, and when that failed, Atari finally pulled out of the home gaming market, not to release another system until the Atari Flashback (a 2600 emulator) in 2004.
10. The Power Glove
We love the Power Glove. It's so bad.
What you're looking at is essentially the grandfather of the Wii Remote. While the Power Glove was certainly years ahead of its time, it was also, unfortunately, years ahead of its time. This was probably the most famous (or infamous) contraption in a sea of NES accessories.
The Power Glove was exactly what it said it was. A controller with motion sensors hardwired into a clumsy but sleek(?) looking rubber glove. To use the Glove, a player would first have to set up three sensors on his or her television. These were connected by a spiral cord, similar to the ones found on old-fashioned corded telephones. If the player could successfully get these sensors to stay on top of the TV (to this day, Nintendo still hasn't fixed this problem) the Power Glove was ready to be used.
Each game had its own unique "program code" wired into the Glove, meaning that before you could use it with a game, you'd have to look up the code. These 4-digit codes were then entered into the numeric keypad on the Glove, "syncing" it up for gameplay. Sadly, that was about the extent of its functionality.
The Power Glove was beyond faulty. This was 1989 and video games were just exploring the technology behind pause buttons and save features that didn't require a password. While the Glove did function, in the sense that the game being played reacted to it, it seemed to only excel at making games unnecessarily difficult.
Twitching or flexing fingers would trigger certain actions, though what actions were triggered depended entirely on which game was being played. Moving the glove side to side and up or down would trigger walking or jumping respectively in side-scrolling games. More to the point, the Glove barely registered what was actually being done and most of the time, players would give up in frustration or just take the Glove off and use the controller d-pad and buttons which were included.
While the Power Glove was a critical and commercial failure as a Nintendo accessory, it does add several degrees of unpredictable difficulty to any game it's used with. We recommend Silver Surfer.
9. R.O.B. The Robot
R.O.B., short for Robotic Operating Buddy, holds a peculiar place in gaming history. R.O.B. was designed as a novelty item to lessen consumer fears following the video game crash of 1983. While sleek in appearance and concept, R.O.B. was given a purposely short life-span and was only functional with two games.
R.O.B. worked off of 4 AA batteries and functioned through optical sensory commands he received from flashes on the screen. The only two games he was compatible with were Gyromite and Stack-Up, both part of the "Robot Series". While the peripheral seems fun in theory, it did not fair so well in practice.
Both Gyromite and Stack-Up were mediocre games at best, relying entirely on the robot's participation (or another human player). While R.O.B.'s eye sensors are perfectly functional, his reflexes leave much to be desired. His movement is slow, deliberate and oftentimes clumsy. In order to "press" the buttons, R.O.B. needed to be fitted with several additional pieces. For Gyromite, this necessitates gyros, a spinner and actuators. The player would place the second controller into a tray and align the A and B buttons with the actuators. When a screen flash sent a command to R.O.B.'s eyes, the robot would take a gyro (a spinning top) off of the spinner, move it over to the tray and painstakingly drop it onto one of the actuators. This would trigger an action in the game, in this case, opening one of the doors.
While R.O.B. may not have been considered a commercial failure, his compatibility with only two NES titles and the obscene amount of tedious effort it takes to make him even remotely functional earns him a spot on this list.
8. Sega CD/32X
Behold the unholy demon twins of the 16-bit era.
If the above picture looks like a Sega Genesis on life support, that's because it is. The Sega CD and 32X peripherals were just that, senseless add-ons designed to increase the lifespan of the Genesis. While Nintendo was roaring ahead and focusing its efforts on the upcoming release of the Nintendo 64, Sega decided to squeeze just a bit more use out of its signature 16-bit machine.
These last few precious drops of life were extracted at the hands of the CD and 32X. While Sega fans anxiously awaited the launch of the CD-based Saturn, which was set to compete directly with the N64, the company decided to unveil these two dreaded add-ons.
The 32X was an oddly shaped attachment that plugged into the Genesis top port. It was independent of the Genesis and had its own library of games and even its own A/C adapter, incapable of sharing power with the console it was plugged into. These games were mediocre and scarce and with only 6 months to go before the launch of the Saturn, fans were not impressed. It was actually touted at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show as "the poor man's entry into 'next generation' games", which we don't think was the best way to market any sort of product to any potential consumers, ever.
The Sega CD fared no better. Like the 32X, it awkwardly attached itself to the Genesis, this time from the side. Also, like the 32X, the Sega CD required its own power adapter. So, if you wanted to play the Genesis with both attachments, that made three. Good luck finding any sort of power strip or surge protector that will let you plug in three of those monstrosities. While the Sega CD did lay claim to perhaps the greatest Sonic game ever made, Sonic CD, it didn't bring much else to the table.
The Sega CD was notorious for championing the FMV technology of the time and the horrible video quality combined with awkward game concepts led to the creation of some of the games mentioned earlier on this list. What's more, there actually existed Sega CD 32X games that required both peripherals to play. Needless to say, both add-ons were dismal failures and carry at least part of the blame for the ultimate failure and short lifespan of the Sega Saturn.
7. Virtual Boy
Most gamers don't associate Nintendo with words like "failure" but even the video game giant has had its share of ugly skeletons in the closet. Thus, we have the Virtual Boy.
Originally dubbed the VR32, the Virtual Boy was designed to be evolutionary and cement Nintendo's status as an innovator in the gaming industry. While the games market had stalled and gamers were anxiously awaiting the launches of Playstation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64, Nintendo pushed forward with the unique concept of virtual reality gaming.
The Virtual Boy was intended to bring an immersive 3D experience to gamers, pulling them into "their own private universe." Gunpei Yokoi, the General Manager of Nintendo's R&D1, viewed the Virtual Boy as a chance to develop unique technology that competitors would find hard to compete with or emulate. The system was never intended to replace the Gameboy, as it could only comfortably be played on a flat, level surface and it completely obscured a player's peripheral vision.
Unfortunately, the clumsy and inefficient design of the system, combined with its cost-cutting red LED graphics, drove the nails into the coffin on this embarrassing piece of gaming history. Nintendo cited unmanageable costs associated with using color graphics and that full colors caused images to jump and sales figures following the Virtual Boy's launch were overwhelmingly disappointing.
In the end, the Virtual Boy caused eyestrain and headaches and few players were able to adapt to its awkward physical design, which was apparently never meant to see the light of day. However, Nintendo pushed the Virtual Boy to market in order to prepare for the launch of Nintendo 64.
Just one short year later, with only 22 total games officially released, the Virtual Boy thankfully bit the virtual dust.
6. Tiger Electronic Wrist Games
Don't refresh your browser. The image you're looking at is real.
In the 1990's, a company called Tiger Electronics was saturating the video game market with a flood of inexpensive, low-tech handheld games. These devices could be found at almost any store, sold for around 10 dollars, took half the amount of batteries that the Gameboy did, and didn't require any additional hardware to play them. The games were made using LCD technology, printing a series of fixed images into the handheld which would then light up statically to simulate actual graphics.
In addition to these, Tiger began releasing a series of Wrist Games, which were essentially tiny versions of the handheld games, built into watches. The Wrist Games doubled as watches or alarm clocks but each one came with a "game" programmed onto it and two very small buttons to play it.
We can't accurately describe what it feels like to squint down at one of these minuscule LCD screens and play a poor man's version of Hobo Batman but thankfully, the Wrist Game was a fad that faded away, though the Tiger Handhelds live on.
5. The Phillips CD-I
During the early 90's, Nintendo was working closely with Sony to develop a CD based add on for the Super Nintendo. When disagreements over licensing ultimately caused this deal to fall through, (leading to Sony's creation of the original Playstation) Nintendo turned to Phillips to pick up the pieces. While this deal also went south, Phillips did obtain licenses to use some of Nintendo's iconic characters.
This led to the creation of the CD-i. This clunky contraption is the only known video game console that is bigger in size and mass than the Atari 5200, which is quite an impressive feat in and of itself. The CD-i's game library was limited, with most games consisting of awkward educational titles like Sailing, LambChop's Sing-A-Long and The Flowers of Robert Maplethorpe. (Google these titles if you don't believe us!)
The CD-i made full use of the full motion video technology that was making the rounds at the time, with many of its games blurring the lines between movie and gameplay. Of all the games showcased on the CD-i's mediocre library, there are 4 in particular that gamers have tried to cleanse from the pages of gaming history.
Taking advantage of its creative licenses, Phillips intended to release a sequel to Super Mario World entitled "Super Mario's Wacky Worlds" but that never materialized. What we got instead was Hotel Mario. Perhaps the most disappointing Mario title in gaming history (right up there with Mario's Missing), the game consists of nothing but single-screen levels, set in a multi-floor hotel room. The player guides Mario up and down the floors, riding in elevators, picking up coins and shutting doors. The goal is to shut all the doors on the screen, though they regularly pop open again.
Even worse than Hotel Mario was the unholy Triforce. Not one, not two, but three bad Zelda games on a console that isn't Nintendo. Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Link: The Faces of Evil were both released on October 10th, 1993 and are considered among the worst games ever made. Both games were nearly identical, though Wand of Gamelon and Zelda's Adventure were the first Zelda games ever created where the player controls Princess Zelda, in an attempt to rescue Link in what is a total reversal of the normal Zelda plotline.
The three games are riddled with cheesy graphics, obnoxious voice overs, horrendous controls and are generally ignored by hardcore fans of the Zelda franchise. Thankfully, after only selling 1 million units over a span of 7 years, the CD-i finally faded into the darkness and now lives on only as a curious and cringe worthy piece of gaming history.
For those Zelda fans who may not have heard of the CD-i Zelda games, feast your eyes upon this collection of "cutscenes" from Zelda: Wand of Gamelon. CAUTION: Don't eat or drink while watching this:
4. Action Max
The Action Max could easily top anyone's list of the worst video game "consoles" in history. So, what is the Action Max and what makes it so bad?
The Action Max was a VHS based game console, developed by Worlds of Wonder in 1987. Yes, you read that right. VHS based. It hardly qualified as a video game console at all. It functioned using a light gun and VHS tapes. The tapes were filmed in the style of old movies or TV shows and players would shoot at targeting reticles that appeared on the screen. This was accomplished using the light gun and a small sensor attached to the bottom right corner of the television.
The "games" were nothing more than extremely cheesy, low budget "movies" and only a handful of tapes were made for it. Because players couldn't actually win or lose any of the six available games and the only real genre available on Action Max were light gun games that all played identically, the Action Max soon fell by the wayside and can now be found in thrift stores, collecting dust alongside VCRs and rotary dial telephones.
For the brave at heart, check out footage of one of the six Action Max "game" tapes, Hydrosub 2021. Skip ahead anywhere in the video to see the awfulness first-hand:
3. Game Com
Even though the printed title on the front of this device reads "Game.Com", it is actually pronounced "Game Com". After managing to exist for 7 years as a cheap and thoughtless alternative to Nintendo's Gameboy, Tiger Electronics developed this belated answer to the king of the handhelds.
The Game Com did lay claim to being one of the first touch-screen handheld devices, incorporating a number of PDA features like a phonebook, and a contacts list. Unfortunately, that's where the pro's of the system end. The Game Com's library of games was mediocre and consisted almost entirely of watered down, black and white, graphically and audibly inferior ports of already existing titles, like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Batman.
Though it boasted internet functionality, the Game Com could only access the 'net in text and it required a direct cable connection to a modem, meaning that doing anything internet related on it was completely redundant if the user had access to a computer. After selling fewer than 300,000 units, the Game Com went under along with any hopes Tiger had of toppling the Gameboy from the throne of handheld supremacy.
Surprise, surprise, Tiger Electronics cracks this list three times to make it the grand champion of failed gaming concepts.
After failing to make a dent in the handheld market with the Game Com, Tiger gave it one last good effort and came up with this. The R-Zone. This is quite possibly the worst gaming "console" ever created. The R-Zone was basically a poor man's Virtual Boy, if you can believe it. It attached to the player's head via a head strap and the eyepiece was focused over one eye. This meant that a player had to cross his or her eyes or close one eye to comfortably view the screen.
The gameplay was projected onto a tiny piece of reflective plastic in front of the player's eye and all graphics were in red and black. While the Virtual Boy caused headaches and eye strain within 10 minutes, the R-Zone did it almost immediately. The games were barely functional, the system had no peripherals or add ons and the R-Zone was quickly beaten into the ground by the Nintendo Gameboy and Sega Game Gear.
After a couple of handheld variations of the R-Zone failed to do anything to help the system's remarkably poor sales figures, Tiger buried the concept and has since maintained a content existence to this day with inexpensive handheld LCD games.
Check out the following video-review of Daytona USA for the R-Zone. We recommend ear plugs and a blindfold to avoid hemorrhaging:
1. Movie Based Games
If there ever was a video game concept that deserved to top the list of the worst ever, it has to be movie-based games.
How many blockbuster movies have hit theaters in the past ten years, and of those, how many of them have been made into video games? It seems that anytime a major motion picture is about to make its rounds, the game adaptation comes out just before it.
So why is that? The unfortunate repeated mistake of movie based games is the rush. Too often, it seems that the development team is in a mad hurry to release the game before the movie comes out, to boost sales. Sadly, this is the nail in the coffin. Rushed production and rushed development mean sloppy programming and terrible writing.
While Back To The Future and its sequels are some of the most beloved 80's movies of all time, the NES variations were stunningly bad. Each game has almost nothing to do with the movie it represents, even going so far as to have to place the words "Back To The Future" in the bottom corner of the screen throughout the entire game, lest the player forgets what they're playing.
Ghostbusters is another movie franchise that suffered greatly in its transition to video games. What shouldn't have been more complicated than running around blasting ghosts turned into a marathon of tedious repetitive headaches. The NES Ghostbusters contains one song, an 8-bit rendition of the Ghostbusters theme song, and it repeats on a loop endlessly for the entire game. From the title screen, all the way to the end. The game only possesses 4 screens and the end screen lives in infamy for a litany of hilarious but horrible spelling and grammatical errors.
However, there is one movie based game that is the stuff of absolute legends.
E.T. for the Atari 2600 stands the test of time as arguably the worst video game in the history of video games and that is saying a lot. Negotiations to secure rights to make the game ended late July of 1982, which gave the production team a measly 5 and 1/2 weeks to make a functional game in time for the Christmas season. Rather than an innovative game adaptation of the legendary science-fiction movie, the industry was treated to the worst video game ever created. Though the game sold 1.5 million copies, it vastly undershot Atari's expectations of 5 million. Millions of unsold and returned copies of the game are thought to be buried in a New Mexico landfill to this day, and the dramatic commercial failure of this game is thought to be the trigger-point for the oft-mentioned video game crash of 1983.
More to the point, the commercial failure of this game greatly contributed to Atari's ultimate bankruptcy. The company paid upwards of $25 million for the rights to produce the game, further adding on to an already staggering total debt of $536 million (the equivalent of $1.3 billion today). Atari was then divided and sold in 1984.
The iconic failure of the E.T. game, and the game's status as the worst game ever created, forever tarnished the genre of movie based or movie themed games, a stigma that still stands to this day. For that reason, the movie based game tops our list of the worst video game concepts ever.