Commercial and critical success are not directly correlated, but they tend to align far more frequently in the video game industry than, for example, cinema or music. Putting aside the annual sports games and lucrative brands like Call of Duty, highly rated AAA releases tend to be rewarded with a solid return. Despite being deemed worthy of a "Best Picture" by the Academy, Dunkirk and Get Out failed to crack the Top 10 highest grossing films of 2017. Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water might have taken home the gold, but the critically acclaimed drama was only the 46th most commercially prosperous film of the year.
That is not to say a game's popularity is always a direct reflection of the property's quality, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey managed to be financial and critical triumphs. If nothing else, gaming's biggest IPS are held to a higher regard than some other mediums. Unfortunately, new licenses and indie titles are constantly facing an uphill battle to gain any traction. Regardless of someone's preferred platform, each month is littered with dozens of newcomers, and there simply is not enough time to play each one of them. Life is short and our backlog just keeps on getting longer!
We love an exceptional blockbuster as much as the next person, but a fine line separates fame and infamy. Here are 20 notoriously bad console games that everyone played (and 10 classics no one did)!
30 Notoriously Bad: Mario Party 8
More often than not, Nintendo's first party games rank among the best releases of any given year. Over the decades, Mario's mustache has blessed the covers of countless spin-offs, but they cannot all be Mario Kart 8. Effectively inaugurating the entire genre, Mario Party lost its way somewhere around the sixth entry, but the worst has to be Mario Party 8. Employing the motion controls into nearly every minigame, 2007's sequel can be loosely described as "fun" if played with friends, but the single-player content was nothing short of turgid.
29 Notoriously Bad: Star Wars Battlefront
Star Wars Battlefront is a pretty cool tech demo. The visuals capture the aesthetic of George Lucas' popular license, while the fast-paced gameplay serves as a solid foundation to construct an expansive package. Unfortunately, EA's shooter called it a day after completing the bare minimum. Launched with only a handful of multiplayer modes, Star Wars Battlefront is a cynical cash-grab designed to take advantage of fans. Star Wars' extended universe is packed with weird and memorable storylines, but EA was happy to produce a shallow shell with no heart or ambition.
28 Overlooked: The World Ends With You
The World Ends with You is the closest thing to a masterpiece published by Square Enix since the turn of the century. Released on the Nintendo DS and ported to the Switch, this action RPG centers around the Reapers' Game, a competition that bestows the recently deceased with an opportunity to reclaim their lives. Set within a fictionalized version of Tokyo, The World Ends with You's Stride Cross Battle System splits fights across two zones, and stands among the genre's most unique systems. Shipping less than a million units, The World Ends with You has yet to justify a sequel.
27 Notoriously Bad: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex
Crash Bash's status as a spin-off helped safeguard the franchise's reputation, but Crash Bandicoot retired the day Naughty Dog relinquished control of the property. Sticking close to Crash Bandicoot: Warped's formula, The Wrath of Cortex tried to cover over the cracks by relying exhaustively on gimmick levels. Naughty Dog's third entry suffered from the same problem, but The Wrath of Cortex lacked its predecessor's charm. Serving as the brand's PlayStation 2 debut, Traveller's Tales' derivative platformer felt like a product of a bygone era. At the very least, Crash Twinsanity and Crash of the Titans tried to push the property in a new direction.
26 Notoriously Bad: Assassin's Creed III
Personal preference aside, Ubisoft adherence to a fixed formula should not automatically be perceived as a negative. When the separate components come together in a satisfying way, Far Cry and Assassin's Creed are delightful; nevertheless, technical glitches are hard to ignore. The publisher's history-based series has become synonymous with bugs, but a functional Assassin's Creed III would still rank among the franchise's worst entries. Set during the Revolution, the massive map contained very little in the way of memorable locations, and the decision to go with smaller villages proved a poor fit for Assassin's Creed's parkour.
25 Overlooked: Bayonetta
PlatinumGames cannot produce a financial hit to save their lives. The studio's portfolio reads like a "best action games" list, but hack-and-slash combat does not seem to be a priority for most gamers. Alongside Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Bayonetta and its sequel are the genre's magnum opuses, but Nintendo needed to step in for PlatinumGames to complete producing the second game. Bayonetta's harsh difficulty and mature content meant the action game could only be targetted towards a niche audience, but that does not mitigate the disappointing return.
24 Notoriously Bad: Final Fantasy X-2
Who wanted to see Yuna join Charlie's Angels? Try not to raise your hands too quickly. Featuring a mainly female cast and turning the heroes into idols, Final Fantasy X-2 was primarily designed with Square Enix's country of origin in mind, but Western reviewers were also swayed by the beat. Shifting towards a much more light-hearted tone, Final Fantasy X-2 deserves props for experimenting with its predecessor's mechanics, including battle and progression systems reminiscent of older entries in the series. Final Fantasy X-2 has enough positives to merit a recommendation, but Yuna's idol phase conjures up too many embarrassing memories to be anything more than a diversion.
23 Notoriously Bad (At Launch): Diablo III
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls was the game Blizzard Entertainment should have released in 2012. While the console ports had their fair share of problems, PC players bore the brunt of Diablo III's initial failings, and the dungeon crawler's soiled reputation seems destined to never completely recover. Launching with an annoying online-only DRM and a poorly conceived Auction House that undermined the whole point of Diablo, Blizzard spent the foreseeable future attempting to steady the ship. Half-a-decade later, Diablo III is rightfully recognized as a solid successor to the classic games, but the growing pains were severe.
22 Overlooked: Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros' Treasure
Loved by critics and ignored by everyone else, Capcom described Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure's commercial performance as "abysmal." Barely breaking into Japan's Top 30 best-sellers during its debut week, Zack & Wiki might have fared better if it was not a Wii exclusive. Nintendo's console possessed to stacked of a line-up for Capcom's new property to stand out amidst the crowd. A puzzle game inspired by traditional point-and-click adventure titles, Zack & Wiki seamlessly incorporated motion controls into the fun and intuitive gameplay. Besides controls the eponymous pirate, the Wii Remote could be used to produce over 80 different gestures.
21 Notoriously Bad: Fable III
Fable has never quite lived up to the hype, but the first two games are enjoyable action-adventure romps in their own right. The original's combat would have benefitted from a tad more polish, while the sequel's comedic tone was often more irritating than funny; nevertheless, the good outweighed the bad. The same cannot be said about Fable III. The least technically sound of the trilogy, Lionhead Studios simplified the combat and doubled down on the humor. The colorful visuals hold up well, but Fable III is the living embodiment of style over substance. After trudging through numerous bland quests, players are belatedly permitted to rule as the nation's monarch, but this final chapter sprints by at the drop of a hat.
20 Notoriously Bad: Link's Crossbow Training
Priced at $19.99 and packed with the Wii Zapper, Link's Crossbow Training did its job as a showcase of the peripheral's capabilities. Split into nine levels and lasting less than two hours, Nintendo could have done a lot more with a first-person shooter set in The Legend of Zelda universe and starring everyone's favorite silent hero. Unlike the plump plumber, Link seldom appears in any home console spin-offs, but Link's Crossbow Training feels closer to a tutorial than a fleshed out adventure. In the future, Nintendo should consider revisiting this concept.
19 Overlooked: Psychonauts
Psychonauts' story is a tragedy. Double Fine Productions' platformer should have launched a brand and installed Raz as one of the genre's leading mascots. All the praise in the world could not change Psychonauts' legacy as a notorious flop, one that led to Majesco withdrawing from the industry and its CEO's resignation. How did this happen? Psychonauts possesses all the necessary ingredients to entertain children and adults, but the market was just not interested. Eventually, Double Fine acquired the rights and gradually improved sales by distributing the platformer across various digital stories. Anyone with a Steam account probably owns a copy of Psychonauts. Now, go and play it!
18 Notoriously Bad: Dr. Mario
Dr. Mario serves as a testament to the plumber's irresistible marketability. Nintendo could stick Mario's face on a can of soup and supermarkets will be overrun with gamers seeking to buy a copy. A Tetris clone, Dr.Mario hits all the notes one might expect from such a property. Aided by colorful visuals and a fun soundtrack, NES owners could definitely do worse than Dr. Mario; conversely, the console was home to countless superior games that failed to sell even a fraction of the spin-off's units. Mario's presence does not automatically justify a game's popularity.
17 Notoriously Bad: The Simpsons Wrestling
Produced well after the animated sitcom's golden years, The Simpsons Wrestling was merely one in a long line of terrible adaptations that lacked even the tiniest of redeeming factors. The Simpsons Game and The Simpsons: Hit & Run deserve to be associated with Matt Groening's influential cartoon, but this gobbled together brawler makes Lisa Goes Gaga and The Boys of Bummer seem like masterpieces. Ravished by critics and frequently mentioned among the worst licensed games of all time, The Simpsons association proved enough to ship over 1.5 million units.
16 Overlooked: Little King's Story
A modest enough hit to temporarily instigate talks of a sequel, Little King's Story has yet to spawn a proper successor. Owned by Marvelous Entertainment, this Wii classic blends life simulation mechanics with role-playing elements. Players control Corobo, a boy who grows into a king after discovering a crown that forces people to follow his orders. Apparently, this adorable RPG bears a striking resemblance to a particular manga about a mystical diary. When not engaged in quests and striving to unite the six kingdoms, Corobo's attention shifts to developing the kingdom of Alpoko.
15 Notoriously Bad: Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Assuming VGChartz's data is reliable, Sonic the Hedgehog is the sixth highest grossing entry in the franchise. Rushed out of the gate for the 2006's holiday season, Sega sold a broken turd of a game that ruined any lingering goodwill associated with the blue mascot. Sonic's star had already begun to fade, but Sonic the Hedgehog accelerated the decline to the point of absurdity. Ridiculed by critics and openly mocked by gamers, even the mascot's biggest fans struggle to defend this atrocity. Putting aside the unresponsive gameplay, Sonic the Hedgehog's plot includes a romance between an anthropomorphic animal and a human! Not cool.
14 Notoriously Bad: Watch Dogs
Aided by a sweet hacking gimmick, Watch Dogs is slick and intermittently entertaining, but the brooding protagonist and downgraded visuals overshadowed the experience's better moments. Showcased on a PC with specs far beyond the capabilities of home consoles, Ubisoft advertised a version of Watch Dogs that could not be purchased by most players. Even if someone could look past this rather creepy stunt, Aiden Pearce's humorless personality conflicted with the gameplay's free-spirited and chaotic nature. Watch Dogs 2 was an improvement in nearly every way, but its predecessor had already burned too many bridges.
13 Overlooked: God Hand
Prior to forming PlatinumGames, Shinji Mikami and company developed a couple of noteworthy titles as Clover Studio. Due to two commercial flops in the span of a couple of months, Capcom opted to shut the company down towards the end of 2006. Ōkami and God Hand share very little in common, but the one link uniting them is the fact they are both approximately perfect. While the former was practically a moving painting, Clover Studio's final project was more preoccupied with ironing out the combat than producing gorgeous visuals. Describing God Hand as a mere beat 'um up feels disingenuous, but Clover Studio essentially evolved the genre into its final form.
12 Notoriously Bad: Final Fantasy All The Bravest
Final Fantasy All The Bravest exists merely to demonstrate that Square Enix could always sink lower. Combining various characters from the JRPG's vast history, this should have been an uncomplicated home run. All The Bravest will never be ported to consoles, but it banked on gamers' nostalgia for Square Enix's beloved franchise. Do you have fond memories of playing Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation 1? Well, Cloud Strife could be part of your team for a one-time payment! Devoid of passion or creativity, All the Bravest spat in the face of any gamer with a soft spot for the JRPG series.
11 Notorious: SimCity
EA could have constructed the greatest simulator of all time, but a product's quality means little if people cannot access the content. An always online MMO, SimCity launched with wide-spread server problems, forcing many news outlets to retroactively reduce their initial scores. Prior to its release, many predicted SimCity to be among the strongest entries in the franchise, but the backlash hit swiftly and viciously. For a brief period, Amazon removed the downloadable version from stores, while certain reviewers outright advised against purchasing SimCity.
10 Overlooked: Valkyria Chronicles
Unless Final Fantasy is stamped across the cover, translating a JRPG for a Western audience is a risky endeavor. Over the years, the genre has steadily accumulated a dedicated English-speaking fanbase who are willing to purchase new or experimental IPs, but publishers need to think of the bottom line before making any rash decisions. A tactical-RPG with a unique art style, Valkyria Chronicles was not a huge hit in Japan or the West. Sega's fortunes only started to turn following a price-cut, but the JRPG gradually sold enough copies to warrant a couple of portable sequels.
9 Notoriously Bad: No Man’s Sky
A cautionary tale masquerading as a video game, No Man's Sky should be studied in every class related to marketing or business. While the core concept was unquestionably fascinating, Hello Games promised more than a moderately sized independent studio could deliver. Regardless of Sony's attempts to sell No Man's Sky as this groundbreaking project, that did not change the fact that Hello Games created an indie experience. Broad but shallow, No Man's Sky sparked wide-spread buyers remorse and reaffirmed that pre-orders should never be made lightly. The risk is simply not worth the reward.
8 Notoriously Bad: Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games
In 2007, the wait came to an end! At long last, Sonic and Mario were set to co-star in the same game. Following Sega's withdrawal from the console market, Sonic the Hedgehog titles began to feature on Nintendo's platforms, but the companies had yet to embrace a crossover. If this bland mini-game collection is anything to go by, fans might have been better off just waiting for Sonic to join Super Smash Bros. The first and worst entry in the series, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is not helped by an overreliance on motion controls. Nobody asked for a party game, but Nintendo and Sega march to the beat of their own drums.
7 Overlooked: Jet Set Radio Future
Released in 2002, Jet Set Radio Future was the coolest game on the market. A sequel to Dreamcast's criminally underrated Jet Set Radio, Smilebit's cel-shaded successor did not fare much better on Microsoft's Xbox. Averaging a Metacritic score of 88, Jet Set Radio Future preserved the original's graffiti-based central mechanic and opened up the stages to facilitate exploration. While its predecessor's poor returns could be blamed on the ailing hardware, Jet Set Radio Future's critical acclaimed failed to translate into financial gain. Regardless of the console, Jet Set Radio could not escape its underground status.
6 Notoriously Bad: Pac-Man (Atari)
Transposing the beloved arcade experience onto home consoles, Pac-Man sold 7 million copies and become the best selling Atari 2600 game of all time; however, the port garnered near-universal scorn from critics and played a significant role in 1983's video game crash. Arrogant to a fault, Atari manufactured 12 million copies, but the console simply lacked the necessary power to replicate the arcade game's visuals or audio. There was also a notorious glitch that resulted in only one ghost appearing on screen. Pac-Man deserves to be recognized as an icon, but this port is better left forgotten.
5 Notoriously Bad: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Regardless of the setting or competition, Call of Duty ships units like its nobody's business. Amassing a huge fanbase and regularly scoring 8s and 9s from review sites, Activision constantly has multiple studios working on various different sequels. There is this notion that Call of Duty releases are rushed, but each game has a three-year development cycle. Love or hate them, Call of Duty entries tend to be polished and intuitive, but fatigue began to take hold around the release of Modern Warfare 3.
4 Overlooked: World Of Goo
Available on the Nintendo Wii and Switch, World of Goo is an award-winning puzzle platformer that should be a considered a must-play for any gamer. Split into five chapters, the central mechanic pivots around forming gooey massive constructions to overcome obstacles and various challenges. The Wii can be justly described as a fantastic or mediocre console, but titles like World of Goo present a convincing case for the former. The indie scene is oversaturated with shovelware and rip-offs, but the diamonds in the rough shine brighter than most big-budget shooters.
3 Notoriously Bad: Michael Jackson: The Experience
The King of Pop's untimely passing opened the floodgates to various posthumous projects seeking to capitalize on the icon's brand. Just to give MJ Productions the benefit of the doubt, the company claimed Michael Jackson: The Experience had been in development for a number of months. Published on every console imaginable and styled after Just Dance, Michael Jackson: The Experience can only be recommended to the musicians' most forgiving fans. Depending on the port, the controls are either serviceable or barely functioning, but the choreography lives up to Jackson's name. An average game but not the worst thing ever.
2 Notoriously Bad: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Notoriously difficult and among the earliest games based on the cartoon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' release must have coincided with a noticeable spike in destroyed controllers and rage quits. Going by the reviews, critics seemed unable to determine whether Konami's side-scroller was a fantastic or terrible addition to the NES' library. Capitalizing on the cartoon's popularity, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles earned a place among the console's best selling games, shipping over 4 million units. Dude, that is a lot of broken joysticks, smashed windows, and shattered pride.
1 Overlooked: Shenmue
Sega's Dreamcast saw the publisher bow out of the console market with a whimper rather than a bang. The hardware was more than good, but the system failed to leave much of an impression in a market dominated by Sony and Nintendo. Shenmue I & II changed the game. A character-driven drama set in a detailed open-world, these action-adventure titles would sporadically require the player to take a job and earn a living. Whether seen as immersive or boring, Shenmue's ambition was evident for everyone to see. The sequel coincided with a substantial leap in quality, but the poor sales put the kibosh on any hope of a final chapter. Thankfully, things have recently changed.