The Most Mishandled IPs/Franchises in Gaming?

wadark

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So I've been thinking lately about gaming franchises and IPs that have been sorely mishandled. IPs that have either started great and fallen from grace, or just generally had good potential that was never realized. So, without further ado, my nominees:

First, and most notably:
Sonic the Hedgehog
This one almost goes without saying, but I'll talk about it all the same. After a great start on the Genesis with the initial "the Hedgehog" series, the game went through several lesser known titles in the following years, but rose to prominence again with the Sonic Adventure series, originally on Dreamcast, then on the Gamecube. While I personally enjoyed the Sonic Adventure games, they got mixed reviews overall. And since then, Sonic has suffered a near-tragic slew of games that have hovered somewhere between bad and awful. Games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Unleashed were maligned for their abandonment of the traditional Sonic formula, ie Speed. While other games such as Secret Rings and Black Knight were criticized for terrible Wii control schemes. And all throughout this process has been a lingering criticism of the ever-expanding cast of obnoxiously cute and colorful characters that no one cares about.

More Recently, Sonic Colors, Generations, and Hedgehog 4 have received better reviews and acceptance from fans, but that doesn't change the fact that since the initial success of the franchise in the early 90s, the few games in the series that really did showcase Sonic as a fun, speed-based platformer have been buried under a pile of bad ideas and missed executions, which, sadly, has led to Sonic's most successful recent outing being not one of his own games, but a mash-up fighter hosted by his long-time nemesis, Mario.


Kingdom Hearts
Bear with me here. Kingdom Hearts is a series that I dearly loved, from the first time I sat down to play the first title, until the tear-jerking (if slightly cheesy) final sequences in KH2. So what's the problem? The problem is the mountain of repetitive (not to mention ridiculously-named) side-story games that have all been exclusive to various handheld platforms that I don't own. The first game was great, a wonderful mix of action/RPG with a surprisingly (given the level Disney-ness) deep and fun story. It's only downside was a cliffhanger ending that left fans rabid for more. And what was the first response? Chain of Memories, a Game Boy Advance-exclusive title that advanced the story just enough to irritate fans who didn't own/want a GBA, and/or didn't care for the obnoxious card-based battle system.

Then, finally, after a few years of waiting, we got a proper sequel in the form of KH2, and what did that deliver? Well, the first EIGHT hours of the game were devoted to a story that just BARELY made sense to someone who didn't play CoM, and was literally so boring (running around doing errands in a generic town) that I fell asleep while playing (not even kidding). Now, once Roxas went away, and we got to play with Sora again, the game was wonderful. It revisited many of the popular worlds (let's just forget about Atlantis, ok?), added some excellent new ones, and introduced some great new mechanics that freshened up the experience. The story was great, if a little convoluted, but delivered the great, happy ending we were all waiting for. BUT THEN...in addition to all the backstory universe-building regarding Organization XIII and all of that, the game has the BALLS to end on ANOTHER, if a bit vague, CLIFFHANGER.

That was in 2006, and in the intervening six years, we've had, count em, 4 handheld-exclusive games that have a) been unavailable for those who don't like handhelds, and b) have been absolutely uninteresting side stories about characters who aren't the one we want to play as. Now you may think, well if you don't care then what difference does it make if it's handheld only. The difference is that this is all effort that could be spent on making the proper third installment. But hey, let's cut them a break, Squeenix is too busy making Final Fantasy...Ver...sus...Oh wait...

Duke Nukem
Talk about going for the low-hanging fruit, but I just cannot put together this list without including this. Its difficult to pinpoint exactly where this whole thing went wrong. First of all, it was a decidedly mediocre series to begin with. Secondly, the only reason the series was big was because it served a niche demographic (sweaty, hormone-fueled horny boys) in the 90s, when gaming was still in its infancy. Third, there was the constant delays, revisions, more delays, etc. eventually lasting roughly 15 years. Lastly, there were the fans who somehow still expected the final product of Duke Nukem Forever to be something good. About the only party I don't blame is Gearbox, who are obviously good gamemakers, having put out the successful Borderlands franchise, but given the mess they waded into, I applaud their attempt to make something good and to stand by it, whether it was actually good or not.

Shenmue
I'm unsure as to whether I should actually include this in the list, because I'm not certain that it was really "mishandled" in any way. The developers, and particularly its progenitor Yu Suzuki, set out to make a game that they wanted, and they did, results be damned. The truth is, Shenmue was waaaaay ahead of its time in more ways than one. And, to be honest, even today it would probably be ahead of its time in some ways.

Shenmue was one of the first "open-world" games, allowing its player an unprecedented freedom in creating a world, letting the player explore it, and to approach the story on their own pace and leisure. But Shenmue didn't simply allow players to explore the world, they actually put stuff there to find, something that had never been done before, and rarely done since. Was it all useful? Of course not. Some of it was downright pointless, but you can't really argue that the game was unprecedented in its level of world-building. Shenmue is one of the only games that really feels like a real world, inhabited by people, and with real stuff in it.

The main problem that Shenmue faced, was that it basically spat in the face of the gaming industry when it came to defining interactivity. Interactivity is the major unique factor of gaming, but we still haven't really figured out what to do with it. The default of basically every game for interactivity is "action": shooting, fighting, driving, etc. Shenmue, basically, was not trying to fit into the mold. It sacrificed high-stakes, high-intensity action-heavy gameplay in favor of building a world and weaving a story, though it did include a good deal of a basic fighting game. But in between those fights were long periods where you walked around town, questioned citizens, looked for collectibles, played arcade games, and yes, got a job driving a forklift that was boring as all hell. It was, in my opinion, a great idea, eschewing the "endless henchmen" fights of action-heavy games, but it didn't catch on.

If it was mishandled in any way, it was that they opted to split it up as they did, ending both games on major cliffhangers with no guarantee in sight of a followup or conclusion.



So, that's my collection of ideas. Does anyone else have any examples of series of great potential squandered, or series that started great but have gone way downhill?
 

Mikejames

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Not the worst out there, but Assassin's Creed has certainly been wrung for cash.
We have a plot device that can take take us through any conflict in history, but the surface is barely scratched in favor of padding out.
 

shrimpcel

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Mikejames said:
Not the worst out there, but Assassin's Creed has certainly been wrung for cash.
We have a plot device that can take take us through any conflict in history, but the surface is barely scratched in favor of padding out.
This! The concepts are all there, but the team at Ubisoft falls far short from the pre-industrial GTA series this should be.
 

Terminate421

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Dead Space AFTER Dead Space 2

Lets just say, Dead Space 3 looks nothing like its predessecors. It takes a lot of effort to turn two solid gems of fun, action horror, and story into....that lie of a dead space game.

Bonus Points goes to:
Metroid with Team Ninja
Sonic the hedgehog
 

Hero in a half shell

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Dec 30, 2009
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I think Command and Conquer wins this contest (or should that be looses?)

Going from one of the genre-defining real time strategy games to what it is now, a Multiplayer centered, free2play, e-sports wannabe.

AH Westwood, how did it come to this?
 

Yassen

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I'd say Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I know Star Wars doesn't have the best stories in the world, most coming down to Good VS Evil, but KotOR2 showed you CAN make a good story out of the setting if you tried.

FU didn't try. It just gave us a stupidly overpowered character with no personality, a romance that was somehow even worse than the one with Anakin and Padme, and was basically making all the significant moments in the prequels meaningless... and the sequel was somehow even worse.
 

Savagezion

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I got to go with X-Com. The first one was great despite having a couple problems. The second had a good idea but really didn't fix the problems that riddled the first one and actually added redundancy issues. Each game that came out after that deviated further and further away from what made the original so great. All that despite a simple facelift could pull in a hefty profit margin to the original. Hopefully, Firaxis can turn this around but the problems that plague CivV do worry me a little. It would worry me a lot if they didn't have CivIV to lend them large doses of credibility.
 

Shadowstar38

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Tekken- This may just be me but, everything that happened after 3 just became a blur of WTFs and why do I even care anymore

Devil May Cry- Seriously guys, how do you drop the ball on the first sequel? At least they redeemed themselves with 3. But they followed it up with 4 which couldn't reach the same bar 3 made. And now it's all going down hill with the new one.

Megaman-...seriously, wtf. We have a classic game on PSN every once in a while but where the heck is another Megaman X, or Legends, or ANYTHING.

Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Dead Space, i.e EVERY SURVIVAL HORROR SERIES OUT THERE- With the first two, they are content with making way too many games and bleeding the franchises dry. Also, both RE and Dead space arn't even close to horror now.

Rayman- Make 3 solid platformers then go into nothing but mediocore spin offs for years. What the hell man?
 

BloatedGuppy

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http://spoonyexperiment.com/2012/08/11/ultima-9-ascension-finale/

Nothing else really comes close, that I can think of.
 

Frission

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Mikejames said:
Not the worst out there, but Assassin's Creed has certainly been wrung for cash.
We have a plot device that can take take us through any conflict in history, but the surface is barely scratched in favor of padding out.
I sort of wish they had gone to other time periods. In Assassin's Creed 2 you get to go to tombs dedicated to legendary assassin's. There was the Romans, the ancient Chinese, the Persians, the Egyptians. All of that and we go with the American Revolution.
 

wadark

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Some very interesting ideas here. I don't particularly agree with Assassins Creed, because I've enjoyed the whole series so far, but I can definitely see the points people make in its regard, and how its not something that everyone will enjoy.
 

Studsmack

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Crimson Skies - A simple Microsoft Flight Simulator injected with a remarkably imagined alternate 1930's universe. For the PC, this bad boy was THE flight simulator for me. I absolutely loved the story and the content packed into the game with multiplayer and the variety of planes and weapon load-outs.

The Xbox High Road to Revenge installment was abysmal in comparison! And with Zipper Interactive now defunct and Microsoft not giving two poops about the IP, even though it helped justify early Xbox Live adopters, now should be a great time to bring back this awesome series! That's if they weren't busy selling the Xbox as a media hub and not a game console.

Silent Hill - A series that has certainly been on the decline. It's practically sprinting to mediocrity, though I do feel Downpour was a step... eh, more like a shrug in the right direction. Downpour's heart was in the right place, but the execution was sloppy.
 

KoudelkaMorgan

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Legacy of Kain - Soul Reaver was epic, and due to time constraints it didn't end like it was supposed to and we got a "to be continued" then some of the most complicated and ultimately unfinished plot spread over 3 more games.

Pretty much telling yourself "A wizard did it" will save you much headache from trying to follow the various retcons and paradoxes within paradoxes amidst the flowery exposition.

Siren - The second and possibly best game in the series never made it to NA. Everywhere else in the world essentially and in English but not to NA. Then they do a weird episodic re-imagining of the original game that looks prettier but is no where as good and leaves out way too much of the characters and plot that would make what they DID keep make more sense.

Fatal Frame - Going with the Wii for the 4th game was a huge mistake. Delivering a flawed game that you refuse to fix and then having Nintendo refuse to release it to NA and pretty much killing the series was also a mistake.

Silent Hill - The studios they have pawned the series off on have produced titles ranging from Good (Downpour/Origins), Bad (Homecoming) to Ugly (Shattered Memories/Book of Memories) and show no signs of producing anything vastly different or superior to the original let alone SH2.

Tenchu - 2 great games (control issues aside) followed by IMO the best 2 games in the series (Wrath of Heaven/Fatal Shadows) by From Software, then back to Acquire for the Wii game that could have been excellent but failed miserably. I chose to omit Tenchu Z and the DS game as non-canon.

Amalur - Read the news lately?
 

Veylon

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I'm having trouble coming up with anything that hasn't been covered already, so I'll just shoot for what irks me.

Megaman: Troublesome conversion to 3D and almost completely missed the boat to Metroidvaniaville. Probably the worst thing is the near-abandonment lately. This has the potential to be a great franchise again and I have no idea why it hasn't been done, especially considering the superb work from Megaman Zero 1-3.
 

Tanis

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Silent Hill:
Recently the series has been so screwed up by it's owners...it's just sad.

SH HD Collection was just a joke, a sick sad horrid 'even the lead designer thought it was shit', joke.
 

Easton Dark

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[HEADING=2]STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT[/HEADING]

The games were amazing, the sales figures were amazing, and then they just dropped it to make fucking Force Unleashed.

Lucas Arts lost so much money. It's insane.
 

Xpwn3ntial

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Dec 22, 2008
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Easton Dark said:
[HEADING=2]STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT[/HEADING]

The games were amazing, the sales figures were amazing, and then they just dropped it to make fucking Force Unleashed.

Lucas Arts lost so much money. It's insane.
I seriously do wonder what was running through their minds when Lucas Arts scrapped Battlefront 3 in favor of Force Unleashed.
"Well, we could make another Battlefront game which will undoubtedly make record sales for any Star Wars game, or we could make an interquel between episodes 3 and 4 that we can't possibly forecast sales for. Hmmm..."

OT: What he said. Battlefront.
 

Saltyk

Sane among the insane.
Sep 12, 2010
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This thread is very similar to an idea I had... Guess I'll wait a few days before I post my thread so no one thinks I was "inspired" by this one.

Anyway...

You know I loved Uncharted 2, but Uncharted 3 felt like they didn't even care. Like it was released 6 months too early and needed just a little more polish. It was still a good game, but it wasn't a great game. Seriously, they should have just waited a few months.