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This is a list of video games that have gained an enduring negative reception, often due to being perceived by reviewers as having low-quality or outdated graphics, glitches, poor controls for gameplay, or irredeemable game design faults. Such games are identified through overall low review scores including low aggregate scores on sites such as Metacritic, frequent appearances on \"worst games of all time\" lists from various publications, or otherwise carrying a lasting reputation for low quality in analysis by video game journalists.
The list is not comprehensive, but represents the most visible examples of games principally recognized for their enduring negative reception, or in the case of titles such as Final Fantasy XIV and No Man's Sky, at their original launch before they were reworked with content updates through patches. The list mostly omits licensed tie-in games for films or television shows, which are generally accepted by the industry as shovelware and not expected to have high production values as they are typically produced by non-AAA development studios. With certain exceptions, this list also omits controversial video games whose negative reception revolves around the controversies they started and is not related to the quality of the game itself, including those that were subject to review bombing by users for non-gameplay related issues. For similar reasons, the list mostly omits indie games, which are developed by smaller teams that typically lack the ability for full quality control of their product, as well as mobile games, of which there are countless developers with the ability to self-publish on app stores and frequent copycats of more successful games driven by unpopular microtransactions.
In 2008, the University of Calgary professor Tom Keenan cited \"the hideous Custer's Revenge game\", 26 years after its release, in an op-ed piece about current video game violence issues for the Calgary Herald. That same year, the game was credited by Australian PC Magazine as being one of the worst games ever made. In response to the game's criticism, the makers of the game elected to preview the game for women's and Native American groups, an act which some thought was a publicity stunt.
Industry analysts often cite Atari's Pac-Man as a major factor in the drop of consumer confidence in the company, which partially contributed to the video game crash of 1983. Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton of Gamasutra stated that the game's poor quality damaged the company's reputation. Buchanan commented that it disappointed millions of fans and diminished confidence in Atari's games. Former Next Generation editor-in-chief Neil West attributes his longtime skepticism of Atari's quality to the disappointment he had from buying the game as a child. Calling the game the top video game disaster, Buchanan credits Pac-Man as a factor to the downfall of Atari and the industry in the 1980s. Author Steven Kent also attributes the game, along with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, to severely damaging the company's reputation and profitability. Montfort and Bogost stated that the game's negative reception seeded mistrust in retailers, which was reinforced by later factors that culminated in the crash.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is loosely based on Steven Spielberg's 1982 film of the same name, reputedly coded in just five weeks to be released in time for the 1982 holiday season. The game sold 1.5 million copies and came nowhere near Atari's expectations of five million units. On top of that, a large number of the cartridges sold were sent back to the company, because many consumers found the game to be unenjoyable. Truckloads of these cartridges were buried in a landfill in New Mexico after they failed to sell. E.T. is commonly cited, alongside Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, as the catalyst for a crash of the video game industry in 1983, as Atari had hoped that brand loyalty would help keep consumers buying their games regardless of quality.
E.T. was listed as the worst game of all time by PC World in 2006, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and FHM magazine, and was ranked as the second-worst movie game on the \"Top Ten Worst Movie Games\" (first being Charlie's Angels) by GameTrailers. It was also ranked the second-worst game of all time by GameTrailers, first-worst went to Superman 64. Some considered it so bad that the title screen was the only good part of the game. In 2007, GamePro named E.T. one of the 52 most important games of all time due to its roles in the 1983 video game crash and the downfall of the seemingly unstoppable Atari. It is the only game to make the list for having a negative impact on the video game industry.
Action 52 is an unlicensed multicart developed by Active Enterprises for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1991. It contains 52 original games covering various genres, from shoot 'em ups to platformers. Action 52 is one of the most infamous NES games for a number of reasons. The game originally retailed for over US$199 (which equates to about four dollars for each game). Many of its games also have poor controls and graphics, and are plagued by bizarre glitches and technical problems; some games are impossible to complete; some will not load. Kill Screen described all the games as \"shit\", and Atari HQ called it \"really, horribly, incredibly bad.\" The game frequently appears on lists compiling the worst games ever, and Atari HQ called it the worst game of all time. GameSpy named it the fifth most shameful game ever, summarizing it as an \"endless parade of inept programming, repetitive design and outright stupidity.\" A drastically different version of the game was also developed by FarSight Studios for the Sega Genesis; Hardcore Gaming 101 wrote it was better than the NES version, but \"that really isn't saying much.\"
Night Trap is an interactive movie video game originally published by Sega for the Sega CD in 1992. It was the first interactive movie released for the system, and had initially received mixed reviews. Critics praised its smooth video animation and humor, but disliked its shallow gameplay. The game became infamous after it was scrutinized during the 1993 United States Senate committee hearings on violence in video games, in which Senator Joe Lieberman claimed Night Trap featured gratuitous violence and promoted sexual aggression against women. The game was removed from store shelves in the United States' two largest toy store chains, Toys \"R\" Us and Kay-Bee Toys, after both received numerous complaints. After the controversy subsided, Night Trap was ported to multiple platforms, such as the 32X and 3DO. These ports were reviewed more harshly; critics felt the game had not aged well and considered its gameplay dull. Next Generation gave the 32X version a one-star rating and GameFan called it a \"so-so game that got a lot more attention than it deserved.\" Retrospectively, Night Trap was ranked one of the worst video games of all time by Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamesRadar, and Computer Gaming World. A remastered version of the game was released in April 2017 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and later in August 2017 for the Nintendo Switch. These ports were rated \"T\" for \"Teen\", a lower rating than the original \"M\" for \"Mature\" it was given upon its initial release.
Plumbers Don't Wear Ties was released in 1993 for MS-DOS with a limited number of copies, along with the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer version one year later. It was advertised as being an interactive, full motion video game; however, beside an opening cutscene, the game's story is presented through static images. The game received negative attention focused on its \"surreal\" and \"sexist\" storyline, and poor voice acting. Uproxx's Dan Seitz compared Plumbers Don't Wear Ties to a \"Skinemax\" movie, and felt that its constant use of still images was the \"single saddest attempt to simulate a dream sequence ever\". IGN felt that Plumbers Don't Wear Ties was \"a symbol for everything that was wrong\" with the 3DO's looser licensing program in comparison to the other major consoles (which required publishers to pay a $3 fee per disc), noting that it helped to attract smaller studios whose games \"served to strengthen the perception that 3DO's library was riddled with crap,\" and cited the game as one of the primary reasons for the commercial failure of the 3DO game system. PC Gamer dubbed Plumbers Don't Wear Ties a \"shallow, hateful waste of a game, [that] may very well be responsible for having killed the 3DO, interactive fiction, and the whale\", naming it number one on its \"Must NOT Buy\" list in May 2007. A re-release of the game by Limited Run Games for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows was announced at E3 2021. It is slated to be released in 2022.
Prior to the cancelled plans to release a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo granted Philips licenses to use some of their major characters in games for their Philips CD-i system. In addition to Hotel Mario, Philips released three games in The Legend of Zelda franchise: Link: The Faces of Evil; Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (both 1993); and Zelda's Adventure (1994), all produced with limited involvement from Nintendo.
The first two games, Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon, were developed in tandem by Animation Magic (a Russo-American animation company), using the same game engine, and were released on the same day. Both are side-scrollers where the player has to fight enemies and collect treasure to access certain levels. When first released, the games received some positive reviews; however, critical re-assessment from the 2000s onward has been largely negative. The two games gained notoriety in that decade when attention was brought to their animated cutscenes, which were developed by Animation Magic's Russian studio; in the midst of a review of The Legend of Zelda animated series, an IGN reviewer described the games as being \"infamous\" and Matthew Castle of Computer and Video Games considered the cutscenes to be \"terrifying, rendering Link as a rubbery limbed freak with a face that swims all over his head\". 59ce067264