Seven Runners-Up for the Game Hall of Shame
Lackluster. Tasteless. Just plain odd. These games didn't make the final cut for our worst-ten list. But we can't let them go by without comment--even though some leave us almost speechless. Here are they are, in chronological order:
Death Race (1976): Inspired by the film Death Race 2000, this early arcade game had a simple objective: Run over as many people as possible, and try to inure yourself to their dying screams. Your biggest problem? Trying to avoid the tombstones that appeared in your victims' place. A similar game called Speed Racer (no relation to the cartoon) appeared on the Commodore 64 in 1983, but there you had the choice of hitting people for "devil points," or avoiding them for "angel points."
Microsoft Bob GeoSafari (1995): Bob, the legendarily annoying software package that PC World named the seventh-worst product of all time, featured this "educational" game. Its smarmy elephant host, clunky graphics, and irritating sound effects left you wishing that Microsoft had stuck to Flight Simulator.
Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: SWAT (1995): This full-motion-video title from the blessedly brief mid-1990s era of "interactive movie" gaming featured a questionable namesake (the Los Angeles police chief who was forced to resign after the city's 1992 riots) and repetitive, tedious game play. Like most multimedia games of the time, it flopped.
Postal (1997): Extremely violent even by the standard of extremely violent gaming, this mass-murder title had players blowing away ... well, just about every innocent person in town, including the high school marching band. You can't really blame the U.S. Postal Service for (unsuccessfully) suing the game's producers for copyright infringement. Or Australia and New Zealand for outlawing the game's sequel.
Deer Hunter (1997): Give Deer Hunter its due--unlike Postal, at least it didn't involve gunning down innocent human beings. But the popular hunting game, which spawned numerous sequels and imitators, basically puts you in the role of the guy who ruined Bambi's life.
The Typing of the Dead (2000): Think of this instructional title as Mavis Beacon, except with carnage. You have to question what possessed Sega to create a game in which you had to type words accurately in order to fight off a ravening zombie horde. Maybe the "Type or Die" subtitle was too good to pass up.
The Howard Dean for Iowa Game (2003): Back when Howard Dean's presidential campaign was making use of the Internet like no politico ever had, this Web-based Flash game sought to teach "Deaniacs" about grass-roots campaigning tactics by letting them "strategically place campaigners on a virtual map," "wave your Dean sign to get the word out," and "canvas door-to-door to influence caucus goers." (At least the Iowa citizens you pestered were virtual, not real.) Ahead of its time? Um, maybe. But along with the Dean campaign itself, the game went out not with a whisper, but a scream.
Emru Townsend and Harry McCracken