Gaming The System: Playing the worst games ever known

Header image for the article Gaming The System: Playing the worst games ever known Credit: ATARI INC.
Perhaps designer Howard Scott Warshaw should have spent a bit more time on E.T., it's a disaster.

It’s one thing to just toss together an arbitrary list of games that everyone knows are bad and should be avoided, but playing them just to get up close and personal with the awfulness is true dedication, the kind that I have. I’ve taken a selection of titles from the past three decades of video games’ mainstream existence and given them a whirl.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Oh boy. The terrible, monstrous, terrifying awfulness of this game has been hyped and hollered about through history. So much so that any chump firing this up in an emulator – or for me, an actual Atari and game cart – finds out, disappointed, that while the game is poorly realized, it’s far from the worst thing they’ve ever played. So just what is it that makes this game so infamous? It’s a sad circumstance of fate, the excitement that surrounded this mediocre game only buried it under the consumer’s anger of broken promises. Costing $60 in 1982 (nearly $100 in today’s flimflams), this was the straw that broke consumer trust in video games. While there are bad and incomplete games today, it was the matter of being cheated out of $100 that really pissed the populance off.

How does it fare?

E.T. is pretty ambitious for a game console with just a single button on its joypad. A Pitfall-type platformer would’ve been the obvious go-to format for this title, but Atari instead opted to create an adventure game, involving the recovery of phone parts to call home – a stupid literalization of the movie’s events, but it works as an end-goal. The problem with the game really lies in the technical side. E.T. is buggy with poor collision detection being the biggest killer. Maybe, just maybe if Howard Scott Warshaw had a bit more than two months to work on this game…

Daikatana (2000)

I know an embarrassing amount about the history of one of gaming’s biggest bombs since the above mentioned, but I won’t go into the details. Daikatana, developed by DOOM veteran John Romero, was guaranteed to blow your socks off, and would do so with its rather gargantuan development budget at the time. Instead, it gave less than a lukewarm foot rub and earned the scorn of gamers who were made Romero’s bitch, mostly by being suckered out of their hard-earned sixty dollars.

How does it fare?

It’s a mediocre game crushed and compacted into being labelled as one of the worst ever, under the weight of the hype placed on top of it. Really. Daikatana comes off as any average, but entertaining in a waste-an-afternoon kind of way FPS with a ludicrous time travel plot. The biggest problem with the game is the AI sidekick, making some levels more frustrating than they should be. But removed from the context of being a really, really, really big letdown, Daikatana is an early 2000’s FPS that should be checked out, maybe just for curiosity’s sake.

Hold on to your butts as I tackle more of gaming’s rogue galleries of infamy.