GameFan’s College Football USA ’96 Review Might Be the Worst Thing Ever Written


In an age when anyone can get online and write whatever nonsense about games they desire, I thought I’d already seen the worst video game analysis so-called “journalists” could produce. As it turns out, the worst video game review might have been written well before the Internet killed gaming magazines forever.

It almost seemed like there were more of these magazines than actual games in the 1990s. Right before web-based news giants changed the landscape of the games journalism industry, nearly every periodical publisher in America had some sort of game-related piece of literature on newsstands. Some of them were extremely memorable, and have become just as cherished as the games they covered. Others? Not as much.

GameFan was one of the least remarkable of the bunch, and if this review of the equally forgettable College Football USA ’96 is any indication, it’s easy to see why.

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Let’s ignore the numerous misspellings and run-on sentences for now and focus on the fact this review clearly has nothing to do with College Football ’96. Instead the author has chosen to forego his given responsibilities concerning this mediocre sports title and instead discuss “the all mighty ace Combat.”

It would therefore appear that this journalist is referring to Ace Combat for the Sony PlayStation developed by Namco. The article continues to unravel into a complete mess of gibberish and grammatical miscues.

Where in the hell was the editor on this one? Why was this even written to begin with?

The review actually made it to print in GameFan’s September 1995 issue, and the magazine’s subscriber base was justifiably less than pleased. The magazine’s higher-ups scrambled to cover their asses by blaming the shockingly bad review on a conspiracy-minded production partner who used anti-Japanese sentiment in order to sabotage the company’s relationship with the Asian gaming market.

From Editor In Chief Dave Halverson’s press release:

GameFan, more so than any other American title covering the gaming industry, has been the greatest proponent of the Japanese market and culture. This is a known fact in the industry and among gamers.

We are also the fastest growing gaming magazine on the market, despite the fact that our cover price is 20% higher than that of our competitors. We are thought of by readers of all gaming titles as the magazine with the highest production quality and editorial integrity. For these reasons, we are the constant target of our competitors.

Our September issue was the aim of sabotage. The intention was to include language in our issue offensive to the Japanese to damage relationships and set our friends against us.

During the production process, text containing various profanities and language offensive to the Japanese culture was woven throughout the text of the issue. We were able to remove the majority of the language. Despite our efforts, one paragraph contained within an editorial made it through the production process. By the time we discovered this, some of the copies were already distributed to retail outlets.

Unfortunately, because our production process largely involves digitized information on disk and it travels through the hands of several outside sources, it is subject to this type of manipulation. We were caught with our guard down, never having expected such an outrageous act. We have put safeguards in place to insure that this will never occur again.

The action was undoubtedly directed to harm GameFan.

It sounds like complete bullshit, and it was unsurprisingly just that. It turns out that the review was just used as a temporary placeholder until the actual one was completed. It was produced as an internal joke among the staff at the magazine, and was carelessly forgotten about and never removed.

GameFan ceased operations at the end of that decade, when online gaming news outlets emerged as the industry leaders. At least one of their employees scored some free Dreamcast spoils on the way out.

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