The 10 biggest flops in video games (2/3)

5. Shaq Fu (1994, SNES, Genesis)
Following in the mediocre footsteps of Rise of the Robots was Shaq Fu, another highly publicized fighter released in 1994. Rather than develop a workable hit detection system for the title with digitized graphics, Electronic Arts opted instead to included an NBA star late in development to help bolster sales. It didn't work. Shaq Fu sold poorly despite the hype and is widely regarded as on of the worst video games of all time due to an insipid back story and awfully offensive controls.

4. Shenmue (2000, Dreamcast)
Easily one of the most well-received games on our list, Shenmue failed hugely in terms of recouping its overambitious production costs. Upon release, Sega spent a purported (and record) $20 million on development lasting longer than five years. Though it sold well, Sega needed to move four times the normal number of copies to break even given the lavish budget. In fact, every Dreamcast owner would have been required to purchase two copies of the game before Sega made a dime. No game is that good.

3. Pac-Man (1982, Atari 2600)
Despite being eagerly anticipated, the home version of Pac-Man was anything but a faithful recreation. Due to rushed development, the graphics barely resembled the arcade original, and for some reason the ghosts blinked unnecessarily making it difficult for gamers to avoid them. Though first selling a respectable number of games, unsold inventory and costly marketing proved near-fatal for Atari. Only screwing up a Pong port would be more embarrassing.

2. Daikatana (2000, PC, N64)
Daikatana is to first-person shooters what Gigli is to film: a gaming debacle. The lead designer, John Romero, was famous for his work on Doom and Quake and even coined the term "deathmatch." So it's no surprise his celebrity status garnered glowing hype and over-the-top advertising for his next big project. Unfortunately, embellishment was all this game had. Massive delays, premature work on a quickly canceled sequel, and enormous company turmoil caused an exodus of most of the Ion Storm development team. Years later, the shooter was released with inferior graphics and wonky gameplay due to rushed design and outdated tech. Despite a few glowing moments in the ancient Greece levels, Daikatana was a lousy game with little appeal beyond its controversial development process.

1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Atari 2600)
This game failed on so many accounts: gameplay, poor level design, buggy software, rushed delivery, unwarranted hype, and utter commercial failure. Reputedly coded in just six weeks, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was loosely based on the movie of the same name after Atari struck a deal with Steven Spielberg. It was expected to sell millions, but according to Atari's CEO, "nearly all of them came back." So much excess inventory remained, that the company coffined the cartridges in a landfill near Alamogordo, New Mexico. If there was ever a reason for Atari's downfall and the video game crash of 1983, this would be it: the greatest flop in video game history.

Honorable mentions...

Comments [17]

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Advent Rising was an awsome game. I wish it were backwards compatible on 360.


I am one of the few that took time for Advent Rising years ago. Although I agree that more than anything, the story-telling kept me moving to the end, The game play was still very fun. The twitch targeting could be sketchy, and their were SEVERAL glitches, but the powers you unlocked were clever, actually useful, and allowed for very different approaches to most situations. I would LOVE for this trilogy to continue.


ummm ratchet and uncharted: good... why are you asking so many stupid questions? are you a fanboy? are you a curious moron? wow, you see, even i ask too many questions... I DESPISE YOU!!! WITH PASSION!!


Killzone being a Halo killer? Ratchet and Uncharted for PS3 (supposed to sell 5 millions copy each)? Blue Dragon being a Final Fantasy killer? Any of the 21st century Sonic? Crysis and UT3 were supposed to sell 10 millions each?


Very cool idea. I have an idea #1 biggest Presidential Flop: George W. Bush(


I completely disagree with the super mario sunshine one! Sunshine is an incredible game and many of my friends have it as well as myself. It was one of the first adventure games I ever beat!

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