The 20 Worst Nintendo Games That You Might Have Actually Played
I was getting a little tired of doing regular game reviews, so I've resorted to doing a list. You know, the type of thing where I feign ultimate authority on a subject and anyone who knows anything about that subject will disagree on some points. Maybe the order isn't quite right. Maybe I included something that some people didn't like or omitted something that they thought I absolutely should have had on there. These things are almost always controversial. At least, they are when you have a fresh idea; people will only stand for so many "Best Albums Ever" or "Worst Movies Of All-Time" countdowns. Those things get done so often that you know what sort of stuff to expect on there. For example, if you don't see any Ed Wood films on a list of bad movies, you know something's up. The list thing has been done to death with video games too. I could do a feature on the worst video games ever made, but how many fucking times can you read about how much E.T. sucked? Maybe a lot, but I still didn't want to do it. The worst NES games list has been done a lot of times too. If I were to do that, I'd essentially be reordering someone else's list. Barbie should be #5, not Knight Rider! Besides, you probably never played the vast majority of the absolute worst NES games anyway, and if you did it was probably on an emulator; few people were unlucky enough to actually own Bible Adventures or Hudson Hawk. So instead of talking about the worst Nintendo games ever made, I've compiled a list of the twenty worst Nintendo games that you've probably actually owned or played, presuming of course that you were around in that golden age of gaming. At the very least, these are twenty games that you should already be somewhat familiar with. In order to make its way onto this list, each game had to meet two key criteria:
1. The game had to have some level of popularity and/or financial success
2. The name recognition that the cartridge carried was not backed up by a substantially enjoyable gaming experience
These aren't necessarily games that are overrated, but they are certainly games that were overplayed. Since I compiled this list with very limited input from others, there's a very good chance that some of my picks may offend you. If you see one of your all-time favorite NES games on the list then, I guess I'm sorry. Sorry that you have such bad taste, that is. Now let the countdown begin.
Our countdown opens with Jeopardy, a video game adaptation of the classic game show that was designed by Rare and published by GameTek. Jeopardy is on the list because its relatively small question pool and Naziesque spelling enforcement make it a lot less fun than playing along with the TV show. For example, look at the sample question above. You know goddam well that the answer is RUMPELSTILTSKIN but you might not necessarily know how to spell it, especially if you were nine when you played the game. Jeopardy is supposed to be a trivia game, not a fucking spelling bee. Unless your misspelling resulted in an incorrect answer, Alex and the judges were pretty forgiving in Final Jeopardy. Ergo, Keith Richerds would be a suitable proxy for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, but Keith Richard would not. Meanwhile, the NES version makes you spell Rumpelstiltskin on a $100 question. There is nothing worse than getting screwed out of points because you didn't spell a proper name correctly. On the plus side, the game automatically posed your answer in the form of a question, so you didn't have to worry about getting fucked over that way. However, you did have to worry about the severely limited number of questions in the game. Between Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy, there were only 50 different possible board setups. Additionally, there were only seventeen Final Jeopardy questions. This game was somewhat fun to play through a couple times, but once you started getting repeat questions the game lost any sort of difficulty. Speaking of which, the game had three difficulty settings but rather than increase the toughness of the questions that were asked, the difficulty only increased the speed and accuracy of computer players' responses. So if you had already memorized a substantial number of the game's questions, increasing the difficulty level did not provide any significant difference in *actual* difficulty. The only good thing about Jeopardy is that you could use it to extort money out of your friends. Hey Billy, I bet you $2 that I can kick your pansy ass at Jeopardy! That is, unless you're CHICKEN. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. A retarded barrel. But the game still sucked.
19. Rad Racer
By and large, racing games are pretty terrible. Every so often you get something like Mario Kart or Lucky & Wild that's quirky enough to be fun, but most of them are rather generic. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the racing games of old. Whereas today's racing games are dressed up with all sorts of fancy rendering and flashy lighting effects, games like Rad Racer and Pole Position show you what the racing genre really is: a boring dash to reach checkpoint after checkpoint before the timer expires. In Rad Racer, you'll put the pedal to the metal through fields, beaches, and other minimalist wastelands where trees only seem to grow right next to the road. As if graphics weren't bland enough, the game doesn't even have a two player mode. That's right; a racing game where you can't even race against your friends. How fucking gay is that? Inconceivably, this game was released by Square, the same company who gave us the masterful Final Fantasy. I have no idea how in the hell something like that could happen. Despite sucking hardcore, this game was so popular that it was included as part of the 1990 Nintendo World Championship triathlon alongside Super Mario Bros. and Tetris. This game is awful by today's standards and it was hardly good for the time. If you'd like to play an NES racing game that's fun, imaginative, AND had a two player mode, I'd highly recommend Micro Machines.
OK, so let's assume you had a Nintendo and Legend of Zelda was one of your favorite games. After you beat both quests a couple times, you were clamoring for another game like it. Maybe you turned to Dragon Warrior. Maybe you discovered Final Fantasy. Or perhaps you were one of the unlucky bastards who tried Hydlide. Hydlide combines a terrible fighting system with nauseatingly slow level advancement to create a game that is damn near unplayable. The game's story goes something like this: an evil blue dragon thingy uses its dark magic to split Princess Ann into three fairies. You play as a brave but pitifully weak knight named Jim who wanders around aimlessly looking for items that might aid him in his stupid quest. To engage enemies in combat, simply walk into them while holding down the A button and eventually one of you will die. You can avoid damage by attacking an enemy from behind but when your enemy is a homogeneous blue blob, it's kind of hard to tell which fucking side is the back. When you start off the game, the aforementioned blobs are pretty much the only enemy that you can safely fight; you'll have to get your character to at least Level 3 before you even think about killing anything else. The problem is that you'll have to kill an absolutely ridiculous amount of baddies to advance your level, like ONE HUNDRED. It's actually closer to ninety by my count, but that's still way too many guys to have to kill for your first level advancement. There are no inns or potions in Hydlide; instead you regenerate life by walking through "safe" terrains such as plains. Unfortunately, there are also dangerous terrains that will slowly drain Jim's life instead. Like deserts. Or forests. That's right, when you start off the game, walking through forests will drain your HP for NO APPARENT REASON. Also, you can't continue when you die. This is a fucking pain in the ass, because you can and will die suddenly in battle. Thus, if you haven't saved, you will be forced to start over. The game does have an emulator-like save and load system, as well as one of those obnoxious password systems, but you can't fucking continue. If Hydlide had been a turn-based RPG, I wouldn't view this as a problem. Unfortunately, Hydlide is played in real time and you shouldn't have to save obsessively in a game like this. Of course, you shouldn't have ever played this game to begin with, so let's pretend it never existed. Repress! REPRESS!!!
Tim Burton's Batman was one of the biggest films of 1989 and it is still the gold standard for comic book movies. Due to its incredible success, it was largely inevitable that the movie would become a game. Well, it sort of became a game anyway. There's a nice shot of Michael Keaton as Batman on the title screen and there's some cut scenes that feature The Joker, but that's about it. I have absolutely no idea how Sunsoft got the Batman license, because they clearly had no interest in making a Batman game. I can't imagine the company actively tried to obtain the rights to a Batman game. Maybe they put in a bid for fun and won by accident, maybe D.C. Comics begged them to, who knows. In any case, if you were looking for an adaptation of the movie, this is not it. In fact, this feels a lot like it was in development before Sunsoft obtained the Batman license and Batman was thrown in as an afterthought. Sunsoft is best known for cheesy sci-fi games, such as the classic Blaster Master and the underrated Journey To Silius. Instead of a Nintendofication of Danny Elfman's dark Batman theme, we get a techno soundtrack that could have been lifted straight from Journey To Silius, had it been developed first. Sunsoft's Batman has far more in common with those games than it does with its namesake movie. If you enjoy fighting your way through caverns, factories, and power stations while battling robots, mines, and flying guys with laser cannons, this is a game you might like. But maybe not. In addition to being very un-Batman, this game is very hard as well. In terms of basic style, this game is a lot like Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden: it is a challenging sidescrolling adventure with a wall jump and confusing cut scenes. In one interlude, The Joker invites Batman to look at his latest works of art. Does this segue into a level based on Joker's exploits at the Flugelheim Museum? Hell no, instead Batman is taken to yet another stark metallic level. This game simply doesn't need Batman, and the franchise isn't particularly well-served by this game. Oh, one more thing: when you finally do confront The Joker, he's somehow learned how to summon lightning. There are dozens upon dozens of sidescrollers for the NES; this one lured you in with the promise of Batman, then failed to justify its existence in any way.
16. Mario Bros.
When Nintendo's Mario Bros. hit arcades in the spring of 1983, it was a reasonably good game. Sure, Mario Bros. used that tried and true setup where all of the game's levels take place on the same damn screen and things get progressively harder until you die or give up, but that formula had worked so well for so many, many games before it. After 1980's Pac-Man turned arcade games into a pop culture phenomenon there had been very little drive for innovation in video game hardware and software. It was much more profitable for gaming companies to churn out the same crap over and over again than it was to spend time and money developing something better. In fact, many games were designed to replace older ones in pre-existing arcade cabinets, so they ran on the *exact same* hardware. Yes, there were still some clever programmers out there doing their best to provide gamers with something different, but there just weren't enough of them. When the video game market crashed in 1983 and several companies were forced out of business, it could hardly be construed as shocking; consumers were starting to get sick of the nauseating repetition afforded to them by the current generation of games. So even though Mario Bros. turned out to be a relative hit in the arcade, its style and release date were still synonymous with an industry that had collapsed upon itself by cranking out too many low quality variants on the same basic themes. When the gaming industry did rebound, it would be Nintendo who saved the day. When the Nintendo Entertainment System launched in the fall of 1985, it provided gamers with a piece of hardware that far eclipsed the Atari, the Intellivision, and previous arcade games. Its flagship game, Super Mario Bros, illustrated this in every way imaginable. Gone was the dreary blackspace that had dominated games like Q*bert and Berserk. Gone was the inevitable silence that was only occasionally broken by beepy sound effects. Gone was the single screen format. Super Mario Bros. plunged us into a sidescrolling world with background sprites, background music, and 32 unique levels to explore. Super Mario Bros. made its predecessor obsolete in every quantifiable way, but Nintendo released Mario Bros. on the NES anyway. If you played this game on your NES, chances are pretty good that you did so because you loved Super Mario Bros. and you happened to see Mario on the box. Chances are also pretty good that you were real fucking disappointed. Compared to its Super counterpart, Mario Bros. is a slow, boring game with clumsy controls. The cartridge was a sad under-utilization of the Nintendo's powers and it never should have been released on the console. This game probably should have been #1 on this list, but I'm feeling merciful.
Unless you have multiple sclerosis or some other really sad disease where you can't move, it's pretty safe to assume that you've played Monopoly at least a dozen or so times. Many gamers have tried one of its electric counterparts at least once as well. But why? Electronic Monopoly, especially early versions, offer virtually nothing that wasn't done better in the board game. Do you really want an explanation on this one? Do you need to be patronized? OK, how about this: just like classic Monopoly, NES Monopoly can be played with up to 8 human players. However, if you choose to play NES Monopoly with 8 players, you have to pass around one controller. Trades take a lot longer than they do in the board game because you can't just make a deal, you have to navigate through menus and shit to sort it out. Or how about we evaluate this video game from a basic economic standpoint? Nintendo cartridges generally retailed for $30-50, board games retailed for significantly less. WHY WOULD YOU PAY MORE MONEY FOR THE SAME BASIC CONCEPT? Let's not even mention the fact that the game looked better on your kitchen table than it did on your TV screen. The video game also failed to implement the classic rule where all bail money, luxury taxes, and other assorted fines went to a pot in the middle of the board, a pot that would be claimed by any player who landed on Free Parking. The only vaguely cool feature of the video game was that it would do all the math for you. But that's only a minor advantage, if you really want to consider it an advantage at all. Cheating is a part of Monopoly, the main part actually. Without the forbidden thrill of trying to grab a $500 bill from the bank when no one's looking, Monopoly kinda sucks. Think about it: Monopoly takes forever to play and is quite possibly the only game where the more players you have, the less fun it is to play. You've probably played a full game of Monopoly with two or three players, but remember how boring it got when you tried to play with five people? Remember how no one wanted to trade their real estate, so no one was able to get a monopoly? Remember when you quit in disgust and flipped over the board? You know what? FUCK MONOPOLY. Not just the Nintendo one either, fuck the whole damn system.
14. Dick Tracy
Games based on popular comics, shows, movies, and corporate logos always run the risk of sucking. And when the game is based on a movie based on a comic and it's made by Bandai, you can rest assured that it will suck more ass than a masochist at a fetish club. Dick Tracy is actually fairly faithful to the movie: you still get to hobble around as 80-year-old Warren Beatty and you still take on Al Pacino and the other physically flawed gangsters that run The City. You're still the most honest cop on the force. Too honest, in fact. If Tracy shoots an unarmed thug, he dies a little bit inside. Unfortunately, this inner turmoil is reflected in your life bar. What the hell, man? Act like a real cop, plant a gun on the fucker and claim it was self-defense. As for the actual gameplay, you can forget about having any sort of fun. The game's main dynamic consists mainly of wandering aimlessly through the town's warehouses, clubs, and garages in the vain hope that you might arbitrarily find a clue that helps you crack your current case. If you interrogate a thug who isn't involved in the case that you're working on, the police chief yells at you. Nevermind the fact that Flattop's goons just tried to fucking kill you; since you incorrectly fingered him for passing counterfeit bills, you're the one up to his neck in shit and red tape. But when he's not bogged down by petty bureaucracy, Dick Tracy is a pretty tough guy. Nine bullets will kill The Man In The Yellow Coat, but he can take eight shots to the face without even flinching. That's pretty badass, but Tracy also has a rather unfortunate weakness: a glass jaw. That's right, a basic punch will hurt Tracy just as much as a gunshot. While this is hardly unique to Dick Tracy, it's still annoying as fucking hell. Even so, the game isn't particularly hard. Although you are given one life and no continues, there are only five stages and you get a password after you complete each one. I was really disappointed with this game on so many levels. It's hard to understand how a game based on a movie with cool villains like Pruneface, Lips Manlis, and Mumbles could suck so bad, but it does. Maybe it would have worked better as a light gun game. Or maybe they should have included the musical numbers and Madonna's tits.
13. World Class Track Meet
When it debuted in 1988, the Nintendo Power Pad was interesting and innovative peripheral. Unfortunately, only a handful of games were ever released for it and none of them were particularly memorable. No game better embodies the blind ambition and severe flaws of the Power Pad than its debut game, World Class Track Meet. The Power Pad was Nintendo's response to growing criticism from parents that video games were molding us kids into inactive, unfit bastards. To combat this, Nintendo created a video game exercise pad. On the only side that anyone ever used, the Power Pad had twelve numbered dots that would do things when you stepped on them. In World Class Track Meet, you would run and jump on these touch sensitive spaces in order to make your character run and jump his way through various track events. In theory, this was every parent's dream come true; Nintendo had given you a way to subvert your child's favorite hobby into something more "worthwhile". Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. Remember those rainy Saturdays when you'd get yelled at because you and your friends were running around the house? Parents quickly discovered that running in place and stomping on the Power Pad was just as noisy. Simultaneously, kids discovered that it was easier to use your hands than your feet, especially when you were trying to beat Cheetah in Tournament mode. Using your hands also proved to be a lot more fun for some reason, perhaps because it was less tiring. Only seven games were ever released for the Power Pad and aside from Short Order/Egg-Splode, they were all pretty much weaker variations of World Class Track Meet. As a result, the device died a quick and relatively painless death. If the device had been compatible with standard NES games, it might have caught on better; playing Super Mario Bros. with a Power Pad could have been fun. In addition to its dastardly attempts to convince that exercise and track meets were fun, World Class Track Meet also opened a technological Pandora's box. Because of this game and the peripheral it was designed to showcase, we now have Dance Dance Revolution. Along with the equally offensive Madden NFL, DDR has helped to draw girls, jocks, and other casual gamers into a world where they are most unwelcome. Thanks a lot, World Class Track Meet.
12. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Who likes Indiana Jones? Uh, how about EVERYONE? Sure, The Temple of Doom was the weakest of the Indy films, but it was still good. But guess what wasn't good? If you said the Exorcist sequels, you're correct. Unfortunately, that's not where I'm going with this. I was actually talking about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a video game that came out four years after the movie it was based on debuted. In Temple of Doom, you'll wander around Mola Ram's caverns, dodge traps, and rescue barely restrained child slaves until you get bored or the timer runs out. If by some chance the timer runs out before you get bored with this tripe, The Man appears and rips your heart out. I suppose that was some exceedingly graphic violence for the time period, but that still doesn't make it a good game. One wonders why Atari didn't choose to develop a game based on Raiders of the Lost Ark instead. In 1988, The Temple of Doom and Raiders were equally fresh in the general public's minds. Since Raiders was clearly the better movie, it would have been the better choice for a video game adaptation as well. After all, melting Nazis is more fun than NOT melting Nazis. Sure, Atari had already made a Raiders of the Lost Ark game, but it was released in 1982 on its own Atari 2600 console. The game was about as good as an Indiana Jones game could be on the 2600, but it was *hardly* good enough that it should have the right to be the only Raiders of the Lost Ark game ever made, especially when there are at least FIVE different games based on The Empire Strikes Back. But getting back to Atari's Temple of Doom... it sucks. Screw this game. Next!
11. Mickey Mousecapade
How many companies does it take to a make a game that's not worth playing? Apparently three: one to authorize the use of their stupid cartoon mouse, one to design a game that accurately captures the mouse's inherent lameness, and one to distribute it to a gaming public that doesn't know any better. Mickey Mousecapade isn't really a video game so much as it is a demonstration of what a video game might look like. It's the type of thing that you would make if you had just learned how to program video games and were eager to show off your new skills. The result is a total clusterfuck of a game that has five short and largely unrelated levels. The game is so sloppily put together that it's impossible not to notice its shortcomings. At least two sprites that were recycled from another game, Honeygirl and a recolored Zigmo - from Adventure Island, appear in Mickey Mousecapade. The game itself is not very hard, aside from one obnoxious design flaw. The game is setup in such a way that you play as both Mickey and Minnie, but you only control Mickey; Minnie just mimics his movements. The upside of this is that Minnie can get hit by anything and your energy bar remains unaffected. The downside is that Minnie only *mostly* mimics Mickey, so certain game objectives (i.e. jumping from platform to platform) become unnecessarily complicated. And if Minnie somehow misses a jump and lands in a pit, you lose a life. In the second level, The Ocean, it is not uncommon for a random wave to push Minnie back while you're jumping and cost you a life. And if you were expecting the game to have any sort of worthwhile goal or story, you can forget it. Capcom and Hudson made a half-assed attempt at making up a half-assed story. The result is a quarter-assed plot that the game's manual sums up in three almost-sentences: Mickey, followed by Minnie, adventure through the Fun House, by the Ocean, the Woods, the Pirate Ship, and the Castle. All in search of their mystery friend. Help them solve the mystery! That's it, that's the whole fucking plot. Oh, and the mystery friend is Alice. I can summarize the game a lot more accurately: Join Mickey and Minnie on their magical quest to throw ninja stars at everything that moves. You'll kill cats, The Country Bears, dancing brooms, pirates, Tick Tock the Crocodile and the evil queen Maleficent. Be prepared to waste plenty of time and several lives due to badly synchronized jumps. This cartridge is fully licensed by Nintendo of America and it contains up to 40 minutes of fun. If for some reason five levels of Mickey Mouse is too fucking difficult for you, the game has a level select... the kind that they tell you about in the instruction manual. To start in Levels 2-5, hold down SELECT and a directional before pressing start: right is Level 2, left is Level 3, down is Level 4, and up is Level 5. And if you're not good at boss battles, don't worry about that either; you can get an invincibility power-up right before entering the final boss's room. Once you find the key, make your way to the only locked door in the level and dispatch the walrus that guards it. Now look for the hidden power-up in this room. There are two places it could be. The first place it could be is directly in front of the only window in the top half of the room. The second place it could be is the top right corner of the double doors. You'll know when you've found it because your throwing stars will explode like they've hit something... because they have. Keep firing until you reveal the hidden item. If it's Honeygirl, run through the door and touch Maleficent before Honeygirl flies offscreen. Yay. You win. If you get a different power-up or if you don't find one at all, no worries. Just leave the screen and immediately return. Unlike other enemies in this level, including that bastard Peg Leg Pete, the walrus will not respawn. All you have to do now is kill the flying Q*Bert rip-off that comes at you and then look for the hidden power-up again. Repeat this process until you get a Honeygirl. It's NOT cheesy; it's a clever exploitation of bad programming. If a game can't be bothered to be fun, why should I bother to play by the rules?
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Like Battletoads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of those NES games that you never legitimately beat. But whereas Battletoads had well-designed albeit sadistic levels and cool cartoonish graphics, Ninja Turtles had absolutely nothing going for it. This game was hard... damn hard. Oh, you might have beat TMNT with the help of Game Genie or emulation save states, but no eleven-year-old Ninja Turtles fanboy ever beat this fucking game on an unenhanced Nintendo. Once you lost Leonardo, you were more or less fucked; Donatello was too goddam slow, while Raph and Mikey had piss poor range. As you may recall, the main reason that this game sucked was because of that stupid fucking underwater part in Level 2. The game gave you two minutes and twenty seconds to swim through a booby-trapped river and disarm 8 bombs. Finding and disarming 8 bombs in 2:20 is hard enough on its own, but when you have to dodge timed forcefields, man-eating kelp, and electric coral, it becomes fucking ridiculous. The level is so poorly designed that it is more or less impossible to complete it without taking a shitload of damage. You would subsequently be pretty fucked for the rest of the game. This cartridge was a total disgrace to the TMNT franchise, ranking only slightly higher than the shitty Konami LCD games. Fortunately, this was not the end of the Turtles on the NES. One year later we would get Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. That game gave us all the fun of the kickass arcade game AND two extra levels. But hey, if you like becoming filled with unparalleled rage when you play Nintendo, then the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is definitely the better choice.
9. Friday the 13th
I initially considered giving this spot to the first Wizards & Warriors game but Friday the 13th is a much worse game. I remember the first time I rented this game I felt like I was getting away with something because it was based off of an R rated movie franchise that I wasn't allowed to see. After playing this awful game, it would be several years before I had any interest in seeing any of the Friday the 13th movies. The plot of the game is as such: you play as six camp counselors who wander around like fucking idiots waiting for Jason to kill them and/or the camp's children. As you go along, trying not to die, you're supposed to search for weapons and light fires to ward off Jason. Unfortunately, you will never be able to do this for more than a minute or two before the warning alarm sounds and you have to rescue someone from Jason's wrath. This is perhaps the most annoying part of the game. You never really get a chance to explore the camp because you're constantly rushing between cabins to save campers and other counselors from getting hacked to bits. To make matters worse, you can only switch between counselors by accessing the map screen, which can only be done inside one of the camp's small cabins. So if you're busy exploring the woods or the cave when a Jason attack occurs, you might not make it back in time. Of course, you don't actually *need* to explore the camp, you can just sit around waiting for Jason to attack. If you can make it through all three "days" of gameplay with at least one counselor and one camper alive, you win. This strategy is not recommended, however, because Jason is damn hard to fight off and you'll never do it with your starting weapon of rocks. Yes, you read that right: in early phases of the game, you stop the notoriously invincible Jason Voorhees by pelting him with rocks. Gee, I wonder why no one thought of that in the movies. This game is terrible in and of itself, but it's outright insulting if you've ever seen the movies. LJN felt that Jason wasn't quite threatening enough by himself, so they gave him command of a vast army of zombies and wolves. Makes sense, right? LJN also felt that Jason needed some sort of weakness. Being as he supposed to be a retarded kid who drowned, his in-game weakness is.... FIRE? I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an expert on retarded undead serial killers, but I'm pretty sure that most of them wouldn't be afraid of the exact opposite of what killed them. What the fuck? He's Jason, not Frankenstein, you assholes. Somebody also thought it would be a good idea to include the flying disembodied head of Jason's mother as a hidden boss; that person was wrong. But the single most offensive error in the game is in Jason's victims. In the movies, Jason's body count was limited to horny teenagers and dumbass adults, but in the game Jason has an inexplicable obsession with killing defenseless children. In fact, Video Game Jason will rarely attack counselors who don't try to interfere with his minor massacre. That's not cool at all. Jason may be a murderous son of a bitch, but even he had his limits. Jason wasn't the only movie slasher to get a less than faithful game adaptation: the Nightmare on Elm Street game, while nowhere near as bad as Friday the 13th, had very little to do with the movies. I'd like to think that someday we'll get a good game based off a horror franchise, but I doubt it'll ever happen. If it does, my money is on Child's Play.
8. WWF Wrestlemania
I love 80s wrestling more than you can possibly fathom, but this game is terrible. Although WWF Wrestlemania includes six of the biggest stars of the era (Macho Man, Ted Dibiase, Bam Bam Bigelow, Andre the Giant, The Honky Tonk Man, and The Hulkster), those are the only six characters in the game. I think Acclaim could have given us at least eight if they didn't suck at making video games. In addition to the pathetically limited roster, the fighting engine is also pretty bad. If you were hoping to find body slams, grapples and submission holds in this game, you're going to be severely disappointed. The entire game is composed of striking moves. Bam Bam can still cartwheel, but that's about the only real attention to detail that's been paid in this game. You can climb up the turnbuckle in theory, but the timing is so fucking difficult that you'll probably just kick and punch your way to victory. The wrestlers are also severely imbalanced. If you pick The Honky Tonk Man or Ted DiBiase, your chances of beating Hogan or Andre are impossibly bad. This game also features some of the worst character animations I've ever seen. Andre the Giant walks like he crapped his pants and Hulk Hogan is hunched over like a chick with double-D breasts and no bra. The game did manage to include digitized versions of almost everyone's entrance music, but that gets really annoying really fast. Really, how many times can you listen to tinny versions of "Real American" or "Pomp and Circumstance"? The game doesn't have the Million Dollar Man theme, but for some reason it does contain a version of "Girls in Cars" even though neither member of Strike Force is in the game. This game was boring as hell, but I always ended up renting it with my friends; the charm and power of Hulk Hogan was just too strong to resist. There were four WWF games for the NES and this pile of crap was the best one. I can't believe this is really the best that anyone could do with a wrestling license... and it wasn't. WCW also had their own NES game, WCW Wrestling, and that game kicked all sorts of ass. You could grapple, leave the ring, and perform actual wrestling moves. Of course, it was pre-nWo, so no one bought it. There was also a great arcade game called WWF WrestleFest that came out sometime in the early 90s. Track down one of those games and try to forget that you thought this shit was fun.
7. The Karate Kid
Along with A Christmas Story and The NeverEnding Story, I probably saw The Karate Kid about 50 times before I turned 10. My intense respect for the movie is the only probable explanation for why I played this game even once, let alone more than that. Once you get past the title screen with Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid is a nothing but a monotonous Kung Fu rip-off. You will punch and kick your way through a karate tournament and three uninspired levels of awfulness. You will spend the vast majority of the game fighting the same goddam thugs in red kimonos over and over. Occasionally, when you're lucky, you'll fight guys in different colored kimonos. While they're not technically palette swaps, the facial differences are so minute that you're not likely to notice. There's no real strategy to this game other than punch the other guy before he punches you. In addition to the bland baddies you fight, you'll also have to dodge cabbages and pots that fly at you without any explanation. You get two special moves in the game, the drum punch and the crane kick, but good luck trying to save them for opportune moments. If you have any special kicks or special punches saved up, a standing punch or standing kick will automatically execute it; that's some brilliant fucking programming right there. Luckily the game offsets this by randomly giving you ugly text-based power-ups every few seconds. There's also three annoying minigames to play, the most frustrating one being an impossible swinging hammer game from The Karate Kid, Part II. But the absolute worst part of this game was Stage 3: The Typhoon Strikes. In addition to fighting the same damn guy over and over, you also had to deal strong winds that pushed you back while sending dead birds and baseball bats flying at you to do the same.
That's right, Rampage comes in at #6. In the olden days when arcade games were ported to home systems, they were usually far from perfect. While most of this stems from the fact that the arcade hardware was more advanced than the console hardware, at least part of that can be attributed to the fact that the original manufacturer didn't always do the porting. And if the company in question was Midway, you can bet your balls that someone else ported it. In the days of SNES and Genesis, it was usually Acclaim that was busy fucking up Midway's games, but in 1988, Data East gave us their crappy interpretation of Rampage. Not only were the graphics markedly worse, but the badass giant werewolf Ralph was removed as a selectable character. As an arcade game, Rampage was pretty fun. You'd throw a few quarters in, smash a few buildings, eat a few people, and that would be that. The arcade version had something like 768 levels to smash your way through, but few people ever had enough time or quarters to even attempt to beat the entire game. Besides, after 30 or 40 levels, the game starts to seem repetitive. Oh right, BECAUSE IT IS. When Data East made the home version, they realized that 768 levels was far too many, so they only included 128. Well, that's not really true. They included 128 variations of the same fucking level. Even with infinite continues and two players, beating Rampage is damn near impossible. First of all, it takes at least four hours. Secondly, unless something is horribly wrong with you, you'll get bored. Smashing the same buildings and eating barely distinguishable people is only fun for a limited amount of time and that amount is a lot fucking less than four hours. This was a game that you'd play for an hour or two and then when it still wasn't over, you'd keep playing for another hour just to beat it, even though you weren't having fun anymore. Then when it still wasn't fucking over, you'd shut it off in disgust and never play it again. This game should have topped out at about 40-50 levels. That, or Data East should have included a password system so that you could continue from the last city you beat. I'm not sure exactly why they didn't, but I think it has something to do with the fact that they're assholes. Mega Man 2 didn't really need a password system, but Capcom gave us one just in case. Data East has no excuse for not affording gamers the same courtesy, especially when their game had 128 goddam levels. Fuck Data East and fuck their shitty version of Rampage. This game may be an arcade classic, but as a Nintendo game it's inexcusably bad.
5. Skate or Die
If I had to choose between playing this tedious skateboarding game and dying, I'd definitely choose death. Poor controls made already frustrating events such as Pool Joust and Skate Jam even less fun. I have absolutely no desire to talk about this game for any length of time, so I've brought in a celebrity guest to do it for me.
ARE YOU A MOON MASTER?
The evil Gorgitron has destroyed the armies of the Moon and also their pets! Also, he's in love with you and that is NOT cool. You are the Moon Master. Do you have the balls to stop the Gorgitron or has the fear of defeat shriveled your already puny earth penis into a disgusting ball of impotency?
As you can see from the vast empirical evidence provided by Ignignokt, Skate or Die totally sucks ass. I mean, come on. The guy who runs the skate shop is a walking paradox, with his blue mohawk and his Semper Fi tattoo. That would never ever happen. Marines hate punks and punks hate anything (e.g. government, religion, proms) that took more than a day or two to organize. Damn you Ultra Games, and your half-assed attempt to cash-in on youth culture.
Whereas the NES version of Rampage went on long after it stopped being fun, NES Gauntlet was never much fun to begin with. Atari's 1985 arcade hit was fun because it had four player support and you could keep pumping in quarters for health and continues until your mom forcibly dragged you and your friends out of Chuck E. Cheese's. So how does a game that was designed to eat quarters at a fantastic rate translate into a home version? Not very well. When Atari ported Gauntlet to the NES, they decided that you should be able to beat 100 levels of gameplay without much trouble. So confident was Atari in our collective ability as gamers that they decided you should start Gauntlet with under 1000 life and no continues. That's right, NO FUCKING CONTINUES. Other arcade ports, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game and Contra, had the decency to give you a handful of continues and they didn't have anywhere near 100 levels. In fact, they had like eight. While Gauntlet didn't have continues, it did have a half-assed password system. During any point after you had beaten Level 4, you could pause the game and obtain a string of nine alphanumerics. To use it, you had to begin a new game and hold down A and Start when selecting the number of players you wanted. This would take you to a hidden menu where you could enter the password and subsequently continue from right after the last treasure room you had completed with full health and any treasure you had accumulated. Since the last treasure room in the game that you can continue from is Level 78 and there are nineteen levels of pure hell (and three more treasure rooms) after it, this system still isn't particularly helpful. I also don't understand why the password menu was hidden, since they explained how to use it in the fucking game manual. I guess they were trying to screw over those of us who rented this game and didn't have the instruction booklet. This game was way too hard, way too repetitive, and way too long, but Gauntlet had an even bigger problem. Every time that your character picked up some bran to replenish his health, the hero would let out a digitized sigh of enjoyment. The type of sigh that implied this was the most potent bran in all of Rendar. It's funny a couple dozen times, but then it starts to get pretty friggin' annoying. People who had fun playing this game also enjoyed: banging their heads against a wall.
3. Ghosts 'n Goblins
For reasons that most of us will never grasp, Ghosts 'n Goblins is a highly recognizable title. It's hard to understand exactly why that is, because virtually everyone I know who's played it hates it. When I end up in Hell for a lifetime of sloth and wasted potential, I'm pretty sure that having to play Ghosts 'n Goblins for the rest of eternity will be my punishment. This game is so incredibly not fun that it makes little children cry. In case, by some odd chance, you've never played this game let me explain to you why it's so horrible:
- It's not because the game is unnecessarily hard, like Bob Dole on Viagra.
- It's not because the game starts off with our hero, Sir Arthur, having a picnic in a graveyard.
- It's not because the plot of the game is that Satan kidnapped your girlfriend.
- It's not because two hits kill Sir Arthur.
- It's not because they show you the game map every fucking time you die.
- It's not because of those goddam flying Red Devils that shoot projectiles at you while deftly dodging your attacks.
- It's not because making the game scroll too fast can cause a glitch where you take damage for no good reason.
- It's not because enemies usually ambush you.
- It's not because you can't get the real ending unless you beat Satan with a specific weapon.
While those are all excellent reasons to hate this game, the real reason that it sucks is because even if you manage to put up with all that bullshit, you'll still need to beat the game TWICE to get the real ending.
2. Marble Madness
Words can't even begin to describe how much I fucking hate Marble Madness. If you've somehow never played this game, let me explain it. Picture Brio's anger-inducingly hard Labyrinth game. Now picture it as a video game. When Atari originally released this game in the arcades in 1984, you used a trackball to guide your marble through its stupid isometric world. The game was boring as fuck, but at least the controls were well-suited for the task at hand. When Marble Madness made its debut on the NES in 1989, you were forced to use the D-Pad to try and move the marble through its fraudulent 3D world. Any fun that the arcade game might have somehow provided was effectively removed. Navigating your way through the many twists and turns of Marble Madness with only four cardinal directions is incredibly frustrating, especially since this programmers couldn't even be bothered to make the directional pad move you along the X and Y axes. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this game is that it was created by a seventeen-year-old who won some sort of design contest that Atari held. If this is the concept that fucking won, then every other submission must have been a Pac-Man rip-off. For the shut-ins who put Marble Madness together, it was probably a fun game to make. It's pretty evident that a lot of math and physics went into designing this pile of crap and I bet it's a fascinating game from a programming standpoint. But that doesn't make it fun to play. I was trying to figure out how anyone could have possibly thought this game was fun enough to bring to the NES and then I remembered it was published by Milton Bradley. Yes, the evil board game company best known for using television commercials to con unsuspecting children into thinking that Mousetrap works reliably. Marble Madness was lacking fundamental things that would have made a worthwhile game: an analog stick, better camera angles, and a more interesting premise. 17 years later, Sega's Super Monkey Ball would deliver all three.
1. Bart vs. The Space Mutants
This list was originally going contain all four crappy Simpsons games that came out for the NES, but I think most kids learned their lesson after playing this massive pile of shit. Besides, I couldn't stand to play Krusty's Funhouse long enough to screenshot it. Bart vs. The Space Mutants is your typical Acclaim product: an exceptionally mediocre game based off of an otherwise marketable license. Other licenses that Acclaim has desecrated include: South Park, Total Recall, Rambo, WWF, and ECW. They're also responsible for giving us some games based on horrible licenses such as The Crow: City of Angels, Batman & Robin and Knight Rider. While the Total Recall and Knight Rider games were exceptionally ridiculous, Acclaim's rampage of crappiness really started with this bizarre Simpsons game. There are about ten million different things wrong with Bart vs. The Space Mutants, let's see how many I can remember. First off, it steals its plot from John Carpenter's They Live. Just like Roddy Piper, Bart discovers a pair of magic glasses that allow him to see evil aliens who have infiltrated society. These aliens are far less clever than the ones in John Carpenter's classic movie; instead of exploiting the human working class for their own financial gain, the space mutants build a machine that can conquer the Earth as long as they feed it enough of some everyday object such as purple stuff, hats, balloons, exit signs, or nuclear reactor power rods. OK, so that last one isn't too common. While the game does contain a decent number of Simpsons characters, the jackasses who made the game chose to use generic space monsters instead of Kang and Kodos. These nameless aliens aren't smart in any sense of the word. While only Bart can see the ones that have taken over human bodies, there are also plenty of aliens running around in PLAIN SIGHT. Why the hell does Bart have to save the world on his own, is everyone else too fucking lazy to help? Speaking of laziness, the so-called space mutants are the most pathetic group of villains I've ever seen. In the first level, they build a machine that can take over the world as long as they insert enough purple objects into it. With a machine like that, Gomer Pyle or even Corky Thatcher could take over the world without much effort. And yet, if Bart manages to hide or destroy 24 purple objects that are lying around Springfield before the lameass aliens grab them, they give up and switch to hats instead. What, they couldn't have found purple objects somewhere else? Why not try the Fanta factory or a plum orchard or something? So the dumb fuckers give up on purple objects and decided to steal hats at the Springfield Mall instead. This is a totally foolproof plan; hats are a popular commodity and there are plenty of stores at the mall that sell them. There are even stores such as Lids that specialize in hats. This plan can't possibly fail, but it does if Bart collects 25 hats. Unless the machine requires EVERY FUCKING HAT in the free world, I don't see how stealing twenty-five hats could possibly disrupt the plan. Aside from having shitty plans, the space mutants also don't really hinder Bart at all in his quest. While there are alien invaders lurking in every level, they move in predictable patterns and are easily avoided. Bart's major opposition comes in the form of old adversaries such as Nelson Muntz, Jimbo Jones, Sideshow Bob, and the Babysitter Bandit as well as such ridiculous obstacles as giant pits of wet cement, deadly museum exhibits and funhouses with bottomless pits. Aside from giving you a shaky pretext for collecting shit, the aliens add nothing to this game. I've always wondered what Matt Groening thinks of The Simpsons video games... I presume that he doesn't actually play video games because no gamer, no matter how casual, could possibly let their greatest creation be made into so many shitty games. Since the 1989 debut of The Simpsons, there has been exactly one good video game based on it: the eponymous 1991 Konami arcade game. While Konami did err by giving Smithers blue hair and making him totally fucking insane, they also made a really fun game. I demand a Konami Arcade Classics collection with their Simpsons game on it. Nintendo's N64 made four player support an industry standard for home consoles, so it would totally work. If you're still not sold on the fact that Bart vs. The Space Mutants sucked, consider this: why didn't I use sprites from that Simpsons game for my vaguely inappropriate hotlink warning?
So there's my list. I really hope I didn't piss off any of my core readers with my game selections. If I offended anyone else, too fucking bad. This whole thing was a learning experience for me and here's what I learned: lists can be a fucking bitch to put together. There were hundreds of NES games to consider and not everything could make the final cut. For example, Ernie's Big Splash was one of the first games that came to mind when I decided to do this, but I eventually backed down because I wasn't in the target demographic when I played it and it was only half of a Nintendo cartridge anyway. The NES version of Maniac Mansion was almost included, because the game was clearly designed to played with a mouse, but there just wasn't room for it. Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle and Wizards & Warriors almost made it too, but I couldn't quite gauge their overall popularity and neither one was quite as bad as Mickey Mousecapade or Marble Madness. In any case, the list is done and I'm not changing it. Ever. Peace out.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
DO NOT CLEAN WITH BENZENE, PAINT THINNER, ALCOHOL OR OTHER SUCH SOLVENTS.