The majority of video games released these days are entertaining and enjoyable but every now and then one comes along that's just plain embarrassing. Over the years there have been dozens of terrible games that have somehow slipped through quality control and made it into the public realm where they are rightly lambasted by critics and fans alike. Some of the worst include the failed Duke Nukem Forever and Superman 64, widely regarded as one of the worst games ever created. But it's not all bad.
Over the journey, a number of lesser-known titles have also been released and found great success. Many of these games have been forgotten over the years, such as Golden Axe and Star Wars: Shadow Of The Empire, possibly the greatest Star Wars games of all time.
This article is going to set the record straight and showcase not only the 20 most embarrassing games of all time, but also 10 of forgotten gems that are worth another play.
30 Most Embarrassing: Superman 64
Few video games have been ridiculed as much as Superman 64. As the name suggests, this superhero-themed action adventure game centers around the Man of Steel and was set to be a headline title on the Nintendo 64 but ended up a massive failure.
Horrible graphics, repetitive gameplay, incredibly difficult missions, and frustrating glitches and bugs are just some of the reasons this games sucks. There's nothing positive to write about Superman 64 and it remains one of the most embarrassing games ever produced.
29 Most Embarrassing: Soulcalibur IV
Receiving mostly positive reviews when initially released, Soulcalibur IV has slowly been recognized by fans as the worst game in the series. Like previous entries, this fighting game includes an array of interesting characters armed with extravagant weapons fighting it out in detailed arenas.
It's certainly not a bad game but many of the great features from previous releases have been cut and the addition of Star Wars characters (Darth Vader, Yoda, and The Apprentice) don't really make sense. Many of the characters storylines are also poorly developed, with Soulcalibur IV better off left on the shelf.
28 Forgotten Gem: Golden Axe
This 1989 scrolling beat 'em up is an absolute classic that many people forget exists. Set in a medieval fantasy world, players take control of one of three characters (the battle axe wielding dwarf Gilius Thunderhead, two-handed broadsword wielding barbarian Ax Battler, or longsword carrying Amazonian warrior Tyris Flare) as they take on Death Adder and his cronies.
The game is pretty simple and repetitive but is totally engaging and draws you in with its addictive gameplay.
The graphics are pretty decent for an old-style arcade game and its success spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs, but it's hard to go past the original.
27 Most Embarrassing: Mary-Kate & Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were everywhere during the 90s thanks to the success of Full House. As well as starting a fashion empire the twins also feature in a number of video games, with Magical Mystery Mall one they probably wished they never signed up for.
The game doesn't make a heap of sense and involves the twins being trapped in a mall and having to find hidden gems to escape.
There's also something to do with filming a music video that really doesn't fit into the game at all. This is just one of ten Mary-Kate & Ashely video games released over a five year period and easily the worst.
26 Most Embarrassing: Muscle March
This game is totally bonkers. The main premise involves players chasing after thieves who have stolen your friend's protein powder. You can smash through walls and interact with the environment while navigating the three different levels.
If that's not weird enough, the characters in the game are over the top and laughable and include a top hat wearing Spaniard, a Norwegian polar bear and a Ghanaian bodybuilder with an afro and a rubber ducky on top. The graphics are also extremely poor and there's no longevity with this one, making it worthy of a place on this list.
25 Forgotten Gem: Syphon Filter
After the success of GoldenEye 007, there was a raft of first-person shooters released and many got lost in the shuffle, with Syphon Filter being one that deserves another look. The game centers on special agents Gabriel Logan and Lian Xing tracking down international villain Erich Rhoemer.
Syphon Filter combines stealth missions with aggressive gun battles and an immersive plot that's movie-like.
The graphics are pretty good for a 90s game and the A.I. is great, making Syphon Filter a tremendous first-person shooter.
24 Most Embarrassing: Bubsy 3D
The Bubsy franchise of games is very similar to Sonic The Hedgehog and in 1996 developer Eidetic decided to take things up a notch and deliver a 3D version of the game. Unfortunately, this proved miserable with the end result being a badly rendered game with difficult controls and puzzling camera angles.
The 3D world isn't as impressive as players hoped and often features blocky graphics and horribly animated characters. Kudos to Eidetic for trying something different, and although it didn't work out well, it did help with the creation of the above mentioned Syphon Filter, so not all was lost.
23 Most Embarrassing: 50 Cent: Bulletproof
50 Cent ruled the charts in the early 00s and made the most of his high profile by investing in all manner of projects, including video games. 50 Cent: Bulletproof was released in 2005 at the height of 50's popularity and is an action game whereby players take control of 50 and seek revenge on those who tried to kill him.
Incorporating hip-hop music and bloody violence, on paper Bulletproof sounds like a winner. In the real world the game is a disappointing third person game trying to cash in on the success of 50. The artist does a much better job rapping than he does with video games.
22 Forgotten Gem: Disney's Aladdin
A Disney favourite, the video game adaptation of Aladdin is surprisingly just as enjoyable as the film. And it's not just me who thinks so, with Disney's Aladdin selling over four million copies, making it the third best selling Sega Genesis game of all time.
The game follows the same plot as the film as players take control of Aladdin and navigate beautifully designed levels and interact with the main characters from the game. This is just a fun game to play and provides endless hours of enjoyment, with even a couple of songs from the film making the cut.
21 Most Embarrassing: Power Shovel
If you've ever wanted to control an earthmover than Power Shovel is right up for alley. Essentially this game outs players behind three different earth movers in a variety of construction sites where you have to move various objects, dig holes, and carry out other labour activities.
If you're not a fan of this type of simulation then there's nothing appealing about this one, particularly as the graphics are below par and the gameplay repetitive. There's only so many times you can dig a hole before it begins to get boring.
20 Most Embarrassing: Duke Nukem Forever
Expectations were high when the long-awaited sequel to Duke Nukem 3D was announced. 15 years on from the original release fans hoped new technology would result in a good looking game keeping the good-natured humor of the first game.
While Nukem's trademark humour is present, it doesn't really jive with the current climate. The graphics are also terrible and the loading times incredibly long, with Duke Nukem Forever feeling dated. A very poor sequel.
19 Forgotten Gem: Metal Gear Solid
We are all aware of how great the Metal Gear Solid franchise is but many people gloss over just how important the original game is in the grand scheme of things. It helped pioneer the stealth genre of video games and made developers understand complex plots and strong characters can be incorporated in action games successfully.
Metal Gear Solid sold over six million copies and won numerous awards and in protagonist Solid Snake, created one of the most memorable characters in gaming history. A stone cold classic.
18 Most Embarrassing: Pepsiman
Pepsi decided to get in on the video game craze of the 90s, joining forces with developer and publisher KID to create Pepsiman. Based on the mascot of the famous soft drink brand, Pepsiman is a single player action game similar in gameplay style to Crash Bandicoot, although much worse.
This is a very low budget game with ordinary graphics and rather simple gameplay.
It's not a horrible game by any stretch of the imagination but you wouldn't want to be seen playing this one in front of your mates. Crack open a can of Pepsi instead and read a book.
17 Most Embarrassing: Shaq Fu
Shaquille O'Neal was an incredible basketball player but he should have left rapping to the professionals. The same can be said when it comes to featuring in video games.
Shaq finds himself in another world where he must battle a number of opponents on a quest to rescue a young boy. Going for Mortal Kombat-like gameplay, Shaq Fu falls well short and struggles to offer anything new to the genre.
16 Forgotten Gem: The Lost Vikings
Before becoming the gaming developer juggernaut we know as Blizzard, the company went by the name Silicon & Synapse and were responsible for the awesome puzzle adventure game The Lost Vikings.
As the name implies, this Super NES classic revolves around three vikings, each with different abilities, who players must alternate between to complete levels. The game combines impressive puzzles with decent graphics and some great humour, with the distinct style of animation adding to the game's uniqueness.
15 Most Embarrassing: Lollipop Chainsaw
A game involving a cheerleader zombie hunter influenced by hack and slash games sounds like a winner, but Lollipop Chainsaw fails to live up to expectations.
The game looks great but is let down by a poor control system and some odd camera angels during combat.
The storyline also falls flat and the humour can sometimes go a little too far. There isn't much to keep you entertained after a few hours of playing and you're better off grabbing a zombie title Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead if you want to spend your time slaughtering the undead.
14 Most Embarrassing: Seaman
This game is just plain weird. First released on the long forgotten Dreamcast, Seaman is a virtual pet simulator whereby players have to look after the strange creature known as, you guessed it, Seaman.
Seaman is a fish with a human face and your aim in the game is to raise the creature from birth and nurture it as it grows and evolves into an amphibious being. Not only is the plot extremely weird (the Seaman is apparently a messenger of the Gods) but the graphics are woeful and the controls annoying to master. And why would you want to raise a virtual fish when you can have a real one as a pet?
13 Forgotten Gem: Scarface: The World Is Yours
One of the greatest films of all time was turned into a game in 2006 and has been criminally underrated ever since. Serving as a sequel to the highly violent 1983 flick, Scarface: The World Is Yours finds players taking control of Tony Montana as he rebuilds his crime empire and looks to take revenge on Sosa, the man who cost him everything.
The character of Montana is based on Al Pacino's likeness, and although he doesn't contribute his voice to the game, Andre Sogliuzzo does such a great job replicating his voice you can't tell. The game is full of violence and mayhem with an intriguing plot and some great nods to the original film. The soundtrack is also mint.
12 Most Embarrassing: Bad Street Brawler
The Bad in the title is enough to tell you what to expect from this mediocre beat 'em up. Released on the NES way back in 1987 Bad Street Brawler is an abomination of a game, featuring clunky graphics, weird villains (including gorillas and circus clowns), and boring gameplay.
The game was specifically designed to use with Mattel's Power Glove, but as the Power Glove was besieged with problems, the two more often than not didn't work together. Both Bad Street Brawler and the Power Glove deserve to be thrown out with the trash.
11 Most Embarrassing: Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric
The 2000s haven't been kind to the Sonic franchise and Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric is one of the worst efforts in the series history. This spin-off title had issues from the get go, with the game full of bugs and glitches.
Add in some terrible animation, poor camera system, and hard to master controls and you have yourself an almighty bomb.
Even with players having the option to chose from four different characters (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy) with different abilities didn't help this one, with Sonic Boom: The Rise Of Lyric the worst performing Sonic game of all time.
10 Forgotten Gem: Super Castlevania IV
The majority of games in the Castlevania series are great but one overlooked gem is the 1991 platform pearler Super Castlevania IV. Taking place in 1691 Transylvania, players take control of vampire hunter Simon Belmont and must work their way through 11 levels before facing the mighty vampire Dracula.
The game's 16-bit graphics still look sharp today and the challenging levels add a degree of difficultly that's a welcome change from similar games that are easy to complete. The sound is also fantastic and the creepy visuals make you feel like you're actually in medieval Europe.
9 Most Embarrassing: Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3
Dead Or Alive is an average fighting game that somehow spawned a volleyball spin-off title known as Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The third game in the series is another explicit sports title that appears to be more about how much skin can be shown that actual gameplay.
All the characters are well rounded females with curves in all the right places who shake and jiggle in provocative ways when diving for balls. There's not really much to this title and unless your a massive beach volleyball fan, you'll look like a creep if caught playing this one.
8 Most Embarrassing: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is the sequel to OneeChanbara Z: Kagura, a Japanese Bayonetta style game where players can swap between two main protagonists as they take down hordes of the undead.
While the combat is fun the rendered environments are fairly average and the levels rather repetitive. A number of technical bugs also takeaway from the gameplay while the main plot isn't all that great either. Pass on this one.
7 Forgotten Gem: Syndicate
Syndicate is an awesome real-time strategy game set in a cyber-punk influenced 2096. Players control a group of cyborgs from a syndicate are must fulfil all sorts of missions from assassinations to rescue operations.
The graphics are fairly plain (the game was first released in 1993) but the intense tactics required to take out your enemies and advance through the game more than make up for that. Futuristic warfare has never been so much fun.
6 Most Embarrassing: Bible Adventures
You don't hear about this kind of video games very often and Bible Adventures is probably the reason behind this. Based on three famous Bible stories, this side-scrolling effort is not one for people who don't believe in the man above, with Bible verses routinely appearing on screen while playing.
The levels are badly designed and often reused and the music quite annoying, and even then it's probably not high on your list of games to play.
5 Most Embarrassing: Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure
If you've ever wanted to visit Universal Studios without leaving your home than this game is for you. Featuring a bunch of mini-games based on rides found at Universal Studios (Jurassic Park, E.T. Adventure, Back To The Future: The Ride etc...) along with a movie quiz, Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure is not all it's cracked up to be.
The graphics aren't great and the thrill of experiencing these rides in the real world doesn't translate on the screen.
Do yourself a favor and visit the actual Universal Studios Theme Park instead.
4 Forgotten Gem: Star Wars: Shadow Of The Empire
The Nintendo 64 was home to some of the best console games of the 90s and Star Wars: Shadow Of The Empire is proof. Based on the book of the same name and taking place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, players control mercenary Dash Rendar who is trying to help Luke Skywalker rescue his captured sister Leia.
The biggest complaint about the game is after the opening level on the planet Hoth no other level lived up to the excitement, but that's a little harsh in my opinion. The first person shooter levels are GoldenEye-esque at times and combined with an intriguing storyline give more backstory to the Star Wars universe. Hugely underrated game.
3 Most Embarrassing: Barney's Hide And Seek Game
Barney the dinosaur has appeared in a couple of video games but Barney's Hide And Seek Game is easily his worst. An educational game involving problem-solving, counting, and matching puzzles, this game won't appeal to anyone over the age of five. Even then I'm pretty sure kids will quickly get bored of the boring challenges and problems encountered by Barney.
There's some sort of plot about saving children but it doesn't really matter or make an impact on the gameplay. The graphics are basic and the sound gets annoying, while Barney's voice is like a drill to the head after a few plays.
2 Most Embarrassing: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Most video game fans are aware how bad E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial game turned out, with thousands of copies of the game buried in the desert after failing to sell. The reason the game performed so badly is due to the basic graphics, inane storyline that departs from the serious tone of the film, and dull gameplay.
There's nothing great to say about this game and considering the impact it had on Atari, with many in the industry believing it contributed to the decline of the developer as a leader in the video game field, it's probably for the best it got buried in the New Mexico desert.
1 Forgotten Gem: Donkey Kong Country
An updated 3D version of the arcade classic Donkey Kong, Nintendo 64 title Donkey Kong Country is a fantastic side-scrolling adventure game.
The graphics and sound are great for a game made in the 90s and the gameplay addictive as hell.
The game won a slew of awards and went on to sell nine million copies, making it one of the 64's best selling titles of all time. Even now the game still holds up and is as good as any platform game of the past decade.