The 10 worst game ports in the 80s and 90s

Porting great games into smaller versions doesn't always work out. Here's a list of 10 of the worst attempts.


In times of fierce competition between developers and manufacturers, commercial agreements to isolate titles on one side or another make life complicated for players. It's the well-known sadness of exclusives. What do we do when we want a game, but it was developed or licensed only for the "rival" console?

Options: emotional blackmail with your father / mother / uncle, etc., to get a new console; moving to the house of a friend who has it; or the cheapest and not always the best option: keep waiting for a version.

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Not always the best option, because in the eagerness to make up for lost time, or simply due to the inability of the receiving machine to make that game work as well as the original, conversions ended up ruined. Details are cut, voices disappear, gameplay is deeply affected.

Over the years of gaming, I've seen games that made me regret the arrival of Monday, when I would have to go back to the rental store. Not because I would be separated from the game, but because I would have to pay for the time and money wasted on them.

Bad memories

I'm sure this list will bring you back awful memories, and for those who didn't know the "honored" titles, I recommend that you don't waste your much-valued time with such hard drugs.

Don't take the list so seriously, as if it were my definitive vision about the worst conversions. Some machines weren't even mentioned because I simply didn't have access to them (like ZX Spectrum or Virtual Boy). Let's say that these are the "10 of my worst memories of ports".

And before fanatic Nintendo fans begin cursing me: there were more arcade and PC versions on the SNES than on the Mega Drive, and that's when the worst versions happened.

10º Mortal Kombat

SNES, 1993

SNES SubZero Fatality
Fatality? Yes. Blood? No, too violent for Nintendo.

In terms of disappointment, it might be number 1, since after the five-stars version of Street Fighter II, Nintendo gamers were anxiously awaiting another great arcade fighting icon to land on their Super Nintendos.

The expectations were high, and I remember the comments before the launch. All that superiority of the Super NES would appear again, humiliating the competition; poor competition, "Nintendo is a master race and Sega is the poor peasant", etc. You know the drill.

But what we saw was – thanks to Nintendo's "anti-violence" policy – a cut not of heads, but of all the images considered strong. Modifications of the Fatalities, replacement of blood with the famous and inglorious white drool; in short, a complete distortion of the essence of the original game, to despair of Nintendo fans and pleasure of Nintendo haters.

Despite everything, the game itself is not bad, and if it weren't for the ridiculous censorship, it would have done better. But Mortal Kombat without blood is like pizza without toppings.

9º  Wolfenstein 3D

SNES, 1994

Wolfstein SNES
Where is the mustache? Big N shaved it off!

In addition to the most notorious case of Mortal Kombat, Nintendo has also blocked anything that could shock consumers – as if they were all stupid and couldn't tell the difference between what they wanted and what they didn't want to consume.

With the legendary Wolfenstein 3D, the father of an entire generation of first-person shooters, that's exactly what happened.

Since the game had several references to characters related to nazism, with a Hitler impersonator or himself being one of the bosses, as well as swastikas and several visual elements, Nintendo tried to cut them all of the SNES versio. Any minimal reference to politics or real events was removed.

B.J., the hero, was no longer fighting nazis in a castle, but rather another random murderous gang. Hitler had his characteristic mustache shaved off, transforming him into another random psychopathic villain (both the boss and posters in-game). The German shepherds that made life hell for players were replaced by "nice" voracious rats.

In short: a complete mischaracterization of the game. Damn, Nintendo...

8º Final Fight

SNES, 1991

Final Fight SNES
Did Cody block Guy's participation? What a jealous star...

Another fighting game. After all, developers had ports of everything to make player have fun (or suffer) at home. The 80s and 90s were amazing times for fighting game fans, perhaps influenced by the Iraq War, the Falklands War, who knows... Warlike times.

One of the most popular "hit and run" genres of its time (and of all, maybe), Capcom's Final Fight was pure fun on the machine, with simplified controls – punch, jump, joystick – that allowed anyone, whether casual or arcade veteran, to beat up the gangsters of Metro City. The plan was to made it a sequel to Street Fighter, what is easy to tell by the bonus stages and other details. But in the end, it becames a side-scrolling beat-up-everything-that-moves game.

In the SNES version, a lot of the fun went down the drain, with the inability to play with a partner. That's right, the co-op mode was removed and you have play it alone, with no buddy to help. And on top of that, Guy was left out; to correct that, they later had Final Fight Guy, where Guy is back, but... Cody is out.

What the heck was that?

7º Mortal Kombat

Master System, 1993

Mortal Kombat - Master System
Good graphics, but all the rest... Lord have mercy.

Mortal Kombat again. Sorry, MK fans.

Even though I understand and consider the immense good will to make money from developers, who wanted to rip our exchanges satisfying us, poor retardaries that still had Master System, a version like the one they gave us of Mortal Kombat was totally unnecessary.

The movement of the characters was nothing but terrible, the sounds anything close to disgusting – if you hear those crap beeps for a long time, you will have a headache. Controls? Press now and see the movement one second later. I'm serious.

The only decent part was the graphics, fantastic if we consider that it was just an 8-bit console. But it's no use having beautiful graphics with such horrible gameplay.

You may not be aware of how bad I am talking about, may think I'm exaggerating. But no, that thing is bad, really bad. If you dare to try, I'm responsibible for any damages. As a former owner of Master System, just one thing to say: very few and forgettable moments with this port.

6º Samurai Shodown

SNES, 1994

Samurai Shodown SNES
Tiny Earthquake, crappy graphics, what a lame port...

SNES was seen by developers and audiences as a perfect platform to receive arcade ports. Much was due to Street Fighter and other excellent works such as Sunset Riders, Killer Instinct that was very different but acceptable, Neo-Geo shooters...

But it didn't always live up to expectations. Samurai Shodown, that on Neo-Geo had a super zoom and killer gameplay effect, was mistreated at SNES. Poor graphically, a lower version even in comparison to the Mega Drive.

One of the characters, Earthquake, for technical reasons was turned into a tiny, pathetic thing – the original was a giant almost the size of the screen. Not that others have done much better. The sound also suffered, seeming like the result of a rushed job, and the gameplay was hampered by the small size of the fighters in general.

The Mega Drive version, despite the obvious disadvantage of hardware, followed another strategy: Earthquake was removed (he was never one of the most popular, anyway), so as the zoom effect, focusing on beautiful graphics and good gameplay. A decent conversion.

Maybe the oversearching for fidelity on SNES was the sin, leading to the failure of the whole production. Nintendo could be smart, but you can't always be right – if they had done it themselves, instead of third-party Takara, who knows what would have happened.

5º Shadow of the Beast

Master System, 1992

Shadow of the Beast - Master System
Personagem e cenário são quase uma coisa só.

The franchise Shadow of the Beast began in 1989 on the Amiga computer, and after captivating the public, it naturally got ported on other platforms.

Among them is a beautiful game for the Mega Drive – beautiful, yes, but with no doubt, one of the hardest games ever made, entering the terrifying level. If you think you're good, try finishing it without cheats, and you'll find out how cruel life really is.

Then, to make matters worse, came this atrocious version for the Master System. In addition to being boring to play, is extremely ugly. Horrible graphics – and I'm not talking about the natural ugliness of the demons – and, above all, one of the most wretched sounds of Sega's 8-bit. If playing that game isn't that interesting (not interesting at all), with those noises it becomes a kind of self-torture.

If you don't want to risk permanent trauma, mute your TV, or turn off your computer's speakers. Or, better yet: do yourself a favor and don't play that crap.

4º Rock 'n' Roll Racing

Mega Drive, 1993

Rock n Roll Racing - Mega Drive
For the Mega Drive, maybe the sound was coming from CD players on the cars...

This brings back fond memories for Super Nintendo players, especially those who like rock  and roll, and racing games. The high-speed cars, with narrations and futuristic characters, all over a selection of heavy metal classics, something rare in video games, at least back then, in the cartridges era.

The Mega Drive version wasn't the worst in terms of graphics and gameplay, but it lost a lot in terms of sound. And for that title, sound was a crucial part of the experience, a characteristic feature of the original game.

In addition to the narrator's metallic voice, the music is cut off every time a sound effect happens. Probably some technical limitation or programming mistake, that didn't allow certain sounds to be overlapped using the same channel.

As with the old discman and CD players, it seemed that with each impact of the cars, the  disc would jump and cut off the music. Although the game wasn't that bad, it was annoying and ruined the main "brand", which even gave the game its name.

3º Street Fighter II

NES, 1992

Street Fighter II - NES
Lots of time lost with this crap game. At least, it helped me on writing this post!

Converting fighting games to 8-bit consoles was never a great idea, to begin with. Some "hit and go" games survived the transition; Double Dragon was a rare good exception on the Master System. Vigilante was tolerable, and that's it – and that's because the arcade wasn't all that great, either.

"1vs1" fighting weren't as lucky. The conversions of Mortal Kombat and Pit-Fighter were disasters, and with the great Street Fighter II, could we expect anything better? Of course not.

Produced by a certain Yoko Soft, a softhouse more pirate than Jack Sparrow, the version was extremely limited, with only a few selectable characters, and of course, cutting most of the original details. Sounds, voices, graphics, moves, characters...

There wasn't much left, to be fair. The moves are really strange, and when you hit your opponent, the sound effect is like an egg breaking.

But the happy NES owners spent hours playing this junk, for lack of anything better and/or official. Yoko Soft would release another pirate NES "classic", Street Fighter III, which had nothing to do with the future third version of the franchise, it was just an "improved" Street Fighter II, so to speak...

2º Pit Fighter

Master System, 1991

Pit-Fighter - Master System
Do it look bad? You have no idea...

After being ported to every machine imaginable, Pit-Fighter, an old arcade hit, one of the most iconic underground MMA games ever, seemed to be definitely exhausted. Let it live at the glory of retired classics, right?

Yes, until some brilliant sick mind had the unfortunate genius idea: "Let's make a Pit-Fighter for the Master System, shall we?"

It's obvious that converting the digitized graphics, which paved way for other sensational games like Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam and Lethal Enforcers, for the Master System, wouldn't be a simple task, not to say impossible. It required redesigning everything, adapting it to the limitations of the platform, and at the same time keeping as much of the original atmosphere as possible. How to do it?

Everyone knows the result. Or rather: those who don't know it, stay this way. A pathetic conversion, with tiny characters and incredibly annoying sound. Not that I expected a perfect port or fidelity to the original. But it's just... bad.

Some titles don't deserve this kind of "tribute". They should have let the glorious Pit-Fighter rest in the peace of its retirement, in the pantheon of great games of the past, not turning it into a disgusting zombie of its former self.

1º Double Dragon

Atari 2600, 1988

Double Dragon - Atari 2600
Big-bellied fighters? Umbilical hernia? I don't wanna now, just let this monstrosity away from me!

In 1988, Atari had the unfortunate idea of ​​converting Double Dragon, which had been released only one year earlier for arcades, to the already dying Atari 2600.

WHY, ACTIVISION? THE ATARI WAS ALREADY DYING! 1988! Was it some kind of self-punishment? A punishment for programmers who behaved badly?

Continuing... At that time, the 2600 was still used by few people, true. But in Japan, new things had sprouted – like the NES and the Master System, with Mega Drive in the pipeline – that would soon become more popular and get excellent versions of Double Dragon.

So, why? Why to try the impossible, shoving a modern and well-known game on a console that was almost 10 years old, at the end of its generation? It's just so stupid.

A bad idea, as you can see in the poor graphics even for the 2600 level, and the attempt to adapt the two-button controls to the Atari's single button and other general limitations. The sound is... well, the Atari sound, you know, a tolerable remake of the original music with those white noise beeps.

The little characters are bizarre. Don't believe it? Check it out:

Some might say that if there was no original Double Dragon, if this were the first, the comparison wouldn't exist, so the game would seem better. But I disagree. Even placed side by side with remotely similar Atari games, like Pitfall, this one looks below average.


Anyway, this is my list of some of the worst ports I can remember. I'm sure I forgot some and left out others that you think are even worse. If you disagree with my list, feel free to comment.

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