8 of the Absolute Dumbest Video Games of the 1980s

8 of the Absolute Dumbest Video Games of the 1980s

Video games rule. A sentiment that only becomes truer the more nightmarish the reality youre escaping by getting addicted to them is. Look, you dont end up with an officially recognized addiction for things that arent at least a little fun. That is nowhere near saying that all video games rule, though. In fact, some of them are horrible, horrible things, seemingly only designed to ruin a Christmas morning via a confused grandmothers purchase. Even in the 1980s, when video games in general were still exciting and new, people knew enough to point to a couple and say, “This is not what this is supposed to be like.”

Here are eight of the most idiotic video games of the 1980s…


Status Game Corp


What better way to embrace the new frontiers of gaming than by recreating a game most often played because literally nothing else entertaining is near you? Despite the extremely metal poster above, this was indeed just an arcade version of the classic game Hangman. Worse, you had to wrestle with some old-timey interface in order to guess letters, meaning that the pen-and-paper version was superior in every way except for napkin waste.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Already a weird pull as far as IP goes, the NES game Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is infamous for being one of the worst games ever made, decades be damned. One of the chief complaints youll see is that the game is completely inscrutable in both operation and goal. Something I can vouch for since even the modern, kind attempt to explain how the game is played via Wikipedia is exhausting and obtuse, and Im someone who memorizes ammo penetration charts to play Escape From Tarkov. Game Informer put it simply: “Flawed on every fundamental level, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is possibly the most unplayable garbage available on the NES.”

Pac-Man (Atari 2600)


Making a successful port of a game is deceptively hard, as we constantly, unpleasantly, discover. However, Im more likely to give a little latitude to someone trying to get a Triple-A title onto the Nintendo Switch than I am when the game youre trying to recreate is Pac-Man. A classic, but also one that, if you removed any of its features, would cease to remain a video game at all. So it was highly disappointing when the game where the circle moves around was an unplayable mess on the Atari 2600, and critics agreed.


Bally Midway

Video games were all the rage! So was the band Journey! So the obvious path was to mash the two together and produce a licensed, Journey-themed arcade cabinet. Unfortunately, the two went together like peanut butter and a gas tank. It was basically a series of mini-games with weird, black-and white photos of Journey members stuck onto what seem to be very clearly repurposed sprites. A game that deserves a resounding, “Sure, I guess?”

Name That Tune

Name That Tune is a solid, thoroughly proven idea. Its a game thats stood the test of time on multiple platforms, notably excluding the attempt to turn it into a 1986 arcade game. The problem here, obviously, is that songs are a little harder to recognize when its a 1980s sound chip trying to gurgle out a recognizable rendition of popular music with blood pouring from its figurative throat. Think about the fact that youd be playing this in an arcade, one of the louder places on earth, and its just a terrible idea from tip-to-tail.

Beat ‘Em and Eat ’Em

American Multiple Industries

If you read that title and giggled, thinking theyd accidentally named their game something that sounds very naughty, I have bad news. They named their game that because thats exactly what happens in the game. Notoriously gross game publisher American Multiple Industries (well get back to them in a second) released, as if it was fine, a game where a man masturbates off a rooftop and you attempt to catch his… projectiles. A game for which the word “porn” feels far too genteel.

Custer s Revenge

American Multiple Industries

The same guys who let out Beat ‘Em and Eat ’Em, a game I cant believe I have to italicize the title of, also released maybe the most infamous game of all time, Custers Revenge. If youre intrigued by the first, but were hoping that racism and implied sexual assault could be included, too, this is your game. The less said about this one, the better.



A game that I would be packed into a brazen bull for not including. Possibly the most famously dogshit video game ever made, anyone with even a passing interest in gaming is probably well aware of it. If youre not, just know that it was a game that, despite being based on an incredibly popular movie, was so unplayable, and therefore unsaleable, that they ended up burying thousands of copies in the desert. Literally, its a game that they created a personalized landfill to dispose of, like it was nuclear waste. 

Look, just make a Pac-Man clone where hes brown, eating Reeses Pieces and be done with it. Oh right, they couldnt.

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