#5. Kool-Aid Man (Atari 2600, 1983)
Right off the bat, you know a game starring the Kool-Aid Man won't be that much fun. Any video game hero who can be disemboweled by a hard shove doesn't scream "instant classic."
As a sentient pitcher of Red Dye #3, it was your job to stop "The Thirsties" from guzzling an entire community swimming pool. Hey, it's not like Super Mario Brothers made an iota of sense either.
"He's bursting through the wall!..Or maybe that's a glitch. This game blows."
What's paradoxical about Kool-Aid Man is that, despite the best intentions of your overzealous spokespitcher, The Thirsties would rather chug community pool water than touch a drop of Kool-Aid. In other words, the game was tacitly admitting that Kool-Aid was less delicious than chlorinated H20 laced with urine. Nice sales pitch, Atari.
125 proofs of purchase? That's enough Kool-Aid powder to mummify those kids.
#4. Yo Noid! (Nintendo, 1992
In the 80s, Domino's Pizza's mascot was The Noid: a claymation humanoid, who, like many corporate mascots of the day, was incensed at being arbitrarily denied an easily accessible foodstuff (in this case, tasteless chain pizza). See? These advergames write themselves!
It's worth noting that Yo Noid! is the second crummy Capcom game on our list inspired by a horrifying claymation ad campaign. Maybe Capcom had a thing for claymation, but we suspect they had more of a thing for sleeping in giant piles of money.
As expected, the game was shitty on an elemental level, but the ending of Yo Noid! was particularly offensive. After you spent an hour or so playing this $50 Domino's advertisement, your spokesabomination celebrates at the neighborhood pizza parlor.
That's right; it's not even freaking Domino's. When your own crappy mascot refuses to eat your pizza, how do you get out of bed in the morning?
#3. Cool Spot (Genesis & Super Nintendo, 1993)
Cool Spot, the suave spokesdisc for 7-Up, got a 16-bit video game treatment that probably sucked the least of all the ad-based games. In fact, the game won Electronic Games Magazine's 1993 award for "Best Sound."
"The sound's okay, I guess."-EGM
Don't laugh. Have you ever won Electronic Games Magazine's Best Sound award? We didn't think so.
Cool Spot was hell-bent on cramming the coolness of 7-Up down your throat. It's beyond us how its plot conveyed said coolness. As Spot, you spent most of the game wandering around a beach shooting carbonation at hermit crabs.
To be fair, the fact that Cool Spot was even mediocre means its developers actually gave a crap about game play. We even have to admire their horrible product integration, since it suggests they didn't even know that 7-Up was a soft drink at the time they made the game.
#2. Budweiser Tapper
In this arcade classic, you play a browbeaten barkeep who must toss beer at wave after wave of angry drunks. If you fail to pass a brew to your delirium tremens-wracked patrons, your bartender is ejected from his bar, Dodge City style.
Tapper was intended for release only in bars, but you have to wonder what Budweiser was thinking when they greenlit the game. Admitting that your product results in assault and battery is like a Joe the Camel game in which the last boss is emphysema.
Whoa. THE street location game of 1984.
We already knew that booze can lead to mob violence, but it's sort of upsetting hearing it straight from the horse's mouth.
#1. Journey Escape (Atari 2600, 1982) & Journey (Arcade, 1983)
Plenty of musical acts have jumped into the video game arena (Aerosmith, KISS, 50 Cent, etc.) but we believe only one has tried a direct album video game tie-in. And that only one was Journey.
The members of Journey were either extreme narcissists or paranoiacs, as a big part of both games was to prevent the band from being murdered by their own fans.
In Journey Escape (to tie in with Journey's 1982 LP Escape), you must guide your faceless polygonal band member through legions of equally geometric groupies, who would like nothing more than to sex you to death. As the game's TV ad ominously warned, only Atari owners and their joystick-jamming skills could allow Journey to "live to rock another day."
As you can see from the commercial, Journey's groupies were either aliens, robots or hamburgers.
Seeing as how Journey Escape was an Atari game about malformed women wanting to fatally bone Neal Schon, the game's graphics and plot are forgivable. Unfortunately, its music is not - the game ironically contained almost no Journey music. For a game designed to sell records, this was a bold strategy.
This problem was rectified by the 1983 Journey arcade game, in which players got tinny, comically bad MIDI versions of Journey songs in every stage.
The exception was the bonus round where you earned a full version of "Separate Ways" courtesy of the futuristic, in-machine cassette player. And, once again, the game included stages where you had to defend the band from its crazed fans, playing a bouncer shoving the lunatics away from the stage. Journey couldn't have made the message any clearer even if they added a "piss on the worthless masses from the hotel balcony" bonus level.
Find out about the more subtle ways they've learned to rob you blind in 5 Innovative Ways the Gaming Industry is Screwing You. Or find out the truth behind those food emails your mom always forwards you, in 7 Retarded Food Myths the Internet Thinks Are True.