16 worst games ever: From Postal 3 to E.T, these games go from bad to worse

There have been some atrocious game releases over the years, and here's where we list some of the very worst.

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  • Worst games ever
  • Daikatana
  • Duke Nukem Forever
  • Pro Skater 5
  • Raven's Cry
  • Superman
  • Limbo of the Lost
  • X-COM: Enforcer
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Hellboy: Asylum Seeker
  • The Angel of Darkness
  • Leisure Suit Larry
  • Postal III
  • Soldner: Secret Wars
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines
  • The War Z
  • Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
  • More stories
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Worst games ever

The worst games ever foisted on to PClaptopconsole or mobile. Here's PC Advisor's list of the worst games... ever! And if this is the kind of list that you like, or just gets you plain angry, read our other articles: the best ever first-person shooter games, most anticipated games of 2017 and more. Go on, you know you want to.

"Worst" can mean a lot of things, of course - there is no objective worst, and one player's poison might well be another's nectar. But if we accept "worst" as encompassing games which are technical failures, games which are enormous disappointments after crazy degrees of hype and games which are just plain obnoxious, there's no shortage of wonders/horrors to talk about. Here are just a few of our favourite terrible things.

Read next: Best board games

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The worst games ever foisted on to PClaptopconsole or mobile. Here's PC Advisor's list of the worst games... ever! And if this is the kind of list that you like, or just gets you plain angry, read our other articles: the best ever first-person shooter games, most anticipated games of 2017 and more. Go on, you know you want to.

"Worst" can mean a lot of things, of course - there is no objective worst, and one player's poison might well be another's nectar. But if we accept "worst" as encompassing games which are technical failures, games which are enormous disappointments after crazy degrees of hype and games which are just plain obnoxious, there's no shortage of wonders/horrors to talk about. Here are just a few of our favourite terrible things.

Read next: Best board games

Worst games ever: Daikatana (2000)

Perhaps the first go-to-name on any list of infamously disappointing games. This first-person shooter from one of the co-creators of Doom isn't quite as awful as the legends suggest, but after years of absurd promises and rampant egomania about how Daikatana would revolutionise gaming ("John Romero's going to make you his bitch," as one advert notoriously put it), the resultant dull, dumb and dated-looking shooter became the industry's definitive Ozymandias moment.

Worst games ever: Duke Nukem Forever (2011)

If there's one game to steal the crown of shame from Daikatana, it's 2011's much-delayed sequel to revered 90s shooter Duke Nukem 3D. This obnoxious, arrogant mess of a game took so much time and money that the studio making it went bankrupt during the process, leaving Borderlands developer Gearbox to finish the 15-year albatross. The shooter that emerged was in most respects just a naff version Half-Life 2 with attention deficit disorder, but what made it unbearable was its clear and oft-stated belief that it was, in fact, an amazing game. That and its determination that the kind of misogyny even Sid James would balk at was somehow the root of all humour. Aggressive "the critics don't know what they're talking about" attempts at defence from Gearbox's boss rightfully elicited widespread mockery.

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Worst games ever: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 (2015)

2015 wasn’t a great year for Tony Hawk, as the fifth instalment in his Pro Skater series got ripped to shreds by the press – and for good reason, too. The game became infamous for its bugs, even after a huge patch was released to fix many of the issues. The in-game physics were broken, allowing the skater to perform sequences of tricks whilst standing perfectly still. The maps were small and unmemorable, the game looked terrible and it was just a bit small. The online wasn’t much better, with terrible online lobbies where players stutter around the map like laggy skating-obsessed ghosts. And for £40? Preposterous.  

Worst games ever: Raven’s Cry (2015)

“Racist”, “sexist” and “homophobic” were three words used to describe Raven’s Cry upon its release in 2015, with many reviews giving it a score of no more than 1 out of 10. The action-adventure RPG looked to interweave fictional and historical characters with accurate architecture, but fell flat on its face in almost every respect. Inconsistent dialogue, clunky combat, rigid controls and game-ending crashes were just a few reasons cited for the failure of the game, with Eurogamer going as far as to deem it “a sorry, broken mess of a game”. The game was re-branded to Vendetta: Curse of Raven’s Cry, which first appeared in November 2015. This fared no better than the original game though, as it was removed from Steam three months later, in January 2016.

Worst games ever: Superman (1994)

Superman is a superhero who can fly, fire lasers from his eyes, punch through buildings and shrug off bullets. Apparently someone forgot this, as Superman for the Nintendo 64 was a game about awkwardly steering an eerily rectangular Clark Kent through floating hoops as timer ticked down, like a Crufts finalist in a cape. Meanwhile, Supes' towering stomping ground of Metropolis became a playing field shrouded in fog, and the Man Of Steel's propensity to be easily killed by passing henchmen suggested someone had laced his breakfast cereal with Kryptonite.  The developers tried to redeem themselves with a heavily redone version of the game for PlayStation, but it never saw release. Probably just as well.

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Worst games ever: Limbo of the Lost (2008)

Originally announced in 1993, this British-made point and click adventure game somehow took 15 years to a) be beyond terrible and b) wildly plagiarise art assets from a number of other games and movies.  Before Limbo of the Lost was withdrawn from sale and its lead developer (and one-time used car salesman) Steve Bovis pulled a disappearing act after unconvincingly blaming third-parties, eagle-eyed players spotted that the game was chock-full of imagery brazenly swiped from the likes of Oblivion, World of Warcraft, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings and, with unwitting irony, Thief: Deadly Shadows. On the other hand, the bizarre musical number that serves as the game's conclusion is almost a work of art in its awful weirdness.

Worst games ever: X-COM: Enforcer (2001)

X-COM: UFO Defence - a landmark, timeless strategy/management/roleplaying title from 1994, hailed in many quarters as the best game of all time. Its spin-off X-COM: Enforcer - a hideous, lurid, incoherent, maddening corridor shooter that appeared to have been created in a desperate hurry. A prime example of what can happen when rights to a series aren't owned by its original creators, Enforcer wasn't even the only joyless cash-in the X-COM name suffered. Arguably even worse is space combat game Interceptor, which was awful enough to essentially kill off the entire series. Fortunately, 2012 saw a resurrection in the form of the excellent, infinitely more faithful X-COM: Enemy Unknown.

Worst games ever: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Aka, the game which almost killed games. In truth, ET isn't that much worse than the flood of ropey platform games of the time, but it was made in just five weeks flat and it shows. This was and is an ugly, repetitive, banal and frustrating game with precious little in common with its source material. Sure, having ET endlessly collect bits of telephone from the bottom of wells was a terrible idea with terrible execution, but the real problem was Atari's absurd expectations for this spin-off of the at-the-time ubiquitous Spielberg movie. The inability to meet them all but killed off the Atari 2600 console, effectively ended the life of Atari's first incarnation and contributed to the great game crash of the 1980s.

There was a legend that millions of unsold E.T. cartridges were crushed, encased in cement and buried in the New Mexico desert - a fitting end for a colossal folly – which turned out to be true.

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Worst games ever: Hellboy: Asylum Seeker (2000)

You don't need to be a dedicated Hellboy fan to know that the demonic hero has one giant hand made of indestructible stone, and one small, normal (if red) hand. Guess which hand he uses to hit stuff with in his first videogame? Yep, the little one. That probably says all you need to know. An incredible mess even after four years in development, Asylum Seeker (also known as Dogs of the Night or simply Hellboy) is at least a rich source of unintended comedy. From Hellboy's bizarre prattling about rice-hats to the bug that sees him slowly phase through the floor, it's a glorious train wreck.

Worst games ever: Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)

Another one for the 'not actually laughably terrible' category, the sixth Tomb Raider game makes this list because it made all manner of wild promises for years then just turned out to be a deeply tedious, risk-averse re-tread of what had already become over-familiar which almost ended the entire franchise. The addition of an entirely superfluous male hero also meant it undermined Lara Craft's already lad's mag-diminished status as a strong female role model, and a once mighty brand was left in tatters. Tomb Raider's original creators left the company in the wake of the game's negative reception, and what remained didn't last much longer. The disgraced series then changed hands and rebooted in the hope of salvaging the precious Lara name.

Worst games ever: Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (2004)

Horrible, horrible, horrible. And not in a buggy, broken way like so many others on this list. Instead, this attempt to revive early 90s comedy adventure series Leisure Suit Larry was mean-spirited, rife with noxious sexism and sadism and irredeemably, painfully unfunny. Rubbish puzzles, too. Granted, the original Larry games are too often seen through rose-tinted specs, but that's no excuse for how unpleasant this 21st century sequel was.  A 2009 follow-up, Box Office Bust, ditched some of the more caveman-like attitudes, but the equally awful humour meant it scooped up a fair few Worst Game Of The Year awards itself.

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Worst games ever: Postal III (2011)

The satirically sociopathic Postal series forever danced on the thin line between genius and disaster, but with the boring, hollow third game it tumbled undeniably into the latter category. Having been outsourced by Postal's American creators to a Russian studio, what once seemed subversive turned into lazy, lowest common denominator gags about drugs, porn stars and Asian chefs, within samey, horrible, unfair and deeply buggy shooting gallery levels. The Postal games had always been knowingly obnoxious, but what once seemed the bleeding edge of self-aware, uncensored satire became childish, cheap and tedious. Reception was so poor that the Postal series' publicly disowned the game and tried to withdraw it from sale.

Worst games ever: Soldner: Secret Wars (2004)

You've got to admire Soldner's ambition. Unfortunately, that's all you can admire. Apparently made entirely from bugs, this Battlefield-style multiplayer shooter offers singular and reliably hilarious sights such a soldiers wearing psychedelic tartan armour, tanks randomly turning into jeeps and buildings teleporting in and out of existence. Third-party fixes made Soldner a little less ridiculous, but it really should be seen in its original, unpatched state to appreciate it full glory and absurdity. And the dispassionate, unseen man who miserably intones 'zzzoldnuh' on the loading screen is the stuff of legends.

Worst games ever: Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013)

Alright, this arguably isn't quite bad enough to make the history books, but it does demonstrate that even high profile, mega-budget contemporary games can drop the ball as badly as the little guys can. Mostly, this latest of far too many first-person shooters based on Aliens is terribly dull and devoid of all imagination, but that most of the game is counter-productively spent fighting human soldiers rather than the titular Aliens, the braindead AI and the broken animation which causes certain Xenomorphs to walk as though they've got a nasty case of piles just about edges it into disaster territory. After six years of development and presumably vast sums of money, it's simply amazing that ACM got it so, so wrong.

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Worst games ever: The War Z (2012)

A very contemporary one this, but also one which could, in theory, one day escape the Ghetto Of Awfulness. It's highly unlikely given the atrocious state this zombie survival MMO launched in, but it is technically an ongoing project, so you never know. The War Z exists only because Day Z, a free mod for combat sim Arma 2, was a shock success. Superficially very similar indeed, The War Z was rushed to market in the hope of piggybacking Day Z's zeitgeist, amid a storm of wild promises and a string of unflattering rumours about the company behind it.

Lo and behold, the results were an absolute mess, and many of the promises - about the number of players it could support, how big an area of world there was to roam - turned out to be outright poppycock. The developers didn't help matters when they accused disappointed players of having "misinterpreted" their fabricated claims. Eventually, it was withdrawn from sale on Steam, by Steam, who acknowledged it wasn't in a fit state. Just recently it was made available again, though the changes seem to be more focused on removing the lies on the production description page than on fixing the infinite array of bugs, shortcomings and overwhelming air of cheap'n'nasty.

Worst games ever: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (2003)

The gold standard for openly, abjectly, hilariously terrible games, this physics-defying racing gaming has scooped up more than a few Worst Game Ever trophies. It's even got satirical fan websites. From the fact that the released version was clearly a long way from finished to the broken English throughout ("You're Winner") to the fact that the only other vehicles in the game don't move to the ability to drive up right-angled walls without losing speed to... Well, the list goes on. The only challenge in the game was the risk that it might completely abandon whatever thin vestiges of logic and realism it had, for instance by having you plummet out of the world or by declaring that you had won the race within milliseconds of starting. Legendary stuff: games just don't get better (i.e. worse) than this.

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