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March 2005

This chapter is from the book

Metacritic’s Worst Xbox Games: Ten Titles That Embarrass the Box

I love my Xbox, I really do, and when developers poison its insides by forcing it to run horribly bad pieces of software, it makes me sad. The Xbox deserves better, no?

From superheroes to games for kids, no publisher is safe from shoving out the door a game that is beyond abysmal, as this list proves.

10. Trigger Man (Score: 31). Released in 2004 by Crave Entertainment, Trigger Man is a third-person shooter with you playing a guy in the mob, a "trigger man." The thing is, the game wasn’t really broken or terribly buggy—it was just shockingly bad.

9. Robocop (Score: 30). The original Robocop is a classic action movie. If you haven’t seen the film, go to your local movie rental shop and get a copy. Just avoid this first-person shooter from Titus like you would a swarm of angry bees.

8. Sneakers (Score: 29). No, this wasn’t a game based on the Robert Redford movie (another flick you should rent) but rather an action/adventure game from Microsoft about a mouse named Apollo. Here’s the problem: Not only was it boring enough to make you want to play Old Maid by yourself, but the controls were too frustrating for kids —its target audience—to use.

7. Dragon’s Lair 3 (Score: 26). Okay, how weird is this? Dragon’s Lair 3 is, according to Metacritic, the seventh-worst PC game of all time, too (see Page 17, Chapter 2). I guess bad is bad, regardless of the platform.

6. Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (Score: 26). TDK Mediactive forced this clunker on gamers back in 2003, and I hear Aquaman himself thought it reeked worse than a dead fish. It was dated, stale, repetitive, and all together a waste of money despite the fact that TDK dropped the price to basement levels soon after its release.

5. Stake: Fortune Fighters (Score: 26). This is a fighting game from Metro 3D Inc. You tell me: How would you describe a fighting game if it had bad sound, lackluster graphics, and innumerable camera problems? If you answered, "A lot like Stake: Fortune Fighters," give yourself 10 points.

4. Batman: Dark Tomorrow (Score: 25). Kemco’s third-person action/adventure with the Dark Knight was a complete and utter disaster. There literally was nothing redeemable about this game, and even its 25 Metacritic rating is too high. Seriously, it was that bad.

3. Pulse Racer (Score: 24). It’s tough to completely mess up an arcade racer. I mean really—just make it pretty and offer responsive controls and you’re guaranteed that at least someone will like it. Pulse Racer from Jaleco Entertainment is one of the most boring and frustrating racers around.

2. Drake (Score: 22). Majesco’s 2003 money waster was supposed to be a supernatural third-person action/adventure. It ended up being one of the worst games to ever shame the Xbox console thanks to shoddy graphics, a ridiculous aiming model (good luck hitting anything), and gameplay that was as entertaining as watching snails race.

1. Nickelodeon Party Blast (Score: 18). I love Nickelodeon. I have watched more Nick Jr. over the past few years than I ever imagined possible thanks to my daughter. And the idea of taking your favorite Nicktoons character in a party game atmosphere sounds like a great game for kids. But it’s like IGN said in its 2002 review on this game, "Kids may never want to play games again after playing this, and I’d hate to do that to anyone."

The waiting truly is the hardest part. The Xbox launched at a retail price of $299 in November of 2001. By March 2004, it sold brand new for $149.

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