We've been spending the last couple weeks celebrating the absolute best in gaming, from our list of the 50 best games of all time to our console and genre lists. And that's all wonderful and great.
But for every awesome game, there are many, many other mediocre ones – and some truly bad ones as well. Some of those offenders have cost us time and money, and scarred us with their awfulness. Crummy gameplay, janky controls, all flash and no substance? Been there, done that. And yet some games even sink below those common problems to become legendarily horrific.
For this list, we've done something different: we've pinpointed several of the games that are widely regarded as some of the worst ever made, but then we've also introduced some personal picks along the way that were specifically memorable for us – and not in a good way. Enjoy. Or rather, don't.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Ah, E.T. – brilliant movie, but horrendous, nearly-unplayable game. It's the game so terrible that it not only helped crash the video game industry in the early '80s, but it also created the long trend of awful, licensed movie game cash-ins. Have we learned nothing from history?
E.T. was conceptualised and coded in less than six weeks to make a Christmas cut-off, and it showed in every way in this incomprehensible Atari adventure. In fact, thousands upon thousands of unsold copies were buried in the New Mexico desert: it's really that bad.
Superman: The New Superman Adventures (1999)
It's the Superman game so super they put "Superman" twice in the title – right? Nope, it's actually pretty horrendous. This Nintendo 64 trash heap is the worst superhero game ever created, and that's already a pretty rough category to begin with.
Krypton is covered in a thick haze of fog to try and mask the game's visual shortcomings, but it actually made things worse. And that's in addition to the terrible controls, dull gameplay, loads of bugs and glitches, and busted flying action.
Independence Day (1996)
"The worst game I ever played?
As a wide-eyed 11-year-old with pocket money burning a hole in my Bart Simpson wallet (yes, I had one of those), I wandered into Forward Video - my sleepy English village's knockoff version of Blockbuster - and convinced my mum to let me rent this for PS1. It had an F18 Hornet chasing down a UFO on the box!
Turns out, this sorry excuse for a combat flight sim is flat-out terrible. By the end of my three-day rental, I'd barely finished the first two levels because the controls were so clunky, graphics so bland, and objectives so repetitive. I was only allowed to rent one game every few weeks, too, so it meant waiting an eternity (to an 11-year-old) before I could get something better and purge this dross from my brain.
The kicker? I picked Independence Day over phenomenally good racing game Gran Turismo, because I'd actually heard of the movie tie-in before - even if I was still too young to have seen it."
Rise of the Robots (1994)
Rise of the Robots was billed as a next-generation fighting game that would vastly surpass Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, with dazzling 3D graphics and artificial intelligence to enhance the combat experience. And all of that was a bunch of baloney.
Instead, Mirage's game ended up being incredibly clunky: the gameplay was dull and simplistic, the controls were unreliable, and the choppy animation ruined those admittedly pretty fighter models. We feel for anyone who dropped a bundle on this game back in '94, duped into thinking they would be playing the future of fighting games.