The worst games ever foisted on to PC, laptop, console or mobile. Here's PC Advisor's list of the 18 worst videogames... ever! Let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom. And if this is the kind of list that you like, or just gets you plain angry, read our articles: the 39 best ever first-person shooter games, and the 18 best role-playing games for iPhone and iPad. 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.
Worst Games: 1. Daikatana (PC, Ion Storm, 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: 2. Duke Nukem Forever (Xbox 360/PS3/PC, 3D Realms/Gearbox, 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 videogame. 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.
Worst Games: 3. Plumbers Don't Wear Ties ( 3DO, Kirin Entertainment, 1994)
This 'interactive romantic comedy' for the doomed 3DO system is famous only for being bad. Really, truly, irredeemably bad. The reasons for that are two-fold: firstly, it's less a game and more a series of poor-quality still photographs accompanied by atrocious voiceovers and even worse jokes. Secondly, it tried to save itself by including lowest-grade and essentially nudity-free porn and a horrifying attitude towards women. To make matters even worse, it used Comic Sans on its box art. Widely blamed for the demise of the Panasonic 3DO console, the one thing Plumbers Don't Wear Ties did manage to achieve is living forever.
Worst Games: 4. Superman (N64,Titus Software 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.
Worst Games: 5. Limbo of the Lost (PC, Majestic Studios, 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: 6. X-COM: Enforcer (PC, Hasbro Interactive, 2001)
X-COM: UFO Defense - a landmark, timeless strategy/management/roleplaying title from 1994, hailed in many quarters as the best videogame 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, last year saw a resurrection in the form of the excellent, infinitely more faithful X-COM: Enemy Unknown.
Worst Games: 7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600, Atari Inc, 1982)
Aka, the videogame which almost killed videogames. 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 videogames crash of the 1980s. Legend holds 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.
Worst Games: 8. Hellboy: Asylum Seeker (PlayStation/PC, Cryo Studios, 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 trainwreck.
Worst Games: 9. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (PlayStation 2/Xbox/PC, Core Design, 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 retread 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. It's due for another relaunch in March 2013 as, simply, 'Tomb Raider.'
We continue our trawl through the sludge in the bottom of the bin marked 'terrible games', with a look at another nine truly awful games. Here's the remainder of the 18 worst games in history.
Worst Games: 10. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (PlayStation 2/Xbox/PC, High Voltage Studios, 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 its equally awful humour meant it scooped up a fair few Worst Game Of The Year awards itself.
Worst Games: 11. Night Trap (Sega MegaCD / Sega 32X / 3DO / PC, Digital Pictures, 1992)
The Sega MegaCD was going to be the future of videogames - dramatically increased storage compared to cartridges, and the option for full-motion video. And then Night Trap, arguably its poster child game, happened. What was intended to be cheap titillation wound up as creepy voyeurism, but though this infamously landed the game's makers in court on charges of being offensive, its notorious scenes of nightgowns and vampires did and do come across as laughable. Meanwhile, the dry, limited game itself - requiring tediously skipping between camera 'feeds' in the hope of catching vampire invaders - was no-one's idea of fun. While the game eventually found its way to other platforms, its association with the MegaCD did Sega's dead-on-arrival new system few favours.
Worst Games: 12. Postal III (PC, Akella, 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: 13. Soldner: Secret Wars (PC, Wings Simulations, 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: 14. Aliens: Colonial Marines (Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC, Gearbox, 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.
Worst Games: 15. Zelda's Adventure (CD-i, Viridis, 1994)
Nintendo keeps an iron grip on its most famous names these days, but back in the mid 1990s the Japanese game company's explosion into Western pop-culture meant not quite so much quality control was exercised. The infamous Bob Hoskins Super Mario movie is the most famous example of how poorly the House of N let its stars be treated, but The Legend of Zelda didn't fare much better. The three Philips CD-i games were made in a hurry, and it shows. While their infamy is more to do with Nintendo fans' latter-day outrage that these games weren't suitably faithful enough to Nintendo's own Zelda titles, the horribly dated animated cutscenes and flaky controls makes the first two a chore. However, criticism of said first two, Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, tends to be highly exaggerated mob rule - they're not awful, they're just not really Zelda. Third game Zelda's Adventure though - hoo boy, that's a horror. Hideously acted live-action FMV, all-over-the-place, punishing difficulty and nasty sound and graphics make for an embarrassing, hateful game Nintendo probably wish could be erased from history.
Worst Games: 16. Rise of the Robots (SNES / Megadrive / 3DO / PC / Amiga / 3D-i, Mirage, 1994)
The game that was going to change everything! Or, in reality, the game where a bunch of guys in suits spotted that Street Fighter II was making a truckload of money and decided to muscle in on the action. Absurd, meaningless claims included "VR inspired backgrounds designed by an architect," "fighting moves conceived by a martial arts expert" and "the first combat game to use artificial intelligence" "Rise of the robots redefines the fighting genre and raises the ante on gamers with a futuristic motif proven in focus groups". As for the game itself, we got a dull, slow, clunky fighter that looked like deleted scenes from The Lawnmower Man, starring a cast of faceless action figure-like characters most people could barely tell apart. And, crucially for a fighting game, it was awkward and unresponsive to control. Fortunately, the game's crazy marketing spend didn't make it a commercial success despite its ubiquity at the time.
Worst Games: 17. The War Z (PC, Hammerpoint Interactive, 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: 18. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (PC, Stellar stone, 2003)
The gold standard for openly, abjectly, hilariously terrible videogames, 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.