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Worst of the 2000s

The 2000s were a golden age of trashy games, imo. I mean, there's true bottom of the barrel content in any decade, but 2000s titles don't have the benefit of being dismissed as time wasters like today's iPhone detritus or the landfill-bound titles of the Atari days. Most (but not all!) of the titles on this list were released as full $50/$60 titles. In other words, the 2000s were the age of the *prestige* trashy game - and the below are therefore my favorite examples of mid-aughts prestige trash.

Ranked from least bad to most bad.

List items

  • I don't put GoldenEye: Rogue Agent on this list because it's an awful game in a pure gameplay sense - it plays well enough for an FPS from 2004 - but for how desperately idiotic it is. The premise: you are a 00 agent who kills James Bond during a training exercise, eliminating him from the 007 universe and therefore allowing you to complete missions for all his biggest foes. It's also sorta grimdark. I feel like this game from the very start misses the point not only of the original GoldenEye N64 title, but also of the entire general appeal of James Bond. I love Bond films, but it's kind of amazing that EA somehow made a worse version of that already (sometimes purposefully!) stupid franchise.

  • Mass Effect: Galaxy was a Mass Effect lore-filler that revealed the backstory of Jacob, a Mass Effect 2 squadmate. It was also probably the worst tactical RPG I've ever played, with serviceable, Saturday morning cartoon-style cutscenes between each skirmish. For Mass Effect freaks like me, this was worth it, but for anyone else on planet Earth this game is a skip. It's been de-listed from every digital store, as far as I know, so...that's that on that, I guess!

  • I won't get too much into it, but there was something deeply haunted about the Rugrats PS1 games. I don't even mean the obvious recycled content from game to game, but just the, like, VIBE of it all. There's a curse in there somewhere. Some lost spirit wanders the code of the Rugrats games.

  • Most every element about Marvel Nemesis is hilarious, but I think my favorite is that Nickelback-ass-lookin' Wolverine right there. Who in their right mind would take such a colorful cast of characters and place them in this diarrhea brown/green world??

  • Maybe something of a surprise that with a name like Big Mutha Truckers this game isn't a straight up horrorshow, but then I've never played Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder, which is apparently the official sequel. In any case, having played this game and laid eyes on its general depictions of the blue collar south, I somehow find myself convinced that the Big Mutha Truckers character design team did not exercise their maximum capacity for empathy towards their fellow man during this project.

  • This game was the result of someone saying 'what abouuut...who wants UP? A millionaire?' out loud in a boardroom. It's sub Mad Magazine bullshit for no one.

  • This pseudo movie tie-in game was either a dull-in-the-head lightgun game or a tougher-than-Dark Souls racing game depending on the character your chose - or, it was both if you had a light gun and a friend. And all because the world needed another mid-aughts Ben Stiller vehicle? Good riddance.

  • ESPN International Winter Sports 2002 (or: ESPNIWS2002) wasn't finished! It literally wasn't done yet. This game has two generic athletes assigned to each country, and they all appear to have dialogue that was never recorded. It's a glaring issue that's at its best in the character/country select screen, where the camera actually zooms in to these characters just to show you this unfinished feature as each athlete mouths away in silence. Hilariously, this game's bobsled races feature Mario Kart-ian speed boost pads, and the ice skating events are DDR rhythm minigames.

  • So...I THINK this game is called Monopoly Party to get in on the Mario Party craze? But in reality it's just a sorta shitty digital version of Monopoly with some themed boards. Look at that cover art, though. That's some real early-aughts shit right there.

  • I'm sure this was a perfectly fine stocking stuffer for football dudes or whatever, but this specific game is my favorite example of the way sports games can just fully devolve into nonsense. My friends and I used to play it just to instigate bugs and observe them. Once we booted it up and the players had no arms or legs. That's fucked up!

  • Big Bumpin' is probably one of the thinnest excuses for a video game I can think of. It's an advertisement where you donk into your friends and think about hamburgers.

  • This was an unfinished adver-game in which you just barely interact with a bunch of clunky setpieces set in various Universal Studios properties. What's amazing to me is that, if I recall correctly, this was a full price launch game on the GameCube. Can you imagine spending $50 on an advertisement to a theme park?

  • Bought this game used as a kid, tried sticking with it for a couple weeks. It's the first time I can recall playing a video game and then thinking to myself, 'Wait...why am I doing this? I don't have to do this." and turning off the game.

  • I'm replaying the Saints Row franchise right now, and let me tell you what - they all *mostly* hold up, particularly 4, but this first game? My LORD does this game not hold up, in all of the ways a video game from the mid-aughts can fail to hold up. The writing is genuinely of such a poor quality that it goes below the most bottom of the barrel writing I've seen in any video game. It's a GTA parody 'murder hookers sim' joke from a movie, but un-ironically. And from a game design perspective, it's constrictive and punishes experimentation. In a weird way Saints Row stands in total opposition to everything that makes the latter games kitschy and unique.

  • There were a ton of trash FPS titles for the Wii, but MAN was this one a flop. The big selling point was the online multiplayer, which promised 16 v 16 matches, but thanks to the general state of the Wii instead delivered 3 v 3 matches (if you were lucky!) between freakishly speedy monster-soldeirs who would jerk erratically around the battlefield scoring headshots with shotguns.

  • So this was a sorta busted sequel to the first Mercenaries title. It was sloppy and unpleasant, but what really elevates it was the Barack Obama/Sarah Palin DLC, in which you would literally mass murder Venezuelans as US high office hopefuls. No optics problem there! No sir.

  • Yaris was a slow motion Mario Kart that wanted you to buy a car. It was a surreal and ugly game in which tentacle-clad Toyota Yarises raced at a modest 30 MPH down labyrinthine grey highways.

  • I understand that we were, y'know, figuring out what worked on the iPhone in 2009, but WOW is this a hilarious entry in the MGS canon. It's a shooting gallery that covers the events of MGS 4 in which you touch what amount to jpegs of enemy soldiers until you get to the next flat screen of text explaining MGS 4's plot. Can you EVEN IMAGINE a worse delivery mechanism for a confusing Kojima plot than an iPhone shooting gallery?

  • The fact that this game came out in the US almost ten years after its release only further cemented it as one of the sloppiest-playing fighters ever. My favorite example of this game's overall quality is the 'flying' mechanic, wherein one character's sprite simply shrinks so that the character in the air appears to be higher than they are; I think this is beautiful.

  • The only possible demographic for Conker are the Ep1c Bacon Win!!!! crowd who somehow haven't died off from the internet yet. I'm imagining a loud dork explaining why the poop musical is actually hilarious and am vomiting all over my arms and chest as I do so FUCK

  • Advergaming bums me out in general, but at least have some decorum, man. At least games like Sneak King or Pepsiman or whatever have this surreal consumer art quality to them. This is just a crappy game that reminds you to buy Dorritos. Put some effort in, come on!

  • The premise: take twisted metal, remove the cars, make the characters death row inmates participating in a Smash TV/Running Man-style murder reality show, and - most importantly - remove everyone's legs and replace them with big balls!!! Normal! It's called Ball Breakers! A great and not at all embarrassing title for a thing! Yeah!

  • Y'know, the history of Big Rigs is pretty interesting in retrospect considering that you can now find any number of trash heap titles just like it in the wasteland that is the Steam marketplace; all the same, no list of bad 2000s titles would be complete without this all-time classic. My favorite Big Rigs fact is that your rival A.I. racers will full-on stop right before the finish line because the game does not feature a fail state for the player; participation trophy culture started at Big Rigs, is what I'm saying.

  • I don't have a relationship with any piece of media in the way that I'm obsessed with Agassi Tennis Generation. For a time, my friends and I played more of this than almost any other video game; more than Battlefront 2, or Halo, or Tekken, or Mario Kart, or Smash, or whatever else.

    The reason? It never broke the same way twice. Sure, there were common glitches - A.I. slamming their head into the tennis ball inexplicably, characters slicing open their head on the net after matches, rackets noclip-ing if the player spammed the 'slow' hit button, etc. But then there were the WEIRD glitches, the sudden nosedive towards tennis catastrophe, that made Agassi Tennis Generation so exciting.

    Once, we booted the game up and the commentator, a boisterous Canadian weirdo, screamed "OHHHhoho" in shock for the full second half of a match anytime anything of note happened. Or, there was the time that the commentator bellowed out "WELCOME - TO RUSSIA!" at the start of one match, and then again and again for about six minutes. Or the time we discovered a Russian character named Olkenfelny would move at 2X speed to make impossible recoveries where other characters would simply collapse at the merest hint of difficulty. Or the time we figured out, if you spam the 'slow' hit and the 'lob' hit over and over that your character would skitter on their tip toes across the court like the demon-clown from IT.

    Agassi Tennis Generation earns the bottom spot on this list not because it's the worst game of the 2000s, but because it's the best game of all time. May it live on in my buddy's fat-model PS2 forever.