The Worst Games Of Other Game Systems
In the article "The Games That Really Ruined The Atari 2600", I focused solely on Atari's main contributions to the American game market implosion of 1984 -- the 2600 Pac-Man that failed to live up to gamers' expectations as far as home ports of arcade games were concerned; the 2600 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game that tried to cash in on a popular 1982 Steven Spielberg movie and bombed big time; and the 2600 Swordquest series that, in addition to its failure of bringing a suitable Dungeons & Dragons-type successor series of games in the vein of Adventure, also held a contest that never reached its ultimate-playoff climax due to both the market implosion and the Tramiel takeover of Atari.  Yet the curse of really bad games for game systems pretty much hangs over every game system ever produced.  Some companies, including Atari, that brought out game systems had nothing but a steady stream of garbage games and rarely had any good ones, if ever some of them did.  Other game systems have the occasional "black sheep" kind of game among games that were of better quality.  Here in this article are just a few examples of games that had such shameful reputations among those who bought them:
Intellivision Donkey Kong design1. Donkey Kong (Coleco/Intellivision) -- Prior to 1982, the Intellivision's really big software-selling focus was on sports games; having the best-looking, best-sounding, and overall best-playing versions of baseball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, and whatever kind of sport they could emulate for the hard-core sports-playing fan.  Although Mattel didn't ignore the arcade-action category of games completely, for they had also released Astrosmash, Space Armada, Space Hawk, Star Strike, and Night Stalker, more people found that kind of gaming on the Atari 2600 and found their games to be more enjoyable than their Intellivision counterparts.  Up until 1982, Mattel provided the bulk of Intellivision's software support, but over time would also accrue third-party developers such as Imagic, Activision, Coleco, and even their rival Atari that would give their neglected arcade-action game category a boost in titles.  Coleco, in particular, had the boldest marketing strategy of supplying gameware for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision in addition to their newly-released ColecoVision, and one of their debut titles was a home rendition of Nintendo's classic arcade game of 1981, Donkey Kong, for all three systems.
        Donkey Kong game screen While I personally champion the idea of making versions of a popular game available for multiple game systems, one can only wonder what happened with the Intellivision port of Donkey Kong that made people suspect that Coleco had deliberately sabotaged the programming of that version in order to make the ColecoVision version look better (the same criticism which was also aimed at the 2600 version).  First of all, there are only two screens in this version -- the ramps and the rivets -- and both of them look like the ColecoVision version's done using those old honeycombed popsicle sticks that children could build little houses and stuff from.  Mario, his girlfriend, and Donkey Kong look worse than they do on the 2600, almost to the point of being unrecognizable.  The sound effects were a weak imitation of the arcade original's that also included music, and the game's controls were barely responsive enough to let Mario climb up and down these screens and jump over the barrels and fireballs that were hurled down at him by the crazy ape.  Even having four skill levels and a one- or two-player option added to this version wasn't enough to exonerate this failure.
The really sad part about Coleco's Donkey Kong for the Intellivision was that it had tainted people's view of this third-party company, not just in the release of this game but also in the release of other coin-op games such as Carnival, Venture, Mousetrap, Ladybug, Zaxxon, and Donkey Kong Junior, whose translations ranged from passable to mediocre.  Interestingly, Donkey Kong, Carnival, Venture, and Mousetrap were rendered inoperable on the Intellivision II that Mattel released in 1982, so if Coleco was considered guilty for allegedly sabotaging their non-ColecoVision game releases in order to make their own system's games look better, Mattel would share similar culpability in allegedly sabotaging Coleco's first release of games. Fortunately Carl Mueller Jr. had developed and released Donkey Kong Arcade for the Intellivision in 2011, creating a much-better translation that had all four of the original game's screens and improving the graphical look of Mario and Donkey Kong.
Back To The
        Future video box design2. Back To The Future (LJN/NES) -- When Nintendo revived the American market and interest in videogames in the late 1980s, the company garnered enough help from third-party software developers through its "quality assurance" licensing system that would, in theory, prevent a repeat of the market implosion of the mid-1980s from the uncontrolled glut of games (most of them bad) that customers and sellers got swamped with.  In practice, however, it didn't entirely stop bad games from coming out by companies whose goal was to make good profits rather than good games.  LJN, a formerly independent toy company that became part of Acclaim, started out in the NES game business with games based on popular movies such as Jaws, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, Beetlejuice, and The Karate Kid, with varying degrees of quality.  However, one particular specimen, an adaptation of Universal's 1985 sci-fi/comedy Back To The Future, repeated the same sin that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial had committed on the Atari 2600 -- the sin of trying to market a game based on a great movie that doesn't have anything that could be adequately turned into a workable, let alone enjoyable, game experience.
NES Back To The Future game
                screenNES Back To The Future game screen
The resulting game of Back To The Future had this as its plot: the player-character Marty McFly walked through the neighborhoods of Hill Valley in 1955 avoiding giant bees, workmen, bullies, and various other obstacles laid out in a manner similar to Xevious and other sundry scrolling-shooter games, all in his quest to reunite his future parents in 1955 and to get back to 1985.  Marty is not only working against a level clock that gives him bonus points at the completion of the level, but also against a constantly fading picture of himself and his siblings, and the only way he can keep them from completely fading out is to pick up clocks that are strewn along the way.  There are some locations along the way that provide different types of mini-games that Marty must complete in order to proceed further, such as throwing milkshakes at Biff Tannen and his goons at Lou's Cafe, blocking Loraine Baines' kisses at the high school, catching musical notes with Marty's guitar at the dance, and racing to the clock tower in Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine while dodging lightning bolts.  If this wasn't bad enough on the scale of lameness and total incongruity with the movie, the game's difficulty level made this movie adaptation even less enjoyable, and the annoying music that played throughout the game didn't improve things that much.
NES Back To The Future II & III game screen Being one that bought LJN's combined adaptation of the movie sequels, Back To The Future II & III, around 1990 for my birthday, I was treated to a game that made more sense as a movie adaptation (Marty did more time-traveling in Back To The Future Part II and Part III than he did in the original) and yet also came off as a really long and not-quite-entertaining imitation of the Super Mario Bros. games, even with creatures that looked like they were inspired from those games.  I didn't even try to get through the Part II section of the game until I had a third-party game-cheating device called the Game Action Replay on my NES to let me save my position in the game, and Part III looks like it wasn't finished in time since it had mini-games like in the Part II section that had some really difficult challenges that made me suspect that this product had to go to market even after LJN originally scrapped the idea of releasing it as Back To The Future Part II in order to fit the Part III section in.
Probably the only good thing that happened was that in time Acclaim had snapped up LJN and started releasing games for the NES, Super NES, and Gameboy under both labels for a time until they decided to drop the LJN label for good.  Then again, Acclaim began to acquire a nasty reputation for releasing really bad games, most of them being movie and comic book adaptations, the first of such being the NES version of the 1990 sci-fi movie Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  As of 2004, Acclaim declared bankruptcy and has closed down its various worldwide offices after years of disappointing gamers who were constantly allured by the company's advertising promises and then let down by constant poor delivery. Fortunately, the Back To The Future game idea has been resurrected for current-generation game consoles by TellTale Games, this time presented as a sort of point-and-click adventure game which now presents us with a new adventure with Mary McFly traveling back to 1931 to rescue Doc Brown from the Prohibition era gangster Kid Tannen.
Super NES Mortal
        Kombat box design3. Mortal Kombat (Acclaim/Super NES) -- Competing against Capcom's Street Fighter II in the arcades was Midway's own one-on-one fighting game which featured not only digitized actors playing the various fighting characters in the game (a technique used previously with Atari Games' Pit Fighter), but over-the-top blood spews when certain hits are used and gruesome finishing moves better known as "fatalities" that could be activated by entering in a controller code at the right time when the player beats his opponent in two rounds.  The game's notoriety would also make Mortal Kombat a target for parent groups who decry the increasingly-graphic visuals in all forms of entertainment as a sign of American society's increasing downfall -- so much so that it had affected the release of the game for home use on the Super NES and Genesis systems.
Super NES Mortal Kombat game screenNintendo and Sega, the parent companies of the respectively mentioned game systems, were of two different mindsets concerning Acclaim releasing Mortal Kombat for their systems.  Nintendo had such a way with game companies to not only keep their Super NES and Gameboy releases "family-friendly" and "kid-friendly", but also to keep them as non-offensive as possible, which included the alteration of a graphic still shot of a gravestone in Super Castlevania IV by removing a cross that adorned it.  With Mortal Kombat, the game was graphically altered by not only replacing the blood spews with sweat, but also by altering some of the character's finishing moves (the decapitation that Johnny Cage would inflict upon his beaten opponent, for example, would be changed over into a super-powerful kick that went straight through his opponent's body -- gruesome enough, but rather tame in comparison).  While the Super NES version admittedly looked better than its Genesis counterpart, Sega had won over prospective buyers by allowing Acclaim to keep the blood and finishing moves intact in its Genesis release -- yet in order to see this in all its gory...I mean, glory...the player had to enter in a controller code at a certain point in one of the game's introduction screens talking about "codes".  The same thing was also done with the Game Gear version of Mortal Kombat, keeping the arcade-rich elements hidden and only accessible through a controller code.
In the end, Nintendo realized its blunder of forcing its Super NES Mortal Kombat to go without the popular arcade elements when they received angry letters not only from game fans but from parents who were seeing Nintendo setting itself up as censors doing the job that parents and free-minded individuals could have done on the consumer level.  Ultimately, this and the diminished sales of the Super NES version (the Gameboy version is bad enough to not make many mention of it in this article) led Nintendo a year later to allow Acclaim to publish the arcade sequel Mortal Kombat II for the Super NES with all its gruesome elements intact, though it now came with a label that warned of such content being in the game.  With the Entertainment Software Ratings Board system in place a year later, the issue of censoring out violent material became moot.

Other Dishonorable Mentions

Philips CD-i Zelda games -- Philips Electronics in the early half of the 1990s was given license by Nintendo to develop games based on its licenses for the CD-i multimedia system, which was intended to be the technology that would power the SNES CD-ROM adapter. Although the adapter was never worked on (except by its competitor Sony, which was going to develop a standalone version called the PlayStation), Philips did develop three games based on The Legend Of Zelda game series. Two of these games, Link: The Faces Of Evil and Zelda: The Wand Of Gamelon, were side-scrolling adventures that had animated cutscenes that told their individual stories, while Zelda's Adventure was a top-down adventure with live-action full-motion video cutscenes that was more reminiscent of the first Legend Of Zelda game. Neither of these games are remembered very fondly, with The Faces Of Evil and The Wand Of Gamelon being greatly derided for their terrible cutscene animation quality and voice acting. Nintendo itself doesn't recognize these games as being part of the official game series canon, which is the reason they don't appear in any of the Hyrule Historia timelines.

Superman (Titus/Nintendo 64) -- In all fairness, the Man of Steel is a rather difficult character to make a videogame with, because his level of power and his invulnerability to anything besides Kryptonite and magic means that game developers have to tinker with the character to make him workable. The first videogame he starred in, which was for the Atari 2600, actually worked due to the limitations of the system itself, making the game a rather fun, if also a short, adventure into the world of Metropolis circa 1978. The Nintendo 64 version, which was based on Warner Bros. Animation's cartoon show of the same name in the 1990s, following the success of Batman: The Animated Series, was going to be his first foray in the world of 3D graphics gaming, and it even had the same voice actors from the series providing their talent. Unfortunately, Titus wasn't up to the challenge of making the game fun, so what players got instead was a Man of Steel that was barely controllable, playing a lot of timed missions that were barely completable due to the bad controls, many of which include having to fly through a series of hoops without missing a single one. To make it worse, the Metropolis in the game was always coated in a fog that was used in other Nintendo 64 games to disguise the fact that the system couldn't render incoming objects from a certain distance without pop-up. Titus first covered this up by saying in-game that Lex Luthor had covered Metropolis in a Kryptonite fog, then later changed it so that the Metropolis that Superman was flying in was actually a virtual reality recreation. None of this stopped gamers from denouncing this as one of the worst games ever made, but that didn't stop Infogrames from having a shot of doing justice to the superhero license in its animated format on the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo GameCube.

Daikatana (Ion Storm/PC) -- John Romero, one of the producers for Doom and Quake, thought he could make a first-person shooter game that would top his previous efforts, and so he founded the company known as Ion Storm with the intent of creating that game. As early on as 1997, readers of game magazines were treated to ads that proclaimed "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch", which didn't announce the game, but set players' expectations for what was soon to follow. John thought and promised gamers that this was going to come out in 1998, but unfortunately it took about three years to develop the game as Ion Storm ran into development troubles, including a switch from one game engine to another, that required its parent company to bail them out of time and again, not to mention the rock-star life John Romero was living during that time as its main office was more of a gamer's paradise than it was a serious developer's studio. By the time the game came out in 2000, it was clear that it didn't live up to all the hype that surrounded it, as it ended up having outdated graphics, terrible AI, frustrating missions, very limited game saves, and embarrassing early-level enemies such as mutated mosquitoes. It became the game that killed Ion Storm and made John Romero's name a joke in the gaming industry.

Enter The Matrix (Atari/GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC) -- Created as a tie-in to The Matrix Reloaded, which was released in the same year with The Matrix Revolutions following about six months afterward, Enter The Matrix is a side-story adventure featuring the characters of Ghost and Niobe running through the world of the Matrix, fighting off Agent Smiths and trying to stay alive to complete their objectives. Because the game was rushed so that it could be released at the time The Matrix Reloaded hit the theaters, it was plagued with problems such as getting stuck on walls, texture problems, and collision detection issues -- not to mention that you can bypass an entire level of fighting Agent Smiths early in the game simply by heading right at the start of the level instead of left, as the game tells you.

Sonic The Hedgehog (Sega/PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) -- To celebrate the franchise's 15th birthday in 2006, Sega decided to reboot it with a 3D platform game that was called, of course, Sonic The Hedgehog. To its credit, the game introduced another rival to Sonic named Silver, a hedgehog with telekinetic powers who must contend with a mysterious evil doppelganger calling itself "Mephiles The Dark", who seeks to activate "The Iblis Trigger" and plunge the future into despair. Sadly, though, the game got "Christmas rushed" out the door, so instead of dealing with the issues that the 3D games like the Sonic Adventures series had to deal with, such as the camera and wonky controls and physics, this game just made them worse while adding very long load times. The game managed to sell well to be inducted into the Xbox 360 Platinum Hits line, but fans of the game series still consider it one of the worst entries.

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