The 10 Worst Games of All Time

Numbers 6 and 7

6. Smurf Rescue (Coleco, 1982)

Platforms: ColecoVision, Atari 2600

In 1982, the Smurfs ruled the Saturday-morning airwaves, and we Atari 2600 owners looked on with jealousy as the white-hot property made its debut on the ColecoVision. By the time the game was ported to the 2600, we didn't want any part of it. If you were a kid who loved the Hanna-Barbera cartoon's cuteness, you'd find none of it in the game. And if you were a comics fan who knew that the cartoons were based on a clever Belgian comic strip, you'd be equally disappointed.

Your Smurf, on a quest to rescue the lovely Smurfette, walked through scrolling scenery (apparently the peril wasn't that great, as your character's pace was pretty leisurely) from the village to Gargamel's castle, jumping over obstacles. However, the journey required the patience of a saint, as being just a little off--say, accidentally nicking the very edge of a weed--would instantly send your Smurf to his death.

One shudders to imagine what Peyo, the creator of the Smurfs, thought of the game's not-so-secret Easter egg: Briefly backtracking from the last screen would result in Smurfette's clothes disappearing. Soft porn in a product aimed at little kids? That's offensive. But not as offensive as Smurf Rescue's obnoxious game play.

7. Shaq Fu (Electronic Arts, 1994)

Platforms: Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Amiga, Game Boy

Games have a long history of celebrity tie-ins, especially for sports figures, going at least as far back as 1984's Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One. Most such titles, however, actually have something to do with the celebrity's real-life skills. Like later Shaquille O'Neal movie spin-offs that cast him as far away from being a basketball player as possible--he was a genie in Kazaam, then a superhero in Steel--Shaq Fu gave only a cursory nod to basketball, instead putting Shaq in another dimension and having him use mystical martial arts to rescue a young boy. (If you had concerns about his fighting skills, you could also play as any of the six or seven other characters--but then, why call it Shaq Fu?)

Released during the fighting-game craze, Shaq Fu looked pretty much like Mortal Kombat or any of the other such offerings out back then. At the time, I tried my hand at Shaq Fu on a whim, and found it was too finicky for all but the most patient gamers: You had to hit your opponent in exactly the right spot to do any damage. Combined with the absurdity of Shaq fighting evil in his basketball uniform, it was too much for me.

In the course of my research, I learned that Shaq Fu also came with a CD single from Shaq's similarly titled rap album. Oh, the pain.

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