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Top 100 Worst NES Games, #70-61

70. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Imagineering, 1992)

Ah, Imagineering.  A company that brought us many underwhelming licensed titles including the three Simpsons licensed games, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors (the title that brought us the notorious minigame Desert Bus) and a couple other turkeys we'll get to later on this list.  Home Alone 2 holds a very special place on a lot of gamer shitlists, though.  Programmed in only three months to coincide with the film's release, and it definitely shows in the presentation - ugly visuals and numerous sound effects recycled from their earlier titles.  But then you pair that with clunky controls, unclear objectives, confusing design decisions (a boss that's immune to all weapons, but strangely vulnerable to your knee-slide move - which doesn't damage anything else in the game?) and an overall length of only four levels, and you've got a recipe for disaster.  But the real tragedy of this game is that it's actually dedicated in memory of someone, as seen in the opening scroll...

69. Platoon (Ocean Software, 1988)

Ocean + Licensed property = crap.  We've seen this formula in action several times already on the list, but one of the most prominent examples of this is a game based on the war film Platoon.  In adapting it, though, they seem to have intentionally gone for the parts that make the least compelling gameplay.  From a seemingly endless maze of similar looking jungle screens (blargh) to searching villages for booby traps (as in, walking around, searching objects and hoping you don't trigger one and blow up, instantly losing a life) to even more maze-wandering in a sewer, Platoon is terminally dull and repetitious.  But perhaps the most shocking thing about it is that it was published by Sunsoft, a company known for creating several highly acclaimed NES titles like Batman, Journey to Silius and Blaster Master...

68. Days of Thunder (Beam Software, 1990)

I've never been huge on racing games, and titles like Days of Thunder probably didn't do much to improve my perception of the genre.  Also loosely based on the movie of the same name (another warning sign!), Days of Thunder attempts to be a more realistic style of racer, requiring you to pit to rotate out your tires and fix your car's engine throughout.  The problem, though, is that this is done far too often to make it any fun - it's only a couple of minutes after the beginning of the race before your tires start to go, and so much as nicking another car will damage your engine.  Worse, pitting isn't an automatic process - you have to manually select each member of your pit crew and get them to do their jobs one by one, which eats up tons of time unless you know exactly what you're doing.  Later games on the SNES would do realistic racing much better, but Days of Thunder is one to be forgotten.

67. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes of the Lance (Natsume, 1991)

Another example of a game that was fairly innovative for its time on the home computer formats, but which really did not translate well to the NES.  The PC version of Heroes of the Lance was a departure from the usual D&D game formula, attempting to turn it into more of an action-oriented side scroller.  Fair enough, but when it came time to port it to the NES, Natsume seemingly went out of their way to make it as uncompelling an experience as possible.  From the tiny sprites with limited animation, the grating 30-second music loops, the cumbersome game interface (oh, I have to hold down to hurt that enemy, even though my sword is clearly clipping into their head?), the lousy hit detection and the overall short length of the game (one can complete it in less than fifteen minutes once they figure out the correct route), Heroes of the Lance lost any appeal its PC counterpart may have held.  Its sequel held up considerably better when it got ported to the Famicom, but unfortunately never made it out of Japan.

66. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Atari Games, 1988)

A very lackluster downport of an otherwise passable arcade game, Indiana Jones is also just a plain rotten experience.  The confusing layout of the levels (two boards each that one must swap between and which each wrap around at the edges) makes navigation much harder than it should be, and the gameplay itself a a tedious affair of rescuing children just to collect one-use weapon icons and maybe, eventually, find the key that will take you to the next board.  Also not helping matters are some wonky collision detection with platforms and some very awkward jumping - you're seemingly always being pulled toward the bottom of the screen when you jump, which means that you can't platform across horizontal pits as you'd expect to, and narrowly missing a jump to a minecart or a lower platform either results in you getting lost or falling into a lava pit and dying.  And then there's the two penultimate levels, which require you to build a makeshift bridge out of dead dragons across a lava pit (not as awesome as it sounds since there's six possible paths and only one will completely bridge the gap) and find a hidden doorway leading to the exit by bombing a very specific spot that you'll only know where to look for if you've collected all the seemingly useless map pieces from the previous stages.  Temple of Doom is an exercise in frustration, and the gaudy color palette and crummy music and sound effects don't help its case either.

65. Back to the Future (Beam Software, 1989)

Another prime example of a bad movie-to-game tie-in - take a classic film and try to shoehorn in game elements, no matter how unfitting or cumbersome they are.  To that end, Back to the Future mostly plays out like a top-down shoot-em-up, just without the shooting element (unless you collect a power-up, that is) - walk down endless streets avoiding enemies and collecting clocks to prevent yourself from fading out of existence.  The only breakup in this monotony comes on every fourth stage, in the form of one of four minigames - throwing milkshakes at swarms of bullies (made harder than it needs to be thanks to the awkward viewpoint), blocking kisses with a book (ditto), a music game that plays like Guitar Hero only a thousand times worse, and a terminally un-fun racing segment where you try to maintain your speed while avoiding constant bombardment by lightning that destroys the pavement in front of you and slows you down.  That's bad enough, but then the whole experience is made unbearable by a grating 30-second music loop that plays from the title screen to the very end of the game...

64. The Adventures of Gilligan's Island (Human Entertainment, 1990)

I think just about everyone's heard of the TV show "Gilligan's Island", but I doubt any of them would say that it had the stuff of a decent video game adaptation.  Human Entertainment proved that notion right with the NES game, a title that attempts to provide nonlinear exploration and comedy elements and fails miserably at both.  In addition to completing repetitive missions and enduring tinny, repetitious music, you also get to endure all sorts of "wacky antics' from Gilligan as he falls down pits, off waterfalls and directly into enemies at every turn, and you have to constantly backtrack to save him because without him at your side, you can't complete most of the missions in the game.  In essence, the whole game is a giant escort mission, except instead of just giving you a game over when your charge dies, they make you go back and get them, over and over again, and every time you do he has another "hilarious" one-liner for you that you've already heard a dozen times over.  Jeez.

63. Mario's Time Machine (Radical Entertainment, 1994)

It was a tough choice between this one and Mario is Missing, as both are lousy educational titles that aren't any fun to play.  However, I eventually went with Time Machine.  Yes, Mario is Missing was dull, repetitive and had little-to-no real educational value, but at least it wasn't a complete guessing game and a waste of a cool idea, unlike this one.  Mario' Time Machine's gameplay looks promising at first, having you bop Koopas in a Mario Bros. style minigame to collect items, then time-travel and replace them in their proper time periods, but this quickly becomes a chore once you realize that nothing in the game can harm or even impede you in any way.  Worse, you have to place each object in a very specific spot in its respective time period with only a few vague clues to guide  you, and if you guess wrong, you have to exit out of the level entirely and bop Koopas again to get the item back so you can try again.  That alone earns it far more crap points than Missing in my book!

62. Transformers: The Headmasters (Takara, 1987 in Japan)

Just about everyone knows of the notorious Famicom Transformers game and how much of a frustrating experience it turns out to be with its awkward physics, one-hit kills and fidgety hit detection.  Well, Takara seemingly took a look at all the heat that game caught and said "You think that's bad?  You ain't seen nothing yet, baby!".  And thus was born Transformers: The Headmasters, a Famicom Disk System exclusive that took all the problems of its predecessors and magnified them tenfold.  The brunt of the game's pain comes in its driving stages, where your Transformer's brake lines have seemingly been cut and you're under constant attack by swarms of enemies, with your only means of fending them off being a shot that goes straight ahead or upward at an awkward diagonal angle that never seems to hit anything, and with mines in the road every fifty feet that you have no chance in hell of not hitting unless you slam into reverse the instant they appear onscreen.  Each of these get topped with an equally frustrating boss battle, with you having to weave between swarms of bullets (with the same unresponsive controls) whilst landing dozens of hits on a very precise magic pixel in the bosses' midsection.  Then you move on to 2D side-scrolling stages, which consist of clearing similar-looking rooms full of enemies and collecting icons to open doors, with each of these culminating in a frustrating, overly long battle that plays out like the game "Outlaws" on the Atari - ricocheting bullets around a central obstacle in the room to try and hit your opponent in the back or side.  Oh, and did I mention you have to find four other captured Transformers throughout these levels in order to move on to the final stage, and that failing to find one means you have to do that entire two-level segment again?  ..Mmyep.  The original Transformers game has nothing on this brand of awful!

61. Castelian (Bits Studios, 1991)

This one seems to have flown under a lot of NES enthusiasts' radars, and rarely if ever gets mentioned in the same breath as other bad games on the platform.  I think I'll pin that on its relatively late release though, as it debuted on the NES after the Super Nintendo was already taking the world by storm.  But the few who did play Castelian were in for one hell of an experience.  Yes, the visuals are solid.  Yes, the rotation effects on the tower are pretty impressive for an NES game.  Less impressive, though, is its gameplay.  Your character moves excruciatingly slowly, both of your actions (firing a ball that stuns enemies and destroys certain obstacles) and your jump are inexplicably mapped to the same button (leaving the B button completely unused) and getting hit sends you plummeting several floors back down the tower, meaning you'll be retreading the same stretches of ground an awful lot.  Oh, and you're on a very strict time limit too, so if you get hit more than once, you may as well just throw in the towel right there.  Despite its colorful graphics and cute characters, Castelian is a Sisyphean chore and should be avoided.