10 to 1: The Worst Movie Games Ever

  • by Alan Smithee
  • July 02, 2004 00:00 AM PST

Hooray, it�s summer blockbuster season! But when it comes to the bad games based on Hollywood movies, there�s really only one question: How can you pick just ten?

Hooray, it�s summer blockbuster season! But when it comes to the bad games based on Hollywood movies, there�s really only one question: How can you pick just ten?

10. Friday the 13th LJN for the NES
From the start-up screen�Jason�s hockey mask sitting alone in the dark, until a knife flies in from above to pierce the empty eye socket�Friday the 13th looks like it will live up to its gory namesake. Unfortunately, what follows is a repetitive music score and amazingly frustrating gameplay, courtesy of LJN (one of Acclaim�s early brand names). You control six hapless teenage counselors at Camp Crystal Lake whose sole purpose seems to be to find where Jason is lurking, go there, and get killed. Well, technically, you can try to throw rocks at him (and an axe, which appears randomly), but whether you�re armed with a machete or a sweater (not kidding), he still whales away at you, bobbing and weaving as if the game was Jason Voorhees� Punch-Out!! In theory you can survive three days, killing ever-strong Jasons every day (not to mention battling his mother�s disembodied head). When all six camp counselors are dead, you win. Well, not really�that�s a house rule, but at least the game ends.

9. Minority Report Activision for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube
Philip K. Dick�s sci-fi stories had been co-opted for cinematic use before�the breathtaking Blade Runner and the accidentally funny Total Recall�so Minority Report�s non-stop, action-packed cerebral mystery seemed like prime movie fodder. Unfortunately, the movie�s slick �everybody runs� tagline was interpreted as �everybody runs around in a 3D Final Fight-style brain-dead brawler� for the consoles. Sluggish controls, poor camera work, unbalanced weapons, the player character�s total lack of resemblance to film actor Tom Cruise, and some downright silly rag-doll physics made a story with a lot of potential into a game with a lot to be desired. Apparently the pre-cogs weren�t on hand to tell anybody ahead of time that this game was going to suck.

8. Die Hard Vendetta Vivendi Universal for GameCube
With guns, close quarters fighting, massive explosions, copious profanity, and lots of macho bravery, Die Hard has the makings of a good video game�and it became a decent one for the PlayStation as Die Hard Trilogy, an ambitious if early attempt at multiple styles of gameplay on one disc. The unrelated Vendetta, however, retreads old first-person shooter ground without much need for, say, quality control. Weak graphics, a sub-par frame rate, ill-fitting stealth segments, lousy voice acting, dim A.I., clunky controls, and�aaaaugh!�jumping puzzles send this one back to the store faster than you can say �Nakatomi Plaza.�

7. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon UbiSoft for PlayStation 2 and Xbox
Lyrical. Beautiful. Poetic. Stirring. Ang Lee�s martial arts love story is all these things, while the game is none of the above. Players controlled all four of the movie�s main characters, but could not control such things as lousy collision detection and utterly apocryphal controls (the game featured some of the illogical button assignments ever). The camera seemed to be programmed to seek out obstructions, and instead of balancing what could have been incredible martial arts gameplay, the old limited-continues trick was employed and the game was kicked out the door. �I didn't feel the bliss of enlightenment,� says Li Mu Bai in the film. �Instead...I was surrounded by an endless sorrow.� Word.

6. Batman Forever Acclaim for Super Nintendo and Genesis
Lots of companies had taken a swing at the Caped Crusader before Acclaim�Sunsoft, Atari, and Sega among them. But Acclaim�s entry wasn�t so much a swing as a low blow. Granted, the film it was based upon was a misstep for the franchise, but�it�s the Dark Knight, for crying out loud. Nipples or no, he�s an icon! He�s brooding, he�s a bad-ass! What could go wrong? Well, nearly everything explodes (including plants, brick walls, and doors when enemies walk through them), the music is annoying, and the controls are counter-intuitive�so much for using all those nifty Bat-gadgets, even if one of them is named �Sticky Goo.� Poor use of parallax scrolling makes it impossible to see enemies during a fight and, oh yeah, the SNES cart had�load times. Load times�on a cartridge!? Between very similar-looking screens, the game would say �Hang On.� Maybe Acclaim was ahead of its time there. In any case, Major Mike summed this one up in two words: �Batman Whatever.�

5. Blade & Blade II Activision for the PlayStation, PS2, and Xbox
Why is Blade so cool in the movies? He moves really, really fast and kicks vampire butt with serious style. Check out the films, and you�ll see a whirl of black leather and black sunglasses blowing away black-hearted vampires. What you won�t see in theaters is Blade getting stuck looking for the red key for the red door, or wasting time going in circles while navigating generic maze-like structures�and you will never, ever see him running like molasses. But Marvel�s vampire hunter does just that in both his games, totally wasting (twice!) what could have been a razor-sharp action franchise. Blade? Dull.

4. The Lawnmower Man THQ for the SNES and Genesis
Missed the movie? You didn�t miss much. A pre-Bond Pierce Brosnan stars in something like Flowers For Algernon Online, where a simple, titular lawnmower man becomes super-smart and all-powerful due to virtual reality experiments. Sounds like a cool game, though, huh? Um, no�Lawnmower Man tries to be everything and winds up as nothing, milking Mode 7 effects for all they�re worth and ripping off Gyruss, Spy Hunter, Wolfenstein 3D, Space Harrier, and Contra in one substandard swoop. Instead of the player taking tons of damage and enemies falling with one shot, the formula is reversed�baddies take multiple hits before expiring, but one shot does you in. Needless to say, the movie�s fancy (for 1992) computer graphics didn�t show up here, and Stephen King sued to have his name removed from the flick. Turns out the movie had little to do with his short story�and the game has little to do with fun.

3. Street Fighter: The Movie Capcom/Incredible Technologies for the arcade; Acclaim for the PlayStation and Saturn
So they made a game, then they made a movie about the game, and then they made a game about the movie about the game. This was such an obviously poor idea that Capcom didn�t even program it; instead, Incredible Technologies (yes, the Golden Tee Golf people�not to mention Time Killers) took the basic fighting mechanics, applied them to digitized versions of 14 of the film�s stars (including �The Muscles from Brussels� Jean Claude Van Damme, Addams Family patriarch Raul Julia, and pop star Kylie Minogue) and created a game that accurately represented the film: pure suckage. They�re both really hard to accept as being official products; it�s more like someone remaking Street Fighter in Mortal Kombat�s image. Most purists disavow the existence of this one. One play and you�ll know why.

2. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Atari for the 2600
As the first truly abysmal movie tie-in game, E.T. deserves its own special place in history�and that place, of course, is an infamous landfill in New Mexico, where millions of unsold copies of this clunker were buried and left to decompose. Atari licensed the hot property for an exorbitant sum�Steven Speilberg reportedly got $25 million�and gave respected programmer Howard Scott Warshaw a mere six weeks to program it from start to finish. The heroic effort yielded unplayable results�all the adorable little critter did was fall down holes and try to avoid randomly appearing government agents while collecting pieces of the transmitter to phone home. The game looked phone homely and ultimately became a shining, tarnished example of how bad gameplay can sink even the strongest license.

1. Enter the Matrix Atari for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube
This could have been The One; instead, it�s ranked number one on the list of losers. The Matrix offered a rich sci-fi story about a world run by computers, where reality is a mere simulation and power is wielded by anyone brave enough to hack the system. It had the ultimate genre twist at its core: Computers play games with people instead of the other way around. Plus, how many times did you hear the film�s kinetic kung-fu action scenes described as �video-game-like�? How, then, did Enter the Matrix wind up as such a horrible game? The answer is �slowly, and at great expense.� Despite an hour of exclusive film footage and a script by the Wachowski brothers, the hilariously overhyped EtM established itself as a haven for collision problems, control deficiencies, questionable textures, and boring combat with brain-dead A.I. opponents�on all three platforms. Oh, and sometimes the game just freezes your console. Gamers wanted this to kick ass because the first Matrix movie kicked ass; opinions are divided in regards to the cinematic sequels, but the game, it has been universally agreed, sucks. Atari was quick to point out how many million copies were sold in short order, but Agent Smith can replicate like a virus too.