Seven Games We Wish We Could Forget (and Why We Shouldn’t)

Over the course of gaming history, we’ve seen a number of bad games that we all wish that could be erased from our memories, Eternal Sunshine style. But beneath their bad design choices, questionable history and overall messiness on gaming’s clean tablecloth, there is a silver lining. If anything, gaming is a learning experience and we’ve got to take the good with the bad. So, in an effort to soothe the burns of the past, here’s a new list of seven games that have left a stain on gaming history, but also teach us a number of lessons that the entire industry and culture shouldn’t forget (even if we really want to).

duke-nukem-forever-Logo

Duke Nukem Forever, 2011 (PC, PS3, 360)

Lesson: Extensive time in development hell can ruin your game.

Originally announced in 1996, Duke Nukem Forever was revealed as some sort of future evolution of the first-person shooter genre. After the success of Duke Nukem 3D, the series became legendary for its absurdly high level of action and ridiculously badass main character. Duke Nukem Forever was going to be this transcendent leap into the next generation of shooters, but after multiple licensing issues and studio changes, the game became a running joke of being in development hell. Despite never being officially “cancelled”, the game was trapped in its own limbo until Gearbox Software picked the game up where the now-defunct 3D Realms left off. The result was a game whose mediocre mechanics and design were heavily amplified by its notoriously long development. Duke Nukem Forever’s time in development lasted during a number of evolutionary periods of the shooter genre. Goldeneye 007 brought addictive console multiplayer to the mix, Halo introduced a tremendous world to explore and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare changed competitive multiplayer in shocking ways. Duke Nukem Forever was forced to adapt to these changes in the genre without any real passion behind it. The introduction of Halo mechanics and a very dated combat design proved that the game was trying to stay current instead of being versatile and moving ahead with the times. What remained was one of the most prolific examples of how a long time in development hell can drain a game to the bone.

 

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Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon/Link: The Faces of Evil, 1993 (CD-i)

Lesson: Be careful who can use your franchise.

The self-destructive CD-I system didn’t really need any help with its move to obscurity and eventual collapse. When Nintendo’s collaboration with Philips for a CD-based add-on to the Super Nintendo was cancelled, Nintendo had already given Philips the rights to use the Zelda and Mario licenses, so the folks at Philips simply couldn’t resist themselves. They needed something to move gamers’ eyes to their $700 system. Development house Animation Magic released two games with the Zelda license, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Link: The Faces of Evil. The games are widely regarded as some of the worst games of all time, mostly due to their broken controls, poor level design and, most importantly, a terrible representation of the Zelda universe. Their notoriously horrible cutscenes did nothing to portray the sense of epic fantasy that the NES games had brought to life, instead having presentation more akin to a children’s religious cartoon than a giant quest to save a kingdom. Nintendo continues to ignore these games, very rarely bringing them up publically, showing that the company has learned to keep close eyes on their most treasured franchises instead of handing them off to companies that clearly aren’t educated enough in the series’ history or design to produce anything of merit. Golly!

 

bioshock 2

Bioshock 2, 2010 (PC, 360, PS3)

Lesson: Not every game needs a sequel.

Bioshock remains one of the most acclaimed and important games of its time. From its wondrously dystopian world to its unforgettable mix of action and role-playing, it set the bar so incredibly high that its quality seemed untouchable at the time. The announcement of Bioshock 2 came with a steady amount of skepticism at first, but once the product hit stores, it became clear that Bioshock 2 was no true successor to Bioshock. Relying on soulless extraneous characters, very gimmicky enemy and challenge choices, and a multiplayer that shamelessly catered to the Modern Warfare crowd, Bioshock 2 tried extremely hard to get the attention of the many gamers who adored the original Bioshock. While the first game in the series was a brilliant revelation, an endearingly creepy world that no one had seen before, Bioshock 2 was a stale return to a world that had already laid all the cards on the table. Bioshock didn’t hold anything back when it appears, but Bioshock 2 was simply picking up the scraps that were left behind.

 

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Guitar Hero Smash Hits, 2009 (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2)

Lesson: Too many releases in too little time can destroy a franchise.

During 2009, there were no less than four different Guitar Hero games being released and while Metallica, Van Halen and even the terribly named Band Hero could get a pass for at least having some new content, Smash Hits was merely an expansion disc that let you play songs from older Guitar Hero games with a full band lineup. As a fully priced retail disc, it was madness. Guitar Hero’s competition in Rock Band was embracing a “buy-what-you-want” philosophy through their digital song store, while Guitar Hero was cramming together older tracks, forcing consumers to buy a disc with all 48 tracks if they wanted to only play a select few. It didn’t help that there were already a ton of other Guitar Hero games on the market with very few of them having mass appeal (if you don’t like Van Halen, why would you buy their Guitar Hero game?). It was a manipulative and very corporate release, one that contributed to a mass saturation of the band game market and leading to its steady fade into irrelevance.

 

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SimCity, 2013 (PC)

Lesson: Don’t underestimate the traffic of an online game, especially at launch.

This digital age of gaming has embraced online network capabilities in its releases, but the 2013 reboot of the SimCity franchise was a clear indicator of how unprepared the world was for an always-online component. Aside from the clear limitations of not even being able to play single-player without having a connection to EA’s servers, the SimCity launch was a debacle. Reports of network outages and connection errors for the game rampantly rushed across forums and tech support pages alike, crippling the game’s reputation within hours of its launch. Throw in widespread losses of save data and you have a butchered launch that did nothing but highlight EA’s lack of preparation with their server stability. If a company is to make a game that requires pristine connection fidelity at all times, preparing their servers for the stampede of anxious gamers wanting to build their burg of choice is top priority. SimCity’s major issues may have been at least partially remedied, but the game’s disastrous launch and EA’s lack of technical preparation raised a number of red flags for the concept. We’re just not ready for always-online yet.

 

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Wii Music, 2008 (Wii)

Lesson: A game isn’t a game if simplified too much.

Wii Music was an anomaly in Nintendo’s catalog. It was a game promoted and supported by Nintendo visionary and legend Shigeru Miyamoto that was actually a pretty bad idea. Picking up where games like Wii Sports, Wii Play and Wii Fit left off, Wii Music was a straightforward music-based game where players would use the Wii Remote’s motion sensing to generate sounds for different instruments in the game. Unlike its peers Rock Band and Guitar Hero, Wii Music was a game rooted in improvisation and experimentation. There was no objective, scoring or challenge outside of the game’s very few minigames. As a result, the game felt incredibly one-note (no pun intended) and it was very difficult to understand what the game intended for the player to do; it simply was too open-ended. It never felt like a challenge; its simple interface prided accessibility over what actually makes a game a game. When waving the Wii Remote randomly is supposed to replace challenge and objective-driven mechanics of rhythm games of yore, the focus is lost. Wii Music was not a game, and even if it was, it wouldn’t have been a good one.

 

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Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, 2013 (iOS, Android)

Lesson: There is such thing as too many microtransactions.

“Microtransactions” is one of those dirty words you hear in the gaming world today. People who grew up with the blistering challenge of Contra or the more contemporary difficulty of Dark Souls have vilified the concept of buying your way through a game, and in a way, they have a point. It’s also why Day 1 DLC is so disliked; it’s the idea of being charged for crucial components of a game that have made gamers so agitated. But even as we grumble about microtransactions in Dead Space and Forza Motorsport, it cannot be denied how abused the system is with the mobile game Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. On its own, the game was overly simple, almost to the point of abandoning player participation. The game reached an apocalyptic low with its mass abuse of in-app purchases. All the Bravest kept fan-favorite characters like Final Fantasy VII’s Tifa and the Chocobo behind absurdly high price walls and random chance, with the characters themselves being nothing more than fan service and bringing no noticeable change to gameplay. The game even had the nerve to offer the ability to revive your party by paying actual money (otherwise, you need to wait three minutes per character). While mobile apps have had their share of manipulative in-app purchases, All the Bravest is the perfect example of a cash grab. If you really want to put microtransactions in your game, do not do it to the extent of what Square did with All the Bravest.

Are there any lessons you think need to be learned from other games? Sound off in the comments below!

  • Kyle Solmonson

    Everyone knows the CDi Zelda games are the best in the series.

  • destry-s

    Ugh… FF: All the Bravest is such a cash-grab. Unfortunately, Squeenex have said that games like these make money for them in the long run, so more will eventually be made…

  • Robert Nabors

    i still liked Bioshock 2 just as much as 1, especially since they fixed most of the issues i had in 1 in 2

  • Kai Balduin

    Bioshock 2 ? Fuck is wrong with you ?

    • Brandon Keating

      ikr its like the best game ever :L

      • Kai Balduin

        Whole Bioshock Series is Legendary. People just silly and should play there stupid COD shit !

        • Louie

          No it isn’t lol. The first game is a work of art. The second had a big time “been there, done that” feel to it. And the Infinite’s story flies right in the face of it’s own rules at the end kinda ruining the whole ride. For the record I don’t, and never have owned a single CoD game before ya go there. I’m mostly a RPG guy myself. Loved the first BS, but they kinda go downhill from there imo.

          • eviltaco

            In its defense, nothing coulda measured up to the first. If it didn’t carry the Bioshock name, it’d still be a classic, imo. It’s just not *Bioshock* good. Compare this to the new Deus Ex, which IMO woulda been a WAY better example. I think half of the reason that game got any kind of good ratings at all were on name value alone. It was possible to run a comp sci major and get forced into a stand-up fight with a jacked up machine gun toting killdroid. Game never even gave you a hint that toe to toe fighting would ever be a thing, if you didn’t choose it, and suddenly threw boss fights at you that’d be difficult even if you were combat specced. THAT is a bad sequel.

          • Xeon2

            Unless you are playing the Wii U version of course.

          • Ken Gorman

            Yup, Deus Ex HR was kinda fun, then Just before Montreal the forced stealth or die crap got really annoying and in Montreal the game turned to real crap. it definitely should of made this list instead of Bioshock 2

        • TheBiggerMan

          ok, just so its clear I think both bioshock 1 and bioshock 2 are great games but lets not forget that most of the COD games are good as well. The moral of the story is everyone has their own individual likes and dislikes. Don’t be so judgemental.

  • Riku Ashwood

    Why do so many people hate on Bioshock 2?

    • Stimpy Love

      I think they are just critisicing it becouse it is what everyone does on a review.

      • Louie

        No it’s cause it’s just not that good lol. Many people cite the “been there, done that” feel to the game that I too experienced as the #1 cause. Saying we criticize just to criticize is like me saying anyone that likes the game is just being a blind fanboy due to the first game’s greatness. Neither one of those is true in general, although probably so in some cases.

        • jubod

          Louie has some rustled jimmies ;)

        • Carson Bryant

          Louie, please, Shut the hell up. I swear, no one laughs after harshly dishing out their simple question.

        • AJAX

          As you can see from the comments most people disagree with you on bio shock 2. And a quick review search shows that almost all critics disagree with you and and this author as well. In my opinion bioshock one over all better but bioshock 2 had a better ending. It being put this list as an example of a bad sequel when there are so many worst ones is retarded.

        • Yawn Zzzzzzena (U © bore me)

          Funny nothing about bioshock two reminded me of the first except the setting. You played as a big daddy. Different parts of rapture. Way better storyline imo also.

    • Bartłomiej Kordek

      They dont. Someone who wrote this crap think this way. Shame for you author!

  • jeep3r .

    I rather liked Bioshock 2, better than one, for me Bioshock 1 was a game that i played it thinking something like “Ok, now that i started it , the least i can do it’s finish it” (the game had no appeal to me), now Bioshock 2 i did love it but never finish it , mainly because of the fucking random crashes every 5 mins…

  • cengi

    bioschok 2 is a good game in the first bioschok i was like why did he came her i also like bioschok for the environment for the big daddys i lik under water in the second we see others big daddys outside and things like that

  • Jeht21

    Bio-shock 2 is a good game. It improves on a lot of aspects from the first one. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s still a good game. Seeing the world through the eyes of both a big daddy, and a little sister. Instead of bio-shock 2, he should’ve listed bio-shock infinite. I really dislike this game as a bioshock title. Scripted battles, crappy weapons, the ability to only carry 2 weapons at a time, uninteresting vending machines, no hacking, a continual escort mission, uninteresting exploration, and crappy ass plasm…er I mean tonics. Yeah I really, REALLY hate that game.

  • robthom

    I was as surprised as anybody when Bioshock 2 was pretty much as good as the first one, or better.

    It wasn’t as ground breaking (as ground breaking as Bladerunner underwater can be) as the first one, but it hit pretty much the same beats while adding a bunch of extra goodies thats made possible when the previous game has done most of the heavy lifting.

    And since Bioshock 1 is strangely touchy to get to run well on a modern x64 system for some reason, Bioshock 2 has become my preferred version of that worldspace.

  • LeadTheLeader

    GTFO Bioshock Rules!
    getränkelieferant

  • metadrone

    The legend of Zelda : the faces of evil , I never grew up playing it , but my cousin did , he had the old cartridge and the platform to play it on , the first thing I noticed , shitty controls and worst of all

    The thing that had given nightmares to gamers of the old times to this day

    Horrible freaking CUTSCENES , everything from the cheesy dialogs , to the terrible voce acting , to the terrible animation that made a one year old’s drawing a million times better , why did my cousin show it to me , what did I do to deserve this shit .

  • Streig

    Saw Bioshock 2 on the list; stopped reading. Fuck this list and whoever wrote it.

  • Izzy

    How the hell could you put Bioshock 2 in with all these horrid games?!!! The WHOLE Bioshock series is a huge success if you ask me. And I am pretty damn sure almost everyone agrees with me!! Fuck off!! ~ Female Who Loves Games and Kicks Ass.

    • Anon

      ~female who loves games and kicks ass~
      Necessary? no. Stupid comment? yes. almost everyone agrees with you? no.

  • Ken Gorman

    Bioshock 2 was epic awesomeness, the only game you have on here that’s right is Duke Nukem Forever. Why isn’t Alien:Colonial Marines or ET on this list?

  • vollstix

    Bioshock 2?!?! You’re tripping. And the DLC Minerva’s Den is fantastic.

  • http://blog.headsign.de/ mat

    Bioshock 2 is a great game.

  • Mathew Blakeway

    Bioshock 2, Did you even play the game?

  • Lifelike

    Not to pile on but Bioshock 2 was actually a great game. True, it was not as groundbreaking as the original but it is a worthy successor that helped expand and flesh out the story that was introduced in the first game. Characters were well acted and the story was compelling. Gameplay was similar to the original..Its a FPS after all. What else were you looking for?

  • Sebastián Ortiz Lira

    We should forget the Online issues from SIMCITY, but the game is the best of the franchise, hoy u dare!

  • Cole MacGrath Fan55

    and the infamous 2!

  • Jason

    See that’s what I don’t get, “been there done that” is a state of being in this day of sequels and prequels. Yes they should have refined the controls like in Arkham City. But that’s just a niggling bit of nitpicking given just how tight the controls already were. And let’s face it, since the original came out almost no game has had a story good enough to match it. Lastly let’s not forget it was planned as a stand alone game, and whether game or movie those stories are never as good (think The Matrix 2 or 3).

  • Luis

    I wish I could forget Bioshock 2 so I could play it all over again unspoiled.

  • victor

    WTF que le pasa a esto? … Bioshock 2 es demasiado bueno ._. … el bioshock 1, 2 y el infinite los 3 mejores juegos que he jugado en toda mi vida .-.

  • gaglhop

    leave bioshock alone and kill yourself you filthy crap writer!!

    • http://www.gamersage.net/ FantasyDragon

      KILL YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THE SAME GAMES I DO BECAUSE IT TOTALLY AFFECTS MY LIFE THAT MUCH

  • Ryan

    Bioshock 2? A game that should never have had a sequel? I wonder what your opinion on Bioshock Infinite then. Bioshock 2 was amazing and your portrayal of it offers absolutely no reasons why it’s supposedly terrible. Seriously, you didn’t give one reason why it was so bad, just useless rhetoric. All you did was compile a list of a few games that you know we’re obviously terrible, and then you sprinkled in a few of your own. Worthless article.

  • claypigeons

    I liked Bioshock 2.

  • Yawn Zzzzzzena (U © bore me)

    Um wtf how was bioshock 2 bad. Even the replay value was good because of the multiple ending. You got to play as a big daddy. Discover different parts of rapture. New plasmids and weapons. Etc.

  • DislikeDisquis

    Wow. The droves of people with terrible taste and a fanatic devotion to the massively disappointing (and poorly written) Bioshock 2 here is impressive.

  • Michelle Randall

    I don’t understand all the hate with Bioshock 2 :/ I freaking ADORED that game and thought it was much better in terms of gameplay, story development, and, characters than the first.

  • Chaos Rex Regis

    There is no reason why Bioshock 2 should be on this list. There are too many people who enjoyed the game for it to be called “Forgettable.” If it was ONLY the multiplayer segment of the game that was listed that would be reasonable but the main game itself delved deeper into the lore of the game in a way that many people enjoyed.

  • AceRay

    Where’s Daikatana?