A lot of retro titles are put under extreme scrutiny in the modern age, with many disregarding them due to their intense difficulty (by today's standards), poor controls, graphical issues, and glitches. Some of these games receive a pass, due simply to the fact that technology was very limited during the first era of at-home consoles. That being said, there were still some retro releases that were so horrible that outdated technology was hardly an excuse. Modern games aren't afforded the same luxury. When a new-age release is particularly bad, developers can't hide behind the guise of terrible game design engines and tools.
Game companies are no strangers to failure. There are many instances of a particular release not doing so well, even when given appropriate time and a massive budget. Nintendo is no exception. The entertainment juggernaut has seen its fair share of bombs and busts. Some titles were crafted and published directly by Nintendo, while others are simply a product of Nintendo console exclusivity. Whatever the case, these titles fell well short of their intended mark.
This led us to scour the web and our personal collections for 15 of the worst Nintendo-based abominations to ever grace company hardware.
Have you played any of these horrible releases? Let us know!
15 Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (CD-i)
The Philips CD-i was a strange time for video games. The quirky system played host to an array of subpar releases and animated adventures that looked rather creepy. A couple Nintendo IPs received the CD-i treatment, but nothing suffered more than The Legend of Zelda franchise.
Any of The Legend of Zelda CD-i titles could feature on this list but we decided to go with Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. The cutscene dialogue is cringe-worthy, the animations are unsettling, the story is a bit off, and the gameplay gets rather stale, rather quickly. All of these issues culminate to form a Legend of Zelda title that should have never seen the light of day.
Nintendo probably wishes this black sheep would simply fade from obscurity. The Legend of Zelda CD-i series is nothing more than a horribly dark smudge on an otherwise beautiful game franchise.
14 Pokémon Rumble U (Wii U)
There have been a lot of Pokémon spinoffs over the years. Titles like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Pokémon Stadium, and even Pokémon Snap, were rather successful in their own right. Pokemon Rumble U was not one of these titles. The beat-em-up spinoff left a lot to be desired and received mixed-to-negative reviews from a lot of critics.
The title puts you in control of a rag-tag group of Pokémon capsule toys, on a mission to find their way back to a local toy store. Along the way, you'll battle against other Pokémon and make new friends. The storyline and graphical elements are adorable, but the Gameplay falls incredibly flat. Each level plays out the same, with you choosing a Pokémon and then endlessly mashing the attack button as you wobble around the battlefield.
This is the perfect title for anyone looking for some mindless and repetitive fun, but it's definitely not going to challenge your skills (or make you use your brain).
13 Mario Is Missing! (SNES)
Nintendo spent some of its earlier video-game days collecting and producing edutainment for its youngest fans. These games were meant to teach children various subjects while holding their attention in a fun and interactive space. The idea was admirable but most of the edutainment releases lacked a lot of fun factor. A good example of this is Mario is Missing!
This was the first time we would see Luigi as a lead protagonist, which is unfortunate for the underdog plumber. Mario is Missing! featured bland gameplay, repetitive mechanics, and a wild (yet pretty hilarious) storyline. One of the main issues with the release is that it seemed to lack a defeat mechanism. You won't take damage from enemies and there is no errant timer ticking down to your doom.
Mario is Missing! could have been a fantastic educational tool, had developers simply added a bit more to the fun factor.
12 Captain Rainbow (Wii)
Most of you probably haven't played Captain Rainbow. In fact, most probably have no idea that this game existed. If it were up to Nintendo, they would prefer it stay that way. Unless you found yourself living abroad in Japan, you would have never laid eyes on this title. It released in the Land of the Rising Sun back in 2008, with plans to localize to the West soon after.
Unfortunately, those plans never came to fruition. Captain Rainbow suffered a dismal release and only managed to sell 6,361 copies during its first week. Fast forward to 2017 and that number has only grown to 22,682. The lack of interest quickly placed this game into the void of forgotten Wii titles. What's even more depressing is that Captain Rainbow isn't actually a bad game.
The title featured stylized graphics, unique gameplay (with an almost Animal Crossing vibe), a cute storyline, and fluid controls. If only Nintendo could go back in time and publish this for a worldwide release.
11 Super Mario Run (Mobile)
This is a perfect example of a release that Nintendo wishes it could do over. Super Mario Run had the mobile world reeling. The generated hype train was careening down the tracks and all eyes were planted firmly on the Apple App Store in anticipation of its late 2016 release. When it finally unveiled, Super Mario Run instantly rose to superstardom. It managed to dethrone Pokémon GO, while simultaneously shattering its record for first-week downloads.
You may be asking yourself, "why would Nintendo want us to forget such a popular release?" The issue lies in the delivery of the title, rather than the game itself. The free-to-play structure that Super Mario Run used seemed to irk many fans. Players were allowed to experience a few early levels (all of which were rather simple) before running smack dab into a pay wall. The full version of the game was locked at $10, a steep price according to a lot of negative App Store reviews.
Nintendo's stock suffered an 18 percent loss during the ordeal. In February of this year, Nintendo released its second mobile game, Fire Emblem Fates. By the end of March, the release had already financially outperformed Super Mario Run.
10 Mario's Time Machine (SNES)
On the subject of poorly produced edutainment, we have Mario's Time Machine. Much like Mario is Missing!, this title focused heavily on historical facts. Players could access an array of places, speaking directly with virtual versions of popular historical figures (like Sir Isaac Newton). There is a lot of dialogue to sift through and the game does a solid job in terms of teaching.
Unfortunately, Mario's Time Machine suffers from the same ailment that afflicts most other edutainment titles. It simply isn't that fun. Most of the action you'll see revolves around running back and forth between NPCs. The time travel mini-game has Mario surfing (of all things) across expansive blue waters in search of mushrooms.
Like Mario is Missing!, there is no defeat mechanic, so you'll never have to worry about a game over. This title is also a bit confusing for the age demographic it's targeted towards. Some of the time control mechanics would be quite confusing to a school-aged youngster.
9 Friday The 13th (NES)
This is perhaps one of the most painfully terrible releases to ever grace the NES. Touted as one of the hardest horror survival games to ever release, Friday The 13th was meant to mimic the popular slasher movie, but many believe it did a poor job.
Like many other poorly designed NES games, Friday The 13th was simply too hard. The difficulty spike was agonizing from the beginning and the game featured an array of "puzzles" to complete without offering the player much direction. It was bad enough trying to sift your way through all of the screens and maze-like camp (with the horrible added first-person-like rooms), you also had to contend with an array of enemies.
This game felt a bit too much like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, another notoriously hard side-scrolling adventure.
8 Mario Party 9 (Wii)
This pick may be met with some scrutiny, but we feel like it deserves a spot on this list. The Mario Party franchise has been going strong since 1998. Developers have been hard at work with constant improvements to the graphical elements, mini-games, and overall play mechanics. Each addition to the series was met with generally favorable reviews but Mario Party 9 stood out as a negative.
The usual Mario Party mechanic saw players moving across a giant interactive gameboard, hopping spaces by hitting a large dice block. Turns would end and a mini-game would take place. Mario Party 9 greatly changed this mechanic, forcing players to ride in an oversized kart, rather than move on their own. The dice block only featured six sides and mini-games are only triggered when a player lands on a corresponding space.
Many players hated the prospect of this new kart system and the overall gameplay changes weren't well received.
7 Deadly Towers (NES)
Deadly Towers released back in 1987 for the NES. At first, the title gained a lot of traction and notoriety. In fact, it became one of the console's best-selling titles. This fame and glory were short-lived and, in the modern age, Deadly Towers is touted as an absolute abomination by most players.
Most of the complaints stem from the intense early game difficulty. The protagonist, Prince Myer, is incredibly weak when starting out. Some early game enemies can chunk the hero's health by 40 percent with one strike. All of this is remedied by finding powerful items via progression, but most gamers never make it that far. You'll find yourself hating the awkward 8-way movement and, with no clue on where to go, it's easy to become lost.
Pair this with an abundance of enemies onscreen and a mind-numbingly repetitive soundtrack, and it's no wonder people are tossing so much hate towards Deadly Towers.
6 Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
Let's go ahead and finish off the Mario mistakes with Paper Mario: Sticker Star. This is a tough one because this particular release had quite a bit of potential. Sadly, that potential gets lost among poor execution and repetitive gameplay elements. Paper Mario: Sticker Star received the lowest ratings of all the Paper Mario releases, do in part to some poor design choices by developers.
From a visual standpoint, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is gorgeous. The playful title features stylized graphics, awesome 3D effects, and a rather pleasing overall aesthetic. The combat is interesting, featuring a simplistic active time battle (ATB) style. That's basically where the good points end. A lot of critics fault the release for being incredibly repetitive in both combat and general gameplay.
You'll find yourself redoing certain levels over-and-over, frantically searching for one particular thing you've missed. It can be outright annoying.
5 Metroid: Other M (Wii)
Hot off the success of the Metroid Prime series, Nintendo decided to venture into a new style for the Metroid franchise. This is a rather curious entry because we don't have much gripe with the way the game itself is played. The mechanics and overall feeling for Metroid: Other M are solid. The combat beckons to the past, moving away from the first-person action in favor of a third-person orientation. Fighting enemies is entertaining and the visuals are crisp for their time.
This particular release belongs on this list due to its incredibly disappointing storyline, video acting, and abundance of cutscenes (thanks, Team Ninja). To make matters worse, the title even goes as far as to completely water down the character of Samus Aran. Gamers were first introduced to this buxom bounty huntress as a stoic and stalwart warrior, but Metroid: Other M presents her as a submissive and somewhat passive protagonist.
4 Superman (N64)
It's possible that Nintendo executives have nightmares about the Man of Steel, thanks to this horrible adaptation for the Nintendo 64. Nintendo themselves had nothing to do with this steaming pile of mistakes, but they are forced to deal with the fact that Superman ended its run as a Nintendo 64 exclusive. The proposed PlayStation release was scrapped (we can't imagine why), so the N64 holds the exclusive rights to what is arguably the worst game to ever grace a console (it's definitely in the running).
Critics ran amok with this release, tossing their lowest scores at it and lashing out against developer Titus Software. Everything about Superman is a mess, from the graphics and general gameplay, to the horrendous controls. You'll spend a majority of your time flying through floating rings, which is painfully difficult thanks to Superman's awkwardly slow in-air turning.
This game looks, feels, and plays like development was incredibly rushed.
3 Mighty Bomb Jack (NES)
Mighty Bomb Jack is, for lack of a better term, forgettable. The title didn't make much of an impression on critics or players. Many trashed the Tecmo release for being too repetitive. The gameplay mechanics felt a bit broken and the graphical elements are uninspiring. We're aware that this is an NES game, but, for its time, Mighty Bomb Jack is a visual headache.
Much of the game (practically all of it) revolves around hopping around rooms and collecting bombs. Once enough bombs are collected, a door will open and allow you to access the next level. The controls are a bit annoying, as one tiny little tap of the jump button sends Jack careening towards the ceiling. This can make it even harder to avoid enemies.
Speaking of baddies, you'll have to bob and weave your way past them, and a lot of your gameplay time will revolve around "waiting for an opening."
2 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (NES)
If you haven't heard of this release, consider yourself lucky. The NES exclusive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the worst games ever made. The controls are sluggish, the music is repetitive, and the gameplay is downright confusing. The graphical elements are pretty nice for an NES release, but that isn't near enough to save this poorly designed sidescroller.
You'll play as Dr. Jekyll, moving from left to right, and avoiding the hazards of the normal world. You'll need to dodge angry dogs, slash at buzzing bees, and avoid errant bombs (why?). If the meter at the top of the screen fills up, you'll transform into Mr. Hyde. From there, you'll move right to left and have to attack a multitude of enemies. Once enough enemies are slain you'll turn back into Dr. Jekyll.
The issue? If you move too far (further than Jekyll) as Hyde, you'll be instantly struck by a lightning bolt and die. This game suffers from over complexity and never adequately explains itself.
1 Escape From Bug Island! (Wii)
Warning, trainwreck incoming. Escape From Bug Island! is a Nintendo Wii exclusive, although if it was up to Nintendo, it would be a trash bin exclusive. This nightmare of a release featured a trifecta of poor choices. The storyline, graphics, and gameplay, all culminate into a frustrating Nintendo Wii experience that is widely known as one of the worst disasters to ever grace the system.
There are so many things wrong with this release that it's hard to adequately condense them. The gameplay is awkward, sluggish, and the motion controls make the title supremely frustrating. You'll have a horrid time trying to aim in first person mode, although there isn't much need to aim since you can literally run from almost anything you come across.
Like Superman (N64), Escape From Bug Island! looks and feels like rushed development.