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Top Ten Games That Almost Killed Their Series

Top Ten Games That Almost Killed Their Series - Article

by Taneli Palola , posted on 23 February 2016 / 35,245 Views

Most great and beloved video game franchises have gone through bad times over the years. For many of them these periods are merely momentary setbacks from which the franchise quickly recovers. After all, it's not like a game or two can unmake all the good that the series has accomplished in the past. Then again, sometimes a game will come along that ends up having such a huge negative impact on the entire series that it drags it down with it.

The following 10 games caused their series to fall dramatically in terms of critical reception, and often commercially as well, and forced the franchise into an oftentimes lengthy hiatus. 


10 - Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (2003)

Angel of Darkness has the wonderful distinction of not only almost killing off a beloved franchise but also causing the closure of its developer, Core Design. It took a near three year break and a change of developers to get the franchise back on track. The problems with Angel of Darkness game are usually associated with the cheap mid-to-late 90's 3D platformers; bad controls, awful camerawork, and extremely dated... well, everything.

It was later revealed that Eidos had forced the developer to push the game out early, and it shows. Everything about it feels rushed and unpolished. But at least Tomb Raider eventually recovered from this misstep. Many other series on this list have not been so lucky.


9 - Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight (2010)

This was once the series to beat in the RTS genre. Along with Blizzard's StarCraft and Warcraft, C&C pushed the genre forwards and virtually defined it in the 90s. Its later entries were not genre-defining masterpieces like those early games, but they were still enjoyable games with fun stories and polished gameplay. Then came Tiberian Twilight.

Foregoing just about everything that fans loved about the series, Tiberian Twilight 'boasted' a forgettable single player campaign, removed the series' basic gameplay features, and narratively ended the long-running series with an unremarkable thud. Since Tiberian Twilight there has been exactly one brand new game in the series - a free-to-play online only browser-based MMO that released in 2012. Talk about a fall from grace.

8 - Bionic Commando (2009)

So, my robotic arm is actually... my wife? Wait, what? Bionic Commando itself isn't entirely bad, although that's not to say it was all that great either, but it was a kick in the face for most series fans. It also happens to feature one of the most ridiculous plot twists in video game history, which is no small achievement considering some of the stories we've seen in video games over the years.

Fortunately, Bionic Commando didn't manage to completely kill off the series; two digital Bionic Commando: Rearmed games were subsequently released which kept the franchise alive, but we can probably rule out a fully 3D entry for the foreseeable future thanks to this divisive entry.

7 - Prince of Persia 3D (1999)

Before the Sands of Time trilogy revitalized it, there was another Prince of Persia title that attempted to introduce the series to the modern era by making the jump to 3D. Needless to say, given its presence on this list, it wasn't exactly a successful attempt. A dodgy camera, bad controls, and a slew of other problems made the game a disappointment and put the series on ice for the best part of a generation. Most of the game's problems actually stemmed from the fact that it was in 3D. Good job on giving the game a fitting name though, I guess.


6 - Duke Nukem Forever (2011)

Then there's this eternal joke of a video game. But the joke itself has changed over the years, so that's a little bit of progress at least. From the late 90s until about 2010 Duke Nukem Forever was destined to be the most famous game that would never release, which was fitting given the Forever moniker.

However, then a savior appeared in the form of Gearbox Software, best known for their Borderlands series. Gearbox then proceeded to do absolutely nothing of value with the game, and released a shooter that somehow manages to feel more dated than its 1996 predecessor. Its gameplay is dull, humour unfunny, and Duke feels like he's just grasping for the glory of yesterday. It tries to be both a modern FPS and a classic arcade style shooter in the style of Duke Nukem 3D at the same time and fails on both accounts. There have been rumours of a sequel, but after this misguided attempt at revival who knows if that'll ever happen.


5 - Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012)

Funny how this series was once the benchmark that other FPS titles strived to equal. In the late 90s and early 2000s Medal of Honor was sitting comfortably atop the FPS hill, and for a very good reason. As the 2000s rolled on, however, other series began to overtake Medal of Honor in both quality and sales. The series took a much needed break after 2007, until it was rebooted in 2010 by a decent if unremarkable game. Still, things were at least looking up for the series.

It was the follow-up to this game that ultimately threw the series off a cliff. Medal of Honor: Warfighter is an utterly mediocre game that feels like it was made by simply scrolling down a checklist of modern FPS clichès without coming up with a single original idea. The series has returned to dormancy since this game was released to resounding indifference. At this point, the series probably needs another reboot to recover from the damage done by Warfighter.   


4 - Bomberman: Act Zero (2006)

I believe the pitch for this game went something along these lines: “Remember that lovable, round-eyed little dude clad in white who uses bombs as weapons and who most people agree is an iconic and lovable character? Well, screw him. We need a gritty, dark reboot set in a grim future with generic visual design and a lovely grey and brown colour palette to make it like all those other hugely popular games kids play these days. That'll put this series back on top of the video game world. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? It's not like we're completely missing what made Bomberman great in the first place.” Yeah, that sounds about right.


3 - Alone in the Dark: Illumination (2015)

This was once a revered survival horror series that in many ways created the genre as it is today. 2008's Alone in the Dark didn't exactly help maintain the series' legacy, but it wasn't a complete disaster. Its latest release, however, is a barely functional mockery of a video game made by an entirely unknown, borderline incompetent, developer.

Atari's once groundbreaking series is now less than a shadow of its former self. Illumination feels like a desperate attempt to cash in on a name and nothing else. At least that's as reasonable an explanation as any other for why a co-op shooter where the only way kill the enemies is to attack them in light is called Alone in the Dark.

It's perhaps a bit too soon to judge whether this will end up killing the franchise for good, but it will definitely take someone very brave to try to lift the series out of the hole it's been buried in.


2 - Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric/Shattered Crystal (2014)

Sonic has survived more than his fair share of shoddy games over the years. The most notable ones are probably Sonic The Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Boom, although arguments could certainly be made for a handful of other equally 'memorable' games. Out of all of them I'd say Sonic Boom is the worst offender, as it has not only been critically panned like many other Sonic games before it, but whereas in the past Sega could rely on die-hard fans of the series to at least keep buying the games, everyone now seems to have given up on Sonic at this point.

Even Sonic 06 sold over two million copies. The two Sonic Boom games have barely managed to pass half a million units sold between them. Then again, this is Sonic we're talking about. It'll keep on chugging along on life support until one of its many releases breathes some semblance of new life into it.


1 - Silent Hill: Book of Memories (2012)

It could be argued that Resident Evil deserves a spot on this list as well, but then I realized that Capcom will never let such a lucrative series die no matter how poorly received it becomes. Now, Konami on the other hand has no such qualms about letting one of its biggest franchises die out. Just look at what happened to Silent Hills. The series had been on a downward spiral for a long time before Book of Memories was dumped onto the PSVita in 2012. I genuinely wonder who thought it was a good idea to take a name associated entirely with survival horror, and then make a hack'n slash game with role-playing elements out of it. It's almost as if nobody involved in the development of the game had never even heard of Silent Hill.

Book of Memories feels like a miscellaneous game that was being made with an entirely different name, before somebody at Konami decided to associate it with Silent Hill in order to cash-in on its name recognition. Whatever the case may be, the series hasn't seen another release since this failure and with Konami apparently having been taken over by a race of aliens with only approximate knowledge of how humans operate I don't expect to see any new entries in the series anytime soon. Well, except for Silent Hill pachinko machines. 


Feel free to let me know if I missed any major series killers, or if you disagree with any of the games I've chosen, in the comments section below. There have, after all, been quite a few titles over the years that have managed to almost single-handedly destroy a franchise. And as always, thanks for reading.

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tripenfall (on 24 February 2016)

Great list. I think the recent Need for Speed may be a contender for the list - wow that sucked. The same can be said for the new Tony Hawk Skating. Let's hope and pray that the upcoming Wii U Starfox doesn't do the same.

  • +6
Riku148 tripenfall (on 24 February 2016)

maybe not the recent one but something like prostreet or undercover which both were absolutely terrible after ug2, mw and carbon

  • +1
Chazore (on 23 February 2016)

Except so far, C&C 4 has killed the C&C series because EA@s crapshoot effort to making Generals 2 and then shutting that project down cost them two merged studios and 2-3 years worth of work and money. Haven't heard a word from them about a new C&C for nearly 3 years now and it's nearing 5 and a half years since the last C&C. I don't think EA actually cares for the franchise any more, same way with Sim CIty when they killed off Maxis (thank god we have Cities Skylines though).

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Nem Chazore (on 23 February 2016)

Yeah, its pretty frustrating the way EA handled C&C. I especially love the red alert sub-series, but wish they hadnt made it so scripted and co-op in the main campaign. C$C3 was decent though. It was just that the developers kept trying to re-invent the wheel for no good reason.
Seriously, just do what blizzard does with Starcraft. Maybe at this point both series cn do with a reboot. I know thats really easy to do with Red alert. The sub-series has so much cool material to draw from history.

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Chazore Chazore (on 23 February 2016)

I was one of those guys who even liked RA£, 2 is still an all time fave of mine but I liked 3 for the cartoonish 3D art style and all my fave actors. C&C 4 just plain dropped the style that made C&C what it was and went after the already niche Warhammer style of RTS. C&C 4 was also kinda decent during the time I beta tested for EA but after release it just went straight downhill.

I remember being so hyped 3-4 years ago when I heard EA was making a new studio entirely for C&C and merging it with another Bioware studio (Victory studio merged with a version of Bioware to become "biowarevictory".

I think C&C definitely needs a biggish reboot since it's been so long (in game years it feels like a very long time ago) since the last title, EA is definitely going to need another new studio though and I reckon they should make sure their vision this time is what they can do (the reason they dropped the G2 project was because they didn't think they could make it the way they wanted). EA should probably do this sooner rather than later.

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Arlo (on 23 February 2016)

Uh... Earthworm Jim 3D in the thumbnail but not the actual article?

  • +3
Darashiva Arlo (on 23 February 2016)

It's another game that almost made it in. But, because it actually did pretty much kill of the series for good, I left it out.

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snyps Arlo (on 23 February 2016)

I don't know but it seems fitting

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Arlo Arlo (on 23 February 2016)

Haha, to be honest if it was left in "didn't it ACTUALLY kill the series" was probably going to be my comment, so good move.

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arcaneguyver Arlo (on 23 February 2016)

I figured it was gonna be Eathworm Jim 2 - a good game IMO, but wasn't anywhere near the success of the original.

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Ganoncrotch Arlo (on 24 February 2016)

While the original is great... it still has the stage "for petes sake" in it, christ I remember raging on that as a kid.
And there have been a few XBLA earthworm Jim HD's and such but yeah 3d was the last actual full release in the series and it was horrifyingly bad, I mean there are bad camera's in some N64 games, but EJ64 absolutely wins outright for a solid camera which can get stuck in objects all over the place.

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snyps Arlo (on 24 February 2016)

I never heard of EJ 3D. It actually looks like there was a fare amount of polish.

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Ganoncrotch Arlo (on 24 February 2016)

I've got the N64 version of it Snyps, the camera just makes shit out of the game, every turn you go around it's completely down to luck if the camera feels like coming around with you and watching the action, when you consider it's on the same system as the fantastic Lakitu holding the camera for Mario 64 it really shows how bad it really is.

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Sprash (on 24 February 2016)

wow I played not one game from this list.

  • +2
lukeperryglover Sprash (on 24 February 2016)


  • +1
Machina Sprash (on 24 February 2016)

Lucky you it seems.

  • +3
lukeperryglover (on 24 February 2016)

What no Assassins Creed 3 or Unity on here? :P

  • +1
giwayume (on 23 February 2016)

Silent Hill: Book of Memories wasn't even a bad game by any means, it just wasn't the game the fans wanted.

  • +1
Ganoncrotch giwayume (on 24 February 2016)

Indeed, if you scrap the Silent Hill name off the game it becomes a semi decent multiplayer diablo clone on the Vita.

  • +4
TallSilhouette (on 23 February 2016)

This list depressed me...

  • +1
NightDragon83 (on 23 February 2016)

Where's Metroid Other M? :-P

  • +1
giwayume NightDragon83 (on 23 February 2016)

So far, that game HAS killed the series.

  • 0
tripenfall NightDragon83 (on 24 February 2016)

I seem to be one of the few people who enjoyed that game

  • 0
Darth-Samus NightDragon83 (on 24 February 2016)

Nope. I also love that game. And the fact that it's good and still sold average is why it probably isn't on this list.

  • +1
JeffersMorning (on 16 March 2016)

First of all, and I apologize, but I would have to question who actually was heart broken about gasp prince of Persia the game, or the movie. Only poppy farmers would take offense to a bad reboot of an already bad IP. But can we PLEASE talk about how EA has completely pillaged every truly great studio outside of blizzard and rare (each losing their own identity to a different umbrella). RIP Westwood, maxis, bioware, ncaa football, Madden, and many more. How many teardrops do i have to tattoo on my face for what used to be the charm and soul of gaming. Cash now, timetables, microtransactions, DLC that unlocks already coded material etc have already rectally penetrated one of the greatest and nostalgic American pastimes of our generation with a barbed member - and EA is the Mugatu of it all.

  • 0
kooltrex (on 24 February 2016)

Such a sad list.

  • 0
Darth-Samus (on 24 February 2016)

A noble and well thought-out list, but I'd argue that (just like you mentioned with Earthworm Jim) many of these games DID kill their respective franchises. There's no doubt that all of these games represent a low point for their series, but to my knowledge there hasn't been a Bomberman, Medal of Honor, Alone in the Dark, Bionic Commando, or Silent Hill since the release of each of these titles. And Command and Conquer only had one title released since that also wasn't well received or high selling.

Just pointing that out.

  • 0
Darashiva Darth-Samus (on 24 February 2016)

Some of them might end up being true. With Silent Hill it depends what you count P.T as. The Alone in the Dark: Illumination came out in 2015, so it's a bit soon to say. Medal of Honor still carries some name recognition, so I doubt EA will let it die permanently. The last Bionic Commando game was Rearmed 2 which came out in 2011. There has also been several other Bomberman games after Act Zero already, although the series seems to have gone on some kind of hiatus after 2010. Possibly because Hudson Soft was closed in 2012 and Konami acquired them.

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FloatingWaffles (on 24 February 2016)

I still think Bionic Commando 2008 is a great game though. Would love a sequel.

  • 0
Mr Puggsly (on 24 February 2016)

MoH: Warfighter is probably the most under rated FPS I ever played. The game is fine, certainly better than the BF3 and BF4 campaigns.

  • 0
Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

Resident 5 or/& Resident Evil 6 are missing in this list.

  • -1
Riku148 Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

yep, because they're too good to be on the list. People can say what they want but RE5 and RE6 were both excellent games, maybe not so good survival horror games, but definitely very good games.

  • +1
NinjaFox Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

5 obviously didn't nearly kill the franchise as 6 still sold well.... Fans haven't stopped giving Resident Evil "one more chance" just yet, hoping that just maybe it can reclaim what made it great. You have to appreciate the dillusional optimism. Even I cling to hope for 7 returning to its roots.

  • +1
sindrics Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

5 was a pretty good game and was never gonna live up the the hype created by resi 4, 6 was mediocre but their nowhere near as terrible as the god awful operation raccoon city.

  • +1
Ka-pi96 Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

Don't you mean Resident Evil 4?

  • -4
sindrics Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

5 was a pretty good game and was never gonna live up the the hype created by resi 4, 6 was mediocre but their nowhere near as terrible as the god awful operation raccoon city.

  • 0
Riku148 Kanemaru (on 24 February 2016)

I even liked raccoon city too. yeah it was a short game and was kinda like must buy dlc content...but i liked some other things about it, for example the sounds.

  • 0
painmaster212 (on 24 February 2016)

Why is Sonic on here? Doesn't matter how bad his games are and even if they only sell the bare minimum, Sega wouldn't kill it off and nor did it ever give the notion that it almost did. Seems like you just threw it in here randomly.

  • -3
lukeperryglover painmaster212 (on 24 February 2016)

These games were universally declared as TERRIBLE, that's why.

  • +2
Darth-Samus painmaster212 (on 24 February 2016)

Go back and re-read the title of this article. Maybe pay special attention to the inclusion of the word "almost".

  • 0
painmaster212 painmaster212 (on 24 February 2016)

There was no almost though. No matter how bad the sales or the reviews were, Sega said nothing about canceling the series or evening hinting to it so where is the almost?

  • 0