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Cash-in games are a fact of life when it comes to gaming - as long as there's a popular movie, comic or cartoon series being made somewhere, every company imaginable is going to be fighting for the chance to rush out a video game tie-in for it. But then there are those that go above and beyond - not content to simply make a bare-basics game and watch the cash roll in, these guys permanently cement themselves into notoriety in their quest for a quick dollar. So we're going to take a look at ten that I personally consider the worst of the worst!

10. Wartech - Senko no Ronde (Xbox 360)

Admittedly, I don't think Wartech isn't a bad game - it's actually a fun, if rather simplistic, mashup of an overhead shooter and an arena fighter, and it offers a pretty good challenge in both single and multiplayer modes. That's all fine and good. The problem comes in with the publisher, Ubisoft - rather than releasing it as a cheap download title or a budget disc title, they pushed it out at the system's launch for full price. So thousands of early Xbox 360 buyers plunked down $60 and went home expecting an epic, intricate mech combat game with detailed HD visuals, only to be greeted an overly simple arcade title. A pretty dumb move on Ubisoft's part, but we're just getting started on our bad cashin list.

9. Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game (Arcade/Saturn/PSX)

Tying a game into a critical flop of a movie - which was itself based on a game - wasn't Capcom's best idea. The arcade version in particular got some pretty bad press for its clumsy mechanics and a percieved similarity to Mortal Kombat. This wasn't unfounded, however - the game introduced several palette-swapped ninja characters (who made no appearance in the film or anywhere else in the Street Fighter franchise) and utilized digitized graphics to give all the in-game characters and stages the appearance of their movie counterparts. It was a mess.

The home port of the game fared considerably better, removing the superfluous ninja characters and modeling the gameplay much more closely after Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Still, with its cheesy digitized graphics and the story mode reminding everyone of the not-so-great film, it left countless players dusting off their old SNES and Genesis copies of Street Fighter II in disgust.

But if nothing else, it can claim to be the very first video game based on a movie based on a video game, and is still one of the only titles in that category to date. In fact, the only other that I'm aware of is Double Dragon for the Neo-Geo, a decent fighter based somewhat on a really shitty movie which was, in turn, based somewhat on a classic arcade brawler. I think that one fared a bit better in the end, though.

8. Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)

Combining characters together from various corners of your gaming universe into a giant brawl is a pretty damn good concept - just wrap it around a decent game engine and we can all have endless fun pitting Samus against Link using weaponry from EarthBound. Dissidia tried to emulate its success, but unfortunately the gameplay falls short in just about every way; essentially, it just boils down to a tedious tug-of-war between two characters' "Courage" and "Life" stats. There's no move variety (everybody has exactly four), only one collectible item, and the gameplay difference between characters is minimal at best. Even a well produced story mode complete with full voice acting and some very impressive visuals couldn't save this one from blandness.

Still, it's a much better game than our next entry.

7. Ehrgeiz (PSX)

Ehrgeiz - a collaborative effort between Namco and Squaresoft - was a flop in the arcades for its clumsy controls and uninspired, mash-friendly gameplay. So what turned a flop of an arena fighter into a console success overnight? Quite simple, really - just take a game that was all the rage at the time (Final Fantasy VII), transplant several of the characters into another of your not-so-good games, and watch the cash roll in. Yeah, it wasn't really any of a better a game now that you could play as Cloud, Sephiroth and Tifa (complete with each characters' ending simply being a collage of Final Fantasy VII's cinematics) but we all jumped at the attempt to recreate Cloud and Sephiroth's epic final clash outside of a turn-based environment. Of course, once the novelty of that wore out, we were just stuck with the same boring button-masher that we shunned in the arcades. Oh well, at least we can sell it on eBay and buy something decent; lord knows that's the only thing Square's post-1997 library is good for anymore.

6. Sonic Shuffle (Dreamcast)

A poor attempt at cashing in on Mario Party. Oh, it had all the bases covered - essentially it was a board game with a wide variety of minigames, concepts and characters from the Sonic Universe - but somewhere along the way they forgot to make any of it fun. Hell, you couldn't even sucker Sonic fans into buying this turd, even after we suffered through those two sub-par Dreamcast games in a desperate attempt to get our Sonic fix.

5. Jaws (NES)

Based on the worst of the four Jaws films (and that's saying quite a lot), Jaws is a game that could have just as easily been made on the Atari 2600. The gameplay is one-note and monotonous, lacks any degree of challenge (every enemy moves in a slow, methodical pattern that's easily avoided) and, once you know how to power up your weapons, you can beat it in under five minutes. Yes, five minutes. I can only imagine how pissed off gamers in the late 80s were after they finished this turd on the same day they bought it and were just left wondering where their $50 went. This is bad even by LJN standards, and when you consider that this is the same company that created Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, X-Men, Back to the Future, Beetlejuice, the Punisher and Karate Kid, that's also saying a lot.

4. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (PS2/Xbox/GCN)

Rarely has there been a game title more blatantly misleading. The game has little to do with Goldeneye and hardly anything to do with James Bond - hell, the series' titular character only makes a brief appearance in the early chapters of this game. The game is instead centered around a rogue agent named GoldenEye (I see what you did there) interacting with various villains from the Bond universe. Which had potential to be a good concept, but like all good ideas EA produces, it immediately goes to waste due to its uninspired, formulaic gameplay - you just feel like you're retreading the same boring objectives over and over again in each stage.

So, for drawing us in with a misleading title and giving us nothing related to Goldeneye and only a faint relation to James Bond and the series' canon thereof, this one earns EA yet another golden turkey award. But can we find a worse cash-in scheme from the masters of crap before this article is out? I'm pretty sure we can!

3. Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash (VIC-20)

An unofficial "spinoff" of the Ultima series, created, marketed and covertly released by Sierra with absolutely no input from the series' creator, Richard Garriott. In fact, Garriott didn't even find out about its existence until many years later. Yeah, that's pretty bad. But there was some solace to be found in the fact that so few people got suckered into buying this one on name recognition - in fact, it's now one of the rarest video games in existence simply because almost nobody knew of it at the time of its release.

2. Wing Commander Arena (XBLA)

Any PC gamer in the 90s will tell you that Wing Commander was about as good as it got in terms of spaceship combat games. Not only were they a blast to play, they had a very well-written storyline, complete with a huge production budget and tons of high profile actors for the in-game cutscenes, which singlehandedly put the entire FMV fad of the mid-90s to shame. In short, they were everything that mediocre shlockfests like Mass Effect and Project Sylpheed desperately wish they could be.

So we were all pretty crushed when Origin was bought out by EA and the Wing Commander franchise was one of the first things to go down the tubes. But of course, when EA fucks something up, they like to go the extra mile and make sure nobody has any good memories of that particular franchise ever again. Case in point, Wing Commander was resurrected on Xbox Live Arcade, but not as a well-written space epic. Nope, this is a strictly average dogfight game centered around the same multiplayer modes you've seen in every first person shooter ever made - a disappointment so palpable that the online game lobbies have sat completely empty for the last two years. Take that nostalgic blood money and run EA, we all know you're good at it!

1. Chaos Wars (PS2)

A strategy RPG that mashes together Growlanser, Spectral Force, Gungrave, Shadow Hearts and other acclaimed game series... in a disastrous combination of sluggish gameplay, excessively long and extremely frequent load times, bad graphics and some of the worst voice acting you'll ever hear (this stuff is seriously Sega CD quality). I couldn't even stand to slog my way past the first two or three battles - it's that bad! Oh, and even better is the fact that it was a Gamestop exclusive, giving the impression that this "epic company crossover" was going to become a rare gem if you didn't buy it today! But as with
all bad games (well, most of them anyway) it's finally ended up where it belongs - in the bargain bins at used game stores nationwide for less than $10.
 
 
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