By anywhereilay 51 Comments
As the game industry continually gives birth to new successful I.P's , we are almost certain to see spin-off's,prequels,crossovers and even movies or books based on famous videogame, steadily allowing them to evolve into franchises. And due to the fact that these ventures generally pay off simply due to the fact that the piece of media in question is related to a commercially recognized I.P, it becomes tempting for developers and publishers to over-indulge in creating related products simply because attatching the I.P to the item in question almost garuantees a sizeable profit to be made off the back off the original game. Sometimes this products can be of a high quality, but many tend to be rushed effors with what feels to be very contrived relations to the original product. Of course we see this process not just games, but many different forms of media, although in this blog I'll be focusing centrally on the game aspect.
I believe the video game business has seen some of the worst cases when it comes to milking franchises. Due to the large choice of consoles, both handheld and home consoles often see the same characters and loosly related plots appearing across their consoles. After hearing about Sonic 4, I've been thinking about all the game franchises I think really should've called it quits back in the glory days. Seeing some of my favorite game franchises being raped as the ever dwindling torch is passed on to an even lazier developer looking to make a quick buck is disheartening at best. So below I've complied a list of games I believe have lost thier charm over the years, bearing in mind these are simply my own opinions and aren't to be taken too personally.
Crash Bandicoot: Where oh where did it all go wrong for the original playstation mascot? Well, straight after Naughty Dog left to be honest. After 3 stellar platforming outings on the ps1 and an enjoyable Mario Kart inspired racing game Crash soon went down the drain and featured in countless mediocre titles that managed to suck the charm from this once respected franchise. His first outing on the PS2, Traveller's Tales developed Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex failed to expand on the platforming seen on the last generation of consoles while adding horrendously long loading screens to accompany the uninspired gameplay. On the plus side, several gameboy iterations of the franchise were released around the same time that managed to retain the fun of the orginals on a portable console, giving a glimmer of hope to the Bandicoot. Unfortunatly this was not to last, many more poor console effors were released including Twinsanity and another racing game, Crash Nitro Cart, which was largely unchanged from it's predecessor. While not absolutely woeful in execution, these game felt stale and lifeless, although Twinsanity did attempt to reinvent the franchise in a sense, I felt it was an ultimately broken and unsatisfying experience. The worst was yet to come, as 2007 saw Crash of The Titans stumble it's way onto home and portable consoles alike. Crash and his companions recieved a needless new design that just looked like a last attempt at appearing 'cool' and the cumbersome controls and tedious gameplay only made matters worse. Subsequent games have seen the same treatment, although we have seen Crash and the gang revert back to their old style appearences. All in all, Crash's retirement has been long overdue but publishers seem set on taking every last ounce of dignity he has left before throwing in the towel. Shame.
The Tony Hawk Franchise: I remember the feeling of mastering the controls in the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. A great sense of accomplishment that I would feel throughout the series, but sadly that feeling dimished considerably somewhere along the line. Right up until Underground I believed the series could do no wrong. Every game had presented new and exciting challenges, greater replay value and more tricks that ensured that I'd always come back for more. The wacky nature of the series also gave the game it's own distinctive feel, all these parts cemented it as the king of skating games, even though it was a genre scarce in challengers. Underground 2 , I felt was a let down from the previous game, exchanging a plot for what seemend to be more an episode of Jackass rather than a Tony Hawk game. Still, it wasn't that bad, I just felt the shift in focus to pro skater and Jackass star/general asshole, Bam Margera was unwarrented and only looked to profit on his rising popularity. Subsequent games such as American Wasteland kept the smash this, punch that Jackass mentality and seemed to be less and less about skating. Project 8 was the first current genration outing seen from the franshise and while not changing much, was still an enjoyable experience. Skate, a new game being developed for this generation of consoles looked to snatch the skating crown that the Tony Hawk series had held for so long. This must of caused panic at Activision, because the later games began to include gimmicky features that I assume were attempts at keeping things interesting. I belive last years Ride, should've been the last nail on the coffin, featuring an awful and mandatory motion bored. The game did not win fans over at the high price and unresponsive, lackluster gameplay. It's time to skate into the sunset and let Skate reign supreme as this franchise is becoming an embarrassment to Acitivision and Hawk. That being said, an unwelcome return this year is almost inevitable.
Metal Gear Solid: Ok, I know that there will be a strong protest against this choice. But remember, this list is also including franchises I think should end, not that they've necessarily gone bad, but that they may risk turning sour if they were to continue. I love the MGS series. But the problem is, they finished it perfectly with MGS4. All loose ends were wrapped up. The gameplay was wholly satisfying and I believe it was easily the best of the series. For me, it made perfect sense to end it there. Now, if you've been following your MGS news then you'll know about the two games in the works. MGS: Rising, due for release on both the 360 and ps3, and Peace Walker for release on the PSP handheld later this year. The latter being a prequel, which could give some interesting backstory to the games. But I fear that this series will eventually become a mess of plot holes and surplus characters and stories if it continues. If they can weave this story into the saga without it feeling contrived then I'll be happy, but I fear that this may become an inevitability if the seires continues for much after. I just feel that the series was resolved and that future games may dissolve into games simply created for a source of revenue, not contributing to the series in any meaningful way. I hope I'm wrong and this doesn't happen, but I think it's time for Konami to let the series go on an all time high.
Halo: The Halo franchise is one that seems to have spawned two opposites of opinion. Some will say that the Halo franchise offers a fierce capaign, unmatched multiplayer and one of the best protagonists seen in recent gaming. Others will tell you is that it's an overhyped shooter that fails to innovate or change with each entry, includes a short and repetitive single player, and a multiplayer component that cannot stand against the likes of Modern Warfare 2. Of course those are massive generalisations, but I believe that a significant amount of people hold the aforementioned opinions. Say what you want, but this franchise has taken off and has some serious weight behind it's name. Just last Year we seen two game not even considered part of the 'main' series, Halo:ODST and Halo Wars. Both games, while not reaching the sales success of Halo 3 or recieving as warm critic reviews, they booth became substantial sources of revnue for Bungie and Microsoft. But is the fact that they have not been received as well critically as previous efforts a sign of an eventual decline into a rut for the series. I belive not, if Halo:Reach is anything to go by. Bungie promises that this will be the 'definitive' Halo experience and from what I've seen I'm inclined to believe them. What worrys me about this franchise though is what will happen after that, Bungie have already announced that this will be their last Halo game. Even without Bungie, Microsoft insist that the franchise will continue. This is what has me worried. Sure, under the right developer this franchise could keep producing high quality games for years to come but if it falls into the wrong hands, it could spell an unrecoverable blow to the series. Not in the fiscal sense, but the quality aspect. I believe that if the next Halo game after Reach is poorly recieved by critics, the game will still sell like hotcakes because of the weight of the franchise. If it continues to turn profit even if the game itself is of a poor quality, the developers will see little incentive to improve on it and just like that, Halo could be stuck in a very depressing rut. That's why I think it may be for the best to end it after Reach , and like MGS, end on a high.
That's all I'm gonna mention for now. I have more, but alas I'm tired. I'll add some more games tonight if I get the time,failing that I'll do some later this week.
I left this in the comments but I thought I'd throw it down here too: