Continuing game franchises are fairly common in this day and age. Once a great idea hits, capitalizing on that idea becomes top priority for almost everyone involved. Usually this bodes well for franchises, as they keep iterating and innovating on the previous game, but sometimes there are some missteps. And sometimes there are crippling follies. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite franchises’ darker moments.
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire
Innovation isn’t focal point for the Pokemon franchise that gets talked about too often, and that’s made crystal-clear in the third generation of Pokemon games. Up to this point, Pokemon was a continuously growing franchise – both in the actual size of the game’s land mass, and the skyrocketing popularity of the critters, as well. The previous entries, Gold & Silver, were an expanded version of the original titles, and the series could only grow from there. Or so we thought. Ruby and Sapphire updated the games graphics with a pseudo-SNES style that would squeeze the Pokemon games tight until the upcoming X and Y bring the franchise into 3D. Concepts like Pokemon Contests, underground bases, and double battles stuffed these games with too much fluff, and not as much variety as there could have been. Of course it’s not all bad for Pokemon, as even the worst titles have saving graces. The nature and ability systems completely changed the game, and for that, Ruby and Sapphire do deserve respect.
Mega Man 8
Yes, I’m aware of some of the blue bomber’s darker moments, such as the entirety of the Battle Network series, but all of that pales in comparison to the clustershart that is 8. Yes, the main series had been in a decline already with 7, but 8 really brought its F-game. Picture it – it’s the mid-90s. What does a classic franchise need more than an anime-out-the-ass intro, along with meme-level horrible voice acting. Mega Man himself sounds like a preschooler. Then you get to Dr. Light, who sounds like if Elmer Fudd spoke into a SNES. Then you get to the real meat of the game…the game. And it’s still worse than Mega Man X was at the time. It really pleads a case for Mega Man needing to get his collective shit together.
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy titles differ from each other in completely unique ways, and that concept leads to some pretty sour apples. This is where Final Fantasy VIII chimes in, featuring the most brooding, generic love story ever crafted in a JRPG. Our hero, the ever-so-whiny Squall, tries to win the affection of Rinoa, and I’m fairly certain the biggest nerd stereotype would connect with her more. This wouldn’t be a crippling issue if it wasn’t the crux of the entire narrative, as you must trudge through multiple PSOne discs and dozens of real-life hours as you cringe through more stories of depression, isolation, and with no hint of a genuine connection seen anywhere.
While many of us play Final Fantasy games for the story, the gameplay ended up being nothing but turd-icing on an already shitty cake. Who wants magic? Just steal from your enemies, all the while ravaging the battlefield with obnoxious summons. Final Fantasy VII may be the most overrated piece of media in existence, but VIII takes the cake for the worst one yet.
Mario Kart Wii
You know what a kart racer shouldn’t have? Pretty simple, it’s bikes. Sure, there are less technical Mario Karts like Super Curcuit and Mario Kart DS, but those took advantage of the platform they were given. With Mario Kart Wii, Nintendo had the best hardware at the time at their disposal, but still managed to crank out the most unbalanced, item-heavy, blue shell chucking Mario Kart yet. On top of all of that, all the previous baggage of the Mario Kart series like being completely obsessive toward drift boosting and horrible items. It’s still a Mario Kart game, so there’s plenty of fun to be had, but this weak entry only being the bestselling of the franchise is more than a little disheartening.
This may have been the easiest pick of them all. The concept of a fighting game based on Castlevania’s iconic cast of characters is enticing, and that’s the only good idea that came from this game, because literally everything else about it is completely unappealing. All the characters got horrid redesigns that look like an overly-emo version of gothic looks, and butcher what made any of these characters interesting. Add the absurd fixation of breasts that the game pushes for whatever reason, on top of the poorly handled controls of the Wii Remote, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, an order that Judgement craps out perfectly.
When you compare all of the Halo games, side-by-side, Halo 2 just comes up a little short, especially when you examine the campaign front. The ball wasn’t completely in Bungie’s court during that game, though, as a chunk of the blame can be thrown Microsoft’s way. They saw fit to start the Halo 3 hype train before Halo 2 even launched, making a somewhat malnourished story. However, I can’t deny the push that Halo 2 brought to online multiplayer. But that isn’t enough to make it better than any other Halo game, which all have improved upon Halo 2′s foundation.
Resident Evil 6
The first few Resident Evil titles don’t exactly hold up to today’s gaming standards, but that’s more than I can say about the most recent entry in the franchise, as Resident Evil 6 was way too ambitious for its own good. Trying to cram three separate arcs into one cohesive story proved to be too much to handle, and ultimately sullied some of our favorite protagonists in the series (sorry, Leon). On top of that, the game tried to evolve from Resident Evil 4 and 5‘s gameplay, but instead of making it more fluid a la Gears of War, it sort of splintered off into some bizarre amalgamation of third person shooters that was not fun to play. The game had some nice features, but you’d need a lot more to save Resident Evil 6.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Even the worst games in some franchises don’t cross the “bad” threshold. Phantom Hourglass pushed the touch screen controls a bit too hard for many players’ tastes, and on top of that, some of the gameplay quirks were downright questionable. Why am I trudging through this one dungeon seven times to make more progress in the dungeon? Why is there some sort of hide-and-seek clone that requires online play? The sum of its parts definitely make this the most lacking Zelda game, even compared to questionable entries like Majora’s Mask or Zelda II. It’s a poor excuse for a Zelda game, but still a good game overall.
Metroid: Other M
This isn’t a shit game, but it takes a collective dump on what made Samus special on top of being pretty middling overall. You see, Samus was a complete badass up to this point, and she was always the calm, collected type of individual when faced with gigantic monsters, lizard-men, and life-sucking parasites. For whatever reason, Other M, made by Team Ninja, tossed that shit out the window, in lieu of making Samus a huge Japanese stereotype. She goes into some sort of PTSD and screams when Ridley shows up – WHY?! She’s beaten the shit out of him so many times that this character arc makes little to no sense.
It doesn’t help that the gameplay is the same *dodge + stun + shoot* mechanic a hundred times over, and you in fact always have your powers, but because your superior officer said “no”, you choose not to do anything with them. That is not the Samus we know. Hell, in Metroid Prime 3, Samus knew she had to bend the rules of the Galactic Federation to get what she wanted sometimes, but now all of a sudden she’s completely by the book. The saving grace of this game is ironically the narrative, which gains respectable traction in the later half, but what that game did to Samus is borderline unforgivable.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
It’s beyond cliche to shit on this game, but every bit of it is deserved. Narrative, gameplay, visuals, all of it culminates in the smelliest turd pile of the last decade. Further diluding itself with Dragon Ball ripoffs, Sonic ’06 introduces Silver the Hedgehog – another Super Saiyan hedgehog, except he comes from the future to stop events from the past. He literally has three conflicting backstories, so it’s a good thing they’re still into character development. Somewhere along the way, Sonic wins the heart of a kind (human) princess, and that just presents us with a whole new level of absurdity. If you still hate yourself enough to want to keep playing, good luck, as the gameplay is tremendously buggy and broken.
Between three brilliant games, picking a “worst” is hard to choose from. All three do great things, but in terms of quality, I’d have to go with the original being the weakest of the trilogy. The gameplay isn’t bad, but compared to 2 and 3, it’s very antiquated. Everything feels so stiff and cramped, and the powers don’t feel organic at all. Also the game took a toll on all platforms when it came out, both graphically and physically. Long load times, stuttering framerate, and hardware crashes did a number on an otherwise fantastic game, but also set the stage for the sequels to be spread out across multiple discs on the Xbox 360. However, the game deserves respect for introducing the magnificent galaxy that encompasses Mass Effect, even if showing it off was a bit much for consoles of its day.
Gran Turismo – That shit sucks.
Troll Tuesday does what it intends. Intentionally irritate, yet insights on issues of the Industry, always on Tuesday whenever ready and always teasing whenever needed.