Gaming, to many, is a form of art. Many gamers have come to appreciate this art form in gaming thanks to developers working tirelessly to deliver video games that are loved for numerous reason. Great gameplay, impressive graphics, epic narrative and so on are just some of the elements many gamers feel are the key features to making a video game the perfect piece of art. Though just like the fact that there is good art, there is poor art and gaming is the same in that form. One way many gamers will see a game as a poor piece of art is if that game’s level design is flawed and or just downright terrible.
Have you ever found yourself wondering what are some of the worst level designs in gaming history? Well, you aren’t alone in that wonder dear reader. We here at Honey’s Anime have also wondered what games failed thanks to their level design. With years of gaming knowledge and the power of the internet behind us, we have succeeded in finding ten games with absolutely abysmal level design. With that being said we welcome you all to our Top 10 Games with Poor Level Design list.
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OS X
- Publisher: Infinity Ward
- Developer: Activision
- Release Dates: Nov 10, 2009
Working alongside the United States Army Rangers in a joint operation in Afghanistan, Private First-Class Joseph Allen has a mission to carry out. Allen must help remove insurgents and free the city. Upon completing this mission SAS Sergeant John Mactavish—also known as Soap—ask Allen to help him with another mission. Together, Allen and Soap must go undercover into Russian territory. Though little does Allen or Soap know what awaits them in the Motherland and the effects their mission will have on the world as a whole. A soldier’s job is never truly over…
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 isn’t a bad game by any definition—let’s be clear about that. We here at Honey’s Anime loved the story and equally loved the multiplayer. However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 makes our list of the Top 10 Games with Poor Level Design because it had some pretty mediocre levels to be honest. Most of the areas you went through were bland and generic with only a few stand out areas during the single player campaign. It’s not enough to make Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 bad, but it’s enough to anger those who do care about the single player experience in a Call of Duty game.
9. Ninja Gaiden II
- System: Xbox 360, PS3
- Publisher: Team Ninja
- Developer: Microsoft, Tecmo, Eidos Interactive
- Release Dates: Jun 3, 2008
A sole year has passed since the last mission Ryu Hayabusa went on, but that doesn’t mean he’s had any rest. The Black Spider Ninja Clan have appeared and have taken from Ryu’s village a legendary Demon Statue. Joe Hayabusa—Ryu’s father—sends his son to stop the Black Spider Ninja Clan as well as its leader the greater fiend Elizebet. Though Ryu won’t be going on this mission alone as Sonia from the CIA has decided to work with our ninja hero to stop the forces of evil from taking over the world. Ryu’s mission won’t be any easier than his last but that won’t stop him from showing the enemy his powerful ninja skills.
Ninja Gaiden II is another title on our list that suffers from poor level designs. While the gameplay from the previous Ninja Gaiden returns with updated elements, the odd areas you travel through as you hack your way to victory aren’t the most impressive areas we’ve seen in a Ninja Gaiden game. Often most maps are just small battle arenas despite the locations they are placed in. Ninja Gaiden II still is a ton of fun despite the poor levels players go through. However, it does damper the experience at times which is a bad element for any game to have let alone the popular Ninja Gaiden franchise.
8. Final Fantasy XIII
- System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Android
- Publisher: Square Enix 1st Production Department
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release Dates: Dec 17, 2009
Lightning and several of her comrades have been branded for a fate that they never asked for. Together they must fight against this destiny by also saving those who live in the spherical world of Cocoon. However, time is ticking away for Lightning and her team. Not only is an evil force destined to try and destroy their world but they will eventually become crystals and be forever frozen if they don’t hurry. Welcome to Final Fantasy XIII where fate and hope lie in equal measures and a battle for the latter is just beginning.
Who doesn’t love the Final Fantasy franchise? Amazing turn based combat, impressive visuals and a fantastic story are just a few things to admire about every Final Fantasy game, XIII included. However, the glaring problem with Final Fantasy XIII was its infamous linear level design. Unlike the freedom of most Final Fantasy games before it, Final Fantasy XIII was like a rollercoaster ride. Sure, it was fun but it also only went in one direction and that for many made Final Fantasy XIII one of the worst titles of the franchise. Goes to show you how even nice graphics and fun gameplay can be easily destroyed by terribly executed level design.
7. Bubsy 3D
- System: PS1
- Publisher: Eidetic
- Developer: Accolade, Telstar
- Release Dates: Nov 25, 1996
Bubsy isn’t a stranger to having to deal with some tough customers. Though even Bubsy realizes he might be in quite a pickle this time. When a group of aliens—known as Woolies—invade Earth they also kidnap our hero as well! Now Bubsy must escape his captors by using his cat wits to build a vehicle home. Bubsy might be on a strange world but that won’t stop him from working his cat behind off to find a way home!
If you owned a PS1 back in the 90s, you were always trying to find a new game to buy or play on it. Unfortunately, this quest to find great games might have led you towards Bubsy 3D from developer Eidetic. Besides being a boring platformer with terrible controls and an even worse story, Bubsy 3D’s level design was hard to stomach for more than two minutes. Levels all looked the same and to be honest looked at times to be incomplete. Bubsy 3D looked bad and had many glaring issues but the level design was by far the worst thing about this PS1 title.
- System: Nintendo 64
- Publisher: Software
- Developer: Software
- Release Dates: May 31, 1999
Lex Luthor is once again busy with another evil plan for world domination. Lex knows though that Superman will always be there to put a stop to any plans he tries to launch and has taken some measures to be prepared this time. Unleashing a Kryptonite fog on Metropolis, Lex has made Superman ten times weaker. Now, Superman must endure the fog’s power over him and try to obey Lex’s orders if he wants to save Metropolis from a terrible fate. Is Superman finally going to lose to his arch enemy or will he prevail despite the circumstances? Find out in Superman for the Nintendo 64!
Superman is a beloved comic book hero thanks to DC but even the love fans have couldn’t help them survive Superman for the Nintendo 64. On paper, Superman 64—as it’s called by many—seems like a decent enough title. However, if you actually played this 1999 title, you would know that Superman 64 was downright terrible thanks to not only the gameplay but also the level design. Environments looked putrid making each level less about fun and more about trying to not get lost in the same looking areas and/or just sighing at the lack of polish that went into making Superman 64. Needless to say, we think no one’s going to disagree with our choice to put Superman 64 on our list of the Top 10 Games with Poor Level Design.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog
- System: PS3, Xbox 360
- Publisher: Sonic Team
- Developer: SEGA
- Release Dates: Nov 14, 2006
Sonic and Tails are about to once more save the day from the annoying Doctor Eggman. When the evil doctor attempts to kidnap a princess from the land of Soleanna, Sonic must kick into high gear to save her. While Sonic has his hands busy with Eggman, he also has to worry about an ancient evil known as Mephiles. Can Sonic and his friends win this battle or will the land of Soleanna be forever doomed to be destroyed?!
Sonic fans out there know the pain of Sonic games at times. Sure, many Sonic games, like the more recent Sonic Forces or Sonic Mania, are actually really solid titles with amazing level design. Though often, most of the newer age Sonic games are pretty crummy like Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Thanks to confusing maps, areas that felt glitchy and some generic designs, Sonic the Hedgehog was not a good Sonic title by any means. In fact, many of us here at Honey’s Anime—and a lot of people online—still consider the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game to be the worst of Sonic title and we’re pretty sure it’s because of the shared opinion on its terrible level design.
4. Friday the 13th
- System: NES
- Publisher: Atlus
- Developer: LJN
- Release Dates: Feb, 1989
Summer camps are supposed to be places filled with fun and exciting days for campers. Though, thanks to an evil force named Jason, the summer days quickly have turned into a waking nightmare. Play as six different summer counselors at Crystal Lake who need to stop Jason by defeating him and staying alive. They will all need to work together as there is strength in numbers but if they should fall they will need to continue on. Can these six summer counselors defeat a force that isn’t human?
The survival horror genre has been known to deliver some quality games and some downright garbage titles. Friday the 13th for the NES falls in the latter category. Thanks to poor level design, players of this abysmal title found navigating the camp a bigger nightmare than just facing off against Jason. Pathways weren’t always clear and typically it was easy to go up a path and find yourself further away from the area you needed to go. Seeing as how a counselor could die if not saved in time, poor level designs made Friday the 13th extremely tough and frustrating from beginning to end. If you don’t like camp and poor games, then you’re probably going to want to stay away from Friday the 13th for the NES even if you love classic video gaming.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- System: NES, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum, PlayChoice-10
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami, Ultra Games, Palcom, U.S. Gold
- Release Dates: May 12, 1989
Turtles, we have a not so radical situation! Sensei Splinter has lost his human form! Now the only way to return Splinter to his butt kicking human-like form is to use the Life Transformer gun. Unfortunately, the gun is in the hands of Shredder and getting it won’t be easy. It’s time to kick some shell turtles to save the beloved Splinter!
Iconic series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had dozens of video games for fans to enjoy. Most were pretty good—namely the 4 player arcade version—but then you have the Nintendo Entertainment Software version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and that was far from good. Not because of skill level, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES was tough thanks to the bad levels you had to play like the underwater area filled with planets that could kill you with electricity and nearly impossible to avoid. Then you had areas where jumping needed to be exactly precise or you’d fall and have to restart an area again and you can begin to see why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES was far from a good game. Level design can make any iconic series terrible and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was no exception to this rule.
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- System: Atari 2600
- Publisher: Atari, Inc.
- Developer: Atari, Inc.
- Release Dates: Dec, 1982
E.T. needs to go home and he must do it fast! Gather the pieces of a phone that will allow our little alien friend to return home. However, time is quickly running out for E.T. If you don’t hurry, E.T.’s window to phone home will pass and he will be stuck on Earth. Plus, with secret agents wanting E.T., our alien friend needs to succeed in this mission or face a horrible fate…
We really doubt many gamers haven’t heard of the insanely infamous E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game. Released in 1982 after the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a rushed job and you can see that in its poor level design. Areas all looked similar with green backdrops and pitfalls that made beating the game one of the biggest chores in gaming history. We know our mission was to help E.T. phone home to save his life from being trapped here on Earth. Though if we’re being honest, none of us want to suffer having to play E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and its awful level design to accomplish this goal.
1. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
- System: Famicom Disk System, NES, PC
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami
- Release Dates: Aug 28, 1987
Simon Belmont may have won his battle against the evil Dracula but his victory came with a harsh price. Now cursed, Simon finds his battle far from over. Simon must somehow find the means of curing this wretched curse by gathering the split pieces of Dracula and rejoin them in the castle. Once Simon accomplishes this, he has one more goal ahead of him. Defeat Dracula once more and be forever freed from this hellish curse…
Here at Honey’s Anime, there are many of us gamers who love the Castlevania series. However, even our love for the franchise can’t forgive the pain found in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. While the art and gameplay weren’t bad for Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest the level design was downright horrid. It would take gamers years of walkthroughs and forums—which weren’t a thing back in the late 80s—to piece together custom maps and figure out where to go to beat specific areas. Often, a small rock or small area would be crucial to advancing the story in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest but you would never know unless by sheer luck. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest had level design that was confusing and nigh impossible to navigate. That’s why we think Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest deserves the top spot on our list.
We mentioned early on that gaming can be considered like fine art. The way a developer or team handles their world and level design is akin to how an artist handles their paintbrush and canvas. One wrong series of strokes and the art the creator tried for can become utterly ruined. The same with game design where missteps with coding and or uninspiring design just leads to a game having poor level design regardless of the gameplay within. We have listed our Top 10 Games with Poor Level Design and now open the floor to you to let us know what games you feel are terrible because of their levels. Comment down below to let us hear from you and for more articles like this one be sure to keep stuck to us here at Honey’s Anime.