Video game development is no easy feat: publishers like Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts may make it seem easy with their torrents of yearly releases and remasterings, but those without billions of dollars to throw into a project will find it to be an incredibly difficult task. There are so many moving parts behind the scenes that it’s a marvel to think that most games don’t simply crash—and perhaps set your computer on fire—upon launch.
Consequently—as noted by review aggregate website Metacritic—many critics are willing to overlook a few flaws in order to salvage what may otherwise be a relatively enjoyable experience. Overall review scores on Metacritic are very rarely under 25 or so, and, so long as a game launches and something happens on-screen, it will, at the very least, manage to avoid the dreaded single-digit zone. The site has, as far as we know, never posted a flat-out zero in their gaming section—after all, that would mean that every review posted to the site would have to be a perfect zero out of one-hundred.
There are, unfortunately, a handful of titles out there that are totally deserving of their abominably low Metascores: be it a total lack of effort on the developers behalf, a litany of bugs and glitches which render the title unplayable, or a set of monetization schemes so conniving that the game may as well have been a full-on slot machine simulator, here are 30 crazy bad video games with a Metacritic aggregate score of almost zero.
30 Hannah Montana: The Movie (Metascore: 25)
The metacritic reviews for the Xbox 360’s Hannah Montana: The Movie (the game) have, unfortunately, been unfairly skewed by a few disingenuous postings sarcastically heralding the title as the second coming of Ocarina of Time. It is, most assuredly, nothing of the sort. At it’s best, Hannah Montana: The Movie is a poor man’s version of those mindless, button tapping mobile rhythm games which sought fruitlessly to emulate guitar hero around ten years ago. The game is also downright ugly and could likely be made to run on a PlayStation 2. Miley Cyrus 720p, low-poly counterpart just doesn't hold up.
29 Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (Metascore: 24)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker may have been a decent enough animated film, but it’s Nintendo 64 translation was a total digital abomination. While Clark Kent and his alter ego may have had a more publicly recognized misstep on the same console, Gotham’s caped crusader didn’t exactly have an easy run on the N64, either. Ugly, stiff, and completely clunky, this beat ‘em up would, were it not for the general control issues, be totally forgettable at best. Movie tie-in titles are well known for being little more than cash grabs, and this is no exception.
28 Gravity Games Bike: Street Dirt Vert (Metascore: 24)
Gravity Games Bike: Street Dirt Vert is an awkwardly-titled Tony Hawk rip-off that doubles as a complete insult to the hardware on which it runs. With gray, industrial corridors and gross, muddled textures, this game is nothing short of a pain to look at. Those nostalgic for the early 2000s may get a kick out of the now super cheesy Nu Metal soundtrack, though most unlucky used game buyers will be scrambling for the mute button. What’s more, while the Tony Hawk series of games was made memorable thanks to the fluid control, it would be easier to do some of this game’s stunts in real life as opposed to tapping them out on a Dualshock 2.
27 Game Party Champions (Metascore: 24)
There was a brief and hilarious period following the launch of Nintendo’s failed Wii U console during which shovelware developers, eager to cash in on the hot new trend, started porting over their old Wii titles to the newer system. While vapid, uninspired party games were made viable on the Wii thanks to a rush of unaware grandparents snapping up cheap games to use as Christmas presents, the Wii U’s miniscule install base, though it eventually ended the console, at least helped to drive away most of this dreck. Ever want to play a bad motion control-oriented game without the motion controls? No, nobody has ever wanted that.
26 Yasai Ninja (Metascore: 23)
Yasai Ninja was released three years ago and is still available for purchase on The PlayStation Store, the Microsoft Store, and, of course, on Steam. A totally miserable vegetable-based take on modern combo-driven beat ‘em up titles, Yasai Ninja absolutely reeks of developer inexperience. Totally drenched in an off putting my-first-Unity-project aesthetic, players interested in a fighting game of this nature would be much better off playing one of the Batman Arkham games, or perhaps simply putting the controller down, heading outside, and contemplating the life choices which led to the desire to play such a terrible game in the first place.
25 Rambo: The Video Game (Metascore: 23)
Quite why developer Teyon felt that a Rambo video game tie-in had to be released in 2014 is totally unknown. If an accompanying film had been released around the same time, then it perhaps would have made some sense. This game may actually have been an incredibly-delayed adaptation of the 2008 flick simply titled Rambo, as the game’s visuals look about on par with something that might have come out around that time. Though the game is trying to be an on-rails shooter, entire levels are comprised of literally nothing more than quick time events, and some dialogue is ripped wholesale from the original trilogy of movies. He’s not hunting you this time around—we’re sure of that much.
24 Homie Rollerz (Metascore: 23)
Homies was an utterly lame series of action figures and figurines which, apart from insulting the culture, had no purpose and was thankfully forgotten. Unfortunately, whoever cobbled together this atrocious idea saw fit to develop a terrible Mario Kart clone using the property. Releasing on the Nintendo DS of all consoles, Homie Rollerz was as unplayable as it was offensive, and it’s a wonder that it didn’t send anyone back into a frenzy of anti-video game rallying. The Homie Rollerz trailer, which is still viewable on IGN’s YouTube page, is so laughably awful that it seriously needs to be seen to be believed.
23 Flatout 3: Chaos & Destruction (Metascore: 23)
Though the first handful of arcade racing titles in the Flatout series were at least decent, the franchise essentially self-destructed in 2011 with the release of Flatout 3: Chaos & Destruction. Looking and playing like a budget title that would be at home on a PlayStation 2 despite releasing on the console’s predecessor, the game was about as visually appealing as actual vehicle wreckage. Team6 Game Studios did manage to accurately capture the feel of driving a ruined car, though, as Flatout 3’s controls were about as responsive as totaled Model T. Despite introducing a host of new game modes, this title was a total disaster which still has an overwhelmingly negative response on Steam.
22 Fighter Within (Metascore: 23)
When Microsoft first launched the successor to their uber-popular Xbox 360, they thought it would be a good idea to bundle it with the Kinect—a device which hardly anyone wanted at that point—and charge an extra hundred dollars for the convenience. Unsurprisingly, this move hindered sales of the Xbox One, and the Kinect was axed not long after the console hit store shelves. That said, a few devs managed to rush something to market before Microsoft’s motion control gambit bought the farm. The device just wasn’t capable of picking up minute, quick details like the punches and jabs required in Ubisoft’s Fighter Within, and the game was universally panned for being a borderline unplayable, overwhelmingly bland rush job.
21 Fast And Furious: Showdown (Metascore: 22)
2013’s universally-hated last-gen racer Fast and Furious: Showdown was a total embarrassment to an industry capable of so much more. Releasing in November of 2013—mere days before the next generation of console hardware was due to hit store shelves—Fast and Furious made a total mockery of the consoles gamers had known and loved over the past generation. The game’s visuals were so inexcusably sub-par that this title could likely be made to run on an iPhone without too much hassle. The movies may be the apple of every action fan’s eye, but this miserable experience had series fans peeling out in a rush to get away.
20 Drake Of The 99 Dragons (Metascore: 22)
The John Woo inspired slow motion, weapon’s akimbo action deal was, thanks to the success of the Matrix trilogy, at the height of its popularity when Drake of the 99 Dragons landed on the original Xbox back in November of 2003. Clearly attempting to ape the style and feel of those aforementioned films, Drake of the 99 Dragons was like a poor man’s version of the already mediocre Enter the Matrix game which had released earlier that year. Though unique thanks to its slightly goofy comic book aesthetic, this title was a totally non-functional chore to play, and savvy gamers of the era likely just stuck to releases like Max Payne and its sequel.
19 Energy Hook (Metascore: 22)
Sony released a trailer for an bland-looking indie game titled Energy Hook on its official YouTube channel about a week or so after 2016’s E3 conference, and many were left scratching their heads as to whether or not it was a total joke. Visually, the game was totally lacking and beyond uninspired, and it had an awful air of pre-bought Unity assets and developer ineptitude. At best a poor take on some of the more well-liked Spiderman titles, Energy Hook remains as an ugly and contemptible ordeal which has no place on modern gaming hardware.
18 Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots (Metascore: 21)
Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance wasn’t exactly a powerhouse: though it was capable of pulling off some impressive sidescrollers or isometric titles, it struggled vainly to emulate the 3D graphics popular at the time and was eventually superseded by the Nintendo DS. Despite a relatively short lifespan, the Advance boasted a massive install base, and it attracted a myriad of sleazy developers looking to make nothing more than a quick buck. The hilariously-titled game studio Full Fat actually produced this total misfire in 2006, and it looked akin to something players might find for free on Newgrounds. Gross, pixelated, and overly-simple, this game couldn’t even cash in on those nostalgic for the original 1960’s toy.
17 Cartoon Network Battle Crashers (Metascore: 21)
16 Afro Samurai II: Revenge Of Kuma (Metascore 21)
The Afro Samurai series began life as an irregularly published dōjinshi manga which eventually grew to be popular enough to warrant the production of a movie and a seventh-generation console video game. The game was subject to mixed reviews and given an overall Metacritic score of 65. Unfortunately, a fate much more grisly would befall the game’s sequel, Afro Samurai II: Revenge of Kuma. This 2015 title was so bad that it was essentially canceled post-release. The developer apologized for the title’s overall poor quality, removed it from all digital storefronts, and issued refunds to unlucky, spurned purchasers. The one saving grace is here that the final entry into the planned Afro Samurai trilogy of games was mercifully canned shortly after.
15 Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (Metascore: 20)
1988’s Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was a quirky, offbeat Sierra title which, outside of selling itself largely on the promise of 16-bit EGA nudity, was overall pretty tame by today’s standards. This wouldn’t be Larry’s final outing, though, and a litany of lustful titles made their way to store shelves throughout the 1990’s. His final romp, Box Office Bust, would release on the Wii as late as 2009. The series was, of course, always a bit lowbrow, but the odd, unfunny humor and grotesque visual design of this unwanted title at least allowed it to live up to its name. This raunchy franchise hasn’t been heard from in the almost ten years since Box Office Bust’s release, but that may be for the best.
14 Infestation: Survivor Stories (Metascore: 20)
Formerly known as The War Z, this uninspired zombie survival title was forced to change its name to escape the incredible amount of backlash it was receiving. Eventually rebranded as Infestation: Survivor Stories, the game was a completely shameless rip-off of the at-the-time super popular Day Z. While common practice among shady, untalented developers today, Infestation was little more than a group of Unity engine assets plopped unceremoniously into a dishwater-dull map. Notable for having more bugs and glitches than even the notoriously flimsy game it was attempting to emulate, it’s very doubtful that anyone ever had anything good to say about this beyond-mediocre survival experience.
13 Anubis II (Metascore: 19)
Anubis II was one of a slew of terrible budget Wii titles developed by the now-defunct UK-based Data Design Interactive. Infamous for copying level designs wholesale from their previous titles, slapping a new coat of paint on them, and declaring them to be entirely new games, the company eventually caved in 2012 due to insolvency. Anubis II would be a relatively inoffensive, basic platformer were it not a total reskin of Ninja Breadman, Rock n’ Roll Adventures, and Trixie in Toyland—all of which were also developed by Data Design. All of these games are, apart from some visual variations, exactly the same. The funniest thing about Anubis II, however, is that there never was an original Anubis game—not that anyone would have asked for one to be made.
12 Alone In The Dark: Illumination (Metascore: 19)
The original Alone in the Dark trilogy was a set of beloved DOS classics which proved early on that the medium could be scary. While laughably polygonal and totally archaic today, some older gamers likely remember a time before BioShock, The Evil Within, and Resident Evil 7 during which cheap scares could only be delivered by way of extremely rudimentary 3D models. Tech may have advanced by leaps and bounds since the series’ debut, but 2015’s Alone in the Dark: Illumination proves that better graphics doesn’t always mean better gameplay. A co-op shooter in the vein of Valve’s Left 4 Dead games, this title was often unplayable because either nobody was around to host a game or because of a series of technical issues which would cause the game to crash.
11 Balls Of Fury (Metascore: 19)
Based on the ill-remembered 2007 comedy of the same name, Balls of Fury was an awful pseudo-sports title the enjoyment of which likely relied on how funny the player considered the game’s title to be. The mutant offspring of the already painfully unfunny Ben Stiller vehicle Dodgeball, both the film and the game were panned by critics. The Wii was subject to an incredible amount of shovelware, and this stinker somehow managed to underperform even when held to those abominably low standards. Uglier, less responsive, and far more shallow than the Wii’s pack-in title Wii Sports, only deranged, hardcore fans of the movie would be interested in this throwaway piece of software.
10 Chicken Shoot (Metascore: 19)
That the artist who rendered the game’s backgrounds seems to have at least put in some effort is about the nicest thing that could be said about this abysmal Nintendo DS title. The ill-conceived offspring of the classic Duck Hunt on the NES, Chicken Shoot tries and utterly fails to replicate that game’s charm or fluid, engaging gameplay elements. The player is never made to feel like they’re actually shooting chickens as the awkward implementation of the systems dual screens makes the game feel cluttered and beyond-awkward. Developed on what must have been less than a shoestring budget, Chicken Shoot never should have made it past the initial conceptual phase of development.
9 SPOGS Racing (Metascore: 18)
Quite what a SPOG is supposed to be is unknown, though this title seems to be some sort of poorly designed racer featuring, of all things, pogs. Themselves little more than small, circular cardboard game pieces, pogs don’t seem like they would fit all that well into a game about racing. Nevertheless, perhaps unwilling to generate full 3D models, the developers of SPOGS Racing awkwardly jammed circular shapes into a tire, slapped a graphic on them, and called it a day. A ghastly piece of Wii shovelware which boasted a soundtrack consisting of little more than the bloated, blown-out sounds of an engine, SPOGS Racing is a serious contender for worst game ever developed for the Nintendo Wii.
8 Pong Toss: Frat Party Games (Metascore: 18)
After over ten years of availability, Nintendo will be shutting down the Wii Shop Channel sometime in 2019. When the marketplace finally goes, so too will all of the awful bloatware titles which infested the service since its launch back in 2006. This means that the global population will again be able to sleep peacefully knowing that Pong Toss: Frat Party Games will no longer be available for download. With character models and textures that seriously look like they belong to a Nintendo 64 title, Pong Toss may have been the crème de la crème of terrible Wiiware titles. The developers set the bar low with such a barebones premise, and yet they couldn’t even come close to delivering an enjoyable experience.
7 Vroom in the Night Sky (Metascore: 17)
Vroom in the Night Sky is hands-down the worst title available for the relatively young Nintendo Switch console at time of writing. Functionally a reskin of the infamously terrible Superman for the Nintendo 64, Vroom in the Night Sky tasks players with collecting a set of collectibles scattered throughout the eight unabashedly-polygonal levels. The cutesy anime aesthetic is about the only thing the game has going for it, and redemption cannot be found in the dull gameplay or near non-existent story. Vroom in the Night Sky is quite simply a chore to play, and Switch owners unlucky enough to have bought this game may do well to shop for another console untainted by this unapologetic digital filth.
6 Double Dragon II: Wander Of The Dragons (Metascore: 17)
The Double Dragon series of games is considered to be a set of beloved, classic staples necessary in any NES collection. However, while the original Double Dragon II, which came out in 1988, is a series highlight, Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons, is an egregious blight on the franchise which actively degrades the good standing of the series as a whole. Wander of the Dragons opts to use a strange, almost Resident Evil-esque clunky sort of tank control which is totally unacceptable in a beat ‘em up game. Double Dragon is known for mindless, button-mashing fun, and this 2013 release is anything but.
5 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix (Metascore: 16)
101-in-1 Explosive Megamix is barely a step up from those awful plug-n-play consoles which can be found in Dollar Generals and Goodwills the world over. Though it did technically feature 101 distinct games, they rarely lasted more than 30 seconds a piece and are easily topped by the mini-games included in any minigame in the Mario Party series. Worse still is that fact that, though ported over to the Wii, each of the 101 games on offer were clearly meant to be played with the Nintendo DS stylus. The degree of accuracy required to play some of these games is simply impossible to achieve with a typical Wii controller, and this flaw renders 101-in-1 Explosive Megamix completely unplayable.
4 Orc Slayer (Metascore: 15)
Orc Slayer might be the worst title available of Sony’s PlayStation 4. A dismal piece of software originally intended for the overcrowded Steam platform, Orc Slayer is very obviously the product of an overly ambitious crew of students developing their first Unity game. An outrageously ugly first-person shooter, this title looks like it may have been passable on the PSP or PS2, but, compared to just about every other release available on Sony’s eighth-gen platform, it is far-past unpresentable. What’s worse is that the game often struggles to maintain a stable, playable frame rate, which is totally unthinkable given the power of the hardware on which it is running. Purchasers of Orc Slayer should automatically be entitled to a no-questions-asked refund.
3 Ride To [Heck]: Retribution (Metascore: 13)
2013’s Retribution is, in the minds of many, the worst piece of interactive software ever developed. The game quite simply doesn’t work most of the time, and players often find themselves stranded in endless expanses of void because the game failed to render any textures. The plot is dumb, the controls are beyond unusable, and the whole thing looks like it could be made to run on an iPhone 4S that’s been run over by a car. Winner of many “Worst Game of 2013” awards, Retribution should only be played by those on a dedicated search for the worst mistakes in gaming history.
2 Elf Bowling 1 & 2 (Metascore: 12)
Released on both the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, Elf Bowling 1 & 2 is quite literally a simple internet flash game ported over to a mobile game cartridge. It’s the exact sort of thing your eye-rollingly dull aunt with a self-described “quirky” sense of humor might email you during the holidays, and it has no place as a physical release. What’s worse is that there is not Elf Bowling 2, as the second game included on the cartridge is actually a mediocre take on shuffleboard. Though relatively inoffensive and easily-ignored, players of Elf Bowling 1 & 2 will be lucky to get five minutes of entertainment vapid excuse of a game.
1 Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing (Metascore: 8)
2003’s Big Rigs, Over the Road Racing is so bad that it should almost be considered as more of an art project than an actual game. Entire tracks simply won’t load, opposing racers never move at all, and, worst of all, the game doesn’t even have collision detection. Players can drive through absolutely everything, and, should they just drive in a straight line for long enough, they’ll exit the boundaries of the map and continue on into an endless expanse of nothing. The developers should seriously be made to face legal repercussions for daring to call this anything close to a finished product. Even the worst games ever released offers some sort of functionality, but, in that regard, Big Rigs is in a league of its own.