The Shameful-est Games On The Block: A Martin Luther Challenge

Martin Luther, a world-renowned listmaker, is also noteworthy for including videogames in at least one of his lists. In this fine tradition, I will compose a near-endless multi-genre list of whatever I can find that meets the criteria of Games That Are Shameful (in some way or another), until this list maxes out at 99 items. I promise to comment on as many as I can, and update it whenever I find new shame-ey games that are relevant!

List items

  • Not out yet, but c'mon. Its booth showings at both GDC and E3 didn't show the game screen turned to the camera, and the best quote it could wrangle up was from a non-gamesblog that gave it a "better-than-decent chance".

  • PowerGig's predecessor; this one focused on a more "realistic" drumkit, and features boxart that compares directly to Rock Band 2 (playing to the "confused grandma shopping for her kids" angle). I'd only buy this for negative dollars.

  • Guitar Hero III is popular for exactly one reason: that audiences were so worked up after Guitar Hero II and didn't get the memo that its developer had moved on to other things. The charts, animations, and interface are lifeless, and they put it behind the sort of minds that would think of giving breast physics to Judy Nails.

  • This is shameful in its window-dressing only! The game itself is incredibly fun, but there are Massive ads everywhere and only one female character who isn't a sexed-up stickfigure. Also, the less said about Grandmaster Flash, the better.

  • "suddenly, i was filled with the power of a thousand suns." This is Activision Blizzard's greatest shame: having to develop Crash/Spyro games to hold onto the IPs, even though they absolutely /do not/ sell anymore.

  • Sadly, I only own these two Legend of Spyro games; one day, I plan on getting The Eternal Night and Endurance-Running my way through all of them.

  • This is an improvement to the N64 Superman (in that you can actually play it), but the demo for this was still terrible. A "city health" meter? Seriously?

  • Super-slow movement speeds, awful graphics (paired with great music!), repetitive action, and powerups that limit the usefulness of your primary weapon. Sorry to say it, legions of Fester's Quest fans out there, but this game totally blows. :|

  • I have an idea! We can finally give gamers a Sonic game filled with nothing but the running stages they've demanded -- and then add bottomless pits, everywhere! You know, just like in the original 2D Sonic games!

  • No wait, let's remove all the blue skies and bright colors! And branching paths, based on which characters died in regular gameplay -- that's a choice, right?

  • NO WAIT, let's make regular Sonic raw and gritty by giving him a girlfriend he has to fight for! What's that, you need another year of development time? Pff, whatever. Look, here's a Kid Rock song to help you out.

  • The soundtrack to this is (INDISPUTABLY) brilliant -- but there's only five tracks and the driving mechanics are floaty as hell! I own it to complete my collection, and even then only on the Gems Collection disc.

  • This is actually kind of fun to play, but the story (up to the end of the first disc, at least) is bland and boring; the characters are crosseyed one-dimensional archetypes; the dialogue lacks the Woolsey charm I expect out of my Sakaguchi RPGs! Maybe it gets better from the second disc onward...?

  • Draw circles around this Pokemon! Okay, now draw them around THIS one! If you can't think of more than one mechanic to fill a modestly-sized campaign, you probably shouldn't develop a game (let alone two or three) around it.

  • The first two Dave Mirra games were tolerable! This one caters to the lowest common denominator in the worst way, and was a sign of Acclaim's desperation before its bankruptcy (sort of like what Nippon Ichi is doing right now).

  • This is an example of Nippon Ichi Studios' loathesome techniques! Every character has an electrical-socket face; they're either "moe" or busty as hell, and their outfits show off the sex appeal NIS whiteknights say they're not supposed to have. There's a narrative justification for the ample-chested one in the screenshots, but in the context of their most recent games, it comes across as pandering to the point of being totally ridiculous.

  • Speaking of shameless pandering: Nobody wanted this game. They replaced puzzle-solving with platforming/kart-racing, good writing with celebrity guest stars, and good art/design with awful art/design. Truly, one of the decade's greatest gaming debacles.

  • Here, I'm referring to the entirely new game that was released for mobile devices in the late 2000s. They had the audacity not only to call it a "new version" of the classic PC game, but also to include uncredited cameos from Al Lowe and Roberta Williams (as though either would lend their likenesses to this piece of trash).

  • Not that classic Sierra was that much better! In addition to featuring a reviled sidekick I shared a name with against my will, KQV has annoying voices and terrible dream-logic puzzles -- even moreso than any other entry in the series. Guess I was too "average" for it, eh?

  • In addition to having some of its scenarios revolve around impressively unfunny non-jokes, this one was just unfinished; a few of the puzzles had some hooks removed, one of which was a copy-protection sequence that required the manual to solve (even though this is a CD game). Not to mention, the premise turned the groundbreaking end of Space Quest 5 into a footnote!

  • This one had far better production values than the first game, with /actual sets/ the characters would walk around! It wasn't really scary, though, and the story/mechanics aren't all that good. Watch The Spoony One's Let's Play of it; it's like an extended MST3K of a made-for-TV movie.

  • ...actually, screw the haters; all I know about this one is from secondhand information! I should play this sometime, and let myself sink into the impossibly soft, velvet-sheeted bed that is Tim Curry's classy fake southern drawl once more~

  • The King's Quest series tried its hardest to legitimize itself by creating a serious story in an action-RPG world; it had no charm or character to it; it's as generic as can be, and not even a fun game to begin with. I couldn't even get through the LP of this one. :|

  • This game, and many others, made the wonderful decision to put uneven gamerpoints in their achievement list -- forcing anyone who cares to play through it until it reaches a 5 or a 0 at the end. Talk about a shameful mechanic!

  • Obvious choice, but seriously, who wants to slice robot frogs in a Quake II-powered swamp -- even if it is from the same masterful mind who brought you the head-scratching art direction for Quake 1?

    ...okay, maybe I did at one point. BUT STILL!

  • The primary mechanic in this game is wonderful, while it lasts! Too much of it focuses on tournaments and multiplayer, both of which are absolutely not fun; it's as though Bizarre wanted to force players to replay the same content as many times as possible by frustrating them to death.

  • Ah, the directionless epic! It's like a mystery, except you're given no leads to go on. One scenario ends the instant you beat its final boss, which is an unforgivable sin in the world of RPGs (yes, even inscrutable Japanese ones).

  • Saw this in action for fifteen minutes; did anyone understand what was going on in it? There's a boardgame, I guess? Everything's very colorful, but how am I supposed to navigate with this interface? Am I progressing at all? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LIFE?!?

  • Could have been better if it wasn't rushed out the door! Considering how many bugs, weird narrative moves, and mindboggling design decisions it took (who wants to journey through all of LA if it's not fun to go through?), the way it postured against GTA in its prerelease publicity material was absolutely laughable.

  • An open-world game set in New York City? Better hold onto your ass, or it may just get blown all the way off! Imagine all the issues with the first True Crime blown up to the point of unplayability, in an even more stale real-world location.

  • A launch DS title that desperately tried to recapture the "magic" of previous installments with plodding mechanics and a JRPG story that couldn't have been more generic if it tried. Compared to Lunar's (genuinely impressive!) legacy, this is a real shame.

  • It's a subscription-based MMO! Subscribing gets you... hmm. Extra character slots? And the promise of additional content, which we're currently throwing together in our garage? Only $179 for a lifetime membership! Whoa, hey now -- don't everybody get out their wallets at once!

  • I bought this a month before it died! It probably would have been better if it had anything to distinguish itself from WoW outside the setting -- it was to the point where you could create a car devoted to buffing and the game's equivalent of spellcasting (as opposed to the combination of Twisted Metal and Quake 3 you would've expected from the game's promotional materials).

  • This one distinguishes itself from the other GTAs with lame, lazy writing, unforgiving missions, and a hateful attitude I hope never to see again. Too bad; I suspect it soured players on the prospect of Vice City Stories, which is a substantial improvement in every regard.

  • Builds itself up on a premise of intrigue and sacrilege, which serves only as a starting point for a generic, mediocre, and frustrating sci-fi adventure. Allow me to sum up the previews for this one: "Dave Perry, dark and twisted. No release date yet, but..."

  • So, here's an idea: why don't we take an instant-classic like Conker's Bad Fur Day, leave its four-year-old content completely unaltered (even the scenes that hinge upon Matrix/Alien/Saving Private Ryan references that were tired in 2001), censor the curse words out of it, and up-res the textures/models in a way that leaves Conker himself crosseyed? Fantastic, right?

  • This game is the time-honored story of an amateur fish-observer, who must pick up the Katana Giri and rescue the Mafia from the other Mafia, stopping by such wondrous setpieces as "factory", "nightclub", and "funhouse"! With a premise like that, I can't imagine why it had such a limited critical reception at launch.

  • Features one single playable character, awful controls, and REAL Artificial Intelligence that makes the single-player mode nearly impossible to beat. About the only thing this one had going for it were the shiny prerendered 3D player models -- which look terrible today, naturally! THUMB STATUS: POINTED DIRECTLY AT NADIR OF EXISTENCE

  • If there's ever a game I would use the word "jank" to describe, this is it. Everything feels stiff and wooden; not even the massive explosions make up for how shoddy the movement and shooting mechanics feel. I realize the first Mercenaries predates Just Cause by a year or two, but would it have hurt them to take their cues from that game for its sequel?

  • "Instead of making our first stage a brightly-colored sprawling playground, let's make it a windowless chicken coop with no music!" The graphics in this were bad, but the concepts they're supposed to represent wouldn't have even been passable in 2D.

  • This is a heavy-handed mafia epic that doesn't seem to be aware of the expectations the player has for it -- whether it's the cookie-cutter third-person shooting mechanics or the setting itself. Do you come into this expecting a Vietnam flashback stage?

  • Similarly, I think I had more fun pressing the button that makes the protagonist dance at one of the characters' son's bar mitzvah than any of the actual shooting/social aspects of this one.

  • This one hams up the word "funk" while not including any actual funk music. The laid-back attitude from the first game is completely gone. Also, Latisha is the sunglasses/backwards-baseball-cap-wearing, surfboard-carrying rapping dog of the TJ&E universe. It's what the network wants; why bother to complain?

  • Imagine Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball with its few redeeming aspects (fun pop music/decent volleyball minigame) removed. Somehow, I doubt even my exploitative-chickwrestling-game-loving friend ended up getting anywhere near this piece of trash.

  • Might have been somewhat playable if it didn't rely on the floaty and awful tilt-to-steer mechanic, but I'll wager there are people who played the PS2 version that disagree. Not that I was expecting anything at all from a game featuring a bunch of Bratz knockoffs, of course!

  • Referring to the NES version here, which has woefully pruned stages and horrifying interface issues. The MSX version is probably great!

  • "Nah, people didn't like the first for its stealth elements -- they want to get spotted, so the real action can begin!" "Well, then -- why not have them get spotted on EVERY SCREEN IN THE GAME?" "I like the way you think!" *high-fives, bro-hugs*

  • Not sure if this one is secretly an extremely elaborate prank (Fred Durst as a fighter could be the giveaway on this one) -- but either way, it's earned its place on the list. "Jack" isn't the name of the protagonist in the movie or the book, Sierra :|

  • Not to harsh on it too badly, but anyone who says they were emotionally affected by this game had to have been looking for it in advance. The metaphor is paper-thin, and once you see through it, all you have is a plodding score-based exploration game.

  • Dejobaan is a brilliant developer; AAAAA(x5) is an act that's going to be difficult to top! This is a standard Katamari ripoff that doesn't provide nearly enough value for its cost, though; I was done with it in an hour, and the stages can be maxed out far too easily to justify playing through again.

  • My Gamercard hasn't been tainted with this, but I helped a friend play through it for his. Halfway through the yammering head (from which you receive your instructions) referred to a "Side Order of Gamerscore", and the shame in the room was palpable.

  • Not so much a game as it was a wholly unnecessary system for unlocking game content. Were people as enraged about this as they were about DLC? At least with DLC you can be assured the opportunity to buy content you want without having to scour through local store shelves, and with an interface that isn't totally maddening, to boot.

  • The Mother series is the closest thing videogames have to literature. The fact that its ultimate installment has to be played with a dodgy emulator through quasi-legal methods for English speakers to enjoy it is awful. I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER, NINTENDO (yeah, yeah, add me to the list :\ )

  • Though doubtlessly a fine game in its own right, this earns its mark of shame through the groundbreaking appearance of Ravi Drums, demonstrating the AirStrike for the very first time to the Super Mario theme, as Cammie Dunaway and Shigeru Miyamoto danced with Wii remotes around him, plastic smiles adorning their faces.

  • As far as ad-related games are concerned, this one is even worse than Dash of Destruction -- requiring its players to run through its length multiple times to earn achievements that were likely tracked by a marketing department somewhere. What's worse, I hear the Yaris is an awful car! No wonder they had to hypnotize gamers into buying it.

  • This one likely sold enough to justify a sequel based exclusively on the amount of coverage (and controversy) its commercial received! False advertising, though -- customers ended up with a muddy grey shooter with a ridiculous plot.

  • Referring to the 3DO original; it's shameful because of the coercive techniques they used to get the game publications of the era to give it good reviews. It apparently wasn't very good, either!

  • THUG marked the year Activision's yearly product cycle became enough of a burden on their development teams that they became delirious from exhaustion and started calling "story mode" a feature for games in genres that absolutely do not need it.

  • This is what happens when you just so happen to have recently bought a company that specializes in plastic manufacturing and distribution: you start giving peripherals to games where they simply don't belong.

  • How do you justify releasing a game with easily-replicable moments where the action just pauses for several minutes on-end? Whatever the reason, LucasArts found a way! It's too bad; watching a friend play this, I was actually impressed by the cartoony aspects of its pot.

  • Read the wiki, look at the screenshots. Not only is it a substandard Mortal Kombat ripoff, but it was awful enough for Data East to keep its only working machine in-office as a reminder of how not to handle their new properties.

  • A wonderful byproduct of the FMV fad that came with the advent of CD technology! The fact that they were able to get Christopher Walken to don that ridiculous '90s "cyberpunk hacker" outfit is more than enough to earn Ripper a spot on this list.

  • American McGee called this a "bad game" based on a "good idea". I won't deny that the premise itself is fantastic (just look at the cover), but how do you explain the awful dialogue and the serious use of the word "sheeple"?

  • If this game sold well at all, it had to have been because of the box art. I can't believe acceleration/deceleration controls for a human being were considered a good idea at any point in time; were they inspired by Sonic R?

  • Oh, Phil Hartman. I realize you couldn't have known how terrible the mechanics of this game were, but why did you have to go out on such a low note?

  • Not since Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine have I heard a title so fun to say -- and it features a character who's rad to the max! Move over, Sonic/Sparkster/Aero/Bubsy, there's a new smack-talking rodent in town!

  • A previous iteration of this list included Ninjabread Man and Rock & Roll Adventures; in retrospect, this is unnecessary, since all three are the exact same game.

  • This is only a reminder of the shame Nintendo holds, for letting their deal with Sony peter out in favor of a half-assed commitment to CD-based games on this other machine, made by Phillips.

  • I can't come up with comments for all of these! They're all shameful in their own ways, though :|

  • "...The Great Pantsu War." I've already touched upon Nippon Ichi, but seriously, nothing in the world could possibly be more shameful than this. >:T