“So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” It’s hard to watch when a gaming series loses its luster, especially if it’s one that’s so beloved. While some series like Mario have managed to keep their brand intact, others aren’t so lucky. Sometimes, companies just don’t know what to do with a franchise, and it shows.
While some manage to get out of these cold streaks, but others don’t recover and eventually bite the dust. Some franchises were once successful in some form, but fell from grace due to demands from upper management, changing for trends, or the loss of a key figurehead.
10 Bubsy Is One Of Gaming’s Biggest Punchlines
The first Bubsy was little more than a Sonic clone marred by some dubious design choices. Subsequent titles such as Bubsy II and Fractured Furry Tales didn’t manage to address issues of the original. However, the jump into the third dimension saw the eponymous bobcat at his absolute lowest with primitive environments, clunky controls, and an abysmal camera.
Bubsy 3D seemed to be the end of the mascot’s nine lives, but he came back in 2017 to a mix of confusion and annoyance from fans and critics alike with the abysmal Claws of the Furried Kind.
9 The Army Men Franchise Was Simply FUBAR
How this series managed to keep pumping game after game for so long is an absolute mystery. The first two Army Men entries on PC didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but they were adequate enough top-down tactic games. However, subsequent console efforts such as the Sarge’s Heroes entries are when this series really started to go Section 8.
In 2004, the 3DO company filed for bankruptcy and was dishonorably discharged from the series. Global Star Software picked up the franchise with Sarge’s War and Major Malfunction before the series finally went AWOL.
8 When Star Fox Isn’t Grounded, They’re Hindered By Motion Controls
While Rare’s Star Fox Adventures got great reviews, fans didn’t appreciate the shift in genre from a flight rail shooter to more of a Zelda-style exploration title. Namco provided the second GameCube effort with Star Fox Assault, but it was met with a more cold reception due to its third-person shooting segments.
When it was announced that Platinum Games of Bayonetta fame were bringing the fox back into the cockpit, it sounded like a potential return to form. Unfortunately, Star Fox Zero implemented mandatory gamepad and motion controls that just didn’t work.
7 Mass Effect Failed To Steer The Ship In A Better Direction
The original Mass Effect games were acclaimed for their narrative, characters, and emphasis on tough moral decisions. Unfortunately, the third entry introduced micro-transactions and botched its ending by resolving things abruptly and giving players no meaningful input in the conclusion. Bioware tried in vain to steer the series in a new direction with the soft reboot Mass Effect Andromeda.
It attempted to bring the series into the eighth generation of gaming and put more of an emphasis on exploration. From a gameplay, narrative, and visual standpoint, Andromeda was galaxies behind other RPGs on the market.
6 The Dead Rising Series Became A Shuffling Corpse
The first two Dead Rising titles juxtaposed a zombie apocalypse with lively mall and casino settings to humorous effect. Giving players the freedom to grab anything that wasn’t nailed down and see what it does to zombies while dressed as Mega Man is great schlocky fun. However, the departure of Keiji Inafune led to a shift of tone for the series.
Dead Rising 3 was less colorful, less challenging, and prohibited experimentation with its mandatory blueprints. 4 brought back Frank West but excised trademarks, such as the timer and psychopaths, replacing them with ill-fitting stealth sections.
5 Castlevania’s Spinoffs Failed To Bring New Blood
Igarashi attempted to bring the Castlevania series into the fighting genre and inject some motion controls into the mix with Judgment, but it was met with terrible reviews. Likewise, Mercury Stream went for a more God of War approach with the Lords of Shadow series.
While the first entry was well-received, the second failed to live up to the potential of controlling the dark count. For years, Lords of Shadow 2 would be the final nail in the proverbial coffin. The Netflix series and the canceled-then-resurrected mobile entry, Grimoire of Souls, are the only means of subsistence for fans.
4 Konami Fired Metal Gear’s Creator And Tried To Compensate With Zombies
Hideo Kojima broke new ground in the industry with the original Metal Gear. It was stealthy at a time when games were about blowing stuff up. It was verbose at a time when most game stories were “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” Subsequent titles on PlayStation and Xbox consoles pushed the series even further.
Unfortunately, Phantom Pain would mark the last title to be directed by Kojima before Konami fired him. Their first, and so far only, attempt without any input from Kojima was an underwhelming survival zombie game.
3 All The Mystery And Horror Have Been Stripped From Silent Hill
Despite the success of the first 4 Silent Hill games, Konami decided to disband the team to put the series in a new direction. While Shattered Memories attempted to retain the psychological horror of its predecessors, every other western-developed title put more of an emphasis on combat.
When Konami wasn’t just outsourcing the franchise to studios that removed the subtlety and atmosphere, they vandalized the original titles with its botched HD collection. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, they had to cancel a potential revival from Hideo Kojima and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
2 Microsoft Tried To Make Fable Something It Wasn’t
Peter Molyneux gained a reputation in the industry for overpromising and underdelivering with his Fable titles. While the third entry garnered some good reviews, players couldn’t help but notice that it failed to live up to Molyneux’s hype.
Fable Heroes took the series in a whimsical beat ’em up direction absent of any roleplaying, Fable Journey shoehorned gimmicky Kinect controls into the formula, and Fable Legends was a canceled online co-op action game that led to the shuttering of Lionhead Studios. Shannon Loftis of Microsoft would later admit that their handling of Lionhead was a mistake in hindsight.
1 Sonic’s Lack Of A Singular Vision Has Led To An Uneven Track Record
Simply pointing out Sonic’s decline has become tired in and of itself. For every solid title, such as Colors or Mania, there are numerous clunkers like Boom and Forces. Part of the problem is the lack of a clear vision.
The series has attempted an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach by giving Sonic a sword, turning him into a werewolf, or giving his morally grey frenemy the spotlight and some firearms. All these attempts to breathe new life into the series have fallen flat on their face. Fans are hoping that this old hog can learn new tricks with Frontiers.
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