10 Video Games That Are So Bad They’re Good

While no artist intends to create anything intentionally bad, inexperienced creatives often let their ambitions get the best of them, resulting in messy and almost incomprehensible artwork. Movies like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Space or Tommy Wiseau Room is a great example of this, but does this same phenomenon occur in the realm of video game development?

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It’s much harder for viewers to enjoy “bad” video games; while they may share a lousy story or laughable dialogue features from very poor media, sloppy control schemes and sloppy gameplay mechanics can make for a very distracting experience. However, there are some once maligned titles that have achieved cult status over the years.


Sonic R (1997)

The gameplay of the 1997 Sega Saturn game Sonic R.

While the Sega Dreamcast is generally remembered as a brilliant console that never managed to take off, its predecessor, the Sega Saturn, was the mess that greatly contributed to Sega’s eventual shift away from console development. Case in point, the flagship Sonic title is Sonic R.

While Sonic seems like a good fit for racing games, Sonic R was beyond broken. With a mind-boggling course, a lack of stunning content, and a series of sharp turns that don’t fit into an unresponsive, floating control scheme, Sonic R failed on almost every level, and it’s almost as famous among Sonic fans as it is famous Sonic The Hedgehog 2006.

50 Cent: Blood in the Sand (2009)

A cutscene in the 2009 video game 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.

Sequel to the decent 2005 third-person shooter 50 Cents: Bulletproof, Blood in the Sand sees the search for titular rapper G-Unit after diamond-encrusted skulls in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. It’s rude, pedantic, and outrageous, but, while few will offer any sincere compliments, it’s definitely a satisfying guilty pleasure.

Part of the trend of co-op military shooters, 50 Cents: Blood in the Sand it’s best played with friends, and, while the repetition can be brutal and the gameplay unsatisfactory, it’s downright hilarious. What other franchise has a custom 50 Cent curse button?

Corpse Killer (1994)

In the mid-1990s, the advent of CD technology allowed innovative game developers to incorporate long video segments into their games. Titles like Night Trap and 7th guest achieved fame by including real-life actors and settings, and the practice is still used today as evidenced by hits like The story.

That said, quality acting and scriptwriting are hardly mandatory, and most FMV games put on ludicrous performances that cement their status as very bad gems. One classic example is Corpse Killer on the Sega CD and 32X, an on-rails shooter featuring a goofy plot, clunky gameplay, and some downright goofy acting. Interestingly, this title is memorable enough to receive a 25th Anniversary Edition on modern consoles.

Dead Man Typing (2001)

Dead Man Typing is a conversion of classic arcade titles House of the Dead 2 and saw a group of underperforming protagonists using the keyboard to shoot down zombies. This is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.

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Surprisingly enough, Dead Man Typing is a great and fun typing tutor for both novice and advanced typists. That said, it is mostly remembered for its very poor voice acting. While everyone sounds pretty unenthusiastic, the most ridiculous core cast is Goldman, the game’s antagonist, who delivers every line as if he’s being drugged.

Deadly Promotion (2010)

So-bad-they-good projects often come about when unbridled enthusiasm meets unbridled ambition, and that seems to accurately describe the developments of the 2010s. Deadly PremonitionThe famous absurd survival horror sim married Devil’s residence-esque gameplay to the mundanity of most modern survival games.

Combining all of that with a truly mind-boggling control scheme and a completely implausible plot, this game provides a uniquely whimsical but undeniably unique experience. Deadly Premonition definitely a love-or-hate-it kind of ordeal, but it’s a game horror fans should try at least once.

Rise To Hell: Retribution (2013)

A cutscene from the video game Ride to Hell: Retribution.

Tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran who struggles to avenge his murdered brother, Rise to Hell: Retribution often considered one of the worst games released in the last decade. It seems an open-world third-person shooter grafted onto a more linear fighter, the title isn’t clunky and really doesn’t work.

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De-listed from Steam in 2014, pretty hard to get a copy of Rise to Hell: Retribution today, and it’s probably for the best. However, there is a certain appeal to the broken gameplay and very poor presentation.

Bad Soldier (2009)

Image of a gunman waiting to shoot in the game Rogue Warrior

Developed by Rebellion Developments, a studio best known for sniper elite series, naughty soldier is a 2009 budget FPS release featuring roaring fish actor Mickey Rourke as protagonist Richard Marcinko. Marcinko is actually a real Navy SEAL, but the game has nothing to do with real events.

In naughty soldier, Marcinko is sent on a clandestine mission to North Korea, and what follows is an obscene display of gruesome shooting mechanics and exaggerated voice acting. Rourke’s character swears like there’s no tomorrow, so much so that tough sailors might take offense.

City Without a Name (1993)

Screenshot from the 1993 game The Town With No Name.

Apparently a parody of the epic Clint Eastwood western Handful of Dollars, City Without a Name is a point-and-click comedy title that sees the nameless protagonist defeat members of a wild west gang in a number of shootouts. While it looks like it was meant to be a comedy, it’s hard to tell if the developer was involved in the joke.

With poor, barebones visuals, horrendous music, and a lack of content that is jarring enough, City Without a Name feels as if the developers are trying to prank consumers. That said, those who like the game’s wildly wacky sense of humor will probably get a kick out of it.

Hunt Down The Freeman (2018)

Part of a cutscene from the 2018 video game Hunt Down The Freeman.

One of the most reviled games to release on Steam in recent years, Hunting Freeman is a jumbled mess borrowed straight from Valve’s Half lifetrying to recap the events that took place directly after the seminal 1998 FPS title.

Featuring a number of Source Filmmaker cutscenes, voiced and acted by well-known YouTubers and internet personalities, Hunting Freeman can, at times, feel almost overwhelming. Of course, when a recognizable voice doesn’t gush from a poorly animated character model, there’s really no redeeming feature. Plus, the game is so convoluted and broken that most players use cheats to get to the end.

Link: Evil Face (1993)

Screenshot from the CD-i game Link: The Faces of Evil.

Developed exclusively for the Philips CD-i in 1993, Link: Evil Face emerged as a result of the failed partnership between Nintendo and Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic. Nintendo allows Panasonic to release a series of games featuring mario and Zelda characters on their early ’90s multi-media consoles, but all of them are of very poor quality.

Featuring some of the most absurd cutscenes of all time, Link: Evil Faces blaspheme the holy Legend of Zelda name and serve as an example of all that can go wrong when developing an action platformer. While actually playing it is excruciatingly excruciating, it made for some great Let’s Play material during YouTube’s formative years.

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