The Switch’s launch line-up may have been slim, but at least there wasn’t a ‘day one dud’ lurking alongside the likes of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Bomberman R. Damning praise, we know, but there’s truth in those words.
Previous Nintendo consoles haven’t been quite as fortunate as the Switch, with plenty of clutter arriving alongside such system seller as Super Mario 64, Luigi’s Mansion and Zelda: The Twilight Princess. It’s easy to see why publishers think they can get away with it. Console launches generate a huge buzz, and so it’s easy for day one adopters to get caught in the hype and pick up two or three games on a whim.
Retailers always seem to overstock launch games too, due to being unable to predict demand. Unsold copies of Asphalt 3D sat on the shelf for years after the 3DS’s launch. Rayman 3D and Splinter Cell 3D, too. Three cheers for Ubisoft, a publisher you’ll be reading a lot more about in a moment as we delve into the world of disastrous Nintendo launch games.
FIFA 64 – Nintendo 64
It took more than a couple of months for the N64’s library to reach double figures – the system launched in Europe with five games, with Blast Corps, Wave Race, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Wayne Gretzky Hockey and NBA Hangtime arriving in the weeks and months that followed.
FIFA 64 sold well during launch not just because it was FIFA – EA’s golden goose, even back in the ’90s – but also because there wasn’t a great deal available for N64 owners to buy. It has been said that almost all the early launch titles shifted a million copies, save perhaps for Midway’s efforts.
We don’t know how many copies FIFA 64 sold exactly, but whatever the amount, EA didn’t deserve a single penny. It’s often referred to as the worst iteration in the series, sporting rubbish animation, bizarre camera angles, slowdown, and repetitive commentary. FIFA 64 was a £60 embarrassment.
The Sims 3 – 3DS
“It’s almost an achievement that EA has made a 3DS version of a game that’s not only worse than the Wii version, but the DS version too,” began the Official Nintendo Magazine’s review.
“For some reason, the 3DS version of The Sims 3 has removed the mood bars that tell you how hungry, clean, tired and so forth your Sim is. No big deal, you know, it’s only the WHOLE POINT of the entire game,” they continued.
The final score? A miserable 20%.
Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure – GameCube
A mini-game package featuring bite-sized chunks of Back to the Future, E.T, Waterworld, Jurassic Park, Jaws and Backdraft sounds like an appealing package. It was a shame, then, that Kemco managed to screw it up superbly.
One of the least conventional games ever, Universal Studios mostly entailed walking around the park while picking up litter. That’s providing you were able to spot any – the obtuse camera and use of 3D characters on 2D backdrops often made rubbish hard to spot, obscured by NPCs and whatnot. Once enough rubbish was eventually found, you’d then have to find and talk to Woody Woodpecker, purchase the appropriate hat from the gift store, and then find the corresponding ride. Step out of sequence and you would be greeted with a queue of fellow thrill seekers and a prompt to come back later.
Honestly, it was like playing a videogame designed by Marge Simpson.
Your reward for picking up people’s trash? The chance to play some limp mini-games that were over pretty much before they’d even begun, ruined either by poor controls or horrible camera positioning. The Waterworld game wasn’t even a game – it was the Universal Studios’ show rendered in crude CGI, with the only interaction being a choice of camera angles. Even Waterworld on Virtual Boy had more effort put into it, and that’s saying something.