Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bottom of the Barrel: 5 of the Worst SNES Games

While basking in the nostalgic glory of the best retro games, it's easy to forget that in a dark corner somewhere are the rotten ones, lying forgotten and dejected. Join me on what will be the first of many painful visitations to the bottom of the barrel. Today, we look at a selection from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Shaq Fu (1994)
Electronic Arts
Written by Steven Spielberg.

On his way to a big charity basketball game (what a philanthropic individual Mr. O'Neal is!) Shaq inexplicably stops at a Kung Fu dojo. The man inside tells him to go into the back room to "save a little boy", a classic line used by sexual predators. Shaq obliges and tumbles into a world of Asian cliches, fighting, and terrible controls.

There is a world map, which is typically reserved for RPG-style games. In this case, it serves simply as a menu to pick which person you wish to fight. In battle, Shaq controls like a sloth mired in hot tar. There seems to be some kind of hint of a plot line taking place, but I've never been able to beat any of the enemies in this game. I'm absolutely dying to know what happens.

Captain Novolin (1992)
Raya Systems
That mullet, that disproportionately large head...I'm in love.

Captain Novolin was created for use by kids with diabetes. While a commendable idea, the game itself is an awful mountain of horse manure. At the beginning of each level, the long lost twin of Michael Jackson quizzes you on your blood sugar level. A buzzer rings at every wrong guess until you get it correct. This seriously draws in to question the state of the American health care system, when a patient has to pay a fortune for health insurance just to receive this caliber of primary care.

Our hero hard at work.

The controls are cumbersome, and Captain Novolin's only "move" seems to be to jump like an olympic gymnast on the moon. Simply touching a doughnut will cause Captain Novolin to collapse to the ground, convulsing in diabetic shock. Worst superhero, ever.

Bebe's Kids (1994)
Beat 'Em Up
Motown Games

In 1992, a cartoon movie called Bebe's Kids was released, about three bastard children and their terrible antics. It was a total box office flop. So logically, in 1994 Radical Entertainment decided this animated feature would translate perfectly to a video game.

For a pedophile, this sure is one happy-go-lucky man.

The background music is comprised of a four second long bassline that repeats again, and again, and AGAIN, slowly eroding away at your very being. Strange men in mouse costumes and suits sexually assault the player; the former thrusting their pelvises at you, and the latter lifting you into the air by your crotch and holding you. Staring into your eyes. Just staring. If you are somehow able to navigate the minefield of game-breaking glitches on the short first stage, good luck ever getting past the second, in which a baby throws priceless dinnerware at your head until you die.

Space Ace (1994)
Absolute Entertainment
This intro sequence is terrible. There, I said it.

Space Ace has a distinctly Disney feel to it, and rightfully so, because the art is by none other than Don Bluth. Sadly after the art, the entire rest of the game is an atrocity. Prepare to break your gaming system in a fit of rage.

You will see the death video play quite frequently.

The game begins immediately with the player fleeing from an alien shooting lasers from a floating platform. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to his movements. The controls are so sluggish that there is absolutely no way to dodge his shots without either luck or memorization of his movements. This goes on forever. Each one-shot player death results in an excessively long death video, and after five such deaths it's game over.

Pit Fighter (1991)
Atari Games
It's like his foot is really breaking through the screen!

This one is a great example of screenshots being unable to fully convey the terrible nature of a game. Pit Fighter was a half decent arcade game, which somehow lost all that made it fun during the port to the SNES. The music is grating, the controls unresponsive, and there is no explanation whatsoever as to what is going on. Who are these people? Why are they here? Why are they fighting? Can't we all just get along?

After you pick your character (spoiler alert: there's only 3!) you are thrown right into battle. Each time you are hit, the controls lock up momentarily. Even when you swear you're pressing the attack buttons it seems as if the character is taking a while to think about whether or not he really wants to hit the enemy. Once you find yourself inevitably defeated, your character sprawls across the ground and turns gray. Yes, gray. Did I mention you only have one life? Avoid this pile at all costs.


  1. Pit Fighter was a TERRIBLE arcade game. The controls locked you out in when hit in the arcade version as well ensuring that if you ever got hit your were done for. And while that would totally be what would happen to me in a fight, no body made a fighting game starring me; except the makers of "Pit Fighter" that is. And don't forget the "audience" participation aspect. If you got within 100 pixles of the "photorealistic" crowd, a prostitute in hot pink spandex would beat you with a chain. Actually, no game captures the reality of pit fighting better.