Hey, I actually kind of liked Moonwalker!
February 29, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

The 10 Worst Celebrity Video Games Ever. Your favorite celebrity cash-in video game sucks. posted by Dr-Baa (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow. Just wow. What was left of my hope for mankind died around the Michael Jackson one.
posted by tommasz at 9:06 AM on February 29, 2008

Sorry, no, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker is a great game. Gamespot has it as one of their greatest games of all time.
posted by Prospero at 9:10 AM on February 29, 2008

Alright! Journey's Escape in the top slot. I've played this thing a few times on MAME, and I've come to the conclusion there is no fun to be had with this title.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:11 AM on February 29, 2008

Yep, sorry, "Moonwalker" was a good game.

Swap that out for "Revolution X" (Aerosmith - the home versions) and you're there.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 9:18 AM on February 29, 2008

I disagree with the Michael Jackson and Journey selections. Yes, the "Bouncer" level of Escape is ridiculously hard, but for its time the game wasn't so bad at all. I still fire it up on MAME every now and then. This list is more of a LOLCELEBRITYGAMES article with no real point to it. I mean, come on, no Shaq Fu?
posted by jtron at 9:22 AM on February 29, 2008

Shaq Fu is number 10. For some reason, the article link skips it.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:24 AM on February 29, 2008

Yeah, swinging to miss on the Moonwalker entry; that was a totally decent brawler, if on the weird side. I know Jacko leaves kind of a strange stamp on things by association at this point, but including that would be like throwing Naked Gun on a worst-films list because OJ was in it.

Not that some folks wouldn't throw the film on such a list for other reasons, but those people have no souls.
posted by cortex at 9:34 AM on February 29, 2008

Also, if I remember correctly, the arcade and home versions of Moonwalker were completely different games.
posted by danb at 9:35 AM on February 29, 2008

This post waxes Jacksonian in its misanthropy.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:35 AM on February 29, 2008

That's pretty accurate, danb. The arcade Moonwalker was a 3/4 perspective game, whereas the Genesis/Mega Drive version was a 2-d side-scroller. If I remember correctly, most of the content was similar, just done in a different perspective.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:37 AM on February 29, 2008

That was a terrible list. Journey? Which version? They must be talking about the C64 one, I guess, or maybe Apple II? Well, the Atari 2600 Journey was way, way worse!
posted by absalom at 9:37 AM on February 29, 2008

If Jeff Gerstman loves Moonwalker, then so do I.

But I humbly submit that Charles Barkley: Shut up and Jam: Gaiden is the greatest celebrity video game of all time. A Post-Apocalyptic Basketball JRPG set in the year 2041, when Charles Barkley is the only person capable of saving the world from a tyrant regime bent on elminating balling from the world... FOREVER.
posted by shmegegge at 9:55 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I made the mistake of buying that Steven Spielberg game. I still want that money back.
posted by Lucinda at 10:09 AM on February 29, 2008

NO, I agree Moonwalker was fun.

I am surprised that Kriss Kross' own Make a Video didn't get into this top ten. That was just so lame, and no one ever won.

Night Trap was also a really tough game, but then Sega CD only had one or two games that were really worth it: Willy Beamish and Sonic the Hedgehog CD. I never understood Sewer Rat. Did anyone ever beat it?

Anecdote: My college prof in TV Technology Lab was one of the producers of 7th Guest, which was way ahead of its time. When they did the follow up flop, the 11th Hour, they passed over Kevin Spacey for the lead role. Could have been on the list!
posted by parmanparman at 10:10 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wrong wrong wrong! Seriously, of all the terrible celebrity video game licenses, this is the best they could come up with? Did no one read Nintendo Power in their youth? At risk of becoming Comic Book Guy here, I think this guy did little more than crib a cursory memory of old Seanbaby and X-E articles. Let me offer these points of contention:

1. Shaq-Fu was somewhat garbage, yes, but compared to some of the horrid detritus that came out in the shadow of Street Fighter II (Double Dragon V, TMNT Tournament Fighers, FX Fighter, etc. spring immediately to mind) Shaq-Fu could pass for "Tolerable". The fantastical idea of Shaq fighting in another dimension fit something into the (admittedly self-bestowed) mythos of Shaq's character: Shaq's persona at the time was very much a comic figure (think about every commercial he was in, themed around the idea of how comically large Shaq is) You kinda expect it to be at least a little retarded. You want some embarrasing shit, look no further than Michael Jordan's Chaos In The Windy City. (Youtube)

2. Similar thing goes for Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. I know it's hard to remember these days what with all the controversy, but in the 80's and early 90's, Michael Jackson was a goddamn superhero. Plus, this is a staple of classic gaming. Michael Jackson? With a video game you say? That's a silly idea! Did you know that sometimes video games are mistranslated? I found this video called "all your base are something something" I'm making edgy retro commentary! Yawn.

3. I can't say that the FMV wank-fest that made up most early CD-ROM games weren't complete shit, but even I'll admit my 11 y/o self being impressed by the mere presence of FMV in Sewer Shark (the Sega CD pack-in they could barely give away). As garbage as these games were, you just know some day 3D texture will dwarf what we have now, and some witty alt.blogger is going to be making similar formulaic jabs at how every character in games from the early 00's looks like some cheap Poser model.

4. If I'm sure of anything this afternoon, it's that a, Home Improvement for SNES does not belong on this list and b, 99.9% of the people who disagree with me have never actually played it. Home Improvement was a lukewarm sitcom, Tim Allen's been working on the same worn index card of material since 1986, and the game premise is so stupid it borders on the offensive, but the game is one of the more ingenious and fun SNES platformers I've ever played, and yes, it does feel very odd to say so. Once you get past the premise, the gameplay is in an odd blend of Bionic Commando and Sonic The Hedgehog (only Tim doesn't run as fast), with solid graphics and fluid animation. Besides, this isn't a direct celebrity tie-in, this is a license. You want a shitty license platformer, try the Wayne's World game, or just about any Batman title for SNES.

5. And the top two spots are music related. Britney, ok easy target, shitty game, and the Journey game is a good find, but the worst? No Atari A-Team retread? I'll give them credit of not going the route of this kind of list and not using Revolution X.

Now, if you would, a few for their (and your) consideration:

Bill Lambier's Combat Basketball - Although Midway's NBA Jam and NFL Blitz serieses were addictively fun, I've never been huge on sports titles. So I always love unorthodox sports titles (Mutant League Football, Mega Man Soccer, Burnout, and why did they never remake Base Wars for any nextgen system!?!?). This game attempts to combine futuristic cyber combat with basketball and produces an ugly game that resembles neither. I think this game is why Beastie Boys wrote "Tough Guy"

Bruce Willis in Apocalypse starring Bruce Willis - early CD-ROM systems brought us crappy puzzle games frought with FMV, but with the advent of the Playstation, we saw a new era of crappy 3rd person shooters fraught with FMV! In an attempt to capitalize on Bruce Willis's action star icon status, this plucky game developer sought to model the main character around Bruce, throwing his witty one-liners in with the fracas of gunbattle. What's worse is his voicework is obviously phoned in; I envision Bruce in the studio flipping through index cards like Krusty The Clown: "Ok are we ready? Let's get this over with. 'Take that jerkwad', 'yippie ki yay', 'I hate it when that happens' ok I'm out." Sometimes the FMVs could make you forget a crappy game. I still chuckle when I think about Krazy Ivan.
See "Bruce" in action! (Youtube)

50 Cent: Bulletproof - If you saw any of the commercials or demos for this game, you might remember the overproduced, overdone rendered trailers showing all kinds of acrobatic bloody combos, Equilibrium style gunplay, and even team combat strategy. Pushing the presence of 50 aside, you might be compelled to try it, and hope for at least a GTA clone. This is absolutely none of these. It's not a GTA clone. It's not even a State Of Emergency clone. This is first and foremost a giant digital monument to the greatness that is 50 Cent. Some of the unlockables are Fiddy's music videos, but your video library comes stock with all three (!) of 50's Vitamin Water commercials.

In the game you control 50 Cent, but you also have Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and Young Buc (the members of his entourage G-Unit) as computer-controlled counterparts. After polite introductions, the four of you run mindlessly and aimlessly into heavy gunfire, shooting wildly as you press toward ambiguous goals. The camera and aiming system are completely counterintuitve to the point that hitting a target (of which there are roughly 6000 onscreen at any given time) is akin to threading a needle with boxing gloves and a soldering iron. Fortunately, the AI is so bad that often gunbattles end up with you walking up to an enemy and shooting him in the head. Another telling example of 50's megalomania is that there are more polygons used to render 50's bandanna than there are in Tony Yayo's hand.

Eminem has a guest appearance as a corrupt policeman, and even in digital form, he's about as believable as a grizzled police veteran as Katie Holmes as a seductress in Thank You For Smoking, only less intimidating. The only optimism I had for this game is that the presence of Eminem meant that at some point you might get to kill him, but even this was not enough to play longer than an hour.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm needed on another forum. It would appear that some philistine has DARED to imply that the ghastly Sega Genesis port of Mortal Kombat was better than the clearly technically superior SNES port merely because of the presence of the blood code! I am off!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:14 AM on February 29, 2008 [12 favorites]

EGM's the 20 worst games of all time. And, to go back to 1998, the then-hilarious Fat Chicks in Party Hats
posted by parmanparman at 10:14 AM on February 29, 2008

I don’t think Kids Today™ have any idea how amazing those black and white digitized heads of the Journey guys were at one time. That game showed up in my local arcade (Fun & Games in Framingham, MA, before it turned into a Chuck E Cheese sans pizza) right around the time laser disc games were showing up in trade magazines and news stories. I remember having long arguments with my friend over whether it was done with a laser disc or some sort of new fangled machine that could somehow turn a picture into computer graphics.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually played the game.
posted by bondcliff at 10:16 AM on February 29, 2008

Journey Escape was my grandmother's favorite video game. Before you scoff at her bad taste, ask yourself what your grandmother's favorite video game is/was.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:27 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

and why did they never remake Base Wars for any nextgen system!?!?

Seriously. This is one of the great crimes of video game history; Base Wars was a fantastic game hobbled by the limitations of the day—it was a pretty solid goddam achievement on the NES, that's for sure—and it's kind of depressing that no one has really seized on the whole sports-combat thing recently.
posted by cortex at 10:28 AM on February 29, 2008

posted by Space Coyote at 10:32 AM on February 29, 2008

How the hell is Q*bert not on this list? I mean, everyone remembers the cute game that came out of it, but so many seem to have forgotten the reckless celebrity lifestyle that prompted them to simulate it in the first place.

I still believe that he just couldn't stand seeing himself as a sell out, and that's what prompted it. Lots of others will say it was because he was a tortured artist, but personally, I think they are just full of shit and missing the obvious.

I mean, the last time when *bert came down off that pyramid and it was clear that, while at the top of his field, he was cooking his brains with drugs. We all knew that his lifestyle would kill him, and no one was really shocked when he finally gave up and just jumped to his death.

We were sad, but I think that ultimately everyone kind expected it.
posted by quin at 10:40 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Basewars and Bionic Commando are two of the greatest underappreciated games.
posted by drezdn at 10:40 AM on February 29, 2008

If only Mutant Virus had a celebrity tie in, at least then it might have had a redeeming quality.
posted by drezdn at 10:43 AM on February 29, 2008

Looks like Dr. Ruth's game is still available.
posted by MtDewd at 10:44 AM on February 29, 2008

This really is an awful article. It doesn't show how the games are bad—actually, it doesn't talk about the games at all. The writer seems to think that saying "ha ha, celebrity X made a video game, ha ha" is a joke funny enough to tell ten times. It isn't. Not really.
posted by aparrish at 10:46 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Drezdn, Bionic Commando at last is receiving some recognition and love with a new game and remake of the original coming for the 360 and PS3.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:49 AM on February 29, 2008

Dr-Baa, that's awesome (now if only I owned either of those systems).
posted by drezdn at 11:08 AM on February 29, 2008

Gamespot has it as one of their greatest games of all time.

Huh. Maybe that's why they fired Gerstman's ass after all.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:28 AM on February 29, 2008

Not only was it a terrible list, 11 pages for a 10-item list? Fuck you, asylum.com.
posted by graventy at 11:29 AM on February 29, 2008

I never got the Journey game to work in my MAME cabinet. Has something to do with the original using actual analog tape.
posted by sourwookie at 11:40 AM on February 29, 2008

bullshit, sourwookie. the original used Steve Perry on a hamster wheel.
posted by shmegegge at 2:36 PM on February 29, 2008

I was really hoping this was a new Seanbaby article.
posted by straight at 3:52 PM on February 29, 2008

I'm sorry, but Journey Escape is a 2600 title, not the MAME arcade game Journey. Sorry to call you out.

Interesting bit of trivia: The black-and-white heads in Journey were originally supposed to be they player's head, recorded by a camera in the game cabinet. These were going to be posted alongside the player's high score. Unfortunately a couple of bad apples ruined the idea forever by taking pictures of ... well let's just say Moon Patrol was a popular game at the time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:05 PM on February 29, 2008

danb is correct. The photograph in the list is of the arcade version of Moonwalker, but the article probably refers to the Genesis version. It wasn't a bad game but kind of repetitive. (That kind of Sega action game isn't among my interests, unfortunately.)
posted by JHarris at 7:31 PM on February 29, 2008

Duelin' Firemen deserves some kind of special mention even though only a trailer got made. Although one could argue that Timothy Leary and Rudy Ray Moore aren't celebrities.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:14 AM on March 1, 2008

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