Thousands and thousands of video games have been released over the past several decades, and most are long-forgotten.
Some have stood the test of time by capturing our imaginations and blistering our thumbs with innovative gameplay and immersive storytelling.
Others will be remembered in gaming lore for all the wrong reasons.
Here are an unlucky 13 that will go down in history as some of the biggest stinkers of all time:
13. Self-Defense Training Camp (Xbox 360, Kinect)
What it was supposed to be: A motion-sensing interactive experience that would “help players develop the self-confidence they need to react more efficiently when facing troublesome situations, and allows players to discover ways of protecting themselves from various forms of physical assault.”
What it was: Clunky, bland and broken, with “characters that move like busted robots” and are creepily obsessed with kicks to the groin (see video below).
Funniest review excerpt: “Just steer clear of this one and always remember to carry some pepper spray – not to ward off muggers, but to spray in the face of anyone who tries to tell you this is a worthwhile title.” ~ XboxAddict.com
12. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
What it was supposed to be: The eighth installment of a beloved point-and-click PC franchise that was meant to continue the zany exploits of Larry Lovage, the nephew of the original Larry, as he tries to discover a saboteur bent on overthrowing his uncle’s film studio.
What it was: Crap. Bad acting, bad humor, bad taste, bad voice acting (despite performances by Jeffrey Tambor, Shannon Elizabeth and Carmen Electra) and absolutely no fun to play.
Funniest review excerpt: “Under no circumstances should be purchased by anyone.” ~ IGN
11. Elf Bowling 1 & 2 (GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS)
What it was supposed to be: Santa gets revenge on disobedient elves by hurling stuff at them and knocking them over with bowling pins. How could that not be successful?!
What it was: Exactly what one might expect from a game in which Santa assaults elves. Stupid, ugly and marred by unresponsive, counter-intuitive controls. Also probably traumatic for children who thought Santa was supposed to be jolly.
Funniest review excerpt: “Nobody could possibly be stupid enough to pay money for this game.” ~Palgn.com
10. Charlie’s Angels (PS2, GameCube)
What it was supposed to be: A sexy, action-packed beat-’em-up title featuring the voice talents of Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz.
What it was: A colossal train wreck that made the Charlie’s Angels movies look like Citizen Kane by comparison. GameTrailers ranked it as the absolute worst movie-to-game conversion in history, possibly because characters frequently got stuck in doorways or behind invisible walls.
Best review excerpt: “It’s a game that is every bit as shallow as the fluff movies it’s based on, but unlike the film takes it doesn’t have pretty girls and high-budgeted action sequences to fill in the gaps.” ~ IGN
9. Rogue Warrior (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
What it was supposed to be: A first-person shooter in which the player is on a mission into North Korea to disrupt ballistic missile launchers (seems ahead of its time in that respect).
What it was: Glitchy, foul-mouthed, short, soulless and, despite Mickey Rourke voicing the lead role, poorly performed.
Funniest review excerpt: “The only fun comes from the possibility of stepping into the shoes of a blatantly homoerotic Rambo.” ~ Game Informer
8. Night Trap (Sega CD, 3DO)
What it was supposed to be: An innovative, full-motion video, interactive horror movie starring Dana Plato from Diff’rent Strokes, which was apparently considered a good thing at the time.
What it was: A money trap, nothing more. The game sparked lots of controversy after its release because of the “realistic” depiction of violence (which was about as realistic as a Three Stooges flick), but failed to deliver any actual fun due to clunky controls and nearly impossible difficulty. Also: the expectation of boobs is never fulfilled.
Funniest review excerpt: “Night trap is exactly like switching between eight different channels, only at any time seven of them are static shots of empty rooms and one is the worst show you’ve ever seen.” ~Seanbaby.com
7. Shaq-Fu (Genesis, SNES)
What it was supposed to be: A smash hit that capitalized on Shaquille O’Neal’s superstar status by depicting him as a kung fu warrior against bad guys from another dimension.
What it was: A shameless cash-grab that was so incredibly unfun that players around the world continue to film themselves “liberating the game from existence” by destroying cartridges in creative ways.
Best review excerpt: “To say that Shaq Fu is bad is like calling genocide a little naughty.” ~ Questionable Films
6. Catfight (PC)
What it was supposed to be: Mortal Kombat with hot chicks.
What it was: One of the worst video games ever made, according to the few poor saps who played it. It was developed by Atlantean Interactive, a front for porn company Vivid Entertainment, but offered none of the satisfaction that Vivid’s other releases tend to provide.
Funniest review excerpt: “So bad, being caught masturbating to it would actually be less embarrassing than being caught playing it.” ~ PCGamer.com
5. Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties (3D0)
What it was supposed to be: An adult-oriented dating simulation featuring “full-motion video” (which turned out to be a bald-faced lie) and the potential of seeing nipples.
What it was: A misogynistic, poorly narrated slideshow that offered practically no interaction or fun. The colossal failure of the game is considered one of the primary reasons for the commercial failure of the once-promising 3DO game console.
Funniest review excerpt: An “irksome and yobbishly executed psuedo-pornographic photo story with the wit and charm of an elephant’s arse.” ~ PC Gamer
4. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (PC)
What it was supposed to be: An action-packed driving title in which the player must deliver illegal cargo in a tractor-trailer while evading police.
What it was: An action-deprived exercise in frustration in which the player accomplishes nothing while evading non-existent police. The game was riddled with glitches, including opponent vehicles that never leave the starting line. The game is famous for its proclamation of “YOU’RE WINNER” (sic) and its inability to discern whether you’ve crossed the finish line or merely departed the starting line.
Best review excerpt: “We don’t hand out zeros, but maybe we should have for Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.” ~ GameSpot
3. Survivor: The Interactive PC Game (PC)
What it was supposed to be: A strategic spin-off of Survivor, the then hugely popular (now moderately popular) reality TV show in which everyday Americans suffer on a desert island for our enjoyment.
What it was: Worse than being stranded on a desert island and being forced to eat live cockroaches in front of Jeff Probst. Unless you like asking your computer-controlled fellow tribe members if they miss chocolate (one of about five pre-written questions your character can ask others) for literally hours of real-life time, you won’t survive long enough to see how this game ends. Even the immunity challenges, often the most exciting part of the TV show, challenge you to stay awake.
Funniest review excerpt: About as much fun as “watching paint dry/throbbing hemorrhoids/staring at air/being buried alive.” Game Revolution
2. E.T. (Atari 2600)
What it was supposed to be: A top-down action-adventure romp that continued the exploits of the world’s favorite alien of the early 1980s. True to his nature, E.T. was required to collect fragments of a phone and a bunch of Reese’s Pieces, while evading capture by nasty scientists.
What it was: One of the most infamous failures of a movie-to-game translation in history, due to its nonsensical gameplay and E.T.’s tendency to fall into an inescapable pit. The game was so bad that truckloads of unsold cartridges were reportedly buried in a New Mexico landfill, ironically, not terribly far from where “real” E.T.s supposedly crashed in 1947.
Funniest review excerpt: “E.T. has never looked worse, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment since he started out looking like a slimy little space turtle’s penis.” ~ Seanbaby.com
1. Custer’s Revenge (Atari 2600)
What it was supposed to be: A racist rape fantasy set in the Old West.
What it was: A racist rape fantasy in the Old West. The main character, General George Amrstrong Custer, runs around with a huge boner and tries to hump native women against their will. Somehow that didn’t appeal to wide audiences.
Best review excerpt: “I feel dirty.” ~ GameFaqs.com