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Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

Matt Gardner
Atari, Daikatana, E.T., Features, Pac-Man, Shenmue, Tim Schafer, Top Ten, Top Ten Tuesdays, Virtual Boy, Worst Video Game Flops

Sometimes it's relatively amusing to see a massively hyped-up game fail, everyone's secretly rooting for the underdog after all...but this is a list that contains them all. From hardware idiocy to little games that just couldn't to massively engorged affairs that ended up strangling themselves. We've got the best of them here: from marketing fails to ridiculous deadlines to endless cash chasms. Some you'll laugh at, some will make you shed a tear, and some simply deserve a muttered 'good riddance'.

Let the countdown commence...

10. Superman

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

A contender for the Worst Game of All Time award (certainly the worst game on the N64), Superman took a hugely popular, critical darling of the animated world in Superman: The Animated Series and covered it in foggy excrement. Sadly, it's possibly the biggest success on this list (speaking relatively, in commercial terms) as plenty of bright-eyed folk who loved the source material and bought into Titus' propaganda went out to buy it in the first week. Only to try and return it as soon as they started to play it.

9. Tim Schafer

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

I love Tim Schafer's games. I love pretty much all of them - especially the ones that tanked. Grim Fandango and Psychonauts are, to this day, two of the finest games I have ever played. It's just a shame that no-one bought them. Both received massive critical acclaim, both won numerous awards, but they sold so very badly. The latter was such a commercial disaster that developer Majesco's stock went plummeting down, their CEO quit, and the company's stockholders took out a class-action lawsuit.

8. Nintendo 64DD

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

First announced at SpaceWorld back in 1995, the 64DD was then delayed for over four years, arriving in the middle of the N63's heyday. The idea was that it would allow the console to use 64MB optical discs for expanded storage. However, it was such a bad idea that even Nintendo themselves didn't think it would sell and therefore only released the thing via their subscription service - RANDnet - rather than letting retailers and distributors get in on the act. Only 15,000 sets were sold worldwide...with over 85,000 leftover for scrap.

7. Nokia N-Gage

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

You know something's gone wrong when your product drops $100 in its first week.

6. Virtual Boy

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

3DS giving you headaches? Pah! The Virtual Boy chundered up migraines for breakfast...along with seizures and epileptic episodes. Ridiculously expensive and horribly bad for you, there are rumours that creator Gunpei Yokoi never actually intended for it to reach market in the state it did, according to David Sheff's Game Over. The swift slump in sales, though, meant that Yokoi, the man behind the Game Boy, was out of the door fairly quickly.

5. Atari Jaguar

The Jaguar was essentially an enormous example of 'How Not To Launch A Console'. Not only was the marketing for it pretty senseless, but the operating system was a nightmare for developers - the hideous hardware making coding a complete nightmare. Then there was the high price tag and a controller so complicated it looked more like a scientific calculator than a gamepad. With just about one or two games released every month, the lack of software killed the console...and, ultimately, Atari...again.

4. Shenmue

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

Shenmue was supposed to save the SEGA Saturn...then it got delayed. Then it was supposed to save the SEGA Dreamcast...then it transpired that they'd merrily spent $47 million on it and that every single Dreamcast owner there was would have to buy two copies just for SEGA to even think about breaking even. That said, putting it this high on the list feels like something of a betrayal as it was a seriously impressive game, an important game, even. But, having spent an absolute fortune, SEGA asked a little too much of it. </understatement>

3. Daikatana

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

We just can't let him forget it really. Over a decade on and we're still chuckling over the fact that John Romero neither made us his bitch nor forced us to 'suck it down'. The only thing that sucked, ironically enough, was the game itself. Delayed numerous times over its three year development period, id had already surpassed it in the graphics stakes by the time Daikatana came out, and some of the gameplay choices were baffling at best and gamebreakingly horrible at worst. Still, the industry would be a far less entertaining place without it.

2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

It's an Atari double -whammy here at the top and, to be honest, these two are pretty interchangeable. rushed out in a mere six weeks for the holiday season, E.T. is yet another contender for Worst Game of All Time. Let us not blame the developers, though. Six weeks is bugger all time in dev land, instead we should probably chuckle quietly at Atari, who forced the deadline, paid an exorbitant $25 million for the movie licence and then had to dump a vast percentage of the cartridges into a landfill site near New Mexico because, in the words of the CEO, 'nearly all of them came back'.

1. Pac-Man 2600

Top Ten Tuesdays: Worst Video Game Flops

When a game doesn't sell badly, that's a flop. When a game sells so badly that it helps to trigger an enormous market crash it's like Jabba the Hutt falling off a 10m diving board, belly-first. First of all, 12 million cartridges were produced for an install base of only 10 million consoles, with Atari thinking that the hype would be so great, it'd drive system sales too. Yeah...about that. 7 million were sold, which is pretty good...only then Atari had 5 million left over that they literally had to dump. On top of that, the game was utterly rubbish. With this game Atari managed to kill themselves (for the first time), punch the industry in the balls, send the market spiralling downwards and give Pac-Man a bad name!

Have we missed any? Pop us a line with your thoughts in the comments box below...

Add a comment15 comments
Gunn  Apr. 5, 2011 at 20:49

Thought the latest Leisure Suit Larry game might have made an appearance.

KingKong  Apr. 6, 2011 at 08:48

how about GT5 after 100 years in the making

Travis Touchdown  Apr. 6, 2011 at 09:21

I think the difference is that nobody *expected* the last leisure suit Larry game to do well, its announcement wasn't a press release it was a suicide note.

Phil  Apr. 6, 2011 at 11:52

Personally I loved my ngage. I got it free on a contract and found a couple of strategy games on it very enjoyable way of getting through the lunch break at work. Can't remember the names but one was some sort of pirate game and the other two where both turn based WW2 games. What let it down was people couldn't get over the odd way of holding it. Silly thing was if you held like a normal phone - just a little bit lower than normal it worked and looked just like a normal phone!

Peter  Apr. 7, 2011 at 16:44

Agreed about Tim Schafer's games, it's a real shame that the public didn't show them the love they truly deserved. Particularly Grim Fandango, which I hold dear as my favourite game of all time. It's so well-written and developed, and it really ought to be given a downloadable re-release - the mountains I've climbed to play a working copy in order to finish what various bugs, crashes and Direct X killed for me years ago. With a little help from my sister, I've got a working copy on a laptop running Vista and have just started again from scratch. How I've missed it.

But no-one should have to struggle that much to play a cult classic. Bring it back!

ThePsychoGamer  Apr. 7, 2011 at 19:55

Shenmue may have died, but from it's corpse came the great Yakuza franchise

Tom Ato  Apr. 7, 2011 at 23:26

Are you fucking retarded? Do you even realise that GT5 sold more in 4 months than Flopza 3 did in 16??? How is that a flop?

Either you're the very unfortunate product of a family that went through 6 generations of in - breeding or you're just a no - life 360 fagboy upset that the rip - off franchise that is Forza got completely shredded in the sales department by a REAL game like GT.

Either way, next time you want to debate about games that commercially flopped you might want to do a little research on this handy thing called "Sales figures" first, that way you won't sound like an illiterate, uneducated freaking moron.

Just so you know, GT5 also sold more than every Fable game, Galo 3: ODST and both Gears Of Bore games. So why don't we count those overrated, bad - graphics pieces of last- gen shit in the flop category as well?

qwertyuiop  Apr. 8, 2011 at 11:21

I think classing GT5 as a "worst gaming disappointment" would be fairer than calling it a flop.

Yes, it sold a shed load of copies, but for all it's development time, the final product wasn't really a strong end result of a decade's work.

Matt Gardner  Apr. 8, 2011 at 11:42

As qwertyuiop has elaborated below, there's no way GT5 can be called a flop, its sales were very strong indeed as the aggressively argued point is made above.

Whether its quality reflects the wait is another matter entirely.

As for series sales, the comparison with Forza is somewhat reductive. GT has been around eight years longer and had little to no competition for the first three instalments. The impact of Sony's stranglehold on the market at the time, the vast install bases of the Playstation and its successor cannot be overstated.

Moreover, the games are really very different indeed, with Forza far more accessible to the arcade player, whilst still offering something for serious racers. GT is far more hardcore, and the lack of decent wheels on the X360 platform is a serious flaw. It's all about the driving in GT.

Let's not forget too, the nature of each console's audience. GT has been a big part of Sony's appeal since the first game came out. They targeted the serious racing fans aggressively. Microsoft didn't, and arrived really very late to the party.

ODB  Apr. 8, 2011 at 12:21

Another PS3 person with an inferiority complex! I own both consoles and things look better on 360 in my experience and as good as Uncharted is there is still nothing that rivals GOW IMHO...that game alone justified buying a 360. Whereas PS3's justification is Vidzone....thats the best thing about that console. Last FM is rubbish in comparison...again IMHO.

How are we defining flops? Sales figures or game content? GT5 - Not a commercial flop, but after all the hype etc it didnt live up to it. I dont do racing sims/games so didnt affect me admittedly

Many are saying Homefront is a flop. Sold tons already but a lot are trading it in, including myself. Campaign way too short and I wasnt a fan of the Battlefield style MP.

Felix Kemp  Apr. 8, 2011 at 12:56

Personally myself, the PS3 is without doubt the best console graphically. I really don't think you can argue with Uncharted 2 or Killzone 3. Stacked up next to any 360 title they look marginally if not in some cases drastically better.

However, I dislike PSN, the controller, and most of their games, so 360 is my console of choice.

And in the end, both Forza 3 and GT5 are fantastic racers for either console owners. If you happen to have both, win-win!

Tom Ato  Apr. 8, 2011 at 18:10

WOW.......either you're delusional or just a bit dim. For the past 3 years in a row the VGA's have given the "Best Graphics" award to a PS3 exclusive (MGS4, Uncharted 2, GOW 3). So to try and argue that the 360 boasts better visuals puts you firmly in the realm of a bitter, jealous fanboy who just can't take the truth.

As far as console justification goes.....Uncharted 2 won more end of year awards than any other videogame in history, it was given the 2009 GOTY award. How many 360 exclusives have ever recieved a GOTY award from the VGA's? Didn't think so.

Also, Gears Of War is a joke and every real gamer knows it. Why do you think Uncharted 2: Among Thieves recieved dozens of perfect scores and currently sits at a 96 on Metacritic - more than ANY 360 exclusive ever released? So much for there being "Justification" to buy the 360.....LOL.

Felix Kemp  Apr. 8, 2011 at 19:12

Again, you're both arguing the same point from different sides. In the end, neither of you can claim either console is objectively better, as you're speaking from your own opinion.

Can't we all just, you know, get along?

ODB  Apr. 9, 2011 at 01:39

Lol irony much

GOW regarded as a joke by 'real' gamers? Yet you call me a fanboy!!!

Uncharted 2 bored me tbh...still not completed it though I loved the first one

mistrel  Jun. 10, 2012 at 01:14

Tom, I really have to point out that you are calling other people fanboys and retarded as you scream at your computer, typing raging messages about how ps3 is better than xbox. That would classify you as a hypocrite fanboy who does nothing but sit around on the internet starting arguments. Some random person said "How about gt5 100 years in the making" and you went on a rant about how xbox sucks.

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