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Your picks for the WORST arcade games of all time!


retrorussell
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I have to go with the Journey arcade game from 1983. The digitalized images of the band members facial shots and the clumbsy controls made it a unplayable game and a slap in the face to a great band.

That was one of the games that popped up in my mind too. Ha! I just did not see the appeal of it back in '83.

Now on Mame its better,I guess because I don't suck at it anymore,thanks to todays analog controllers. Back then it was a head scratcher about its popularity outside of fans liking the game. That one stage in the game where you bounced on the drums always made me cringe. LOL. The other one being where you maneuver down a narrow passage without touching the sides just made me think this game isn't fun. 30 years later its tolerable,its cool to see Journey have their own game,you appreciate stuff like that nowdays.

Edited by PhoenixMoonPatrol
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Wow, lots of hate for JOURNEY! I know the gameplay was cheesy and clumsy and the controls less than satisfactory.. but the digitized faces were pretty impressive at the time. And I liked that they worked in the music from the albums Escape and Frontiers. It was pretty popular back in the day.

 

I thought PAC AND PAL/PAC-MAN AND CHOMP-CHOMP (1983, Namco) was pretty awful. So was PROFESSOR PAC-MAN (1984, Bally/Midway).

 

There were plenty of horrid games in the DECO Cassette System and the CVS (Century) libraries.

One in particular:

LOGGER (1982, Century)

Absolutely dreadful knockoff of DONKEY KONG. Horrible music and collision detection, as was common with CVS games.

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I was generally sheltered from bad arcade games growing up. There were plenty of arcades around, but not any really big arcades, so any game that didn't make money usually disappeared in a hurry. It's actually for that reason that I only got to play arcade Empire Strikes Back once or twice. I don't consider that a bad game, but it certainly didn't carry the same thrill as the original Star Wars, and it was a victim of bad timing (released after both the movie and video game for Return of the Jedi) and bad marketing (sold mostly as a conversion kit for Star Wars).

 

But I do remember one game that only needed one quarter for me to declare a bad game: Spy Hunter II. Years later I played it again in MAME and in Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for the PlayStation 2, and, yeah, it hasn't gotten any better.

 

I also didn't think too highly of Badlands when it turned up at the cafeteria of my college dorm. This was Atari's sequel to Super Sprint and Championship Sprint, with the same top-down multi-player racing, only this time the cars are armed and the races are set in a post-apocalyptic world no doubt inspired by Mad Max. Not a bad idea, but the execution was lacking in my opinion. A friend who worked at the cafeteria gave it more of a chance than I did -- boringly slow closing shifts will do that to you -- but then he concluded the computer cheated rather unfairly to win races, giving us even less desire to keep playing.

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Wow, lots of hate for JOURNEY! I know the gameplay was cheesy and clumsy and the controls less than satisfactory.. but the digitized faces were pretty impressive at the time. And I liked that they worked in the music from the albums Escape and Frontiers. It was pretty popular back in the day.

 

I thought PAC AND PAL/PAC-MAN AND CHOMP-CHOMP (1983, Namco) was pretty awful. So was PROFESSOR PAC-MAN (1984, Bally/Midway).

 

There were plenty of horrid games in the DECO Cassette System and the CVS (Century) libraries.

One in particular:

LOGGER (1982, Century)

Absolutely dreadful knockoff of DONKEY KONG. Horrible music and collision detection, as was common with CVS games.

 

Reminds me of Spider Maze for the 2600. :lol:

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Wow, lots of hate for JOURNEY! I know the gameplay was cheesy and clumsy and the controls less than satisfactory.. but the digitized faces were pretty impressive at the time. And I liked that they worked in the music from the albums Escape and Frontiers. It was pretty popular back in the day.

 

I thought PAC AND PAL/PAC-MAN AND CHOMP-CHOMP (1983, Namco) was pretty awful. So was PROFESSOR PAC-MAN (1984, Bally/Midway).

 

There were plenty of horrid games in the DECO Cassette System and the CVS (Century) libraries.

One in particular:

LOGGER (1982, Century)

Absolutely dreadful knockoff of DONKEY KONG. Horrible music and collision detection, as was common with CVS games.

 

I'm amazed at the outright plagiarism the video game industry has always been able to get away with.

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Trouble is most really bad arcade games never made it our local arcades or quickly disappeared so we don't even remember them maybe.

 

But without a doubt the single worst arcade game ever made is Double Dragon 3.

 

Parts 1 and 2 are epic, so I don't know how they could have screwed up 3 so badly. I dare you to try it out in MAME. It doesn't even animate properly and was released around the same time as other epic beat-em-ups such as Final Fight. A the time Double Dragon was still a respected franchise, so it boggles the mind that Technos would allow this to happen to their IP.

 

Edited by BillyHW
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Barrier. Super scarce Vectorbeam machine. My vector-collecting friend managed to track one down and it's basically Mattel Football but less fun.

Honorable mentions: Joust 2, Spy Hunter 2. Like DD3 above, these merit mention just for screwing up good concepts in such epic fashion.

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Was having a tough time picking out terribly "bad" arcade games, but Joust 2 and Professor Pac-Man do come to mind. Professor may have been an okay trivia game, but why attach Pac-Man to it? To try to disguise such a game and cash in on the craze I guess. Pac-Land and the 3-D Pac-Man game Pac-Mania are also stinkers IMO.

 

Sure I could dig up some specific titles browsing KLOV, but other arcade games that I thought were really bad were the multitude of generic, me too Space Invaders/Galaga rip-offs. You know, the kind where the enemies were drawn silly or were nondescript and/or have downright jittery patterns to shoot at.

 

Hate to say it, but with very few exceptions, also didn't care for much for the era of Atari games from the mid to late 80's. Yes, I'm looking at you Hard Drivin'! Nearly an unplayable game if you ask me. Remember thinking it was the worst driving game I ever stepped into BITD. Tried playing it on a compilation disc for one of the modern systems and felt the same exact way about it. :mad: :lol:

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Journey is a game in the same vein as TRON to be quite honest.

My picks --

The PIT - Galloping Ghost has this one, it just looks like a sorry looking poor-man's Dig Dug. Wasn't fun at all.

Vanguard 2 - The sequel is nothing like its predecessor. Why they called it Vanguard I don't know.

Dream Shopper - You run around opening boxes to get points and make the target. Meh.
Power Drive - Monster trucks should be fun right, well this was in my dorm and not played much.

Punkshot - Every arcade I saw with this game, no one played it beyond the first week or two it was there. Just had no depth at all.

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This is kind of a difficult exercise. Arcade games are designed to be easily and quickly understood, so anything that fails that simple test is unlikely to have been distributed widely for us to have seen, let alone remember as being bad. In the 80's, at 25c per play, I'd learn quickly from my mistakes.

 

When the old classics started to die down and many games seemed to just be "run to the right and push attack, and keep the quarters coming," that's when I started to think that there were bad games among us. I can't name just one, since it's a whole genre, and I don't want someone to burn down my house just because I'm too old for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

Early Neo Geo games like Sly Spy were definitely on my bad list. Were they 50c to play? Blech.

 

Also, violence-driven, two-dimensional, combo-heavy fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, Pit Fighter, and Primal Rage were and are terrible games to me. Tekken and Virtua Fighter can stay, and the Capcom cartoon games are charming, but those others....yecchhhhh. Worst ever.

 

Hard Drivin' played like a real simulator and I liked it. I even enjoyed the Sega Genesis version, and the Lynx to a lesser extent. How old were you when that was big, save2600?

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How old were you when that was big, save2600?

 

Was Hard Drivin' ever really "big"? Not that I remember or saw. I was around 18 (and from an arcade background mind you and not a single customer EVER requested this game) when it came out. I remember the first time I came across it vividly… *only* place I ever saw it was at a place called Sluggers. They had batting cages, tennis/racquetball/basketball court, a small arcade, bar and restaurant. Hard Drivin' was shoved in the corner in the dingiest part of the basement arcade. I thought it silly to have to turn a "key" in this particular game in order to start the car, but in retrospect, must have felt kind of "cool" to some people. The graphics were alright in a primitive 3D polygon sort of way (I love Virtua Racing), but did not like the sounds/music of the era either. Didn't care for *that* FM/DSP sound and a major complaint of mine when I say I didn't care for many of the Atari coin-ops of the time. They all just sounded alike to me and not in a good way. Guess some appreciate the "realistic" (not) and sloppy/slippery roadway, as if you're trying to drive on ice.

 

An arcade game should be easily accessible and fun right off the bat. Hard Drivin' was/is the complete opposite of what I expect(ed) out of an arcade game, especially a racing/driving game back then. Or today.

 

Guess there exist plenty of sloppy drivers on modern systems today and some will swear by their "realism". When you press down on the accelerator and almost spin out right away or find yourself sliding waaaaay too easily off the track - forget about it! Not my kind of video driving game. ;)

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I love me some Hard Drivin'! I liked Race Drivin' better as you had the options of the original Hard Drivin' track plus an Autocross track to practise your precision around corners and the Super Stunt Track which features a mountain road, large jump, a jump loop, corkscrew, a giant ramp, and a tunnel. I like the option of four cars. My choice was the speedster. I played it so much back in the 90's. And I finally won the Championship Lap in the Super Stunt Track in 1997. S.T.U.N. Runner was another one of my favorites as well.

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Early Neo Geo games like Sly Spy were definitely on my bad list. Were they 50c to play? Blech.

 

 

I think you mean THE SUPER SPY. Yeah, I didn't like it either.. the controls for trying to move straight up at the back end of a hallway didn't seem to work when I play it and I just walk in place, until more enemies come up to attack me. Good graphics, but.. yuck.

 

Some awful fighting games:

BLANDIA (Allumer, 1992)

Surprisingly, a sequel to the kind of cool GLADIATOR by Allumer/Taito in 1986. This completely ditches the fun gameplay of the original and makes it a STREET FIGHTER II knockoff. Insultingly bad and unfinished.

256px-Blandia_arcadeflyer.png

BEST OF BEST (1994, SunA)

I.. don't even know where to begin with this steaming turd. Pathetic.

TAO TAIDO (Video System, 1993)

Pretty awful as well.

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Was Hard Drivin' ever really "big"? Not that I remember or saw.

It was one of the first big "simulators" and I thought the force feedback steering and solid polygon graphics were pretty impressive. The third person instant replays were novel to me back then, and would be for years to come (I would stare slack-jawed at Sega Saturn replays, too). Hard Drivin' was ported to everything under the sun, even platforms that couldn't really do justice to it (Lynx). Race Drivin' was more arcade-like but had the same realistic handling style. I think San Francisco Rush used similar or the same physics engine, but tweaked the gravity so you could catch crazy air. That game is definitely easier to get into, just as Need for Speed was easier but arguably shallower than Gran Turismo. Steel Talons and STUN Runner were other cool arcade games at the time that I liked: too technologically advanced for home even though they tried to port them as well. Their time has definitely passed but I think I would still enjoy them with their original controls.

 

An alternate take on "worst arcade game ever:" anything I liked a lot in the olden days that I cannot reasonably emulate today. That's pretty much anything that has unique controls or a screen that doesn't look like a modern widescreen. Atari Star Wars, Hard Drivin', SF Rush 2049, Tempest, Centipede, Battlezone, Defender, Paperboy, Food Fight, Sinistar, Pole Position, even cheesy old Return of the Jedi. It's a minor shame that I can easy emulate stuff like Amidar, Venture, Jungle King, I Robot, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Turtles -- these were "rare" games for me in the 1980s -- but my sit-down favorites just aren't the same in MAME.

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I don't know if it's actually one of the worst, but I certainly regretted putting a quarter in Targ way back when.

I think we were on a boat (!) ride and it was the only game they had. The high difficulty, bad graphics (for 1980)

and general lack of fun turned me off pretty quickly.

:thumbsdown: This is a fun game!

 

There are no bad games in the golden age of arcade games. :)

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retrorussell, your fighting games reminded me of truly awful arcade game we had in the college rec area for a few months: Survival Arts. This was an early-'90s Mortal-Kombat-wannabe with digitized graphics and an interesting idea of throwing weapons occasionally into the arena. That one good idea was squashed under a mountain of horrible game design. The fighters were way too big and way too poorly animated, and the digitized actors were rendered even worse than in Pit Fighter. It wasn't long before our game distributor hauled it off to the landfill... or maybe I just wished that's where it went.

 

We also had a Time Killers which is another much-ballyhooed fighting game. Truth be told, though, I kind of like that one. As bad as it was, some of the fight mechanics were unique and nicely done, like losing limbs yet still being able to fight. The back story for the characters and why they're fighting also was very well written... assuming you had access to the machine's manual, since none of that back story actually appears in-game.

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In the Atari 2600 library, when the "worst game" threads come up, you always have people naming stuff like ET and Pac-Man because they are well-known games. But there are some games that are so bad--much worse than ET and Pac-Man--that not many people even recall seeing or playing them, so they fly under the shit radar into eternal obscurity. Same goes for arcade games.

As far as somewhat "well known" games go, I vote for Venture and Wizard of Wor. I find these games completely unplayable.

Later into the 80s, Robocop comes to mind. Terrible!

When the old classics started to die down and many games seemed to just be "run to the right and push attack, and keep the quarters coming," that's when I started to think that there were bad games among us. I can't name just one, since it's a whole genre, and I don't want someone to burn down my house just because I'm too old for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


I'm totally with you on this. For me, this is when the real spirit of arcade games died... or at least, took a major nosedive. And I'm not even "too old" for TMNT; that was the big game right at the time I was frequenting arcades around the age of 13 or so. I loved it at the time, but in retrospect, it's not much of a game. No good scoring mechanism, no technique. Just mash the "action" button and of course continue, continue, continue.

Edited by Cynicaster
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I loved TMNT. I still have to crank it up in MAME now and then. There were different strategies to use against the bosses beyond just "mash mash mash", and at least TMNT and most of the "continuing" platformers weren't as unfair as some games that would intentionally ramp up the difficulty just to make you lose... looking at you, Cruisin' USA, KLAX and Terminator 2, among many others (and I like all three of those despite the time-based ramping).

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