The Worst Failures In Video Game History

Virtual Boy

Looking at the Nintendo of today, it’s hard to believe that they could come out with a piece of hardware this ill-intentioned, but there we go. Spearheaded by Gunpei Yokoi, who had previously had massive success with the original Game Boy, the Virtual Boy sounded amazing on the box – a portable console with real 3-D graphics!

Unfortunately, those graphics were created by the most eye-straining, painful mechanism ever – a plastic headset that you strapped over your eyes and squinted into, employing red LED lights projected into flat oscillating mirrors, one for each eye, that gave an illusion of the game taking place in a three-dimensional space.

Sure, it worked, but at what cost – playing a VB for more than a few minutes gave most gamers a splitting headache, and because the unit needed to be rested on a flat surface during play, it wasn’t really “portable” as described. Only 22 games were made, and its commercial failure resulted in Yokoi’s shunning from the company.


Remember when John Romero was going to make you his bitch? It was before he married a mail-order Romanian bride and started making cell phone games. What really turned the long-haired game god from one of the geniuses behind Doom to an industry laughingstock was the 2000 release of Daikatana, a first-person shooter with a great pedigree and some severe developmental disabilities.

Romero’s Ion Storm studio was awash in lavish excess, with designers being treated like rock stars and John’s girlfriend Stevie “Killcreek” Case getting press attention and a sparkly new pair of tits.

But when the game finally dropped after multiple delays, it was so dated and goofy that Ion Storm sank like the Titanic, with the gurgling voice of incompetent AI sidekick Superfly Johnson yelping out one last “Suck it down!”


Is there any better name for this astounding piece of vaporware? Infinium Labs shocked the gaming world in 2002 when they announced that they planned to release a console that would play all current and future PC games from a set-top box that would auto-magically grab said games over the Internet using an on-demand service.

In 2004, they demonstrated a “prototype” version of the box at E3 and claimed it’d be out for the holidays, despite admitting that the content delivery system wasn’t programmed and no games were licensed for the device.

Several years came and went, with Infinum founder Timothy Roberts accused of running a scam to bilk investors out of their $62.7 million that they sunk into the console, before the company just gave up in 2006 and canceled the product.

Nokia N-Gage

Competing with Nintendo in the portable market is a fool’s game – many have tried, all have failed. But the most embarrassing contender to the throne was released in 2003 by Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia. The N-Gage promised real 3D graphics, ports of popular PC titles, and a fully functional cellular phone in the bargain.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do any of those things particularly well. The graphics were barely PS1 quality, the “popular PC titles” were several years old, and to talk on it, you had to hold the taco-shaped device angled against your head in a position wags dubbed “Sidetalkin’.”

The epic fail of the N-Gage was so severe that within two weeks of its debut, retailers were offering $100 rebates on it.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

Steven Spielberg’s E.T. was one of the biggest movies of the 1980s. The Atari 2600 was the biggest video game console of the 1980s. So put the two together and it’s bound to be magic, right?

Wrongo, penis-breath. Coded by designer Howard Scott Warshaw in just five weeks, the game was rushed to market for the 1982 holiday season a confusing, bizarre, nearly unplayable mess.

Atari, so confident the game would be a hit, ordered a staggering five million cartridges produced, but after the game tanked (and nearly took the system with it), several hundred thousand of them ended up buried in an unmarked landfill in New Mexico.

Leave a Comment