The 8 Ball 2.26.13: Top 8 Franchises That Should Go Away
Welcome to another edition of The 8 Ball. The topic chosen from last week’s list was the Top 8 Franchises that should die. Frankly a few of these series should be shot, strangled, set on fire, and crushed by an asteroid, for how they have failed people. I came up with a decent list of games, only a few surprises, but most of these series have out-lived their usefulness. Here we go:
8. Cities XL
I touched upon this game a few weeks in a Crossing the Steams column here, but let me reiterate, the fact that they haven’t fixed any of the problems from 3 games ago. The developer has been cranking these games out yearly (missing 2012 by just a month and a few days), with no help in sight. I pessimistically believe that when Sim City launches, it’ll stick the final fork in this tired franchise. Frankly, it’s for the best. This tired franchise has kept alive by re-releasing the same game with a few new buildings for people to play with, at a full price (discounted if you own older versions). It just shows a complete laziness at whoever is in charge of this series in an unwilling attempt to actually fix any of the core problems. Please, put it out of its misery.
7. “Lego” Games
See above for the Cities XL franchise, for my take on the Lego games. While they are much better developed, they still have barely upgraded any of the core systems. The original Lego game, Lego Star Wars, came out in 2005 on the PS2/Original Xbox. The same problems that that game had, horrible camera issues, illogical puzzle solving, occasional rooms of endlessly spawning enemies, surfaces you can’t jump on (you slide off them), and more, have been as prevalent in the latest game, and all the ones that have come before.. For Pete’s sake, they haven’t even nailed online co-op in these games, and there have been at least 10 of them on the Xbox 360/PS3. The first few games are forgivable, but when their latest game, Lego: LOTR doesn’t even have it, it’s just embarrassing. Knowing TT Games, Lego: Marvel won’t have it either, because that would require actual work on their part. These games sell solely on their license, and without that, people would be a lot harsher towards the myriad of technical and creative problems all these games share.
6. New Super Mario Bros
Note: I’m not counting the DS game, New Super Mario Bros. ironically. This is about the Wii/Wii U/3DS versions
The first NSMB game was a huge nostalgia kick for everyone that seemed to reignite their love of the 2D Mario games. Then a sequel came out for a handheld that, while wasn’t *as* good, was still fun to play. Then a follow up came out for the Wii U because Nintendo realized it needed a Mario game, and it was easier to churn a NSMB game out, than something creative like a Mario Galaxy. One of these types of games every 3 years might be fine, but they cranked out the 3DS one and the Wii U within mere months of each other (August for 3DS, November for Wii U). They’re already dragging this franchise down, and they’ve only made 4 games. Stop while you’re ahead Nintendo, before people really get sick of it.
This is, of course, the most obvious choice for a list of this nature. Madden has been coming out for 25 years now, and shows no signs of stopping. It’s such an event, that when the new Madden game is released in August (usually) it signals that the period for releasing games for the holidays have begun. The question is: why? The obvious answer is that the Madden series makes dump-trucks full of cash for EA every year, despite the general formula not changing much from year to year. Aside from graphics, and increasingly overly complicated gameplay systems, it’s hard to tell Madden 13 from Madden 07, much less from John Madden Football ’92. The ideal scenario is for someone to make a fantastic football game one year, and sell updated rosters/new gameplay ideas as DLC. That wouldn’t happen in a million years, least of all because EA owns the NFL license for the foreseeable future, but it is certainly a nice dream. I have a feeling that if humanity were wiped off the face of the planet tomorrow, there is some secret Madden-producing robot at EA that will continue cranking them out for millions of years to come.
4. Assassin’s Creed
Many props must be given to Ubisoft for squeezing out 3 games from AC2 in an attempt to get more money from people. Really, my hat is off. Honestly, AC3, for all its flaws, does leave the series on a good end point. So what does Ubisoft do? Announce another game in the series, with an all new character/setting, and hope it’s reviewed better then AC3 was. Unless the game is truly revolutionary (pardon the pun) and fixes the problems that have plagued the series from the start, I doubt it’s going to work. They’ll just continue diluting the franchise until even the good ones aren’t fondly remembered. It’s what game companies tend to do with something popular.
3. Gears of War/God of War
I’m kind of lumping these two together just because of where each franchise stands. Both games have had protagonists that have been on a good journey for the past three games. Both ended their story with their third game well enough. And yet, both games have had sequels announced that no one really cares about. I don’t care about a God of War prequel in the same vein of me not giving a damn about a Gears of War story with the B-team characters. You could make a similar point about Halo 3’s ending, but at least that did leave an out for additional games. Neither Gears of War 3 or God of War 3 were built like that, they had fairly final conclusions, with a hint of more, but not an out-and-out “To be Continued”. Microsoft and Sony will continue to draw these franchises out for as long as they can, until people stop caring. I suspect that the new games will be the first sign of this principle.
2. Final Fantasy
I’ve not been a huge fan of Final Fantasy in the past, but this console generation has really exemplified the problems the franchise has. I don’t think anyone at Square has a clue on how to fix it, so they just keep trying to make them, in the hopes that one of them will catch on with people. No greater example of this is with Final Fantasy 14, a game that was announced even before Final Fantasy 13 came out, then when it did get released, failed so spectacularly that a 20+ year veteran of Square was cast out of the company. The less said about their whole “Final Fantasy 13 is a UNIVERSE!” fiasco, the better. Square has become the George Lucas are game-making, thinking that if they cram as much overblown graphics on the screen, it’ll mask the problems of story, characterization, and unwieldy gameplay the franchise has become known for lately. The Final Fantasy legacy has been tainted by both big (FF 14) and small (FF: All the Bravest) failures. Please stop Square, it’s becoming embarrassing.
1. Resident Evil
Sailing past embarrassment, we arrive at the number one game on this list. Final Fantasy was a close call, but it’s not number one, simply because I’ve never been into the series. I was into the Resident Evil series, and the depressing decline of quality for the past 8 years or so. While Resident Evil 4 did have its detractors, it was still a well-made game, and tried to be a bit unique about what the franchise could be. Resident Evil 5 took the bad parts about RE4, mainly the escort mission, and blew it out to be the entire game. Resident Evil 6 TRIPLED this feature, by having 3 different characters with 3 different co-op partners in an ungainly mess of what the game should have been. Remember when Resident Evil was about slow-moving, dumb-as-bricks zombies, there weren’t explosions or QTE’s, and it was in the “survival horror” genre? Yeah, it seems like years ago…because it was. Actually 13 years ago, February 3, 2000, when Resident Evil: Code Veronica came out. The series has been going off the track since then, and while RE4 was superb, it wasn’t a traditional RE game. Since then, the series has only gotten more ludicrous and bombastic, with no end in sight. Please Capcom, put a bullet in the head of Resident Evil. And don’t let the T-Virus resurrect it again.
No “The Better Half” this week either. Liana is still sick, and trying to get over it. Here is to hoping she gets well enough next week so she can grace us all with her opinions.
Here is a likely list of games that people might complain about, it’s not meant to be all inclusive, just a few that I thought of, off the top of my head: Armored Core, WWE Games, Gran Turismo, Killzone, Halo, Modern Warfare (or anything Call of Duty related), The Legend of Zelda, Aliens games, “Bad” Sonic Games, Tom Clancy games, Naruto/DBZ/Anime games, anything involving the Kinect.
Going off of the PS4 announcement, I thought I might do a recap of what I’d like, and if Sony nailed it or not. Video apps, Optional Motion Controls, Used Games, and SOME Backward Compatibility are in. Just not with actual disks, but some nebulous streaming system. Sony was cagey about most everything else, if online play will cost anything, how the hard drive will work, digital releases of all games, and new franchises. Knack looked kind of neat, but Killzone looked boring as hell to me.
Two comments from last week also: 1. The Wii U does have some, if not most, of the things I listed, however it’s a paltry imitator. The speed of the machine is laughable at best and embarrassing at worst. 2. I own 1,184 or 738 (depending on which number you use), so yeah, a larger hard drive could always be needed.
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