The Uncanny X-Men (NES, 1989)
In his New X-Men run back in the mid '00s, Grant Morrison introduced the character of Quintin Quire, a troublemaking student at Xavier's School for the Gifted. It was a clever and natural (and long overdue, really) way of injecting some teenage rebellious youth to the otherwise staid student body; though later writers never did anything interesting with the character, it at least gave us this fun little panel that evolved into a clever little meme/t-shirt:
It would be easy to imagine the sort of blackmail and extortion that LJN (which was later sold to the equally shoddy Acclaim) surely used to get the Marvel license; but the truth is, despite record-breaking comic sales in the early '90s, the rest of Marvel wasn't doing so hot, in the midst of changing ownership, poor public stocks, and more that eventually led to bankruptcy in 1996. And apparently protecting the value of a brand wasn't so important; so who cares if LJN and Acclaim took a dump on the license, so long as they sold well?
You already know how terrible this game is. Every time a new X-Men game is released, and lazy game sites do their tired "best and worst" X-Men games, this one tops the list (of the latter, duh). It goes beyond that - much like Superman for Nintendo 64, this game is not only considered the worst of its license - it's not just considered one of the worst comic book games ever - it's also considered one of the worst games ever made, regardless of license. And yeah, it really is that bad.
The first and perhaps only notable thing the game offers is that you can choose two X-Men and swap out any time, your off-character being AI-controlled. You'll then notice how terrible this game looks. No really - bland, often monochromatic environments that look haphazard, cluttered, and difficult to parse. To make it worse, they're woefully inconsistent - like, say, Silver Surfer, but worse - because some tiles are passable, and identical tiles are not. Character models appear to be palette-swapped versions of the same sprite. I could recognize about half the villains even though I was aware they were all ripped from the cartoon pilot; but in all honesty, they look better than the X-Men. The rest of the enemies - which respawn infinitely, I might add - are mostly mechanical-looking blobs and caterpillars. Really, though, sprites are the same kind of abstraction that was used in Atari games - unacceptable, even for an NES game released in 1989.
IT IS TEMPTING IN THE ONE PLAYER GAME TO ELIMINATE ONE OF YOUR OWN MEN SO THAT YOU CAN CONCENTRATE ON THE MISSION AT HAND. DON'T DO IT!Even they're aware of how terrible the AI is - no, not terrible, but a burden, an albatross, an obstacle in the way of progression. But the fact is, you actually need to eliminate one of them. In one particular level, after defeating the boss, new impassable barriers will form on your way out. Only Nightcrawler can go through them (this drains his health, I might add). If you picked other characters - SOL, pal. Your partner cannot progress, even if you take direct control; I actually had to turn off the cheat so I could kill Cyclops off, in order to progress with Nightcrawler alone.
Wait for it - it gets worse. Cheats or no cheats, if you somehow have the constitution and patience to play through the four selectable levels, the game will take you right back to the bland level select screen. How to proceed from here? Ah! There's a secret, final level. The game gives nearly no clue as how to access it, except on the cart label itself (which, naturally, is embedded deep in your console at the time...):
Take a closer look (bottom right):
All screenshots are my own. Box art is from GameFAQs, while cart label is courtesy of Moby Games.