SUPERMAN (ATARI 2600) – 1980
Without many legitimate video games to play in 1980, choosing a favorite wasn’t really a challenge. Still, critics couldn’t have been more wrong with their choice of Superman, a game so off-brand that it’s barely recognizable as starring DC Comics’ most recognizable hero. Kissing a pixelated Lois Lane to regain your powers is a moronic game mechanic best reserved for Leisure Suit Larry.
More deserving in 1980: Pac-Man. Dude can eat ghosts.
DRAGON’S LAIR (ARCADE) – 1984
More deserving in 1984: Marble Madness. Everything you know is wrong.
NHLPA HOCKEY ’93 (SEGA GENESIS, SNES) – 1992
Sports simulations are for two kinds of people: the shiftless and the TV-less. If you really want a sports fix, go outside or join a fantasy league. The greatest praise that NHLPA Hockey received was that it used the names of real players, but you know what else does that? Hockey cards, except no one collects them, because they’re hockey cards. Someone had to know that this “sports simulation” didn’t have a place in an awards roster, but the mullets won.
More deserving in 1992: Street Fighter II, which is still slightly less violent than hockey.
MARIO’S TENNIS (VIRTUAL BOY) – 1995
More deserving in 1995: EarthBound, Chrono Trigger. Absolutely anything else.
THE SIMS (PC) – 1999
When the Academy of Arts & Sciences starts handing out video game awards, you know it’s gonna get weird. Even as the best-selling PC game of all time, The Sims’ limited sandbox approximation of human life is really only meant for people who don’t actually enjoy video games. By 2003, Second Life had launched and started to eclipse the Sims franchise, with a far more realistic environment for players to engage with. But if you really like watching fake people wet themselves, go for it.
More deserving in 1999: SoulCalibur. It’s like Street Fighter grew a pair.
WII SPORTS (WII) – 2006
More deserving in 2006: Any baseball game with a controllable outfield.
THE WALKING DEAD (XBOX 360, PS3) – 2012
In this case, game critics confused “video game” with “choose your own adventure.” Interactive fiction is great, but an entire game based on quicktime events, without the possibility of altering the storyline using a well-timed machete, doesn’t feel like enough like a game, let alone a zombie survival game. Making difficult choices isn’t an award-winning mechanic, especially when Heavy Rain had already mastered that genre two years earlier.
More deserving in 2012: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. One word: MODOK.
BAYONETTA 2 (WII U) – 2014
More deserving in 2014: Super Smash Bros., even though amiibos suck.
THE 8 WORST “GAME OF THE YEAR” WINNERS OF ALL TIME