The original PlayStation – PS1 or PSX, whatever you want to call it – was a turning point in the gaming industry. One of the first consoles capable of 3D graphics, it also represented the first time a new company found success in the console market since Nintendo released the Famicom in 1983. Up until that point, the landscape was dominated by Atari, then Nintendo and Sega.
It’s fitting too, considering the PlayStation was originally supposed to be a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo before Nintendo backed out of the deal and signed with Phillips instead. This left Sony with their own gaming device, which they decided to launch as an independent console out of spite more than anything else. Years later, the PlayStation is viewed as one of the greatest consoles of all-time, the PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling system in history, and the PlayStation 4 is currently the highest selling system on the market.
But that’s not to say there aren’t a few duds on the old PlayStation. In fact, some of the worst games of all-time found their home on Sony’s original gray box. We all know what’s going to be #1 on this list, but here are the 20 Worst Games on the PlayStation 1.
20 Barbie: Explorer (Runecraft – 2001)
What kind of game do you make based on a doll? Apparently the answer Runecraft came up with was a Human Centipede monstrosity featuring Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, and every broken gameplay mechanic they could think to include crammed into a beheaded Ken doll.
As far as these licensed tie-in games go, Barbie games in particular always seem to be a cut below the rest. Barbie: Explorer features a scant four levels, each one being an utterly generic “adventure game” cliché. There’s the desert level in Egypt, the snow level in Tibet, the jungle level in Africa (I guess Egypt isn’t in Africa in Barbie’s world), and then Babylon at the end for the supernatural flair.
It was an odd decision to mash-up both Tomb Raider and Crash Bandicoot, considering both franchises were in steep decline by 2001, and the PlayStation 2 had been out for a year. But that strangeness fits with the overall tone of the game, full of terrible platforming, a camera that makes it impossible to see what’s in front of you, and boring gameplay.
19 The Fifth Element (Kalisto Entertainment – 1998)
There’s nothing particularly interesting about Kalisto’s video game adaptation of The Fifth Element. It’s a terrible game, but there are a lot of those, especially when it comes to movie tie-in games. But what makes the game terrible is the standard stuff: poor level design, terrible controls, dumb AI, and boring gameplay.
There is some interesting backstory about the game’s inspirations though. Developed by Kalisto Entertainment, The Fifth Element was created using the same game engine from their previous game, Nightmare Creatures. Nightmare Creatures was a survival horror game that was mostly panned by critics, notably because of its terrible graphics even for the time, and unresponsive controls. The Fifth Element was even worse in both regards though.
Hollywood was also briefly working on a movie adaptation of Nightmare Creatures before it was canceled as well. It’s funny how the tables turned to Kalisto making a movie video game next.
18 Largo Winch .//Commando Sar (Rebellion Games – 2001)
Ten points to Gryffindor, or at least anyone who can accurately pronounce this game’s title. It should come as no surprise that this too is an adaptation, this time of a Belgian comic book from which itself is an adaptation from a series of books from the 1970s. Since then there have been several movies, a documentary, and a TV show based on the series. It’s hard to find any information about .//Commando Sar though, a PS1 game by Rebellion Games from 2001.
Largo Winch .//Commando Sar is supposed to be a stealth game. I say “supposed to be” because the stealth is almost impossible. You get spotted very quickly by enemies on the other side of levels and the camera is so close to the player character, it’s hard to see anyway. Luckily, this isn’t one of those old stealth games where it’s instantly Game Over because you were spotted, though it may as well be. You instead go into fist-fights in which the winner is decided at random.
If you are luckily enough to spot an enemy before they spot you, you can try your luck at throwing a knife at them for an insta-kill, which feels like a cheap carnival game at the best of times. That’s assuming you can even make it that far, because simple walking really does look and feel more like riding a unicycle.
17 Chaos Break (Eon Digital Entertainment – 2000)
Developer Eon Digital Entertainment did everything it could to essentially remake Resident Evil with Chaos Break. It pretty much is Resident Evil, in so far as the plot and gameplay elements are concerned.
Stop reading if you’ve heard this one before: you control one of two characters who is part of a government organization sent to investigate and clean up a mysterious incident that happened in what was thought to be a deserted biochemistry lab in the middle of nowhere. It turns out there are zombies and monsters there and, using third person shooting mechanics, you have to progress through dark, horrific environments to survive terrible voice acting that never matches the subtitles.
However, while Eon Digital took all the superficial elements from Resident Evil, they forgot one thing: good gameplay. Chaos Break is just boring. You wander around mostly empty, bland corridors looking for things to shoot, most of which poses no challenge, and you move on to the next terribly written and acted cutscene. And don’t get me started on the footsteps sounds. That might sound petty, but try listening to that horse-clopping noise for hours-on-end without stop and see how much of it you can take.
16 Ski Air Mix (KID – 1998)
The original PlayStation (and PS2, to a lesser extent) is loaded with budget games produced on the cheap and sports games. Some of these are pretty good, but many of them are crap. When the two come together, chances are the results won’t be pretty.
Such is the case with Ski Air Mix, a skiing game exclusive to Japan and mainland Europe. Developer KID and their European publisher Midas Interactive specialize in games on the cheap, and unleashed a fury of games just like this on the cheap for years.
Being a budget title isn’t what makes this a bad game. There are a lot of great budget games in this era, especially from the Simple Series on PS1 and PS2. But the cheapness of Ski Air Mix is highlighted by its simplicity. There’s not much to this game, you race some AI opponents down a snowy hill and can do the occasional mid-air stunt. That’s about it. But what little it does is done very poorly. The physics are way off, you feel more like a bowling ball being dropped from an airplane than a skier, and the mid-air stunts are impossible to pull off thanks to the heavy feel and bad controls.
15 Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. (Acclaim Studios London – 2000)
Oh boy, yet another adaptation. It’s almost like these things are generally made on the cheap by bad or otherwise inexperienced developers or something, and this one’s a port to boot. Based on Armorines, a 90s comic book nobody’s ever heard of, Project S.W.A.R.M. is a sci-fi first person shooter… and that’s all that can really be said about this generic, lifeless product.
As GameSpot put it, there’s nothing technically wrong with Armorines, it’s just so uninspired it feels like a worse game than it actually is. The weapons, environments, and story are all so cookie-cutter that’s nothing to grab your attention. The missions are all about running around big, empty levels and killing things, and sometimes you have to run around these levels for hours looking for the one enemy you missed.
Made by the same studio that published Turok 2, this just feels like a cheap re-skin of that, and Turok 2 was itself mediocre at best.
14 South Park: Chef's Luv Shack (Acclaim Studios Austin – 1999)
Chef’s Luv Shack is an attempt to mash-up random trivia questions with Mario Party mini-games. Yes, this is a multiplayer only party game featuring South Park characters, what could go wrong? Just about everything, apparently.
For a start, the questions don’t make any sense. You have the typical level of South Park humor, but instead of the questions and answers being written in a humorous way, they’re fundamentally a joke, so they don’t make any sense. For example, one category is called “Sucks or Canadian,” in which you have to guess if something is from Canada or if it sucks. This is compounded by the fact that sometimes it can be both and that the questions repeat themselves ad nauseam.
If South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack was one of the questions, the correct answer would be “sucks.” The games are all as basic as you can get, mostly rip-offs of old arcade games like Space Invaders or Asteroids, or button mashing marathons. It has almost nothing to do with South Park other than the characters and lame attempts at humor, so it really does feel like a cash grab during a time when South Park games were infamous, but we’ll come back to that later.
13 Rascal Racers (Miracle Designs – 2004)
Try looking up Rascal Racers online and just about the only thing you’ll find is YouTuber Caddicarus’s review of it. Developed by Miracle Designs and published by Telegames in 2004, Rascal Racers is a PS1 kart racer. Miracle Designs also developed Atari Karts for the Atari Jaguar, which was essentially just a reskinned Super Mario Kart. It’s fitting, because Rascal Racers is little more than a reskinned Mario Kart 64.
What makes Rascal Racers so bad are the controls and the tracks. The tracks have about as much variety as those in NASCAR, with simple turns left and right, and not much else. They’re all aesthetically basic as well. You can see the developers going through a checklist as you play, with an ice track, a city, a jungle, and so on. Everyone moves so slowly there’s no sense of speed, and you wobble back and forth as you try to turn you have to start turning well in advance of any corners. The bland tracks could have been forgiven if at least the racing part was any good, but sadly, it’s about as much fun as watching molasses slowly eek out of its jar.
12 Hooters Road Trip (Hoplite Research – 2002)
Before The Guy Game awkwardly shoehorned in half-naked women into its crappy quiz game (or possibly vice-versa), there was Hooter’s Road Trip. For those “unlucky” enough not to have a fine Hooters restaurant in their country, it’s essentially a sports bar waitressed by large-breasted women in skimpy outfits. That also describes Hooters Road Trip, a softcore adult game without the “game” part, or even the adult elements.
As the name sort of implies, this is another racing game. The races take place all across the USA, featuring some of the ugliest graphics to ever grace a video game console. The controls are just as abhorrent. Whereas Rascal Racers had you turn like the Titanic, Hooters Road Trip features cars that turn on a cookie crumb, meaning if you even so much as look at the D-pad too hard, you’ll go spinning. Luckily it doesn’t matter, because all you really have to do is hold down the gas and go forward, and you’ll crash you way through other racers and obstacles on your way to victory every time.
Road Trip is considered one of the worst games of all time and features a paltry 30% on Metacritic. Fellow softcore outlet Maxim gave it a 4/10, whereas GamSspot and PSX Magazine were even worse with a 2.5 and 1 out of 10 respectively.
11 Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (Midway Games – 2000)
By 2000, the Mortal Kombat series was no stranger to action-adventure spin-off games. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero came out in 1997 to mostly negative reviews, but a surprising 7.5 out of 10 by GameSpot, calling it “a pretty amazing meld of fighting and platform jumping.” The reception wasn’t as kind by them or anybody for Midway’s next attempt at converting Mortal Kombat to an action game.
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces is fundamentally broken on every level. Its got ugly graphics, its story is nonsense, the music (what little there is) is uninspired, and the gameplay. Oh, the gameplay. If you’re tired of horror games on Steam forcing you to find a bunch of pages or keys to progress, you’d hate Mortal Kombat: Special Forces. The bulk of the gameplay centers around you having to pick up keys, security passes, or documents to progress, meaning much like Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. you could spend hours traversing through levels you’ve already cleared of enemies to find whatever item you need.
The now defunct Daily Radar even went so far as to give it a full 0/10. Ouch.
10 The Simpsons Wrestling (Big Ape Productions – 2001)
A fighting game with a bunch of Simpsons characters should be pretty fun, especially when it’s a backyard wrestling, no rules apply kind of game. Unfortuantely, The Simpsons Wrestling was given to us by Big Ape Productions, a studio that also brought us The Phantom Menace, which just missed our 15 Worst Star Wars Games article, and MTV Celebrity Deathmatch, which we’ll see later on this list.
The Simpsons Wrestling is just a bad wrestling game. Like many poor fighting games, you can get away with random button mashing and win easily, every time. It was also criticized for its poor graphics. Many critics pointed out that characters would frequently clip through objects, other characters, or even themselves at times. Imagine if someone animated an entire video game using MS Paint and you’d have a good idea. It doesn’t even have any of the humor you’d come to expect from a Simpsons game.
Game Informer's Andrew Reiner went so far as to call it “one of the worst PS games to date” and we’d have to agree with him.
9 Street Racquetball (Highwaystar – 2002)
Remember that Simple Series I mentioned earlier when talking about good quality budget games? Well, that didn’t meant they were ALL good games. Case in point – Street Racquetball, a real game that not only exists, but was actually brought over to the PSN as part of the PS1 Classics line.
Quite simply, Street Racquetball looks and plays like somebody used the engine from the original Star Fox on the Super Nintendo to make a “hip” racquetball game on the PS1. Characters look like Rayman, if Rayman did have arms and legs but they still floated away from his body for some reason. The environments are literally just big wooden boxes with a hint of a generic Windows ’95 wallpaper in the background.
The ball has no real physics and goes all over the level at random. Luckily, your opponent isn’t quite as unpredicable and ambles around the court like a child that clearly doesn’t want to be there, but whose parents are forcing him to do some extracurricular activity. If this wasn’t a game about racquetball, and say tennis instead, this might have gone down as one of the worsts games ever made.
8 Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Kemco – 2000)
Let’s get one thing straight: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is the best Batman movie ever made, including the live action films. It hits the perfect tone between the current Marvel films humor and empathy and the darkness you’d expect from Batman, but that darkness doesn’t feel manufactured or forced like it often does.
The video game adaptation by Kemco is lacking all of this. There’s none of the heart, humor, or darkness from the movie or the original show. Instead, Kemco (who’s now exclusively a mobile developer) turned the film into a generic beat ‘em up. The engaging story is swapped out for floaty controls, the characters you were invested in throughout years of the show and the modern comics are replaced by a camera that doesn’t cooperate, and the stylish looks of the show are gone in favor a 3D rendered Jackson Pollock painting by way of an early 90s CG.
Video game adaptations of movies are always terrible, but you can really tell how cheap Warner Bros. and Ubisoft went with this one. There was no respect for the original material, and the negative reviews (another 0/10 from the Daily Radar) and poor sales of this turd when it came out is punishment for that.
7 The Crow: City of Angels (Gray Matter – 1997)
If there’s one thing the world didn’t need, it was a sequel to Brandon Lee’s The Crow. It was made anyway and currently sits at a 12% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
If there’s another thing the world didn’t need, it would be a video game adaptation of that sequel. Enter The Crow: City of Angels on the PlayStation 1 and Sega Saturn. It may have been developed by Gray Matter Studios, but it was published by Acclaim, their third game on this list. At least this game has decent graphics.
What it doesn’t have is a decent control scheme or compelling gameplay. You’ll spend most of your time in this game either facing the wrong direction or punching the air, as you’ll spend just as much time fighting the controls as you will the uninspired enemies. You get a variety of weapons, but none of it matters because, again, it’s a fight simply to get your character moving in the right direction, much less picking up and using those weapons. Chances are, those weapons will phase through enemies anyway.
6 Kiss Pinball (Wildfire Studios – 2001)
Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, Gene Simmons jumped at the chance to make a video game adaptation of his Kiss themed pinball game. Developed by Wildfire Studios originally for the PC, the PS1 port didn’t feature much in the way of Kiss or pinball.
Whether or not a pinball game is any good depends on one thing entirely: the physics. If they aren’t any good, the game isn’t any good. Judging by Kiss Pinball’s placement on this list, you can probably tell where it lies on that spectrum. On both of the only two tables provided, the ball frequently gets stuck at multiple places, leaving you with no other option than to restart the game. And with any budget pinball video game, the ball never quite goes where it should anyway, floating around the board seemingly at random.
That’s not to say there aren’t any other irredeemable qualities though. You’d expect to be rocking out to Rock and Roll All Nite or Shout it Out Loud, but that won’t be the case. There’s not actually any Kiss music in this Kiss videogame whatsoever. Instead, the entire audio of this game are sounds from the table, guitar riffs, and an “edgy” early 2000s voice over saying “oh crap” whenever you drop the ball. The developers must have heard that on loop while making this game.
5 Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi (LucasArts – 1997)
Masters of Teräs Käsi was featured in our 15 Worst Star Wars Games of All Time list and it deserves a spot here as well. This remains LucasArt’s only fighting game, and the only one using Star Wars characters. You’d think this was a result of the Super Smash Bros. craze of weird mash-up fighting games, but this pre-dates the Mario brawler by two years. So what drove LucasArts to make a Star Wars fighting game? We may never know.
The fighting in this “fighting game” is a joke. It’s yet another fighting game in which you can randomly tap buttons and expect to win fairly often, or if you’re playing with a friend, it’s a toss-up. Its biggest flaw however is how slow it is. Walking or jumping feels like you’re on the surface of the Moon. The two fighters glide along at a snail’s pace and jump about a dozen feet in the air.
LucasArts even gave this game a story. Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader hires some random character created just for this game, Arden Lyn, to kill Luke Skywalker using her knowledge of teras kasi, an ancient form of martial arts. That’s right, Darth Vader’s plan is to send a single woman to beat the Rebel Alliance to death. George Lucas couldn’t have come up with a better plot himself.
4 MTV Celebrity Deathmatch (Big Ape Productions – 2003)
Back when MTV was a big deal, their show Celebrity Deathmatch was one of the biggest TV shows in the world. It was basically Robot Chicken before Robot Chicken. It was a comedy show featuring claymation rendered celebrities fighting each other to death in a cage match. As you can imagine, the premise was equally good for a video game. Unfortunately, the video game version of the show was less than stellar.
Celebrity Deathmatch is a budget game, and like many budget games, it didn’t have much to offer. You picked from a handful of “celebrities,” you got into a ring, and you pressed buttons until somebody won. The same can be said for every fighting game on this list. Those “celebrities” weren’t even big for when this game came out. The roster is subsidized with horror movie icons like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, the Wolfman, and even an alien for good measure. On top of them, you also have Ron Jeremy and Jerry Springer, whose names and appearances represent most of this game’s joke catalog.
Originally developed for the PS2 and Xbox, this game saw a PS1 port for some reason. The game didn’t even have the show’s signature claymation look, instead opting for generic looking graphics with oversized heads.
3 Mary-Kate & Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall (Acclaim – 1999)
Perhaps it’s best not to think of Mary-Kate & Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall as a video game, but one of those crappy interactive PC programs instead. It was originally made for the PC before being ported the PS1, after all. No, that doesn’t excuse it. Neither does it excuse Acclaim from making this list yet again.
You play as one of the Olsen twins and you walk around a shopping mall. Each store is “magical” for some reason and they take you to different events. For example, if you walk into a snowboarding store, you’ll be teleported to a snowboarding race. Going to a clothes store will send you to a fashion runway, or a camera store will make you a photographer. There’s not real gameplay here, you just walk around and stuff happens, and you look at the stuff. Nobody would have gotten entertainment out of this because there’s nothing to it.
Zapping whatever fun anyone could have gotten out of this are the many technical problems. Its framerate is on par with a still photograph, making the simple task of walking down a hall almost impossible. The graphics are nightmare inducing, with realistic looking faces transposed on PS1 character models. There are no redeeming qualities to this game whatsoever.
2 South Park (Appaloosa Interactive – 1999)
South Park on the PS1 is an underrated title, in so much as it should be considered one of the worst games of all-time. What’s wrong with it? It’s a TV show tie-in game ported to the PS1 by mediocre developers and published by Acclaim. That’s really all you need to know.
South Park is a first person shooter for some reason. Knowing the show this game is based on, that very well could be the joke. However, given the lack of humor throughout the game, it actually just feels like laziness. In fact, South Park has become infamous for its first level, in which you have to dispatch hundreds of turkeys. Then hundreds of clones in the second level. Unlike many games on this list, South Park is actually insanely difficult for how many enemies it throws at you at once, in arenas that are devoid of any signs of life otherwise.
Jeff Gertsmann, whose reviews at GameSpot have been a huge help with this article, gave the game a measly 1.4 out of 10, saying “Between the abysmal graphics, bad sound, and horrible gameplay, South Park is definitely one of those games that is bound to come up when you start thinking about the worst game you've ever played.” He even went so far as to call it “worthless.”
1 Bubsy 3D (Eidetic – 1996)
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Bubsy 3D has rightfully found its place on many “Worst Games of All-Time” lists, with good reason. This was Sony’s first attempt at creating a 3D platformer to rival Super Mario 64 and it shows. The entirety of the graphics were flat geometrical shapes, the camera spun around at random, you jumped way too high, the humor was cringe-worthy, Bubsy himself remains one of the most annoying video game characters ever, and the controls didn’t work.
There is not one aspect of this game that isn’t totally broken. It’s like a child’s first attempt at making a 3D game back in the 90s when even respected game developers were having trouble with 3D games. The less said about this garbage, the better.
This was developer Eidetic’s first game, and you might think their last as well. But the young studio might surprise you, as they went on to create the Syphon Filter series, as well as Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the PS Vita. You might know them better today as Sony Bend Studio, and they’re currently working on Days Gone. Talk about a rags to riches story (You’ll notice they don’t list Bubsy 3D anywhere on their website).