The Worst Video Game Cutscenes

This is a list of the Worst Video Game Cutscenes. There have been a lot of bad video game cutscenes in the history of videogames, but to qualify for this list, you need to have a little extra something. Horrendous voice-over. High-school-play-quality acting in your full motion video. Writing that takes your characters from believable heroes to fantasy alien monsters who speak only in exposition.

Storytelling has come a long way since 1982 and the first videogame cutscene, when a circle met a circle with a bow in Ms. Pac-Man. Now we have voice-acting, full motion video, motion-capture, and -gasp- button-mashing quicktime events. The road to the truly cinematic video game cutscene future is full of awkward half-formed cutscene potholes. When brave, not-so-talented souls were first given the gifts of CD-ROMs and polygons, they tried and failed to make cinematic video game history. This list is full of those half-formed monsters, along with the results of decisions like "We don't need to hire real actors, we can just hire our friends," and "Maybe we should cast a playboy playmate in a role where she speaks."

When motion pictures finally added sound to their moving images, there were many mistakes made as artists struggled with this new technology. Video games are no different, except that they have huge fundamental changes in their technology every few years. Unfortunately for gamers (but fortunately for this list), that means there are going to continue to be terrible mistakes in storytelling and cutscenes as creators accustom themselves to these new technologies.

Game on, I guess.

  • Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
    Video: YouTube

    What’s the worst Zelda game? The repetitive Majora’s Mask? The thirty-five hour tutorial Skyward Sword? NOPE. NOPE. In 1993, the two worst Legend of Zelda games were released, for Philips CD-i, Link: Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.

    Please don’t ask me what a Gamelon is. 
    Poorly animated and poorly acted, these CD-ROM based games should have grown the world of Hyrule in a way that the 8-bit and 16-bit games weren’t able to, and yet the original Zelda’s “IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS” is better storytelling than anything found in either of these relics. Somewhere they’re sitting in a pile of AOL free trial discs, wondering how things could have gone differently.
  • 2
    42 votes
    Hotel Mario
    Video: YouTube
    In 1994, Hotel Mario released for the Philips CD-i. Philips was going to develop a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES (WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN RAD), but when Nintendo cancelled that project, they licensed several Nintendo properties to Philips. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn't give them any of the time, funding, or creative care that they gave to their other Mario projects. Not just a puzzle game, Hotel Mario took “full advantage” of the brand new CD-ROM format to include amazing animated cutscenes like the one above, where Mario tells the player to read the instruction manual.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    Video: YouTube

    In 2006, Sega sorta reboot Sonic the Hedgehog, with this Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 game, titled simply Sonic The Hedgehog. Towards the end of the game, they made a million Sonic fan-fiction writers cry out in a mix of joy and terror when Princess Elise (AN ALIVE HUMAN) kisses a dead Sonic the Hedgehog (A DEAD HEDGEHOG), and through the power of chaos emeralds and fanboy juices brings Sonic back to life as Super Sonic.

    The above clip is game footage that has been re-edited to show what would really happen to the world if a human kissed a dead hedgehog.
  • 4
    23 votes
    Resident Evil
    Video: YouTube

    In this “classic” scene from the original Resident Evil, Barry Burton gives a lock pick to the player’s character Jill Valentine, because she is “The master of unlocking.”

    It just seems like—if she really was the master of unlocking—she’d have a lock pick already. Or she wouldn’t even need one, because she was such a master. Could Barry be talking about something else? Like his heart? Is she the master of unlocking… his heart?
  • Muppet Monster Adventure
    Video: YouTube

    The Muppets have brought joy to countless children across multiple generations. Now let's take a moment of silence please for the Playstation generation, who had to endure Muppet Monster Adventure, and this incredibly awful opening cutscene. It is five minutes of crudely animated exposition, where the most important parts aren’t animated, and are instead explained to the player after their character conveniently passes out.

    It’s boring, bad storytelling, and I’d recommend counting the polygons to stay awake, but you’d probably count them all before the video ended.
  • Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
    Video: YouTube

    It’s hard to make a video game cutscene worse than the movie Mortal Kombat II, but Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero tried its hardest. Released in 1997, the game took the character of Sub-Zero and set him off on a solo adventure where he battled clunky controls and laughable cutscenes. Horrible costumes? Unnecessary exposition? Amazing green-screen special effects? A Playboy model as a mini-boss? It all feels like a really bad Power Rangers fan film, or an adult film parody that never gets to the adult film part.

    Remember kids, friends don’t let friends make video games with full motion video.