Brute Force (Digital Anvil, 2003)
See the vacant stares on the faces of those plastic people? Yeah, get ready for a lot of that. For some reason, ugly CG people seemed to be all the rage during this gaming generation. Brute Force was intended to be a Halo-level AAA title, but instead ended up in the Uncanny Valley trash heap. Not even side-boob and a bunch of guns could make this look interesting.
Galleon (Confounding Factor, 2004)
The troubled history of Galleon would lead you to believe it was a bad game. What began as a Playstation 1 title was moved to the Dreamcast before finally ending up on the Xbox, yet the swashbuckling action game ended up scoring high reviews. Unfortunately, the cover looks like rejected assets from a Shrek game circa 2001.
Kakuto Chojin (Dream Publishing, 2002)
Back in 2002, someone somewhere thought the words “Kakuto” and “Chojin” were not only terribly fascinating, but would also be the perfect name for a fighting game. Then someone else thought the best way to sell that abomination of a title would be to put a bunch of ugly-ass looking weirdos on a black background and call it a day.
Maximum Chase (Genki, 2003)
Maximum Chase was a driving/shooting hybrid action game that featured many real, licensed cars. The cover, which oddly featured real actors, looks like the kind of straight-to-video movie you’d see on Blockbuster shelves in the late 90s. The random bullet holes and giant explosion almost push this into “so bad it’s good” territory. Almost.
New Legends (Infinite Machine, 2002)
Based on the cover, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that this is some kind of staring contest simulator. Sadly, that high-octane genre has yet to be explored by any game developer. New Legends is actually a third-person action brawler set in China, and developed by Infinite Machine, a studio founded by several ex-Lucas Arts designers that folded after this game (their only release) flopped. But you’ve already stopped caring by now, haven’t you? Let’s move on.
Phantom Crash (Genki, 2002)
LEAD DESIGNER: “Phantom Crash? What kind of game is this?”
INTERN 1: “Some kind of mech action game, sir.”
LEAD DESIGNER: “Shit!”
INTERN 2: “Sir?”
LEAD DESIGNER: “I gotta level with you, kid. No one cares about this kind of shit anymore. Alright, let’s find some way to polish this turd… Do we have any bland mech artwork?”
INTERN 1: “Right here, sir. I can barely tell what it is.”
LEAD DESIGNER: “Excellent. Now, do we have any boring, generic fonts?”
INTERN 2: “I have something right here that might do the trick.”
LEAD DESIGNER: “Don’t bullshit me, kid. Is it boring and generic?”
INTERN 2: “I’ve already forgot what it looks like, sir.”
LEAD DESIGNER: “Perfect. Now, can we cook up the worst background possible and put it all together?”
INTERN 1: “I just started learning Photoshop today, sir, but I think I can do it.”
LEAD DESIGNER: “Way to go, team. Let’s light this candle and go home.”
Pure Pinball (Iridon, 2004)
Despite the skanky ladies appearing on the cover not once, not twice, but three times, this is actually a pinball game. This kind of shameful, sexist pandering was the soup du jour back then, alongside other salacious titles like BMX XXX, The Guy Game, and Playboy: The Mansion. Pinball may be a niche genre, but this cover makes me want to get a Hepatitis shot.
Pulse Racer (Jaleco, 2003)
Pulse Racer is notorious for being one of the worst reviewed games of all time. It might also have the worst cover art of all time. What looks like the first assignment for a high school student taking “Graphic Art for Beginners” was actually the cover of a real game that was published and released for a major console. And I want you to remember something very important: someone got paid for this.
Article by contributor WatershipDownSyndrome.