Consider, for a moment, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. When that venerable videogame console launched in the United States in 1992, it had five games in its library, not one of them a stinker: Super Mario World, Pilotwings, F-Zero, SimCity and Gradius III. When the Nintendo 64 launched a few years later, there were only two titles, but they were really good ones: Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64.
Sadly, not all home consoles have had such stellar libraries the day they hit the shelves. In fact, many had at least one game so mediocre, outright bad or perhaps just unloved that we don’t even associate them with the consoles that share their birthdays. Or anything at all, really. Let’s remember the forgotten.
11) Summoner, PS2
This one’s more of an example than anything. When the PlayStation 2 hit American shelves in 2000, it had an almost hard-to-believe abundance of average-to-bad RPGs you could play on it: Evergrace, Eternal Ring, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery. I picked Summoner because it just happened to be the launch-title RPG I bought with my PS2 those many years ago, and at a decade-plus remove from it I barely remember anything about it other than: 1) You summoned things. 2) The game was more like a PC RPG than a console JRPG. 3) There was a kind of funny scene at the end where some monsters played D&D. That’s it.
10) Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, Xbox 360
Movie tie-in games are a special breed. They’re almost always awful, but you almost always remember them, because you remember the movie. But this is a special case. Not because you’d ever forget King Kong, or that Peter Jackson remade it. But because, holy shit, they made a videogame out of that? And holy shit, it was one of the first games to ever come out on the Xbox 360 in 2005? It was even cross-platform!
9) Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Genesis
Once upon a time, videogames were a crude enough medium that it didn’t actually matter if your sports game was licensed by the NFL or Major League Baseball, etc., or their various players associations. Your team was CHI or PIT or ATL and that was good enough. Such was the baseball game that my brother brought home with his Genesis in 1989, which featured a smiling blob meant to represent Tommy Lasorda on the cover. By the end of its life, the Genesis would have much better baseball games — World Series Baseball and the RBI series, namely — and if your CLE team wasn’t the Indians, forget it.
8) Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, PS3
Remember the thing I said about all those mediocre RPGs on the PS2 when it came out? The PS3 only had one (and fewer launch titles, period), but it’s nice to see they carried on the tradition, isn’t it?
7) Donkey Kong Jr. Math, NES
Nintendo wasn’t always so good about having all gold-standard games upon the release of its consoles (and it sort of dropped the ball with the Wii, not so much with forgettable games as bad, licensed ones). When the NES came out in 1985, the system had two (the only two) games for the ROB stacking robot, and this clunker, a plain old controller-input game about Donkey Kong’s son learning math. It’s boring, and it’s the reason there was only ever one entry in the company’s Educational Series of NES games.
6) Mad Dash Racing, Xbox
For the first-ever console from the Microsoft, the Xbox actually had a surprisingly decent list of launch titles: Halo, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, Dead or Alive 3. There were a couple clunkers, though, and Mad Dash Racing, despite the inclusion of the ever-enjoyable vocal talents of Billy West, was the clunkiest. A foot racer in the vein of Sonic R, the game’s tracks were complex to the point of inducing headaches and had interminable load times. Many other, better kart racers have come since.
5) Bug!, Sega Saturn
Despite its reputation as one of the worst flops in console history (at least in the U.S.), the Saturn actually had a lot of promise when it came out in 1994, with games like Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA and Panzer Dragoon among its first. Its introductory platformer, whose main character seemed to be an attempt at a new Sega mascot (he even races Sonic), ended up being a failed one, though. Bug! isn’t an awful game, though it’s weird, 3-D-but-not gameplay would seem extraordinarily dated in just a few years. For the most part, it was a middling game that had the bad luck of being on a console that didn’t catch on.
4) Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Jaguar
You may not remember the Atari Jaguar at all, and if you don’t, I understand. If you do remember it, you probably only remember a couple games: Alien vs. Predator, Doom and maybe Cybermorph, the terrible 3-D space shooter that came with it. Atari rushed the Jaguar to market (expecting it to be a huge success based on its claim of 64-bit graphics when 16 was the norm), but failed to consider whether there were any games for it, so it rushed a side-scrolling StarFox rip-off out the door, and this was what we got. If Trevor McFur is remembered for anything, it’s for being punishingly difficult. That’s about it.
3) TrickStyle, Dreamcast
If the PlayStation 2’s genre of choice for launch games was RPGs, the Dreamcast’s was racing games: Flag to Flag, TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat, Pen Pen TriIcelon, Hydro Thunder, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, and believe it or not, the list goes on. TrickStyle was a shockingly short hoverboard racing game with boring music and characters, so it gets the trophy here.
2) Kileak: The DNA Imperative, PlayStation
When I pitched this list idea to Rob, he asked me if Battle Arena Toshinden would be included, and as much as that game is a forgotten gem buried under a sea of Tekkens, I limited myself to one game per system here, and for the PlayStation, that game has to be Kileak. Why? Here’s a reason: It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. As for the game itself, it’s a weird first- person shooter in which you pilot a mech through what looks like a sewer, with an espionage plot that’s talkier than Metal Gear.
1) Make My Video, Sega CD
This is really three games: one with Marky Mark, one with INXS and one with Kris Kross. But I’m counting them as one, because they’re all basically the same — you use shitty editing tools to put together music videos out of existing footage. They’re awful. They’re worse than Night Trap. They’re only remembered in worst-game-ever lists. But I’m including them here as more of a plea than anything. Please. Let’s forget them.