Top 5 Bad Games with Wasted Potential

This is a list consisting not necessarily of bad games that I wish were good, but rather of games which seem to possess all the necessary traits to have been good, or even great, games yet which are ultimately ruined by one or two severe issues or many minor issues and so possess the most wasted potential.

List items

  • This game above all others comes to mind when I think of 'wasted potential'. It has an interested character and premise, multiple weapons, a large (for the time) moveset, a solid soundtrack, level select with a healthy amount of levels and level variety, creative enemies, and even an alchemy system. Yet, despite all that it has going for it, it is impossible for me to say that Chakan is a 'good' game and horrendous, often completely unfair level design, bland combat (despite the variety in attacks and weapons at that), the complete lack of any sort of save functionality despite being a surprisingly lengthy game (at least it has infinite continues), and poor difficulty balance makes it a stretch to even call it 'mediocre'.

    This game above all others is for me the ultimate example of wasted potential.

  • This game is a great case of good ideas bogged down by bad decisions. Story-wise, the game has a great premise as its main character has an arm that can make enchanted objects break merely by touching them, leading to a lot of accidents in a very magic-heavy setting. While the game has turn-based combat, it takes place on a grid to add more strategy. Furthermore, while the game has 4 main playable characters, it has over 100 'golems' that players can put into the party instead.

    Unfortunately, an interesting premise and unique combat are weighed down by, well, pretty much everything else. The characters are all beyond paper-thin and are some of the worst cliches I have ever seen; there's the 'tomboy princess', the 'well-meaning idiotic protagonist', 'popular smart guy that seems to know literally everything', and the list just goes on. The music is completely forgettable and the voice acting, particularly for the main character, is so bad that I temporarily switched to the original Japanese voices, something I rarely do, only to switch back after realizing that the Japanese voice acting is just as bad. The plot is full of holes and the vast majority of progression, for good or bad, tends to occur when the protagonist 'accidentally' touches pretty much any all-powerful ancient magical artifact in the area with his hand; it doesn't help that he has a perfectly functional, normal hand that he seems to forget exists nor does it help that the game makes a big deal about 'enchanting' only being a small part of the lost art of 'magic' yet never going into any sort of detail whatsoever about the difference aside from magic apparently being 'better' somehow. Combat gets old fast and, while the random encounter rate isn't overly horrendous, it is still far too high for a game in which a round lasts quite a while due to needing to position characters on the grid (where your characters start the battle on the grid is completely random, so seeing the close-range attacker in the back row or the healer right up front is common). Even the golem system which lets you play around with over 100 different party members is utterly pointless as golems never learn new skills beyond those they start with, they can't equip anything, and the 4 'normal' party members just happen to compliment each other in terms of functionality and elemental alignment; this could have easily been fixed too simply by bringing the max party size up to 5.

    What could have been a revolutionary, or at least creative, step for the dying turn-based RPG genre ultimately is nothing short of poorly-executed mess in every area.

  • Equinox tries to be a good game, it really does, and for the first dungeon or two, it is. It has an isometric viewpoint that takes a little getting used to, the music and graphics are nothing amazing but are still decent enough, and it has some pretty big dungeons to explore filled with puzzles, combat, items to collect, and platforming.

    Unfortunately, the creators of this game seem to have had the mindset that 'hard = good' regardless of why the game is difficult in the first place. The problems start in the third dungeon where puzzles start consisting of a 'deliberately bad camera' in which the perspective is used to make platforms look like they are higher or lower than they actually are; this is usually done in a room filled to the brim with spikes. Then they add in invisible platforms (over spikes), and normal-looking platforms that actually act like conveyor belts (near spikes), and platforms that break almost instantly (over spikes), and invisible doors (surrounded by spikes), and moving platforms (in rooms with spikes), and literally pixel-perfect jumps between moving platforms over a pit of spikes that would be rather difficult to make in a game with a normal camera angle and fluid controls - some of these wonderful 'obstacles' are all in the same room (and sometimes the same block!) and it just gets worse from there. Oh, and if you pick up an item in a room you don't get to keep it unless the either exit the room without dying or pick up every other item and kill every enemy in the room.

    While Equinox is a fairly unique game (the only game that I can think of that is even remotely similar to it being the prequel Solstice) and while I usually enjoy hard games, the level design quickly descends from 'challenging' to 'frustrating' and then further still into the realm of being outright 'painful to play'; Equinox may not necessarily be the hardest game out there, but it certainly is one of the best examples of a game that is hard for all the wrongs reasons.

  • While it is unlikely that Lagoon would have ever been a 'great' game, it could have still easily have been a very solid action RPG worth going back to from time to time if it wasn't for a single, bizarre flaw: weapon size. While the game does have magic, the primary way of attacking by far is via the sword. Unfortunately, our hero's weapon may very well have the shortest range of any melee weapon in any game ever made and getting better, presumably longer, swords does not change this as from beginning to end players will need to get ridiculously close to enemies to be able to hit them. Lagoon also seems to want players to know that its protagonist is right handed as while most protagonists have the common sense and decency to thrust a sword in front of them or use a wide, horizontal slash, Lagoon's protagonist instead chooses to swing vertically, specifically with his right hand. in other words, not only do enemies need to be right next to our hero for him to hit them, but their hit boxes, which tend to be far smaller than their sprites, must be lined up specifically with his right hand. While it is not unheard of for bad weapons to ruin a game, it is very rare for a weapon and how it is used to be the sole thing responsible for turning an otherwise solid game into an unrelentingly frustrating one.

  • This is perhaps the most 'borderline' game on the list in terms of quality. It is a fairly unique game in that it is not only one of relatively few games in the visual novel genre to make it from Japan to North America, but it also has 'escape the room' puzzles and, for the most part, competent writing and it even has 6 different endings. In fact, many people who play the game love it for the first few hours or are quick to say "it's a great game as long as...". Unfortunately, the 'as long as' part of it is a rather big problem.

    While the game is fine the first time or two through it, it is very much meant to be replayed and this is where the problems crop up. Players achieve different endings largely based upon what order they go through the rooms in and, with one or two exceptions, very little else. However, there are far more room combinations than endings and rooms that have been 'solved' in a previous playthrough cannot be skipped and dialogue that has already been seen can only be sped up. In other words, the vast majority of the game consists of rushing through puzzles completely on a previous playthrough over and over and spending several minutes straight doing nothing but fast-forwarding through chunks of dialogue only to be rewarded with a handful of new pieces of dialogue and very likely an ending that the player has already seen; even players that use a guide to avoid 'repeat endings' will have to do several rooms no less than 3 times and will still spend a good chunk of time speeding up text they've already seen. It does the game no favors that while most endings do a good job of providing both answers and more questions for the player, the 'true' ending mainly only creates some gaping plotholes and sends a game that had otherwise largely existed in the realm of asking for 'suspension of disbelief' careening down the path of being utterly implausible and nonsensical. This is an example game that has a very strong start and some nice concepts, but which rapidly becomes worse due to cumbersome mechanics and exceedingly strange plot twists.