In the last forty years or so, we’ve seen hundreds of video games come and go. The most memorable of those games can even give birth to entire franchises that span through multiple decades. You know, like the legendary plumber himself. Mario–I’m talking about Mario.
Unfortunately, some games can do the opposite–causing multi-year franchises to crash and burn. Some of these franchises never recover.
I’m Scott and today, Scarlett Media Presents the top ten games that ruined their franchises. So settle in and get ready to be disappointed! But remember, if these games start to bum you out, make sure to hit those like and subscribe buttons for a great pick-me-up!
Number ten: Bubsy 3D
In the world of mid-nineties video games, you weren’t cool unless you had a zany cartoon mascot.
This is the era that gave birth to Bubsy, a wise-cracking bobcat who was a huge part of every millennial’s childhood.
I am, of course, being sarcastic, because very few people remember Bubsy–and even fewer people remember him fondly.
Still, Bubsy managed to get three games released from 1993 to 1994. They weren’t terrible games, but they weren’t commercial successes, either.
So as 3D platforming became the hottest new thing, Bubsy’s publisher saw a huge new opportunity.
Sadly, since no one had released a mainstream 3D platformer yet, the small development team quickly became overwhelmed. Still, under immense pressure from the publisher, Bubsy 3D was released in 1996 to intensely negative reception.
It was so bad, in fact, that it took two whole decades for Bubsy to resurface. Unfortunately, the two games released in 2017 and 2018 didn’t fare much better. Sorry, Bubsy!
Number nine: Earthworm Jim 3D
Much like the last entry on our list, Earthworm Jim reached the height of his popularity in the early nineties. The first two games were side-scrolling masterpieces, and they even spawned a well-received cartoon that aired on Kids’ WB. Remember that channel?
By 1996, all the cool kids were moving from 2D to 3D, and Earthworm Jim was no exception. Development began that year, but much like a worm moving across a wet sidewalk, progress was painfully slow.
Earthworm Jim 3D wasn’t released until 1999–a full three years later. The game’s development was loaded with issues, and when the game finally came out, many of the advertised features were nowhere to be found. Worse, with the TV show having ended more than three years prior, the Earthworm Jim hype had faded drastically.
The end result was a buggy game that was universally panned by critics and players alike. Even the series’ creator, Doug TenNapel, said that the game ruined his beloved franchise.
Though a game for the GameBoy Color was released the same year, Earthworm Jim 3D effectively ended the franchise for good.
Number eight: Aliens: Colonial Marines
The Aliens franchise is a true roller coaster ride. For every great game, book, or movie, there seems to be an equally awful counterpart. Still, when Aliens: Colonial Marines was originally announced, people’s expectations were very high.
Colonial Marines started out strong, at least. It was designed to be a kind of bridge between video games and the films, complete with a strong story and heart-pounding action.
However, at some point during the game’s development, it seems like the studio kind of gave up. They began to focus on other games and outsourced much of Colonial Marines to another studio entirely.
Between the divided attention and huge conflicts with the storyline, Colonial Marines was more doomed than Ripley without her power loader.
The game finally sputtered to a release date in 2013 and, let’s just say, it didn’t live up to the hype. The game was so unfinished that a couple of years later, an amateur modder found a misspelled line of code that, once corrected, drastically improved the notoriously bad enemy AI.
Alien: Isolation would be released a year later and perform far better, but many attribute the Alien series’ dormancy to Colonial Marines’ poor reception.
Number seven: Postal III
When the original Postal was released in 1997, people were freaked out–the game featured a lot of over-the-top violence and gross-out humor.
Its sequel, released in 2003, pushed the envelope even further. So much so, in fact, that it was banned in multiple countries!
Even still, the two games were beloved in the hearts of many fans, and so when the third game was announced, there was a lot of buzz.
The developer of the first two games, Running with Scissors, was a relatively small group. To make the third game bigger and better, they decided to partner with Russian publisher Akella. Despite their good intentions, though, things quickly spiraled.
Akella took over the main development of the game, and the original studio had little to do with the final product. And, needless to say, that final product was not good.
In fact, Running with Scissors has officially disowned the game. We may see another entry in the Postal franchise, but for now, the series has been laid to rest.
Number six: Duke Nukem Forever
Believe it or not, Duke Nukem Forever holds a Guinness World Record! Sadly, it’s not for any record the publisher would have wanted–you’ll find it under the underwhelming entry of ‘longest development period for a video game.’
A direct sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, which was released in 1996, Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997 and released in 2011–that’s a whopping 14 years and 44 days later!
And if you think that long development time probably isn’t a good sign, then you’d be absolutely right. After all, the game technically began development in a different century from the one it was released in–so to say that the game felt outdated is an understatement.
The graphics, the story, the gameplay–all of it felt straight out of the nineties. That may not be a bad thing on its own, but with a game marketed toward the new generation, it ends up being a pretty big issue.
It’s been ten years since we heard from Duke Nukem, but who knows? If the past development time is any indication, we might only need to wait a few more years.
Number five: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
The original two games in the Banjo-Kazooie franchise captivated gamers everywhere during a time when platformers were extremely popular. But after the sequel to the original was released in 2000, it would be eight long years before fans could be reacquainted with their favorite bear/bird duo.
However, this time around, things were a little different. The series’ developer, Rare, had been bought out by Microsoft. As a result, Banjo-Kazoooe: Nuts and Bolts was released exclusively on the Xbox 360–not Nintendo’s console. As part of this change, Rare thought it would be best to depart from the traditional platforming action of the previous games. Instead, they focused on a new vehicle-building mechanic that completely altered the gameplay style fans were expecting.
While it wasn’t a bad game, it was this departure from the beloved original games that sealed Nuts and Bolt’s fate–and since it’s been 13 years, it seems it also sealed the fate of the entire franchise.
Number four: Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Mass Effect series needs no introduction. The original trilogy, which was released between 2007 and 2012, achieved massive success and garnered nearly universal critical acclaim.
So when a standalone sequel was announced, people went crazy. In 2017, Mass Effect: Andromeda was unleashed on a rabid fanbase. Sadly, after finally playing the game, their joy quickly faded.
Between the dull storyline, the game-breaking technical issues, and the laughable facial animations, Andromeda was doomed.
Though fans still played the game, it just wasn’t the same experience. We may still see a Mass Effect 5, but even if we do, Andromeda will remain as an unfortunate miss in an otherwise stellar franchise.
Number three: Medal Of Honor: Warfighter
If you were a kid in the early 2000s, you probably fondly remember the surge of World War 2 shooters–Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor were all enjoying their heyday.
Specifically, Medal of Honor saw quite a few well-received titles released throughout the 2000s and even a very good reboot in 2010. But things took a hard turn when Medal of Honor: Warfighter was released in 2012.
While Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Battlefield 3 were capturing most of the market, Warfighter’s outdated gameplay and confusing storyline just couldn’t compete–not to mention its numerous bugs.
Due to its poor reception, a franchise that had released a new game every couple of years for over a decade went completely silent. 2020 finally saw the release of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond for VR, but it certainly didn’t revive the franchise in the way the publisher had hoped. We’d like to see the series return to form, but after the disappointment that was Warfighter, it doesn’t seem likely.
Number two: Dead Space 3
Let’s get one thing out of the way real quick: Dead Space 3 isn’t a bad game by any means. It did, however, depart from the survival horror roots that the first two games captured perfectly.
Instead of a creeping terror that came from navigating dark hallways, Dead Space 3 went with a more action-based horror style. While still good, it wasn’t necessarily what fans had been expected. Perhaps due to this and perhaps due to some poor marketing on publisher EA’s part, the third installment was a commercial failure.
This failure, along with some studio reshuffling after Disney shut down EA’s Star Wars division, led to the death of the Dead Space franchise. We’d love to hold out hope for a fourth game, but since the original developer studio no longer exists, it looks like Dead Space 3 killed the series in a way not even a Necromorph could revive.
Before we release the underwhelming number one spot, be sure to hit the like button, and if we missed your favorite series-ending video game, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Number one: Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Few characters, in video games or otherwise, are as beloved as Sonic the Hedgehog. The series established a fast-paced 2D gameplay style that remains as iconic as ever.
His 3D outings, though… well, they’re a major speedbump. In 2006, Sega hoped to revive the struggling franchise with a fully 3D reboot.
What we got was a strange game with a broken camera, glitches galore, boring levels, and a very weird human-hedgehog romance.
Sonic ‘06’s poor reception caused Sega to entirely rethink their strategy for games going forward. Unfortunately, though there have been quite a few Sonic games since then, the series has never returned to its former glory. But even still, we still love that little blue furball. Well, mostly.
And so our list, much like the franchises these games ruined, has come to an end. At least… for now. Do you agree with our list? What games would you have included? Let us know in the comments! And as always, thanks for watching. See you next time!
Writer: Laura Townsend
Editor: AB Scarlett
Voice: Scott | http://bit.ly/3bD679R
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See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).