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Sparky's Biggest Disappointments of the 360/PS3/Wii Era

Not all of these games, companies, or concepts were bad, but in some way or another, they let me down.

List items

  • While Square produced some great portable titles, their 360 and PS3 offerings fell flat. This is in no small part due to the development problems in the East (which you can read about elsewhere). While they funded some amazing games (Just Cause 2, anyone?), their own games were symbolic of Japan's struggle to find a solid identity in the last generation. While Westernizing many of their RPGs seemed like a no-brainer given the success of action-heavy games in the States and elsewhere, it led to confused messes like The Last Remnant as well as shoulda-been-greats like Final Fantasy XIII, which limited gamers to narrow corridors and had a baffling lack of world exploration and interaction.

    Still, 2013 turned out to be quite a stellar rebound for a fan of JRPGs like myself. Ni no Kuni was nothing short of stunning, Tales of Xillia was delightful (if a little lacking in innovation), and Final Fantasy XIV's reboot seems well designed and looks like a lot of fun. Here's hoping this trend continues into 2014 and beyond, and that Japan can find its own identity and footing once again.

  • Every major company had 'em. Sony had their infamous (and inFamous, which wasn't at all terrible) hacking issues and PSN downtime. Microsoft was plagued by the red ring of death and overheating issues. Nintendo's Wii remotes were fickle bitches, and the 3DS could dick with children's eyes. While that last isn't technically a malfunction, it speaks volumes as to the headaches each company suffered from all of their major products. With technology becoming more and more complicated, these problems are to be expected, but it's still highly aggravating to us consumers.

  • Up until this generation, Rockstar was the company that could do no wrong. But then rumors of brutal hours, poor employee treatment, and lack of credit where credit was due starting rolling in. The straw that broke - or, more precisely, slightly inconvenienced - the camel's back was LA Noir, the outsourced open-world game that apparently saw no end to villainous acts by its People in Charge.

    And Rockstar wasn't alone. Reports and rumors of other companies asking developers to put in ridiculous amounts of hours to finish games in order to meet deadlines started flooding in. Sexism in the gaming workplace became a hot topic. We haven't seen the end of these kinds of practices, not by a long shot and not so long as money exists and people buy games, but we've come a long way towards at least making sure the problems are visible. Now developers and producers just need to fix 'em.

  • I said on FB recently that if Nintendo sold a console wherein I didn't have to buy thirty damn peripherals just to play Link to the Past, I'd buy it day one. I kinda mean it. Seriously, fuck the Kinect, fuck the Move, fuck the Wii Pro Controller, fuck the danglies, fuck the Wii wheel, fuck the Wii chat thing, fuck the Wii fitness board, fuck the 3DS second stick, fuck the Wii MotionPlus, and, most of all, fuck you, Nintendo, for raking us over the coals every time you want to push out some new game with a new device that will be obsolete in a month. Which leads me to...

  • Don't get me wrong - the Wii is worth owning for at least a year or two for the awesome first-party games. Don't miss out on playing Super Mario Galaxy, Super Paper Mario, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario Kart Wii and the eighty other Mario games that were released this last generation.

    But you notice some names missing from that list? New IPs? Yeah, me too. Nintendo seemingly had no clue what to do when the Wii became popular. No 3rd party developer was making decent games outside of the occasional Little King's Story or Boom Blox, and so Nintendo had to serve out the games they suspected would sell. And when they did decide to go outside of their comfort zone, they made complete shit like Wii Music. They've taken smaller risks with the 3DS, like bringing back Pud or Pid in a new Kid Icarus. Bully for them, but then they released more Mario diarrhea, and now they're floundering yet again for ideas beyond, "Hey, we've got Mario and Link!"

    Nintendo, listen to me very carefully. Don't take risks with your hardware, and by all means, produce the occasional safe bank-breaker of a game like Mario or Zelda. But throw in some fucking curveballs now and again. Your consumers are losing interest in you, fast, and while you've got some impressive offerings on the 3DS, your consoles aren't worth a damn these days. We all know you can do better. So do it.

  • ...or rather, important text that I can't read because it's written in miniscule lettering.

    With the 360 and PS3 touting shiny HD graphics, there was a small subset of us gamers left out in the cold - those of us with poor vision and SD TVs. And before you go and give me shit about not owning an HDTV, let me tell you something - those cost money and I'm ridiculously fond of my big-ass SD TV.

    Seriously, though, games like GTA IV and V became nigh-impossible for me to play thanks to the insanely tiny fonts (and small mini-maps, which we'll get to here in a second). It wasn't just Rockstar, though - Forza, Dragon's Dogma, Banjo-Kazooie... it gets pretty absurd.

    What's strange is that there's an easy solution, so long as you're paused. Gran Turismo 5 had a feature wherein you could zoom in on text by holding down one of the triggers - however hard you held it down, that's how much it would zoom. It was a FANTASTIC solution, one I wish was the industry standard for all menus. At least give us some font size options, hmmmm?

  • To be completely fair, mini-maps and guide systems have taken huge strides this generation. Just take a look at Forza 3 & 4's suggested driving lines or the awesome minimap and arrows from the Saints Row series (seriously, best minimaps in the bizness, there).

    Which is why it's so disappointing to see games like GTA V (Jesus, I'm ragging on Rockstar a lot in this list, aren't I?) use shitty minimaps. Either the guided line is too small or thin to follow, or they use color-blind unfriendly colors to denote the locations of objectives or people you're supposed to follow. Color blindness is a thing more and more companies are trying to address, as with COD's multiplayer "color blind" option, but by and large, these aren't useful to most individuals because color blindness is a little different for everyone that suffers from it.

    An ideal situation would be to allow users to redefine the color schemes of maps or the names above teammates and enemies. Seems relatively easy, but it's yet to be implemented.

  • I can only think of two instances wherein the season pass DLC seems worth it - Forza 4 and Borderlands 2. Every other season pass has seemed like an unabashed grab for cash - which, I guess, loosely defines ALL DLC.

    Still, though, baiting users into buying DLC before the quality has even been measured seems like a pretty dick move on the part of publishers. I hold us gamers partially responsible for this nonsense, too - we need to quit buying into this shit preemptively. If you want to wait until all the DLC has been released and gauge whether or not it's worth it, terrific. But don't buy season passes for games out of the gate. It encourages these douchebags to do it more often.

    Also, a seriously big fuck you to DLC in annual installments of games that was already a part of games previously in the series. The most egregious offenders here are Forza Horizon (practically all the DLC cars outside of the rally DLC - which wasn't part of the season pass, FYI - were in Forza 3 or 4) and Disgaea, which seemingly cannot stop itself from adding non-updated characters from prior games for astoundingly stupid prices.

    Also, I'm a hypocrite, because I've bought tons of Disgaea DLC. Sigh.

  • ...or day one patches, whichever you prefer.

    I get that these are becoming more and more of a necessity as games become more complex, but boy, I sure do miss the days when you could pop in a game and just fucking play it.