It is perhaps a fault of the avid gamer to be preoccupied with the future, what's next? Will it hover? But let's take a moment to look back at five of the worst games of all time. Now some of you may already be twisting your moustaches in discomfort thinking, "enjoyment is subjective - one mans Fifa bliss is another's poor diversion from staring at their own balls".
Well, my learned and facially-endowed friends, you have a point. But with objectivity being an ideal and you possibly being a production of my gloriously depraved imagination, I have decided to impose my opinions on the universe as fact, like Simon Cowell.
This article does however wilfully omit many classic disasters in the pursuit of more personal gaming atrocities. Ignoring such well-known flops as Ataris's E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. A game rushed to coincide with the movie release and so dreadfully bad it's attributed to crashing the computer game market in the early 80s. To such an extent was this game a disaster it resulted in millions of unsold copies being buried in a New Mexico landfill. Still, Atari's ET achieved 1.5 million sales (despite 3.5 million copies being unsold) and featured some nice trees, which meant it simply can't complete with the calibre of digital arse we are about to trawl through. Take a deep breath as we peek at five of the worst games of all time.
Hugo started life as a interactive game featured on Saturday morning TV where kids would yell 'left' or 'right' at the screen before inevitably Hugo went the opposite way to die. Capitalising on this unique brand of suicidal behaviour, and a bedrock of crushed children's dreams, Hugo was ported to Amiga, GameBoy, Playstation, and PC.
It was a experience made by people who hate games for people who hated themselves. Animated in a way that makes flip books look progressive, and rewarding every wrong move with death and a long-winded cut scene that involved what historians would identify as a joke. Perhaps this cut scene repetition was a comedic masterstoke pre-seeding Stuart Lee's glorious powers of repetition, but more likely it was to ensure that 20 years on games reviewers would still wish to behead Hugo in front of his family by yelling 'down' under a ceiling fan.
Robocop, a film that doesn't shy from the big questions: what makes us human? What is love? Can a bad ass really eat baby food? A game with a huge lot going for it: It stars a cyborg, ties into a movie Shakespeare would have weeped at (the flashbacks with the billowing curtains), and has one sweet 8-bit title song. The problem? Its execution.
Robocop is a masterpiece of poor game design. Firstly Robocop moves as if he's suffering from a particularly invasive colonic. Secondly the game employs an almost chess-like play style. Bullets and movement have to be slow and calculated as you focus on avoiding bullets. Avoiding grenades. Avoiding motorbikes.
Now this reviewer was ten when he acquired this game after months of painstakingly saving his pennies. Ten when he finally got to open that cardboard box and become the bad ass indestructible Robocop. Ten when he spent hours dying on the first level because he couldn't avoid the motorbikes and the bullets with a character that took Robocop's trade mark walk and made it slower.
Poor controls. Repetitive. Dull, but worst of all excused it's failings by association with a successful film. How often since then have we seen good movies developed into terrible games? How many games developers played Robocop and sort out their highly lucrative revenge on the gaming world? Robocop is number four to represent all poor film game adaptations and the young suckers who buy them.
Superman on the N64 is broadly accepted as one of the worst video games of all time. A title easily found on the web as its odious pong lingers in the passages of Google. Why was Superman so bad? A game that by definition involved a super man, and featured on the brilliant N64.
Surely it can't beat Hugo's masterpiece of misanthropy? Or top trump Robocop as an icon of poor film ports? Yes it can. With a masterstroke of misdirection. Tantalising the gamer with 3D renderings of Metropolis city, and the deviant pant wearer himself (Y-fronts over lycra) but delivering a game where you fly through rings. Yep, the evil Lex Luther has set out some rings and you have to fly through them. Miss two and Lex wins. This is less of a game and more of an existential musing on the conformity of modern life where Superman, a gifted being, is trapped jumping through the hoops controlled by big business.
Interestingly, you can't die - perhaps a clue to the Buddhist beliefs of the developers, and an explanation as to why they'd think anyone would waste their short lives playing this. Complete the aggressive ring challenge and you are rewarded with another timed challenge: Pick up the cars before they collide. Then it's back to the rings.
The overriding question is why? Why are there floating rings? Why must Superman fly though them? Why would anybody sane play this? Why would anyone make this? Either Superman 64 was a nihilistic ode to Sonic, or someone played Robocop in 1991.
Bubsy on the SNES was a joyous platformer. Managing a likeable funny character (despite only a few repeated catchphrases) a stupid premise (collecting yarn) and owing a heavy debt to a certain blue hedgehog and an obese italian plumber. But Bubsy was his own man/bobcat too offering a unique mixture of pace and precision. A game with a gentle learning curve and tongue in cheek take on platforming that would be lost when Bubsy 3D raised its polygon hell mouth on the Playstation.
From the first moments Bubsy appears on screen looking as if he'd spent all night on catnip and wise-cracking "I knew I should have taken a right turn at Uranus...what? Was It something I said?" You loathe the newly high-pitched drug addict, and like the coke sniffing superstar he is Bubsy never shuts up squeaking out gags that make the Uranus line seem golden. Bubsy talks constantly as if trying to distract you from what your eyes are seeing. Gone are the detailed cartoon backdrops and friendly curves to be replaced with sharp solid colour polygons. Level design is confusing mesh of harsh geometric shapes that look like a 3D rendering of millepede with a crack addict bobcat placed inside. There is no texture, there is no fun, there is no soul.
After a few minutes of slipping off platforms and wishing Bubsy would have a heart attack from the coke you start to wonder if the character before you is in fact an alien wearing Bubsy's skin. An alien who's mission is to stop 3D gaming. Well, he certainly stopped Bubsy as we haven't seen the loveable fur bag since. RIP Bubsy, maybe we'll meet again on Xbox live.
Disliking the Smurfs is only natural. With the Distinct air of a cult the smurfs are the sciencetoligists of the cartoon world. Boasting a fashion sense that works as the blue print for Justin Bieber the smurfs in short where crap. It is a mystery, then, why a certain young reviewer (who would go on to buy Robocop) purchased this game on the Atari. A system which elevated home gaming with a simple cartridge interface and ports of arcade classics like the mighty Millepede. If Millepede was the King amongst games the Smurfs was the court leper mad with flatulence and twisted faux joy.
The game's premise: you play as one of the blue idiots out to save the trapped Smurfette (misogyny). Level one you walk across a field, jump a fence, jump a river, walk through a cave, jump on a table, and save Smurfette.
Level two you walk through a field twice, jump a fence twice, jump a river twice, walk through a cave twice, jump on a table twice and save Smurfette.
Level three sees each screen loop three times, but now with a snake to jump (in the field), spider to duck (cave) and bats (other looping screens of insufferable banality).
The objective to save the person you have already saved in the first level. Get hit and you start again. This is groundhog day with Smurfs. An unsatisfying mechanical wrenching of time and space to remove any sense of fun. There is no spoon or anything as close to interesting.
To make matters worse are the controls. It is a testament to the developers of the game that given only a joystick and one single button controlling the Smurfs could make Robocop look like Michael Flatley. Wrench up for jump, wrench again (mid-air) for high jump, and to jump forward wrench right. So for a high jump forwards that's up, up, right. At least it adds some jeopardy to the fence level. An added dimension of frustration as you scream at being trapped in this exponentially looping nightmare of protozoa Justin Biebers. Never mind new Mexico, this game needs to be buried in the sun.