Video games make a whole lot of money nowadays. The industry has grown so fast and has come so far that it can be hard to really imagine the type of dosh coming in. Just to put into perspective, Grand Theft Auto 5 has sold over 90
This is a list of some of the wealthiest bad titles from throughout gaming history. Games that, in hindsight, really did not deserve the success they found. Some are much, much more egregious than others. Keep in mind that this industry started to bring in a lot of money quickly later on. So while selling 2 million units is still very good nowadays, that was a crazy abnormal event back when. I’m going to start with N64 titles because of arbitrary reasons. I can’t pretend to know much about how E.T. plays, only what nerds online think about it. I’ll stick to things I’m familiar with.
Hey You, Pikachu!
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Date: 11/05/00
Units Sold: 1.83 million
It’s the year 2000. Gameboys live in every child’s pocket, along with multi-colored cartridges. 4Kids has helped Nintendo ignite a fever over one of their properties. This is the age of Pokemon. Every kid out there wanted their very own Pikachu to pal around with just like they would do in-game instead of doing homework or getting regular exercise or whatever. If only those children knew what they had wrought.
Hey You, Pikachu! was gobbled up by kids everywhere. It included a microphone that you could use to interact with Pikachu and give him orders. The problem was that it barely ever worked. You can’t interact with the world directly, so you have to instruct Pikachu to perform actions to solve puzzles or pick up ingredients for stew. Simple commands would constantly be misinterpreted or ignored outright. I didn’t think this was a compelling mechanic in The Last Guardian, so Hey You, Pikachu! never stood a chance.
The tepid critical reaction to this title didn’t hamper Pokemon fever, which if anything grew even greater afterward. Pokemon is still a mammoth franchise with the clout to draw big numbers, so it’s safe to say that Hey You, Pikachu! didn’t hurt the brand. They even managed to create a pseudo-sequel later on for the Gamecube with Pokemon Channel. It did alright too. It never ends. The machine will never stop turning. Pikachu will decide where you die.
Namco Museum Vol. 3
Platform: Playstation 1
Release Date: 6/21/96
Units Sold: 4 million
It was a different time. Nowadays, we have so many different ways to play classic titles that games like this one have no real purpose. You can play versions of Ms. Pac-Man and Dig Dug on your smart-phone whenever you want. A package like this seems almost useless in modern times. Back before all the
The third collection was the best-selling one. And look at those numbers, the masses ate it up. With titles like Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaxian, the collection offered people pretty good quality arcade emulation. The other three titles were kind of hit or miss, but this collection really resonated with people. When you look at the game though, was it really worth all the hubbub? This isn’t a package that has aged well. The novelty of having easy access to old arcade titles is long gone and there are many in today’s market who simply can’t imagine paying full-price for Ms. Pac-Man. It’s just Ms. Pac-Man.
Namco has gone on to re-release these old games multiple times afterward, only eclipsing Namco Museum Vol. 3’s success with a Namco Museum title for the Gameboy Advanced. Since 2010, they’ve been quiet on this front though. Perhaps they realized that packages like this are really not as appealing as they used to be? Oh, wait. They recently released a Namco Collection for the Switch. At a price point of $29.99. For Ms. Pac-Man.
Release Date: 12/23/98
Units Sold: 2.42 million
This might be the first stumbling block for some on this list. Now don’t get me wrong. Like the absolute nostalgic shit I am, I love this game and go back to play it every once in a while. But there are absolute truths in this life. The world is round, every living thing is destined to die, and Sonic Adventure is not that great of a video game. Plus, this is the Dreamcast. Barely anything on that console sold well. Something’s gotta get hit.
It’s easy to imagine why this game got the traction it did. It looked sleek for the time and the aesthetic, from sound to design, was on point for a Sonic title. But this is a truly jank game. There is a
It’s well-known how troubled the 3D outings of Sonic have been over the years. The Adventure titles were some of the high points of success for the series but titles like Sonic 2006 and Sonic Forces have made it difficult for Sonic to really establish a foothold in the market nowadays. He’s not going away any time soon though. Sonic’s managed to get by releasing mediocre product for about twenty years now. Noone’s had the stomach to tell him one of the best things he has going for him lately is his social media presence.
P.S. I didn’t say anything about Big because he wasn’t that bad.
Platform: GameBoy Advance
Release Date: 5/11/03
Units Sold: 1.84 million
There was a time where movie-licensed games were everywhere. Skrek, The Polar Express, Shark Tale, if you could think it, you could find it. Nowadays, all the movies hide behind the Lego license. But they don’t fool me. I know their game. But yeah, Gameboy Advance was also a big seller. Everyone seemed to find success on this thing. Even movie-licensed games.
The prequel to Finding Dory has you go through the events of the animated film swimming through rings of bubbles and stars in order to save the fish son we’ve always wanted, Nemo. Since this is a Gameboy Advance title and a low-effort movie tie-in, this game has no voice acting but does have this disgusting effect where in lieu of cutscenes they just digitize stills from the movie and lay text on it. The gameplay is like Ecco the Dolphin except with no momentum and bad and really, this thing wouldn’t have made a dent in the market if it were called anything else.
But Finding Nemo was a big deal. The movie itself made close to a billion dollars in the box office and probably made Disney more than a pretty penny when it came to DVD. The hype was high for this film. People loved Nemo. People wanted to be Nemo. So when a game came out that let you do that, it was easy to ignore just how brain-numbing it was to play. This is as good a place as any to say that clownfish can change their sex whenever they want. So once Nemo’s mom died at the beginning of the movie, his dad probably would’ve just turned into a female. Later on, Nemo would’ve had sex with his female father and produced more eggs.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date: 11/04/03
Units Sold: 4.2 million
Before the Kinect, the EyeToy proved that people will pay for hardware if they like the idea of it enough, regardless of quality.
Taking a closer look at EyeToy Play, it’s just a tech demo. There barely is any production value in this game. A simplistic menu and a few icons provide minimal window dressing for the games. Move your arms to hit ninjas! Move your arms to wash windows! There’s not much variety to it, but it didn’t need variety. It had flash.
This promise of this technology was too much for us to resist. Players ate it up and the EyeToy stuck around for a good while. Nowadays, the EyeToy is so archaic that players would only try it as a curiosity of days gone by. But this game really was infuriating. In order to move through menus, you have to wave your hand inside of a circle onscreen and wait for the command to register. And you had to keep your hand moving or the EyeToy would think that your hand is just a static part of the background. Imagine for a moment that if you wanted to read the next entry in this list, you had to wave your hand in a certain segment in front of your screen for about three seconds. You’d look like the Minority Report gone soft in the head.
Star Fox Adventures
Release Date: 9/23/02
Units Sold: 1.87 million
It’s kind of like a Fischer-Price furry Zelda. And don’t get me wrong, all of those things are valid in their own ways. But this title is not good. Even with my contrarian nature screaming inside as I type this, I just cannot find any good rebuttals for the millions of negative Youtube videos out there talking about this game. This title wasn’t what Star Fox fans wanted. It wasn’t what Zelda fans wanted either. But it might’ve been what furry fans wanted. I think that Krystal is not unlike a revered saint in certain circles.
Leaving behind the aerial combat Star Fox is known for, about 99% of Star Fox Adventures takes place on the surface of Dinosaur Planet. It was later renamed Sauria, but c’mon, Dinosaur Planet. As Fox, players go about plundering through several dungeons while finding new tools along the way. The issue is that this game just plum isn’t as polished as a Zelda title. The mechanics serve their purpose but don’t try to do anything more than that. And even though they try to raise stakes at certain points in the title, the set-pieces aren’t engaging or exciting. The adventure feels base, the story is
Like Finding Nemo before it, brand-name is the only reason this sold. And it feels like the characters were just thrown in for recognizability. Which isn’t actually far from the truth, as the title was known as Dinosaur Planet before the higher-ups at Nintendo “convinced” Rare to completely change their game’s aesthetic, characters, plot and who knows what else late into development. This meddling could have severely impacted the quality of Rare’s dinosaur title, but considering that the next game they released after this was Grabbed by the Ghoulies, who even knows. Either way, it’s safe to say that Star Fox Adventures did much greater good for pornography than gaming in the long run.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Release Date: 3/13/07
Units Sold: 2.14
The PSP is either an ancient relic of outdated technology or the ultimate emulation station and portable console, depending on your general disposition. JRPG’s were great to the system and so were many other experimental titles like Metal Gear Acid and Loco Roco. However, there were some genres that, try as they might, just were not suited for the system. As a little exercise, try and remember along with me how many thumb pads the original PSP had. If you guessed one, you probably are not the developers of Call of Duty: Roads to Victory.
As far as being an actual game, it’s a standard Call of Duty experience from back when the franchise was still trying to be Medal of Honor. If you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan, you can probably predict the story beats. However, the biggest hurdle the game had to overcome was the hardware limitation. It had been many years since Goldeneye on the N64. People were used to two sticks nowadays. Call of Duty: Roads to Victory tried their hardest, I’m sure, but they couldn’t stick the landing. The game was incredibly clunky in regards to its gameplay mechanics and aiming resembled one of those crane machines you find at Wal-Mart, where you have to take turns shifting horizontally or vertically.
But demand was high. This title sold and it sold well. People really wanted a portable FPS and they were willing to put up with a lackluster control scheme just for the novelty. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but novelty is a common thread through many of these terrible best-selling games. You will continue to notice this trend. Hell, this isn’t even the final portable shooter on this list.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date: 11/06/07
Units Sold: 4.22 million
This was big. This was a huge play for video gaming culture. For years, Sega and Nintendo were being pitted against one another. Who was better? Finally, in the mid-2000’s, both Nintendo and Sega decided to throw down and let the players finally see for themselves who the
This title sold a shit-ton. The draw of Mario and Sonic was far too enticing for players. It also launched on the Wii and sold even more. The only reason I’m writing about it here is
Release Date: 2/12/07
Units Sold: 28.92 million
Wii Play is an anomaly. Like, the Wii was super popular on its own and prompted Nintendo to really shift its target demographic for many years afterwards. But this frigging game. Wii Sports had come out years before. It didn’t even have the excuse that it was the new thing and the
You could shoot things in a Duck Hunk-like shooter game. You could shoot things in a Combat-like tank game. You could shoot things in a Pocket Pool-like billiards game. This title is just so boring to talk about. There are some minigames based on like, Ping-Pong and fishing, but you don’t really care. No one actually cared. There’s only one reason this game sold so well. Look up on the box, you see that long white remote that takes up approximately 2/5ths of the package? That’s the Wii-mote. At the time of this game’s release, it retailed separately for $39.99. Wii Play cost $49.99. So for only ten dollars more, you could get a game along with your new controller. The controller was the draw.
The Wii sold a whole lot. Wii Play sold an actually stupid amount of copies for what was essentially a Nintendo-licensed shovelware shit-post game. This game was just a leech on people who only wanted another controller for their Wii. It’s the same reason that grocery stores put junk food at the check-out lines. You can probably afford that little tiny pack of Twix. It’s alright, just grab it. It’s Ok, just pick up Wii Play. It’s only ten dollars more.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: 11/11/12
Units Sold: 2.21 million
Full disclosure: I have a personal investment in this one. There probably were some other games that sold more and were more deserving of scorn on the 3DS, but that’s wrong actually. It’s this one. This one’s the worst.
Much has been said already about how bland this game is compared to its far more accomplished predecessors but it’s never enough. The aesthetic and the music is well-done and deserves a special shout-out. I would talk more about it, but there’s only so many words I have in me and so much hate. This game is a mess. Battles in this title, the main mode of gameplay, are rendered actually detrimental to the player by not providing enough of a reward for your spent resources. Battles take place in a turn-based fashion but replace your usual actions with a finite collection of cards. Imagine playing exclusively as the item-using Rikku from Final Fantasy X for the entire game except with no regular attacks or creative abusable mechanics or experience points or tits. The world of Paper Mario is neutered from past titles as well by removing all characters except for those found in the franchise up to Super Mario World. All creative races are gone. Along with them is the entertaining dialogue. I don’t know if that’s because Super Mario also didn’t have much talking, but that’s still a load. There’s more character in Mario sweeping a castle out of existence with a mop in Super Mario World than there is in all of Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
When writing, be sure to break paragraphs up so as to promote ease of reading.
Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: 11/13/12
Units Sold: 1.71 million
They’re back. On the Sony portable platform. Will they ever learn? Activision rolled up their sleeves on this one and gave it the old college try yet again. And from those numbers, it looks like a few people tried the game. So let’s set the scene for this title.
This is a modern Call of Duty. And this time, the console has two sticks! And by the time of Black Ops Declassified, Call of Duty was a much bigger property than during its PSP days. What could go wrong? It turns out, most everything. Just to set
Yet the siren song of a fully-fledged shooter was again too sweet for portable perverts to resist. And a Call of Duty experience at that! So it got eaten up. Call of Duty has not slowed its roll since 2012, steadily producing more and more titles like a ragged elderly prostitute consistently giving out handjobs on the same corner she has worked for close to a decade. But at least those handjobs are usually consistent, you know? It’s rare to see truly bad Call of Duty titles. The PS Vita served as dark times for Call of Duty.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: 11/16/07
Units Sold: 4.97 million
Alright, so we all like Nathan Drake and his escapades with his buddies across the globe. But, all of this had to start somewhere. And it all started in a jungle. Also, without his friends for most of the adventure. And the worst cover-based shooting the series ever put to disc. Let’s just say that people were not being hyperbolic when they said that the sequel was a thousand times better.
Uncharted 1 is mechanically competent and has a few good character interactions. This is the extent of the praise that I have for this title. In every other way, this game is as bland as paste and even that is disingenuous to paste. The staple problems of Uncharted, namely bullet-sponge enemies and brain-dead climbing segments, are in full-force here without anything else to really prop the rest of the experience up. There’s really not much compelling happening in the story and the only reason that you kept playing it back when is because it was the launch of the PS3 and Uncharted 2 didn’t exist yet.
Of course, this wasn’t the end of the series. Sequels crafted even more spectacle and entertaining gameplay opportunities for Nathan Drake throughout the years. The acclaim and renown piled on. And they even ended up fixing the bullet-sponge problem in Uncharted 4. A little late, I’ll admit, but still! Uncharted ended up being a flagship franchise for Sony. Though, throughout all of their successes and their triumphs, the Uncharted series always had that dark shadow over them. No matter how hard they tried, Naughty Dog could not create anything that surpassed Nathan Drake’s most celebrated outing: Playstation All-Stars.
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: 11/04/10
Units Sold: 22.09 million
My dude, the Kinect was so popular. It was everywhere. We were all taken in by the happy people smiling and having a great time in the commercials. Kinects were everywhere. They were at youth centers, elderly centers, centers of all age groups, I’m sure. And during its boom, there were whole dozens of identical titles being released for it that all definitely didn’t make you wave your arms the exact same way every other game did, nope!
Big surprise, Kinect Adventures! turned out to be not much more than a tech demo. But it was a massively successful tech demo. The vain creatures we are, we loved seeing ourselves up on the screen rafting down rapid rivers. We loved swinging our hands around as if to simulate jumping. We loved moving our bodies in a way so as to avoid bouncing balls being hurled in our direction. But We forgot. The creeping darkness approached from all sides. How We forgot. We noticed not the creak of the floorboards behind Us. The Eyetoy was watching.
After this massive success, they put Rare in charge of the Kinect franchise for a while. And good god, what a fate. Like, no-one’s really head-over-heels for Sea of Thieves, but at least they’re allowed to make actual games nowadays under the Microsoft banner. The Kinect is dead today. There are no games being made for it. Its body is under the rug and it’s been there ever since they made the Kinect an optional peripheral for the Xbox One. Though entertaining for a moment, there are
So those are a whole bunch of games. They run the gamut, ranging from “meh” to “offensive.” Very few of these titles have had any sort of lasting impact on the gaming culture, which I think speaks a bit for the trendy nature of these fad-games. Many of them were just in the right place at the right time, offering something that people hadn’t seen before. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s much easier to see just how bereft of fun many of them were. It’s a good thing we’ve all grown smarter now and will never be fooled by a large video game company ever again.