We’ve written about some of the best 90s games, but a list like that begs a list that is equally impressive in its awfulness. Ironically, many of these terrible games are actually worth something these days, largely because hipsters can never get enough irony.
The whims of millennials with no real problems aside, here are the video games that are so bad that they earned a place in gaming history.
Fighting games were all the rage in the mid-90s with Street Fighter and others eating enough quarters to fill a few wishing wells. And wish America did, for even greater games, though they must have directed their wishes to Shaquille O’Neal’s awful genie from the movie Kazaam, because America’s youth were burdened with Shaq-Fu instead. At some point in the 90s, Shaq seems to have had a couple year period where he wasn’t simply content with breaking backboards, but he also wanted to break the entertainment industry at every level. The aforementioned Kazaam, and the equally awful Steel were his forays into film, and Shaq-Fu was his declaration of war against the hearts and minds of the nation’s children. The game’s premise is this: Shaq is playing in Tokyo, somehow finds his way to a dojo, meets a martial arts master, and then something something dimensions, something something magic. This is probably the best game on the list because it’s actually playable, but as a fighting game it’s mediocre, and as entertainment it’s about as fun as one of Shaq’s Icy-Hot commercials.
Superman is one of those characters that gets criticized for his abundance of powers and his Boy Scout attitude (assuming, of course, that he isn’t under mind control, or being written by “creative geniuses” that think Superman renouncing his citizenship is some kind of progressive victory). Those things, however, should make a pretty sweet game. Who doesn’t want to fly around, fry things with laser eyes, utilize super strength, and, uh, collect a lot of rings. Wait, isn’t that last part for Sonic? In Superman 64 it’s not! Half of the game’s tedious 14 levels force the player to fly through Lex Luthor’s evil rings of doom, all while cursing the video rental store for offering this title, presumably. That is, if you can get through the first level, which most players cannot. Superman should translate well into a video game, but this misfire proves that you still have to develop a coherent game to go along with a licensed property, which is a lesson that still hasn’t really been learned.
Any of the CD-i Zelda Games
Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda’s Adventure: three games developed for the Philips CD-i console, and three games that have been released for nothing else. “But why?” you may ask, armed with the knowledge that Nintendo can’t help re-releasing an updated version of every Zelda game a few times a decade. Well first of all, this was the system they were played on:
Philips decided that they needed to make a gaming machine in the tradition of the 3D0 and Atari Jaguar, and in that sense they totally delivered. What is even more baffling is that Nintendo licensed out a few of its beloved franchises to the company to develop games for the system. As one can see in the screenshot at the top of this section, this is the kind of thing that was delivered. There were also live-video clips and incredibly unfunny jokes galore. Oh, and what about the gameplay? Simply awful. Don’t worry though, you can still pick up a CD-i for the low, low price of hundreds of dollars, and rest assured, it probably won’t work anyway. Cheers!