Best-Selling Games That Weren’t Actually Very Good

The retro gaming canon is full of instant classics that have completely changed how we play video games and continue to influence gaming culture to this day. There’s the original Super Mario Bros, there’s Tomb Raider: Legend, and The Legend of Zelda; all of which sold millions of copies and continue to enjoy widespread critical acclaim years or even decades after their original release.

However, for every classic game that has earned a position in the retro hall of fame, there are hundreds of truly terrible releases that should never have made it to the shelves. What’s worse is when a game gets so hyped up that millions of people rush out to buy it, only for those same people to all collectively realize that the game they’ve spent their hard-earned money on is in fact, terrible. Here are four best-selling games that weren’t actually very good.


Bad Street Brawler (NES, 1989)


There are plenty of admirable street fighter games released for the NES which really pushed the creative boundaries of this simple format. Bad Street Brawler was not one of them. The game was one of two titles released for the bizarre NES Power Glove controller, the result being unbelievably clunky gameplay limited to only two possible moves; punch or kick. Sure, we’ll give Nintendo kudos for always trying to introduce innovative controllers, but this was a big fail.


Hoyle Casino (Dreamcast, 2000)


This is one of those rare titles that has gone down in history as a “so bad it’s good” Hall of Famer. The premise is pretty straightforward; you choose to play as one of 25 pre-set characters, get a pot of virtual money, and try to play your way to the top of the high roller leagues in a Vegas casino. Unlike the smooth online casino gameplay of today offered by popular platforms such as SkyCity Online Casino, for example, which offers hundreds of different games, this one required a lot of patience. Of the many famous bugs in the game, the one most people remember is the “betting bug” in which each bet would be followed by the game freezing for 30 seconds,

Making a single hand of poker last forever. Thankfully, the millions of people who indulge in online casino gaming today don’t have to deal with that.


E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (Atari, 1982)


This one probably shouldn’t require explaining, but here we go. Keen to cash in on the hype surrounding Spielberg’s most famous film, Atari paid a whopping $25 million for the game rights and got it out onto the market within a few short months. The result was one of the lamest gaming experiences ever, consisting of “story” which required the player to collect pieces of a telephone so that ET could “phone home”. Nonetheless, the game still sold over a million copies, while another million copies were buried in a landfill in New Mexico. Such is life.


Duck Hunt (NES, 1984)


Any gamer worth their stripes will have played Duck Hunt at some point. The fact that this game is the 5th highest-selling of all time is more to do with the fact that it came free with the NES, rather than being any fun to play. The premise was fun enough; aim the NES Zapper at the screen and shoot some 8-bit birds. However, the technology wasn’t quite there yet, resulting in an inaccurate controller system that quite simply did not work most of the time. Although we’ll admit to how it was innovative for its time, it really hasn’t aged well – and even back then, it was frustrating to play.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that, just because lots of people buy a game, that doesn’t mean it’s any good. Always remember to read those reviews before choosing which games to play, online or otherwise.


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