The Best Worst Games You Ever Got For Christmas

The Best Worst Games You Ever Got For Christmas
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When I was little we didn’t have much money. When I got a new game for my NES, it came from the bargain bin at “Electronics Boutique” (yes, I am that old).

These were the games you’d look at, wince slightly, then play because there was nothing else. Again and again and again until – something strange would happen.

You’d begin to love them. They were like a secret. Games none of your mates were playing – hell, they’d probably never heard of them. Yet to you, they were gold. Like a rare treasure.

Rainbow Islands


Bust A Groove


These are some of my favourites, but please, share yours with me.


  • People rag on Busby and its sequel. They were good games. The 3D version never happened.

    Toejam and Earl, though that may not qualify as obscure or bad.

    • Im sorry, i gotta disagree. You play Sonic 1 or 2, then play Bubsy (which came out later on the same console) and it was flat out ordinary. Comparitvely crap graphics, controls and humour, yet sadly the same price. My friend and I clocked it (because back then we had the time to try and beat any game we got) with a resounding meh. I’d rate it higher if it wasn’t such a poor and obvious imitator, even for a more forgiving 10 year old kid’s tastes. On par with the equally mediocre Jazz Jackrabbit or The Great Gianna Sisters- that other “completely original” platformer of that era…

  • Most of my NES game experiences came through hiring them from a video store. (Some of you youngsters may need to Google ‘Video Store’) During the school holidays or on a weekend we’d pester Mum until she took us to the local video store and browsed the shelf of NES games. The really good games, we either asked for them for Christmas or borrowed them again and again until we were bored. There were some real rippers in there, then there was Rush’n Attack. That was a pile of turd. So glad it was a rental.

    I do remember really enjoying Solstice.

    • I was hiring games right up until the video stores disappeared. Someones you could smash through a main story during a 3 day hire over a long weekend. I miss it, really!

      • That’s exactly how I finished Metal Gear Solid on PSX, hired it from the local Video Ezy and barely moved for two days straight! Obtaining that bandanna was a pain in the arse!

      • I finished Battletoads from a video game hire. In hind sight it probably would have been cheaper to buy it based on how long it took me to finish the game.

      • Even as a kid I was very opposed to renting games as it seemed like a waste of money. What I do remember is purchasing for dirt cheap a couple games from a friend’s friend… which were clearly stolen from a Blockbuster (the logo was etched on the cartridge). I remember trying to feel guilty or at least conflicted about it but they were the freaking awesome Megaman X and Stunt Race. A kid’s morality only stretches so much.

    • Yeah I got Solstice for Christmas the year it came out and it’s still one of my favourite NES games. There’s really nothing else like it on that system, and it still holds up well today.

  • Ahh how I heart Bust A Groove. So many fond memories of playing it with my cousins & school friends as a kid. I still got my physical copy stored in the garage with all my old school games, really tempted to dig it out now.

  • Never really had gaming consoles in our house. I was born in ’81, and growing up did seem weird we didn’t have one when everyone else had something – Did get a GameBoy when it first came out – Came with Tetris and Super Mario Land. Following christmas I got gifted Serpent (Remember Snake from old phones? Yeah, just like that. Good news is, I can still clock SML without losing a single life (Unless I want to farm the coins in the underwater level to rack up more lives)

    First time we got a “proper” console was when the NES got redesigned (NES-101). Had saved my pocket money and did odd jobs for months to get the thing, only to note when I got it home it didn’t come with any games (We lived in a little town too, and had to drive 6 hours round trip to collect it – Couldn’t just go back easily. No local video shop for rentals ever, so was pretty freaking devastated. Borrowing games was hard to, as most people I knew were starting to sell their stuff to buy playstations). Had to wait longer to save more pocket money, and gave it to mum to go and get me Super Mario Bros 3 – Mum then kept hold of it and wrapped it up under the tree for me

    Waited 4 months before I could get my hands on the damn game I paid for, only to find out mum got me a copy of Solstice instead (Also point out, same parent who purchased me Serpent 😛 )

    From what i remember, it was a pretty damn good little puzzle game though, and I spent hours playing it. Well, whenever I could get use of the TV

    But yeah, between Solstice and Serpent, I’ve made sure over the years that when my parents buy my younger siblings video game stuff, they come get my input first

  • Werewolf: The Last Warrior for the NES. Parents took me to “Tandy Electronics” (I can be old too) and picked it out for Christmas, taking it to the counter without showing me the front cover. Meanwhile I’m eyeballing Mega Man 3 like a heroin addict.

  • I don’t think I was ever aware enough of games and their reputations when I was a kid, so games that were bad weren’t something I winced at. And even before I got gamesmart, most of the games were requests so there was no wincing to be had (and once I knew stuff about games, I was no longer being given them as presents and just had to buy them for myself :P).

    I was so freakin happy when I finally got Bubsy for my birthday.

  • Considering Electronics Boutique opened in 1997 it wouldn’t actually make you that old nor would you have been buying NES games there.

    • Meh, my memory may be a little hazy on the details, but I’m sure you get the idea 🙂

      You seem to have a good one though – the exact year EB opened and what they stocked! Do you take fish oil or something?

  • The best worst game I ever got was for Sega mega drive, called greendog: the beached surfer dude. Nothing about it was good in anyway but I was soo hooked on it for ages as a kid. It pushed sonic, busy, earthworm Jim and alike aside for a terrible platformer

  • Bubsy. So, so bad. Borderline unplayable. There were so many rubbish platform games when all the companies desperately knocked out half finished crap to compete with sonic.

  • Most of the games mentioned here are so bad (or at least infamous) that have almost developed cult-like fame. Do you want obscure (and possibly bad)? Try those that were so unremarkable that no one ever remembers them even for lists like these. The two first games I had for my SNES were Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage and Tiny Toons: Buster Busts Loose. I loved them to bits (especially the former) but no one I’ve ever speak with remembers them or ever heard of them.

  • We had this terrible NES game called Section Z; it was a space shooting side scrolling thingy that went on for ever. We never finished it. Controls were unresponsive and awful. Anyone else know it?

  • My brother and I didn’t make much in the way of pocket money, so when Christmas rolled around if we got each other games, they’d be weird bargain bin stuff. I think the one that qualifies best for this list is Dare to Dream. It’s a pretty lousy adventure game that ran in Windows 3.11, created by Cliff Bleszinski in his pre-Jazz Jackrabbit days. The art is terrible, the tone switches wildly from super cartoony to extraordinarily dark and the game logic sometimes rivals the likes of Gabriel Knight at its most infamously bad. And yet, I poured hours into it. I never could negotiate my way through the the illogical mess of two latter episodes but I still feel a bit of fondness for it, objectively terrible though it may be

  • Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller

    My mother bought it for me for Xmas and it sat on a shelf for a while. Eventually I was stuck home sick for a week and had nothing better to do so I played it. It was terrible. Dennis Hopper couldn’t save it. But I played it and I kept playing it and in the end I actually enjoyed it. I was really bored.

  • There was another game that was the epitome of terrible but I forced myself to love it, but I can’t remember what it was called. It was a point and click adventure where your character picks up a microwave from a repair shop but they give you the wrong microwave. The one you collect was meant for a hero (the guy who turns up to collect the microwave looks like Conan)

    You take the microwave home and after using it you’re transported to a different planet. That’s about all I remember of it but I remember that I played through the whole thing. Can’t remember how it ended though.

  • Solstice was sooooo hard. I equally enjoyed it sequel Equinox on SNES. When i grew up I remember a lot of hiring. My brother wanted to hire out metroid, but i kept getting Metal Gear on NES

    When I moved to Toowoomba as a kid, there was a shop called Tunza Games, a place where you could hire PC Games ( no online rego back then ).

  • I still remember back in the day when the reject shop had a tonne of Sega Saturn’s in their bargain bin for $40… I remember thinking at the time good riddance as I was a Sony fan boy at the time… now with time and maturity I wish I have bought one 🙁

  • One xmas I wanted Wonder Boy III The Dragons Trap, but my parents gave me Wonder Boy In Monster Land instead. I was not amused.

    I loved it eventually anyway, but the disappointment was real that year.

  • I remember playing Alien vs Predator at the arcade, and when the console (Mega Drive?) release came out I was so excited, rushed out to get it….. definitely was not the same game. Very disappointed but because it had been opened I couldn’t return it, got an exchange instead, then sent my Nana in with the unsealed copy and receipt to refund it.

    The year MKII came out on Master System I got it for my birthday, opened it and found the first Mortal Kombat in the case instead. This was before Sunday trade so I had to wait almost 2 days to get the cartridge exchanged and played the James Pond games lol

  • Ah man Solstice. The characters death scream still haunts my dreams. I tried so hard to finish this game as a younger child. I remember hating it. Not enjoying it but sitting down one day and commiting to finishing it. But nope. Got up to the 5th or so world and just got stuck. Not that the bad guys were hard at that point but I couldn’t work out how to progress. Even now that irks me

  • My brother got me a copy of Commander Blood hauled out of the depths of a Harvey Norman bargain bin. I still have no idea what that game was supposed to be about. Possibly taking a lot of psychotropic drugs

  • Fantasia on the sega mega drive.
    I played and loved castle of illusion as a kid, so my parents thought this would be more of a good thing.
    As you said, I played the shit out of it as it was my Christmas game and had to last me a few months.

  • Best bad game? Simple:
    That ****ing snail maze that came built into the master system.

    That was a literal ‘make your own fun’ game, having to give your self and your brothers challenges lol. But because we had so few games, it got played, and I still have fond memories of playing it… though no, Nintendo I won’t buy it if you put it on virtual console.

  • Trivial Fucking Pursuit on my BBC Micro. Thanks Mum and Dad – you know me so well!
    And a near second was the Revs expansion with four tracks instead of just racing at Silverstone – Shame you had to have Revs in order to play it.

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