Top 21 Worst Video Games of Each Year (2000-2020)

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Top 21 Worst Video Games of Each Year (2000-2020)

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
This is basically the 21st century Hall of Shame for video games. For this list, we're looking at the biggest stinkers released every year from 2000 to 2020. Our countown includes Daikatana, Sonic the Hedgehog, Ride to Hell: Retribution, Ghostbusters, Fallout 76 and more!
Transcript
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

Top 21 Worst Video Games of Each Year


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 21 worst video games of each year.

For this list, we’re looking at the biggest stinkers released every year from 2000 to 2020.

Let us know in the comments which of these games made you want to rage quit the hardest.

2000: “Daikatana”

Riding high on giants like “Doom” and “Quake”, rockstar game designer John Romero was ready for something new and went to work developing “Daikatana”. Unfortunately, the hotly anticipated game that spent three years being delayed was a resounding failure upon release. Ion Storm had a reportedly toxic work culture and a high turnover rate, which all contributed to the game’s disappointing legacy. Its gameplay was repetitive, it didn’t always work properly, and it was a critical and commercial flop, selling only a fraction of the copies it needed to break even given its much-discussed “unlimited budget”. If you’re going to get cocky with the marketing, you better have a game to back it up.

2001: “The Simpsons Wrestling”

Though it may have taken a dive in popularity thanks to its declining quality, “The Simpsons”was once fresh, innovative, and above all else, funny. Sadly, very few of those descriptors apply to this early tie-in released on the PS1 that forced the citizens of Springfield into a pro-wrestling tournament. You can pit any combination of the game’s twenty characters against each other and watch them fight, doing jumps and bounces that make Devil May Cry’s enemy-juggling look conservative. It’s funny, sure, but not much fun. While you can see what they were going for with the stylized graphics, the game ends up looking like it was drawn in MS Paint.

2002: “Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly”

Insomniac’s original “Spyro” games were system-sellers for the PS1. It also gave Sony a cutesy, beloved mascot to rival many of Nintendo’s flagship faces. When “Spyro” made the jump to the PS2, however, it was a different story entirely. The game was a hollow retread of the gem collection gameplay of days gone and didn’t innovate whatsoever. Well, technically it innovated by making the series no longer fun to play, which was certainly a change of pace! Much more egregious than it being bland, however, were the appalling bugs. Far from taking advantage of the PS2’s brand-new hardware, “Enter the Dragonfly” was barely functional.

2003: “Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing”

Semis aren’t well-suited to racing even at the best of times, let alone in this insultingly bad video game from the early 2000s. In “Big Rigs”, players take control of a truck and drive it around a poorly designed racecourse in a poorly designed map against a poorly designed opponent – seriously, the opposing truck doesn’t even move. As a result, it’s technically impossible to lose a race and you can actually win by simply reversing through the gate. That being said, the gameplay is so broken you’re likely to quit long before completing the course. You can drive across all the terrain, glitch through the map, and exceed speeds of 1000 miles per hour.

2004: “The Guy Game”

In a time when “Girls Gone Wild” was still popular, Topheavy Studios released “The Guy Game”, a trivia game featuring footage of real-life girls. It’s just as sexist as you’d imagine, but doesn’t skimp on the trivia questions, either – some of them are extremely difficult and specific, giving the girls no choice but to reveal themselves. To make matters worse, it turns out one of the girls featured was underage and brought a lawsuit against the developers for using her image illegally. The game was recalled from sale and banned.

2005: “Ninjabread Man”

The shovelware to end all shovelware, “Ninjabread Man” was $20 and an hour of your life you’d never get back. There’s absolutely nothing original about this game, and its only unique trait is how bad it manages to be. A clear cash-in on the popularity of many far better 3D collectathons, the game has you roam through a cartoonish, candy-themed world as the titular “ninjabread man”, picking up scrolls so you can open up doors to pick up more scrolls. Why you’re doing this is never made clear. However, Data Design Interactive clearly thought they’d struck gold, because they proceeded to reskin and rerelease the game at least three more times under different names.

2006: “Sonic the Hedgehog”

Sonic has had a rough go of it over the years, but perhaps no adventure is more infamous than “Sonic 06.” (oh six) Sega wanted to relaunch the “Sonic” brand but what they delivered was a messy, buggy nightmare that failed on absolutely every level. While Shadow and Sonic’s stages were bad enough with awful checkpoints and broken, unresponsive controls, new character Silver fared much worse; his gameplay was so bad he’s since become a meme. The story only served to make things worse, as it had a convoluted time travel plot that featured Sonic and a human princess seemingly falling in love. Sega may have removed the game from sale in 2010, but they can’t erase it from our memory.

2007: “Vampire Rain”

“Metal Gear Solid” has long been one of the most critically acclaimed and influential series in gaming, so it’s no surprise other people tried to rip it off. “Vampire Rain” is one such copycat, with players taking on the role of a spy who looks suspiciously similar to Snake – only, it’s vampires you’re hunting, not superweapons. The conceit is that these vampires are weakened by rain – hence the title. But no matter how much they’re supposedly weakened by the elements, they’re still able to kill you in one or two hits, even after you’ve wasted all your ammo on them. So, why keep going with the game at all? Honestly, just don’t.

2008: “Wii Music”

If you thought “Guitar Hero” was easy, wait until you get a load of “Wii Music”, which only requires you to blindly wave the Wiimote up and down vaguely to the song’s rhythm. Our first look at the game came at E3 2008, and remarkably, the gameplay somehow proved to be even worse than the horrendous demo would have you believe. With excruciatingly slow tempos and imprecise controls, it was easy to mess up a performance by no fault of your own. And the song variety was pretty disappointing as well; it may have boasted the themes for “Mario” and “Zelda”, but that was about it.

2009: “Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust”

With a title like that, they should’ve known this game would flop. In a franchise that already only appeals to a relatively niche audience, Team17 managed to make a game that didn’t appeal to anybody. Unpopular character Larry Lovage, nephew of the original Larry Laffer, makes a return for “Box Office Bust” to help save his uncle’s movie studio. To accomplish this, you’ll be playing minigames and gameplay segments in a variety of genres – but none of them are done well. Even the franchise’s signature adult humor falls flat this time around, with a non-stop supply of dirty jokes just for the sake of them.

2010: “Power Gig: Rise of the SixString”

“Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” may have given us countless hours of fun, but pressing five buttons for hours in time to your favorite songs is a far cry from actually being able to play the guitar. “Power Gig: Rise of the SixString” aimed to change that by shipping with a real guitar – though it was also made of plastic – and promising players that they could actually learn to play. Unfortunately, it didn’t make for a very good rhythm game or instrument. The game barely made use of the fact you had an actual guitar as opposed to a toy one, while the guitar itself was too cheap and poorly designed to be a decent standalone.

2011: “Postal III”

The first two “Postal” games were hugely controversial, taking every opportunity to offend and pulling no punches – but they were immensely popular as a result. Arguably more controversial, however, was taking the “Postal” name and dragging it through the mud, releasing a game so bad that the developers themselves eventually advised players to skip it entirely. If you opt to play “Postal III” regardless, you’ll be treated to a slew of boring, uninspired missions that go through a checklist of the most “offensive” things the writers could think up. It was satire without substance. The most exciting part of the game is seeing how long you can go without it crashing.

2012: “Amy”

When it comes to escorting a young girl through a city infested with deadly zombies, there’s only one game you need to play. No, not “The Last of Us”—2012’s “Amy.” You’re playing Lana, Amy’s carer, and you’ve got to protect her at all costs in one giant, broken escort mission – and escort missions have long been among the most hated of video game tropes. Combine this escort mission with wonky controls, inscrutable game mechanics like gathering DNA to open locked doors, and the fact the story is just plain bad, and you’ve got a stinker on your hands.

2013: “Ride to Hell: Retribution”

If you’ve always wanted to play a game with a combat system built entirely on nonsensical quick-time events with absolutely no skill required, then “Ride to Hell: Retribution” is the game for you. But don’t worry, it’s not just the QTEs that make this game so bad – in fact, it has next to no redeeming qualities. With laughably terrible voice acting, poor character models, and stilted animations, “Ride to Hell” has nothing going for it. But perhaps the worst thing is the completely wooden driving, which is truly one of the most joyless mechanics in a modern video game.

2014: “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric”

We did say Sonic has had it rough. It seems that for every good “Sonic” game, there are two terrible ones, and “Rise of Lyric” is a perfect example. Yet another partial reboot of “Sonic” lore, “Rise of Lyric” left long-time fans and newcomers alike struggling to piece together what was going on – a pitfall of directly adapting a new “Sonic” TV show as opposed to doing something fresh with the IP. But its biggest problem is still the gameplay, which is slow and tedious – and even when you do get to ‘go fast’ for a brief time, the frame rate will tank and leave you struggling to work out what you’re doing.

2015: “Alone in the Dark: Illumination”

The “Alone in the Dark” series may have started off strong, but since the first game it’s all been downhill – culminating in “Illumination.” You and your friends, provided you have three friends willing to play with you, each take on one of four characters in a spin on “Left 4 Dead’s” mechanics. But even if you gather a crew, you’ll struggle to find anything fun to do in this game, which consists of collecting randomly generated loot and killing endlessly respawning enemies. These enemies are vulnerable to light, meaning you’ll be spending most of your time hovering near streetlamps as opposed to actually playing the game, slowly boring yourself to death.

2016: “Ghostbusters”

Movie tie-in video games are rarely good. Even so, the 2016 “Ghostbusters” game digs deep to find new and creative ways to disappoint. The fact that was a tie-in to a box office bomb does not help. Nor does the fact that the franchise has better releases to its name, like 2009’s “Ghostbusters: The Video Game.” Even if you liked the 2016 movie, you still wouldn’t have cared for the game because it inexplicably had an entirely new cast of even less-memorable characters. You’d think that co-op mode would at least offer some laughs as you play it ironically with friends, but it’s just too painful. Play this game and you’ll never want to call the Ghostbusters again.

2017: “Vroom in the Night Sky”

When will developers realize that flying through rings and collecting random objects doesn’t make a good game? “Vroom in the Night Sky”, a Switch exclusive, clearly didn’t learn a thing from “Superman 64” because it also boasted bad graphics and superficial gameplay. You play as Luna, a witch who flies around collecting things – but she doesn’t fly on a broom, she flies on a magical scooter for... some reason. The game’s bad translation made the gameplay experience that much worse. As a result, the script was given an overhaul a few weeks after launch, but no amount of writing—good or bad—could ever make this game worth playing.

2018: “Fallout 76”

You could fill a book with the issues that plagued “Fallout 76”. It was the buggiest Bethesda game to date at launch, with game-breaking glitches and non-stop server issues. Things got worse when the in-game developer room was found by hackers, who promptly started reselling virtual items on eBay for real money until they were banned. Outside of the game, Bethesda was still in hot water for sending out cheap, nylon bags with the collector’s edition as opposed to nice canvas bags; for releasing power armor helmets full of mold; and an expensive Nuka Rum bottle that was actually a plastic shell for a regular bottle. Only years later has the game finally become somewhat playable. In 2018, however, it was a trainwreck.

2019: “Anthem”

“Mass Effect: Andromeda” was a misstep for BioWare. Though the main BioWare studio didn’t work on that, nobody was sure if “Anthem” was going to be a return to glory and an escape from “Andromeda’s” shadow – and ultimately, it wasn’t. Aside from the myriad bugs “Anthem” had when it came out, including an issue so severe it completely bricked PS4s, the game was just kind of terrible. It was yet another cash-grab from EA to ruthlessly monetize a live service game that cost $60 on release. And unlike “Destiny”, “Anthem” hasn’t gone free-to-play. The traversal elements may be fun for a few minutes, but everything else is hollow; it’s a sad route for such a beloved studio to go down.

2020: “Crucible”

What could be so bad about “Crucible” that it beat out aggressive policies, unstable optimizations, and glitches galore? Well, folks, the aforementioned titles at least have some significance behind them when it comes to how bad they were. “Crucible”, on the other hand, doesn’t even try to distinguish itself from the rest of the gaming landscape. The game looked generic, it played generic, and it sounded generic. In other words, there was nothing special about it outside of being a video game. Feedback was so poor that Amazon actually delisted the game a few days after release, putting it back into closed beta. Servers were officially shut down in November 2020, merely six months after launch.
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sonic 06 is the best