For every Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Hades, there’s also Assassin’s Creed Unity and Balan Wonderworld. Depending on the title, video game disasters can be just as well-known as successes.
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While some of these failures are simply mediocre or not enjoyable, others are so hilariously terrible that they become entertaining and fun in their own way. Similar to films like The Room, these games often become cult classics because of the comedic and fascinating enjoyment they invoke in players.
Released in 2018, Typical Nightmare is an indie horror title that claims to be a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than it actually is. The game follows a young man named John who lives in a run-down apartment with his partner, Jane. After he goes to sleep one night, John becomes trapped in his dreams by an unknown being who taunts him. To escape his endless nightmare, he must confront his inner demons.
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Despite the fairly interesting premise, the game quickly becomes more hilarious than scary as the player encounters a nearly incomprehensible narrative filled with strangely worded dialogue, terrible voice acting, pre-made assets, and game-breaking glitches. After about an hour of unintentional comedic nonsense, the game ends with the entire in-game cast going up on stage for a curtain call.
Though the 2009 endless-runner game Canabalt was a the first flash game that pushed its genre into the public eye, several similar games did exist years beforehand, several similar games existed years beforehand, including the 1999 Japan-only PS1 action title Pepsiman. Created to advertise the popular carbonated soft drink Pepsi, the game follows the titular superhero Pepsiman as he saves the day by delivering cans of Pepsi to thirsty individuals.
Since Pepsiman never stops running, the player must navigate through several stages and avoid obstacles by jumping over, sliding under, and dashing away from hazards. In between the stages, the player gets to watch live-action FMV cutscenes of an American man drinking increasingly ludicrous amounts of Pepsi. Along with the silly premise, the game is also known for having 3D models created by video game director Kotaro Uchikoshi, who is best known for writing the Zero Escape series.
Created as a crossover between the video game companies Idea Factory, Atlus, RED Entertainment, and Aruze, Chaos Wars is a 2006 PS2 tactical JRPG that is known for its incomprehensible story and hilariously bad voice acting. After three ordinary high school students named Hyōma, Shizuku, and Hayatemaru skip school to explore a supposedly magical cave, the trio gets transported to another world known as Endia. Then, they must gather allies and find special keys so that they can return home.
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While the gameplay is abysmal and the plot feels like it’s held together by duck tape, Chaos Wars has remained a memorable title for its comedic voice acting. With weirdly translated dialogue and a cast that constantly sounds wrong, it’s often considered one of the worst examples of voice acting in video game history.
Released in 2006, Hard Time is a prison simulator where the player must survive their sentence in the Southtown Correctional Facility, which is known for being an incredibly dangerous and possibly deadly prison. After the player creates their own unique character, they are able to explore the large facility, work on different skills, interact with the many NPCs, and essentially develop their character however they want.
Similar to the developer’s other prominent title The You Testament, Hard Time is notorious for its hilariously terrible NPC AI, which often causes NPCs to get into fights for absolutely no reason. While this was originally an under-the-radar life simulation game, it became more well-known after prominent YouTubers began making playthroughs of it. In 2013, a 2D remake was created for mobile platforms.
Animation Magic’s Legend of Zelda Duology
Back in 1990, the Dutch electronic company Philips released the Compact Disc-Interactive (CD-i), which is now considered one of the worst video game consoles ever made. Despite the product being primarily made for edutainment and business software, the console has become most known for its comedically bad games. Some of the most well-known examples of this are the two Legend of Zelda titles created by Animation Magic: Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.
The studio was tasked with creating these titles despite having an extremely small budget, a terrible console to work with, and barely any experience. Since Philips told the studio that they must have FMV cutscenes, they had to hire outsourced Russian animators to create them. Years later, these iconic cutscenes became beloved memes, and many YouTube users have created edited versions in mashups known as a “YouTube Poop.”
The Ring: Terror’s Realm
Based on the Ring series of novels, which also inspired the iconic Ring horror films, The Ring: Terror’s Realm is a survival horror game released in 2000 for the Dreamcast. This obscure horror game follows a young woman named Meg Rainman who has just been hired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meg’s boyfriend, Robert, had mysteriously died while working on a program called “RING” at the CDC, and she obtained the job so she could uncover what happened.
As the player begins to ask themself how Meg could’ve been hired when her boyfriend was just part of a big conspiracy, they are quickly exposed to a low-quality track filled with seemingly random notes. With weird character models, hilarious dialogue, clunky controls, and a strange plot, this game goes in all sorts of entertaining directions.
Escape from Bug Island
Created by the Japanese developer Spike, who would later merge with Chunsoft to become Spike Chunsoft, Escape from Bug Island is a 2006 survival horror game released for the Wii. In this game, players control a young man named Ray who travels to the titular Bug Island with his friends Michelle and Mike because Michelle really likes bugs. After the trio gets separated, Ray goes on a perilous journey to find his friends.
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Although the premise of an island filled with giant bugs is already strange enough, the plot eventually has the player time travel and fight against Lovecraftian monsters, too. By the end, players will feel as if they’ve just woken up from a bug-bite-induced fever dream.
Limbo of the Lost
Released in 2007 after being in development for almost 20 years, Limbo of the Lost is a horror point-and-click adventure game that follows Captain Benjamin Briggs, who was a real-life sea captain that mysteriously disappeared in the 1800s along with the rest of his crew on the Mary Celeste. In this game, Briggs ends up in Limbo, and the player must help both him and Destiny defeat Fate.
Even though the strange plot, cutscenes, and voice acting already make this an interesting title, the game ripped off or plagiarized almost everything it does. While playing it, it’s fascinating to see how many different games were somehow stitched together.
The Mystery of the Druids
Released in 2001, The Mystery of the Druids is a supernatural mystery point-and-click adventure game that follows Scotland Yard Detective Brent Halligan as he “tries” to investigate a series of brutal murders known as the “Skeleton Murders.” After doing various unrelated activities, he accidentally uncovers a conspiracy involving a group of magical druids with the help of anthropologist Dr. Melanie Turner.
Besides having a bizarre plot that eventually has Halligan traveling through time to stop five evil infants, the game is mostly known for its memes. The exaggerated face on the box art and the fact that Halligan’s rival detective, Steve Lowry, inexplicably floats above his chair both have become well-known memes even by individuals who have never played the game.
Inspired by Twin Peaks, the 2010 open-world mystery horror game Deadly Premonition is possibly the best example of a game that’s so bad it’s good. After 18-year-old Anna Graham is murdered in the rural town of Greenvale, FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan attempts to solve the case.
As with any Twin Peaks-esque story, the game is filled with many weird characters and confusing plot elements. Although the gameplay has its issues, it obtained a strong cult following and received a sequel in 2020.
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About The Author
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Anastasia Wilds is a freelance writer for Screen Rant. Because of her passion for video games, her main focus is writing video game listicles for the website. Along with writing, she also streams various video games on Twitch and uploads some of her highlighted streams onto YouTube. Before working at Screen Rant, she worked as the Senior Arts Editor for “The Spectrum” newspaper at the University at Buffalo.
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