With the Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye making its way to the Switch after a quarter of a century, people are starting to love movie tie-in games again. Reader, that would be a terrible mistake. Movie games, often developed by third-rate studios to make a quick buck, are the dregs of the electronic entertainment universe. In this article, we open the vaults to reveal the worst of the worst video games so bad you’ll throw your popcorn and controller at the screen.
The story behind Atari 2600 mega-flop ET: The Extra-Terrestrial is well known by now – programmer Howard Scott Warshaw had only five weeks to finish the game for a Christmas release and it was so confusing, ugly and unintuitive it crashed and burned . Atari reportedly paid $25 million for the right to make the game in the first place, so it hurt extra hard. There were a bunch of dull adventure games on the 2600, most of which weren’t very good, but the ridiculous timeframe (which forced Atari to skip user testing) made this one of the absolute worst. Atari posted a $583 million loss in 1983, partly to blame for this game.
9. Bad Boys: Miami Takedown
The PlayStation 2 era was notorious for tremendous highs and catastrophic lows, especially towards the end of the system’s lifespan. One of the absolute worst games the console has ever seen was 2004’s Bad Boys: Miami Takedown, which was released alongside the 2003 sequel. This game is a third-person shooter that roughly follows the plot of the film, but neither Will Smith nor Martin Lawrence bothered to record dialogue for it, and their two stand-ins don’t sound like them at all. The action is monotonous, with each mission simply requiring you to move from one place to another while pumping bullets into goons with terrifying AI that often leaves you stuck to a wall as you kill them. A highly zoomed-in camera obscuring the action is just the icing on the cake.
Most versions of this Activision tie-in to the hit 1984 film are just average, but the NES version (released in 1986) has a section so terribly awful it drags the entire product down. In Ghostbusters you guide your group of paranormal investigators through New York City and earn money to buy better gear before you face off against Zuul at the end. But to reach Zuul you have to play through a sequence where you have to climb 25 flights of stairs by frantically pressing the A button without getting hit by ghosts. It’s tedious, numbs the thumb, and can take up to 10 minutes. And I hope you like them ghostbusters Theme song because it loops through the entire game.
7. Fight Club
Releasing a tie-in game five years after a movie’s release is a rare thing, but Vivendi Universal’s Fight Club certainly didn’t take the extra time to improve the gameplay. Fight Club, the game, eschews the twisted, caustic notions about society and identity from the film and is a boring and repetitive one-on-one combatant that plays like Tekken, without all the charm and character. With only three basic fighting styles and an AI that ranks among the dumbest ever in the genre, this is the definition of cheap money. Even including Fred Durst as an unlockable character doesn’t save it for some reason.
6. Charlie’s Angels
This awful GameCube and PS2 beat-em-up came out three years after the hit film, which is already a bad sign. Developed by French studio Neko Entertainment, the minds behind Crazy Frog Racer and Garfield Lasagna World Tour, it delivers an uninspired and ugly quagmire of punches and kicks delivered by low-poly models with nightmarish facial textures and bizarre animations. Everything about this product is absolutely substandard, right down to the game-changing bugs that can cause levels to become endlessly repetitive. If you’re selling a game with sex appeal and the characters look so ugly, you’re in real trouble.
One might think that the decapitation-centric narrative of the highlanders series would do well for video games, but unfortunately the ZX Spectrum 1986 just wasn’t up to the task. This brutally primitive title has you leading Conor McLeod through a whopping three heavily pixelated sword fights, where the only sound is a pong-like blip when your blade makes contact. Even for the Speccy, this was a clunker with unresponsive controls and boring, strategy-less combat. Your three opponents all have the same moves, even the Kurgan. Just an absolute waste of time and tape.
4. Tunnel Rats: 1968
German director Uwe Boll is widely known for producing incompetent films based on video games. But what would a video game based on one of his films look like? surprise, it’s bad. Tunnel Rats: 1968 was a follow-up game to his 2008 Vietnam War drama, and while the film isn’t one of Boll’s worst, the game is atrocious. A buggy first-person shooter with some absolutely inexcusable bugs (if you die, your grenades can just stop working forever), the nail in the coffin comes from the game’s health restoration system, which requires you to painstakingly snip off Vietnamese soldiers’ ears. Gross, tasteless and not funny at all.
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3. Cat Woman
2004 cat woman Possibly the most despised DC adaptation of all time, the film is a muddled mess starring Halle Berry as the eponymous cat thief. The game was developed by Argonaut, who certainly should have known better – they helped develop the legendary Star Fox – but there had been tough times in the ’00s. This is a 3D action-adventure game that was obviously inspired by the then-hot Tomb Raider franchise, but the execution was dreary. The game’s combat involves the bizarre decision not to let Selina directly defeat enemies, requiring you to throw enemies into danger in order to defeat her. The controls are terrible too, with platforming sequences turning into frustrating trial and error. Argonaut would lay off 100 employees and put the company up for sale shortly after Catwoman’s release.
2. Dirty Harry
The Nintendo Entertainment System had a plethora of crappy movie games, but none were as aggressively bad as 1990’s Dirty Harry. Based on the 1971 thriller starring Clint Eastwood as SFPD detective Harry Callahan, the game takes… some liberties with the source material. For example, at no point in the films does Harry cross apartment buildings full of snakes and stun them by jumping on their faces, but it sure does happen a lot in the game. Add in extremely clumsy and unforgiving controls, a blunt story that drags the game out by wandering around with no real guidance, and worst of all a room you can enter that has no exit leaving you coerced to restart the game and lose all progress without warning and you will be out of luck punk.
1. Beverly Hills police officer
Eddie Murphy was at his peak as Axel Foley in the 1984 action comedy, and at that time video games were being released for systems like the Commodore 64 at the same time. And then there is the nightmare that is the 2006 Beverly Hills Cop game which was only released in Europe. Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Axel Foley is white in the game for some reason. That doesn’t make the rest of the package much better. The enemy AI is so brain dead that crooks won’t shoot you if you crouch because they can’t look up or down. Add in stealth missions that will have you failing instantly if an enemy spots you on the other side of the level, lengthy fetch quests, and non-skippable cutscenes, and you have a game that should never have existed no matter what year it was published.
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