10 Worst Power Ups In Retro Games, Ranked

Plenty of retro video games included power ups to boost a player's character, but these ten supposedly handy items were a detriment more than a help.

Everyone loves a good power up, especially in tight situations or against overwhelming odds. The right power up can be a game changer and the difference between life and death, but there are some power ups that are so bad that they’re practically troll devices.

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From making a game go too fast to weapons less viable than a slingshot, it is shameful that these 10 items can be considered an upgrade. These are the 10 absolute worst power ups in gaming.

10 The Top Spin (Mega Man 3)

It is almost appropriate that the worst power up from a Mega Man games comes from beating perhaps the worst robot master in the entire series. Top Man is the first boss to beat in Mega Man 3 and when the titan of twist is defeated, Mega Man is unfortunately bestowed the top spin.

This melee attack requires Mega Man to be up close to be effective and outside of Shadow Man, this power up is practically useless as it doles out a pitiful amount of damage. Oddly enough, the top spin was memorable enough to be included in Mega Man’s armory for his appearances in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

9 Running Shoes (Sonic The Hedgehog)

When a character runs off the screen and into the great unknown towards presumed death, it is usually an example of an unintentional oversight or ill-conceived concept. In the original Sonic the Hedgehog games on the Sega Genesis no power up was as useless and as dangerous as Sonic’s running shoes, which sped up an already fast moving game and propelling the titular hedgehog blindly towards danger.

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Had the shoes served a purpose much like the super star in Super Mario Bros. and turned Sonic into an invulnerable speed demon, then it would have made perfect sense. Going too fast is one thing, but then again, so is going too slow.

8 Speed Down (Gradius III)

Agility and speed are just as valuable as any weapon upgrade in Konami’s hectic Gradius III, even going as far as making the first power up players get is a speed boost. Additional upgrades amp up the firepower and intensity, but things can go south in a hurry, thanks to a ridiculous speed down “upgrade.”

There is no amount of lasers and bombs that covers up the fact that now it is that much easier to die and start from scratch. Being that players pick their own upgrades in Gradius III, it’s a head-scratcher that anyone would choose it at all.

7 Excalipoor (Final Fantasy V)

It is already bad news when a weapon is so ridiculous, a major antagonist is banished to places unknown for even using it. That is the sad case of the Excalipoor in Final Fantasy V, perhaps the worst weapon in any of the Final Fantasy games.

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Upon defeating the monstrous Gilgamesh, players can acquire the weapon and marvel at its incredibly high stats up until it becomes time to use it in battle. The Excalipoor only does one single point of damage regardless of character level.

6 The Mop (Chrono Trigger)

As a general rule of thumb household appliances have never made good weapons, and there is no exception when one acquires the lowly mop in Chrono Trigger. This weapon, which sadly doubles as a sword for lead character Chrono, can only be obtained by essentially stealing it from Nu’s encountered throughout the game.

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Much like the Excalipoor before it, the mop will deal nearly no damage at all and only benefits players by giving them the peace of mind that any spills can be quickly cleaned.

5 The Flamethrower (Contra)

In the original Contra, there really was only one power up and that was the all-powerful spread shot. Anything else was beyond subpar, but that help especially true for the flamethrower upgrade that is slower and less damaging than the base weapon.

Not just the worst weapon in Contra, but the flamethrower would be consistently bad in future entries of the frantic shooter for years to come.

4 Throwing Weapons (Fallout)

Grenades have never been a weapon of choice in any of the Fallout games, but this explosive ordinance was at their worst in the first two games. In order for grenades to have any positive effect, players would have to level up their throwing stats to avoid throwing a grenade that landed only inches away from them.

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All other throwing weapons were handicapped by this caveat as well, making throwing weapons of any kind undesirable. That being said, one would probably prefer that a tossed grenade didn’t have as good of a chance of killing themselves as it did their enemies.

3 Dual Berettas (Counter Strike)

In the highly competitive Counter Strike, the optimal layout is less about personal preferences and more about what players can afford. Priced higher than most practical weapons and only slightly more effective as the knife, the dual berettas are inaccurate, low damaging and compromising weapon whose sole possession alone compromises an entire team.

Outside of demonstrating one’s superiority or just straight up trolling, these pistols are far and away the worst weapons in the game. Paired with the equally bad MAC10, players can revel in their own bad choices as their K/D ratio sits at a solid 0.

2 The Super Ball (Super Mario Land)

The iconic fire flower gave Mario an edge against the opposition by spurting out as many fiery projectiles as he could manage, but due to the limitations of the Game Boy, Mario’s fire flower was replaced with a bouncing ball in Super Mario Land. Unlike the flower, the super ball could not be spammed and the projectile had to leave the screen before being used again.

Though this ranks as the worst power up perhaps in the history of the Super Mario games, the putrid projectile is actually necessary to obtain to beat the stage bosses, making it a bit more tolerable than our clear cut winner below.

1 The Giant’s Knife (Ocarina Of Time)

Perhaps the most irritating and punishing entry on this list, acquiring the giant’s knife in Ocarina of Time is not only time-consuming, but expensive and horribly wasteful. This pathetic weapon can only be used as adult Link, costs 200 rupees, needs both hands and shockingly breaks after just a few successful hits. Even maxed out, eight whacks is all one gets before it’s broken forever.

Using the giant’s knife was just as useful as using a fluorescent tube to swat a fly, and its costly and literal uselessness makes it one of the worst power ups in any game.

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