The original PlayStation marked the first real success in CD-based gaming, and throughout the console’s 11-year lifespan, players enjoyed absolute marvels of the industry. But for every Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil, there’s a game on the very opposite end of the spectrum.
What’s the reason behind that? Well, the PS1 had an absolutely wild early boom that hadn’t been seen much in gaming before, leading to countless publishers rushing games out to capture the console’s “cooler” audience. Add in awkward transitions to 3D with very little in the way of budgets for tiny teams and you have plenty of stinkers across the PS1’s nearly 8000 game strong library.
Whether we expected them to be incredibly bad or they were just severe disappointments, these 10 worst PS1 games marked the lowest points of the console.
Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Psygnosis
It may be weird to see Traveller’s Tales on a list of the “worst games” of a generation, but the developer’s pre-Lego exploits were all over the place. Rascal had the potential to be something at least halfway decent, but a brutally unfriendly camera plagued what entertainment value there was.
To the developer’s credit, there were issues behind the scenes that led to Rascal’s worst elements. According to Traveller’s Tales founder Jon Burton, the team was forced to change the directional movements to mimic Tomb Raider, something that happened far too often to games on this list. Unfortunately, the camera wasn’t equipped to handle the change, leading to some truly frustrating gameplay. It’s a shame, too, because the art style is fun and the talents at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop designed the titular rascal and some enemies. But as it stands, Rascal is one of the worst platformers ever released on the PS1.
9. South Park
Developer: Appaloosa Interactive Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
It seemed like the perfect concept: A South Park game that, much like its source material, wouldn’t pull its punches. Unfortunately, the end product is quite soulless, at least when you consider how full of crude and unusual zest the show was. It was as if developer Appaloosa was afraid to make the game a little “too South Park” and scare off a broader audience, or they didn’t have any budget to make something other than a very repetitive FPS.
Players choose between playing as Kenny, Kyle, Stan, or Cartman in a first-person shooter that uses spectacularly tame weapons to take on hordes of turkeys, aliens, and other recognizable foe. The entertainment factor lies in the minimal references sprinkled throughout, so you’re at least occasionally reminded that the brilliant humor of Trey Parker and Matt Stone is ingrained somewhere in there, buried beneath layers of repetitive, boring gameplay that feels like it was cranked out in a day.
8. Bubsy 3D
Developer: Eidetic Publisher: Accolade
It’s impossible to mention the worst PS1 games without bringing up this weird cat. Before Bubsy 3D was even released in November 1996, it was going to have an uphill battle on the PS1. Just two months prior, Naughty Dog had introduced players to the slightly punishing but entertaining 3D platforming of Crash Bandicoot. The titular bandicoot’s controls may have needed some tweaking, but they were leagues smoother than what Eidetic put forth with Bubsy 3D.
Prior to his PS1 introduction, Bubsy found success in a trilogy of 2D side-scrolling platformers. Unfortunately, his 3D transition simply didn’t cut it. Jumps were often very difficult to gauge and each level looked like a weird amalgam of colorful shapes and uninspired threats. Poor gameplay aside, what stung most about Bubsy 3D is that the anthropomorphic bobcat was perfectly fine in the 2D space, but the awkward transition to brand new 3D tech was a step too fur.
7. Fantastic Four
Developer: Probe Entertainment Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
The poor Fantastic Four IP can’t catch a break. While the movies have stirred up ongoing controversy over their generally poor quality, this PS1 beat ‘em up has been forgotten over time. Luckily for everyone, we’re here to remind you how Probe Entertainment took the entertaining concept of Final Fight, the fame of the Fantastic Four, and made something that was the polar opposite of the IP’s name.
Each of the fantastic quartet (and also She-Hulk) is playable in single-player and co-op game modes, and while more players certainly help a little (if only to make fun of the game), it’s not enough to make up for stiff controls, janky, jerky movement, and repetitive combat. Even stranger than the core game is the racing mini-game that fills the space between levels. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It simply just exists. Just like the 2015 movie, then.
6. Perfect Weapon
Developer: Gray Matter Publisher: ASC Games
The absolute worst thing about this wacky action-adventure was that it clearly tried to capitalize on the success of Tekken and Resident Evil without really knowing what made both so much fun. Players take control of an Earth Defense Force agent, who happens to moonlight as a martial arts world champion. He’s dropped into a weird alien world, where his limited martial arts moveset comes in handy slapping around extraterrestrial foe.
Perfect Weapon is just a weird game. There’s no better way to put it. It lacks any meaningful progression and its story is simply not worth the effort it takes to work through it. And yet the biggest disappointment isn’t even the end product (though that’s plenty disappointing). It’s the missed potential to meld survival horror’s pacing and exploration with the fighting genre’s variety and punchy combat. Perfect Weapon feels more like the prototype of a better game than a finished work, a bonkers melding of ideas that simply doesn’t come together.
5. Spawn: The Eternal
Developer: Sony Interactive Studios America Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
It almost seems like a crime to screw up a Spawn game to the point where you question if it was even intended to be a Spawn game. In the case of The Eternal, it was always going to focus on the titular antihero, however, the game PS1 owners got was not what the developers set out to create.
After about a year of development, for an uncited reason, the format was changed to take inspiration from Tomb Raider. While a potentially great if bizarre template for Spawn, the result is an unevenly-paced fighting adventure that sees Spawn bumbling around maze-like levels and occasionally engaging in cumbersome one-on-one melee combat with enemies. The problem with the change is that it’s visually and mechanically uninteresting, and getting to grips with the controls takes an eternity. Somehow, Sony found a way to squander Todd McFarlane’s vision and convince him to sign off on such a lifeless experience.
4. The Crow: City of Angels
Developer: Gray Matter Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
A loose adaptation of the also not brilliant movie that released months earlier, The Crow: City of Angels doesn’t even begin to fly. Made by the same developers behind Perfect Weapon, City of Angels suffers from similar issues. Clunky controls, a repetitive and grating soundtrack, and really sloppy melee combat make the game often nearly unplayable. We called Perfect Weapon a “weird game,” and The Crow is somehow worse and weirder without basically any of that odd charm.
The hitboxes and chance-to-hit are so skewed that you’ll often be locked in a song and dance with enemies, hoping just one round-house kick lands. When you’re not failing to land attacks, you’re awkwardly moving about dull environments with tank controls that are about as smooth as a cactus chatting up women in a bar, and sometimes clearing out rooms with overpowered firearms. Maybe if you’re looking for something gothic and dark, like The Room if it was made by Glen Danzig, you’ll find something ironically fun here. Otherwise, City of Angels should remain a hard pass.
How you take source material like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and turn it into an atrocious video game, we’ll never know. Even if you can get over Hellboy’s jarringly top-heavy design, you’re still left with a painfully unfun game that suffers from poor collision detection, dull combat, and surprisingly lame enemy design.
Asylum Seeker was originally released as Dogs of Night for the PC, and if you’re thinking it’s just the PS1 port that suffers, think again. Every iteration is sloppy, slow, and a little insulting to the source material, with such bad tank controls that it makes Resident Evil play like Devil May Cry. At no point do you feel like an overpowered hell beast with a massive right arm, and when it comes to a Hellboy game, that’s kind of a big deal. If you’re seeking a decent Hellboy game, try out Web of Wyrd instead.
2. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
Developer: Midway Games Publisher: Midway Games
Sometimes it’s best to find a formula that works and stick with it. We do have to commend Midway for trying to veer away from the 2D format of Mortal Kombat, but Special Forces was maybe not the best way to do it. Or even average way, or even passable way. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson with Mythologies: Sub-Zero, which, like Special Forces, tried to focus solely on one fighter of the series’ incredibly popular roster.
It was good to see Jax get a lot of screen time as the game’s protagonist, but that only served to further disconnect Special Forces from Mortal Kombat. Sure, Jax is an iconic Mortal Kombat fighter, but his moveset and the story crafted for him could belong to any enhanced soldier, and actually playing Special Forces feels like controlling a fridge on its last legs than a Mortal Kombat icon. There have been a few bad Mortal Kombat games throughout the franchise’s history, but Special Forces may go down as the worst.
What could possibly go wrong with a game based on a biblical story? Well, a lot if that game is a crudely crafted puzzle game made for loose change to mislead those looking for the Dreamworks movie.
It’s so difficult not to be cynical about Moses: Prince of Egypt, especially approaching it as if it were a full-fledged video game. It reads like a poorly made Saturday morning cartoon that was eventually left on the editing room floor. To call it a game is even questionable as the only real interactive options come in the form of sliding puzzles and a coloring book.
Moses was released as part of the PlayStation’s Value Series, an aptly named selection of games that put gaming second and brief, royalty-free storytelling first. U.S. players may not remember this on their shelves at all, and that’s because Americans were spared as the game was only released in PAL territories. You can sub in any PS1 adaptation of Dingo Pictures’ other classics here, including the equally awful Lion and the King, The Dalmatians, or Winky the Little Bear, which is a very, very uncomfortable name.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.