Celebrity endorsements are one of the oldest tricks in the marketing handbook. Whether it's George Forman lucrative grills, Sly Stallone's low-cal pudding, or Katy Perry's lousy potato chips, famous faces on everyday products are a shortcut to consumer trust, confidence, and subsequent massive sales success.
That's the idea, anyhow. Too often it's just a way to paper over a product that nobody would buy if it wasn't for a celeb grinning on the box -- and video games are no exception. A veritable galaxy of stars have lent their names to games over the years, and to absolutely nobody's surprise, most of them have been terrible. Check out ten of the worst.
Shaquille O'Neal: mighty good at basketball, mighty bad at starring in video games. To be fair, it's not entirely his fault: no celebrity endorsement, no matter how kick-ass, could have saved this inane beat 'em up from the garbage heap.
Witness the game's plot: Shaq is transported to another dimension after meeting a wise old sensei, where he finds an evil mummy (why are there never any good mummies?) bent on taking over the world. It's up to Shaq to stop him by thumping his way through a series of suitably eeeevil minions. The greatest foe of all, however, proves to be the game's lousy collision detection, which made landing a hit more a matter of good fortune than good judgement. We'd rather watch Kazam again. (Not really.)
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video
Which Mark Wahlberg is better? The current A-list star of films like "Ted" and "The Departed," or his early-nineties alter-ego, heartthrob rapper Marky Mark? If you answered the latter (and what other answer is there, really?), you're probably right in the target audience for this woeful 1992 Sega CD release. Which is unfortunate, really, because the game's a turkey, consisting largely of fooling around with a few terribly simple video editing tools and a total of three Funky Bunch tracks. Sound like fun? No? Maybe you'd prefer the equally awful Kriss/Kross or INXS Make My Video games instead.
Britney's Dance Beat
Britney Spears' best days as a pop star appear to be well and truly behind her, but this remnant will haunt us forever.
Featuring a not-so-lifelike digital representation of Ms. Spears, this polished-but-derivative rhythm game is the stuff of nightmares indeed. Speaking of which, while it would usually be odd to slam a game for not featuring enough Britney Spears songs, Dance Beat's meager selection of five won't keep you playing for long, while the simple button-tapping gameplay was nothing that countless other games hadn't done just as well and with better tunes. Here's hoping she'll never "do it again."
50 Cent: Bulletproof
50 Cent is not actually bulletproof, as this 2006 shooter revealed. Sure, he makes a good try at it, being able to stand up to a hail of gunfire that far exceeds the nine bullets the man himself took, but he will indeed die in the end. 'Tis no bad thing, however, as it'll provide you with the perfect opportunity to turn off this bloodthirsty, cynical bit of fanservice and play something better. In fact, you could play the sequel, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, which was equally ridiculous but a heckuva lot more fun.
Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City
Like many prominent athletes, Michael Jordan has starred in quite a number of games over the years. But at least games like Space Jam and NBA 2K11 let the guy do what he does best. This 1994 side-scrolling platform game instead gave Jordan's video game incarnation the inexplicable ability to attack enemies with an assortment of exploding, freezing, or otherwise magic basketballs. Nintendo Power named it as one of the ten worst video games ever made, and while we're not sure we'd go quite that far, it certainly wasn't His Airness' finest hour.
Chuck Norris Superkicks
Who'd put Chuck Norris in a video game? Where would the challenge be? Putting Chuck Norris in a game implies that he might lose to someone, and as the Internet tells us, that's unthinkable. But long before Norris became an online sensation -- long, long before -- he starred in this simple Atari 2600 fighting game. How do you know it's him? Not from the 2600's rudimentary, early-80s visuals, but from the fact that all he does is kick dudes in the face. Who else could it be?
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Yes, he's bad, and yes, so was this 1989 video game named for the King of Pop's signature dance move. Actually, that should be games, plural: not content with just one digital representation of a dancing, shrieking Michael, the video games industry gave birth to a string of similarly named but different Jacko games during his Moonwalker period. Their graphics and digitized music were impressive for the times, but the gameplay -- which includes a move that forces enemies to dance alongside Michael -- got rather more mixed reviews. A contemporary MJ dance game followed in 2010. It was kinda bad too, but still sold three million copies.
Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!
Back in the Golden Age of licensed video game cash-ins, even Tim Allen sitcom Home Improvement spawned its own SNES adaptation. Though technically it was based on Allen's show, this was pretty much just a vehicle for the comedian to earn some extra dough, because it had next to nothing to do with Tool Time.
The plot, for instance, sees Allen transported back to the Stone Age to fight dinosaurs...and yeah, we know there weren't any dinosaurs in the Stone Age. Believe us, that's far from the biggest problem this game has. If you're unfortunate enough to own this humorless debacle, allow us to suggest some appropriately Tim Allen-esque improvements. You'll need a ten-pound hammer, a circular saw, and plenty of protective equipment.
I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. I really really really want to never have played this game. Unfortunately, it's too late for me -- but it may not be too late for you.
Launched at the tail end of the Britpop quintet's fame, this Playstation faceplant starred cartoonish representations of the famous five, and gave players the unmissable chance to teach them a few dance moves, play at being a cameraman, and wonder at how on earth this terrible game ever got the green light in the first place. Zig-a-zig-aaaargh.
William Shatner's Tekwar
Ah, the many talents of William Shatner. He acts. He sings. He writes obscure cyberpunk books. Then he narrates their ill-conceived video game spin-offs.
No matter what you might think of the Tekwar novels (and they're not as bad as you might assume), don't bother with this 1995 PC mess. Set in something approaching a realistic near-future city, it was visionary in its own way, but staid combat, a muddled plot, and frustrating gameplay killed any chance it ever had to make it big.