By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
#5 – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010)
I specified in the instructions for this survey that it wasn’t just about picking “bad games,” it was picking reboots that were simply disappointing in some way. People clearly took that to heart in choosing Lords of Shadow, as it’s tough to argue that it’s a terrible game–certainly not compared to the rest of this list–but it simply wasn’t what a lot of longtime Castlevania fans wanted. Much of the classic Castlevania exploration was eschewed in favor of a more linear, action-focused game, and after spending nearly 20 years playing a series with a pretty consistent narrative, rebooting the canon entirely isn’t what fans wanted. It didn’t help that the sequel really wasn’t a particularly good game, and the franchise has essentially been dead since, so a lot of people see Lords of Shadow as the killer of the series rather than the fresh new beginning it could’ve been.
#4 – Bomberman: Act Zero (2006)
There tends to be this assumption that when the popularity of a classic franchise begins to flag, that it’s because the series is no longer appealing to the newer generation of gamers. I don’t know for sure if that was where Bomberman was at in the mid 2000s, but I do know that reinventing the series as dark and gritty and transforming the character from squat and cute to lanky and menacing wasn’t the way to breathe new life into the character or the franchise. Truthfully, people might not have minded the dystopian future take on Bomberman if Act Zero was at least a decent game, but it wasn’t–not by a long shot. Those that tried to give their beloved Bomberman the benefit of the doubt in spite of his overly aggro new vibe quickly realized that Act Zero wasn’t a great Bomberman game with terribly misguided aesthetics; it was just a bad game all around. Considering Konami–who currently owns the rights to Bomberman–barely seems interested in making new installments to their own games these days (except shamelessly use them for “erotic” Pachinko machines), we probably shouldn’t hold our breaths for another attempt at making Bomberman viable again anytime soon.
#3 – Golden Axe: Beast Rider (2008)
People like to talk about how Nintendo should go third-party. Those people tend to forget that when Sega went third-party, they didn’t exactly roll right along being the same Sega and making the same great games. One of the worst examples of the company’s struggle to keep its beloved portfolio alive into its post-Dreamcast phase is Golden Axe: Beast Rider. In all fairness to Sega, it isn’t like plenty of other 2D franchises didn’t also fail miserably when they transitioned into 3D. In fact, far more didn’t pull it off than did. Still, the willingness to cut Sega slack on how badly Beast Rider turned out only goes so far. Deciding to make a traditionally co-op game single player-only, having it star only one of the franchise’s several iconic characters, and jumping on the bandwagon of the time by having that character be Tyris and having her be way oversexualized were already three strikes against this game. The fact that it just wasn’t well-made or particularly fun were the other two outs. It would be one of the last times Sega tried to make a new AAA game out of one its classic franchises that isn’t Sonic.
#2 – SimCity (2013)
It’s tough to know for sure if the 2013 SimCity reboot is even actually a good game or not, since its launch and the months that followed were fraught with some of the biggest issues and glitches of any major game release in history and made the game unplayable and fans too angry to give it another chance. And it isn’t as if gamers today aren’t willing to give companies some time to iron out launch window glitches–just look at most Bethesda games and how much people still love that company. Outlets who reviewed the game pre-launch were actually rather positive about it for the most part, but after release and the ensuing issues, the game eventually came to rest at a 64 out of 100 Metacritic score, definitely a disappointment for the well-loved franchise that hadn’t seen a new installment in ten years. The game did manage to sell nearly 2 million copies to date, but for a Sim game, that’s a drop in the bucket, and the fact that there has only been one expansion for it in the three years since its release says a lot about where the game truly stands.
#1 – Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
2004’s Sonic Heroes wasn’t a typical Sonic game, and Shadow the Hedgehog, well…the less said about that, the better. So “Sonic 2006“–as it’s often referred–was meant to serve as kicking off a new chapter for the hedgehog since the Adventure series, as well as properly introducing him to the seventh console generation. Sonic’s struggles in 3D are well-documented at this point, but nothing has been as bad as Sonic 2006 was. The game felt rushed and unfinished, with glitches and bugs at every turn–although you were lucky to actually see those glitches at all with the atrocious camera and long (even for the era) load times. Worst of all was the poor control, which is absolutely unforgivable in a game that is all about careening around environments at light speed. There have since been six more 3D Sonic games of varying quality, but even the worst of them haven’t been nearly as bad as this one. Thank goodness for Sega’s stubbornness to keep Sonic viable no matter how much he stumbles, because a game this bad would’ve killed most other franchises instantly (and we never would’ve gotten the wonderful Sonic Generations and solid Sonic Colors).
Did we miss your most disappointing reboot? Or are you an apologist for one of the games that made our list? I already got some grief for even including Beast Rider as an option so I’m expecting some blow back for it making the final list. Well, that’s what comment sections are for!