Top 10 Worst Licensed Video Games

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It’s accepted as a universal truth among gamers: if a game is based on a movie, it’s probably going to be terrible.  There are several reasons for this: the game is rushed as a merchandising tie-in, the studio hired does a hack job in the first place, and so on.  But the net result is a shoddy product that fooled millions of children.  Here are the ten worst:

10. Warlock (SNES/Genesis)

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What, you might ask, is Warlock?

That should pretty much tell you all you need to know, but for the curious, it was a terrible movie starring Julian Sands.  Who, you might ask?  Nobody important. We think we saw him selling cars at Honest Bob’s in Van Nuys a week or so back.

Anyway, Warlock came out and disappeared and, four years later, the game based on the movie nobody saw came out.  And it was terrible: riddled with bugs, chock full of broken gameplay mechanics, and generally a miserable time for everybody.  Just like the movie.

9. White Men Can’t Jump (Jaguar)

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We’ll give the developer this much: White Men Can’t Jump is indeed a hit film and it lends itself to a video game.

But the game itself is a mess and we’ve really got to wonder what it’s doing on the Jaguar, of all platforms.  Seriously?  The Jaguar?  What, did the 3DO and the Wonderswan turn you down?

8. Dirty Dancing (PC)

dirty-dancing-video-game

Yes, they made a game out of Dirty Dancing.  Or, rather they “made” a “game” “out of” “Dirty Dancing”, as the game itself has basically nothing to do with the movie, or the concept of the movie, or even dancing.

It’s essentially a collection of minigames set to music that is almost, but not quite, the music from the original movie, since that would be far, far too expensive for this shameless cash-in released decades after the movie.  But you can play Bejeweled, with a Dirty Dancing theme!  Thanks!

7. Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi (PSX)

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There was a time when fighting games dominated the video game landscape, where beating up your friend with sweet karate moves you could never achieve in real life, and which were probably anatomically impossible, was the epitome of fun.  The problem was, everybody wanted to turn every property they had into a fighting game, and the result was…well…this.

“Teras Kasi” (Lucasian for “cash in on this trend NOW!”) basically features a bunch of beloved Star Wars characters, and a whole lot of annoying second stringers, beating the ever-loving crap out of each other in a stiff, badly designed manner.  It also led to confusing questions like what a Jedi would need with hand-to-hand combat, since he has a sword that leaps into his hand, the ability to throw things around with his mind, and essentially no need to use his fist to beat somebody up whatsoever.

Even the most rabid Star Wars fan has chucked this one into a deep hole and forgotten about it…and that’s where it belongs.

6.  WWE Crush Hour (PS2/Xbox)

crush-hour-playstation

Wrestling games have a long and storied history in video gaming, and for some reason, people want to try and use that to make games that don’t involve wrestling.  Why, we have no idea.  But “Crush Hour” sums up why it’s a bad idea.

Basically, the top WWE wrestlers run around in cars and try to destroy each other.  In other words, it’s “Twisted Metal” with WWE decals.  We’re still not sure why THQ put this one out, but contractual obligation sounds like a good theory.

5. Fight Club (Xbox)


Putting out a fighting game about Fight Club is a shining symbol of missing the point completely, which is just the start of this fail-laden game.

That the game is broken goes without saying, but there’s also the fact that for some reason, the game features Fred Durst.  We have no idea why.  Fred Durst is the frontman of Limp Bizkit as well as a director of movies (but not Fight Club). In fact, he had nothing to do with the movie or the book. We’re assuming he was somehow involved in the production of the game, or they had the rights to his image and decided to use it, or maybe they’re just like the rest of us and want to beat the crap out of Fred Durst.

Unfortunately, they surrender a golden opportunity; Fred Durst can fight back and actually win, which further proves that video games are fantasies.  In real life, we’re pretty sure Adam Lambert could take Fred Durst.

4. Ghostbusters (Atari)

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The main problem with the Atari game of Ghostbusters is how boring it is.  There’s nothing too broken about the gameplay, aside from a few minor glitches, but it’s about as repetitive as it gets before we get into color matching and typing “games”.  Catch the ghost, go somewhere else, catch more ghosts, go somewhere else, climb to the top of a building, and so on.

Even for Atari, this is a little dull.  Sure, they couldn’t fit the humor in there, but not even some text, guys?  No one-liners?  Not even differentiating the Ghostbusters from each other?

3. Superman 64 (Nintendo 64)

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Now we’re getting into the really famous- the worst of the worst.  Superman 64 is infamous for just about everything you’re looking for in a bad game: terrible controls, horrible level design, incompetent programming, and way, way, WAY too many moments of flying through rings.

But, and we’re sure this consoles the developer, it was a popular seller, and it’s even won awards!  Like EGM’s “Top 20 Worst Games of All Time”, Filter’s “Top Ten Worst Games of the ’90s”, Nintendo Power’s “Worst Game on a Nintendo System”, and the worst game of 1999!  We’re sure they’re proud.

2. E.T. (Atari 2600)

E.T. atari game

You knew this one was coming.  E.T. was only the second game based on a movie and boy, did it ever set the tone for the rest of this list.

E.T. is arguably not just one of the worst licensed games, but one of the worst games of all time, period.  It was rushed out in six weeks to make money off of the movie’s success and Atari’s brand loyalty. This strategy seemed to work at first, with a high volume of sales for Christmas.

Until people started returning it. In the end, the game managed to sell so badly it helped trigger Atari’s crash and burn, losing them over $500 million. Even though the cartridges were crushed, buried, and covered with cement, in an area devoid of all life, this hasn’t stopped the game from spreading like a virus and eradicating all signs of quality from nearby towns.  The developer, meanwhile, remains at large.

1. Jurassic Park: Trespasser (PC)

Jurassic Park Video Game Trespasser

So why does a game based on a dino movie top E.T.?  Pretty simple, “Trespasser” should have been good.  But it wasn’t.  Oh dear, was it ever not good.

The problem was largely one of ambition.  “Trespasser” features a lot of stuff that’s standard today: an engine that depicts hundreds of trees and detailed graphics; a complicated physics engine; a sound engine that is realistic and detailed; dinosaurs with emotions and attitudes; and even advanced animations.

The problem was, all of it was busted.  The physics system made it tough to stack boxes, and two objects could easily become stuck inside each other.  The AI was prone to mood swings so rapid the dinosaur would freeze.  The animations would twist the dinosaurs into shapes that would make a yoga instructor grip their mats in white-knuckled fear.  And the graphics required a computer so ridiculously advanced most PCs on the market at the time couldn’t play it.  Instead of a HUD (head-up display) you looked at a heart tattoo on your player character’s boobs to determine your health level.  Yes, seriously.

So, it broke ground and was incredibly innovative…but it was still terrible.  So, for that, we give it the crown.  Congratulations, Trespasser developers!  At least you tried!

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by Dan Seitz


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18 Comments

  1. Jurassic Park: Trespasser actually got both decent & bad reviews. I'm not sure I'd name it the worst ever, but it's still a great list.

    Other games exist that are scored bad in every review, such as:

    Charlie's Angels (Gamecube) – universally the worst game ever, based on composite score of reviewers*

    Aquaman (Xbox) – equally as bad as Superman N64

    Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire (PS3) – its graphics looked worse than most PS2 games

    *composite score at Gamerankings.com (average of review scores from multiple gaming sites) lists it the lowest composite score of any game

  2. Yikes, now I’m tempted to try Trespasser just to see how awful it really is. I can sure say I’ve “experienced” Superman 64 and E.T.

    By the way, about Julian Sands, you also might know him better as the original voice of Valmont in Jackie Chan Adventures. A shame he didn’t come back passed season 2.

  3. these games all seem terrible but Dogz 2 for Wii should be on here i have it its kind of cute but terrible it too hard, and when you see the mean animals your so scared to move to the point that your hiding in the grass for 20 mins. until night becasue you don’t want them to get angry and hurt you lol. Not to mention that all the other dogs can talk except your dog. If you wanna yell at someone for doing something bad you can only bark.

  4. Where was Back to the Future or Back to the Future II & III for the NES? these games were prone to graphic glitches, little to do with the movies, and horrible gameplay.

  5. I begged and pleaded with my parents to buy me an Atari game that had a picture of the ghostbusters on the lable, they finally agreed and when I got it hope a slapped it in my Atari the game was a knock off of Frogger. It used a bird of some kind instead of a frog but the idea was the same. I was so choked I did not get the Ghostbusters game (not even sure how a Ghostbuster sticker was slapped on that game in the first place) but I sounds like I dodged a bullet. Thanks TopTenz, after 25 years I can finally let go of my anger 🙂

  6. The kid’s face on the E.T. cartridge looks like it swelled to much while tanning in the sun for a whole day. Probably,that was a sign.

  7. The movie “Warlock” movie got a 5.9/10 score on IMDB,so it wasn’t THAT bad,but there has definetely been better horror movies. The plot is this: Like God sent his only son Jesus to Earth,Satan sent HIS son,the Warlock (Julian Sands),who escaped from the 1691,sentenced to death,to the 20th century,with a witch hunter named Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant) in hot pursuit. His mission is to find the three parts of the Devil’s Bible,which has the true name of God,and if he says that name backwards,he can un-create the world. The Warlock lands in a house belonging to a woman named Kassandra
    (Lori Singer),who soon gets together with Redferne to try to stop the Warlock.

  8. Awesome24712 on

    I don’t disagree with the Trespasser getting the top spot, but if you can get past the few mountains of inconvenience it’s real easy to see the meadow.

  9. You should add a crap-load of the NES/SNES star war games in you list under just one entry.
    Seriously, I have never seen any other movie-licensed videogames (Am I saying that that right?) with so many bad titles on not only a single console, but probably every console combined. DX

    just a suggestion, tho

  10. Additional candidates for worst licensed video games in no particular order:
    Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (the Angry Video Game Nerd’s least favourite NES game is probably the worst video game based on a 19th-century licensed property)
    Bill & Ted (the worst NES game ever reviewed by the Angry Video Game Nerd contains gameplay even more absurd than Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)
    Little Red Hood (botched book licenses would be bad enough, but bungled nursery tales?)
    Silver Surfer (the NES version)
    Dante’s Inferno (probably the worst cliffhanger ending in the history of video games)

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