Monday, July 14, 2008

Games that shouldn't have been made

Most of the games covered in the Rough Guide to Videogames are games we love, or at least like a lot. No surprise there. Of course there are far more games we’ve played over the years that we’ve disliked, plenty we’ve been indifferent to, and some we just plain hate. But there are some games that go beyond our (very good) personal taste. These games don’t just offend the moral majority (we actually like a lot of these ones), but also the liberal-thinking public, just about anyone with a conscience, in fact. They might contain violent sexual content, elements of racism, or be simply tasteless in the extreme. What’s so astonishing is not so much that someone took the time to create them, but money was spent producing them and setting them loose among the game-buying public.

Here’s a few we think should have been filed in the trash at the brainstorming stage:

BMXXX (2002) – get a high enough score transporting prostitutes around on your bike and you get a blurry strip movie clip as a reward. No wonder Dave Mirra wanted out of this one.

Custer’s Revenge (1983) – thank goodness for pixelation, which prevented us from seeing how keen Custer was on his appalling “revenge”.

Postal 2 (2003) – a sequel to one of the dullest shooters ever, with the unwelcome addition of STDs and homophobia.

Hooligans: Storm over Europe (2002) – had enough of the UEFA cup? Try the other side of football in this tedious soccer-themed bloodbath.

JFK Reloaded (2002) – adding insult to injury, this tasteless shooter launched on the anniversary of the assassination.

We shouldn’t forget either the games that may have been inoffensive, games that were bought in their thousands, but proved to be a waste of perfectly good time and effort. Such as E.T., the game that phoned in its performance.


Basing a game on the Spielberg megahit seemed like such a no-brainer that in 1982 Atari was willing to pay out a reputed twenty-odd million dollars for rights to produce E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Only big sales could recoup the outlay, so it was vital that the game hit the shelves in time for Christmas. Unfortunately for developer Howard Scott Warshaw, the rights negotiations had lasted so long there were just six weeks left to achieve this. It’s often cited as the worst game of all time for its excruciating dullness: E.T. floats down into a hole to retrieve a telephone component; E.T. floats up and along to the next hole. Ad infinitum. Except for an occasional glitch that sees E.T. get stuck in aforesaid holes.
What happened next – the secret dumping of four million unsold games in a landfill site – is probably apocryphal, but true or not, it’s infinitely more interesting than the game itself.

Next: What’s that in your pocket?

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