Some are quick to throw out a score of 1/10 whenever confronted with a game they simply don’t like. You can rest knowing that I personally do not throw out such a grade to just any bad game I play. These games assuredly form the absolute bottom of the barrel, meaning that even as an ironic excursion, there is virtually no chance you will derive any enjoyment from playing them.
100. Dragon’s Lair (NES)
The NES version of Dragon’s Lair is popularly considered one of the worst games to ever grace the console, and this distinction is well deserved. In fact, every horror story you may have heard about it does not even begin to fully illustrate the extent of its awfulness. You know you’re in for a bad time when just getting past the first screen proves to be a bafflingly difficult ordeal. It only gets worse from there, as the trial-and-error nature of the game design ensures that even the slightest mistake will cost you a life. Just for good measure, the seemingly superfluous energy bar actually limits the number of weapons you can toss, meaning you die whenever you run out of ammunition. I honestly have a difficult time believing that the people who created this game looked over what they created, saw nothing wrong, and shipped it to stores.
99. Metal Morph
For the longest time, Metal Morph was the absolute worst game I’d ever played. It’s only slightly better than Dragon’s Lair by virtue of actually giving players something resembling a chance before taking away that hope via the numerous cheap enemies that can snipe your character from afar with projectiles you can barely see coming. Needless to say, it’s not an accomplishment worth celebrating. Metal Morph is the anti-ActRaiser in that it combines two different styles of gameplay to form something truly abominable. Not content with being a run-and-gun platformer where you can’t even reliably shoot in midair, it has to be a subpar 3D rail shooter as well. I discovered Metal Morph through a list chronicling the worst games ever made. My conclusion? It earned its spot on that list.
98. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Due to a certain internet personality, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is arguably the most infamous game on this list. Though I personally feel the aforementioned two games are worse, the stories you hear about this title are only barely an exaggeration. The sole saving grace compared to Metal Morph or Dragon’s Lair is that it has infinite continues and a health bar. It almost doesn’t matter though because the controls are so unresponsive that anyone playing it for any length of time is going to be chanting an angry mantra by the time they’re finished. It’s a shame that a classic novella is associated with one of the worst games ever created – it’s almost like the E.T. of its console generation that way.
97. King’s Knight
Squaresoft’s first release in North America was decidedly less than impressive. I first heard of it around 2006 when a game reviewer on YouTube made a video about it. Despite its flaws, it still seemed interesting enough to try out. When I eventually got around to it, I discovered that the reviewer was only scratching the surface. I believe I can give sum up this game’s quality for those unaware with a single fact about it: King’s Knight is a shoot ‘em up that can be made unwinnable. Such a design decision would only be vaguely tolerable in adventure games, and even then they were insufferable. In a game with such little emphasis on narrative, it’s indefensible. I’m honestly surprised this game doesn’t appear on more “worst of all time” lists, but I think a combination of having been made by a company of people who would eventually develop a lot of talent along with its relative obscurity has spared it from the dubious honor.
96. Isle of the Dead
Computer Game Review magazine wrote that Isle of the Dead is “the best knock-off of Wolfenstein 3D that anyone has ever created”, but considering how young the first-person shooter genre was at the time, it’s not saying much. Placing the worst aspects of early adventure games in a first-person shooter gave us the worst of both worlds.
95. Transformers: Mystery of Convoy
Mystery of Convoy differs from every other entry in this tier in that it’s the only game that has a non-ironic fanbase. It’s difficult to say for certain why that is because even factoring in nostalgia, there’s nothing redeemable about it. You will feel as though you’re always on an ice level when playing this game, and despite giving you control of a giant robot, one hit from anything hostile is enough put him out of commission. Then after getting through all ten levels, you’re told you need to play the game over again to get the real ending. Such a premise only works if you make a game worth playing at all.
94. Where’s Waldo?
The idea of paying nearly $60 for a game that wouldn’t last the afternoon is one of many reasons why I’m glad it’s difficult to sell games with the brand alone these days. Normally, graphics aren’t the deciding factor of a game’s quality, but Where’s Waldo? simply isn’t a game that could’ve worked on the 8-bit NES. That it turned out this poorly is rather unsurprising even without the power of hindsight. The main reason why I rank it above the previous six entries is because, at the end of the day, it’s more boring than actively painful to get through.
93. Rise of the Robots
Rise of the Robots is a textbook case about why, especially in this medium, it does not pay to place style over substance. The love and care that went into rendering the fighters along with the good soundtrack certain versions of the game have mean nothing, as you can defeat most of your opponents simply by backing them into the corner (or waiting for them to go there themselves as per their idiotic A.I.), and spamming your preferred kick button until you win. There’s a bit more substance to it than Where’s Waldo?, but not nearly enough to justify a price tag of any kind.
92. Deadly Towers
Fun fact: Deadly Towers was the first game I ever awarded a 1/10. After that, I had used every grade at least once. Back when it was released in 1986, Deadly Towers received fairly decent reviews and was a bestselling game, which is hard to believe nowadays given its shoddy reputation. It is the most salvageable game in this tier if for no other reason than because its competition wasn’t particularly fierce in 1986, but any kind of advantage it may have had then dissipated within a couple of years. By the end of the third console generation, the goodwill was completely gone. This could be the only game on this tier for which I could see somebody make a legitimate defense. As it stands, even with its reasonable level of ambition for its time, history has revealed it to be a weak effort nobody should play.