Sonic Mania got released yesterday and it has been killing it in reviews. Yet I think that this game is one that the franchise has not earned…
…it got me thinking; aside from a few good Sonic titles, there has really been no great Sonic game since the mid-90s. He has been given chance after chance and yet every opportunity has been pissed up against a wall – I’ve been telling people that Sonic Mania was literally SEGA’s last-chance saloon with the character and if it had been terrible, Sonic was done.
In my opinion, Sonic started off as an absolutely brilliant series of games it has gradually descended into complete and utter crap. On top of this, the franchise has been given too many chances to recapture any sort of consistent quality and if I was in charge of SEGA I’d have pulled the plug on his games a long time ago (I don’t care how many copies ’06 sold; it was shite). Before I get accused of hating on the little blue blur I will say that I loved his Mega Drive games and I really love the Adventure titles (despite their shortcomings).
Sonic is also far from the only game series that got more chances than they deserved; here’s a list of games that fall into that category.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater is one of my favourite franchises of all time – I plowed far too many hours into the first 3 installments (more than I’d care to divulge on these hallowed pages) but after these it quickly spiralled out of control as the games kept coming and the quality kept dropping.
After THPS4 we had the Underground series and for all the love THUG gets, I just never understood the appeal; for me it stripped THPS of everything that made it brilliant; the reverent admiration of the skaters, their skills and the sport itself, the time limit, the tightly constructed levels with imaginative challenges and the ability to control your favourite skater. It would seem that Activision and gamers in general would agree with this assessment because after one sequel that series was mercifully scrapped.
And so would begin the era of almost constant reboots…
The ‘open world’ era: American Wasteland and Project 8 were two average at best games that seemingly only existed as a response to GTA 3 becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
The ‘motion control’ era: Ride & Shred were absolutely shit-tier games that should have never gotten past the pitch. Atrocious on all levels and will be remembered by no-one.
The ‘Try to recapture the past’ era: Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is an average game and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 is absolute shit tier.
That’s at least 6 games that were nowhere near the original 3’s quality, and 3 separate attempts at rebooting the franchise which; in my opinion, is 1 too many. After Ride and Shred Acti should’ve kicked the franchise into the gutter and left it there to fester and die. By bringing it back for THPS5 not only left a bad taste in many gamers mouths (mine included) but it also sullied that legendary series and drove it straight into the gutter.
I miss THPS as much as the next guy does, but I can still play the originals on my PSP/PS3 (thanks BC) and that is where this series belongs. As good as it was when it began (and it was brilliant) it captured lightning in a bottle and struck at precisely the right moment. That can never be replicated nor should it ever be attempted.
I’m gonna say it right now so there is no misunderstanding; Duke Nukem (as a game character) has always been shit. He has starred in precisely one serviceable game (3D) and has done nothing of note since.
Yet we constantly see that antiquated dinosaur of a character being bandied about for some inexplicable reason.
Who likes these games?
Somewhat like the Tony Hawk games Duke has went through a cycle or two of reinvention, what started as a revolutionary (and well reviewed) first person shooter on the PC ended its life (fingers crossed) as a woeful first-person shooter on 360 but there was a rather interesting change of pace in-between:
The ‘revolution’ era: Duke Nukem 3D reviewed really well when it released; although it was never to my taste, I always found Doom to be infinitely superior.
The ‘god awful’ era: Time to kill and Land of the Babes are absolutely terrible games; gone in the first-person view and in its place is generic third-person action. Everything here is cringe worthy and it always was – there is nothing to recommend, not even out of curiosity.
The ‘please stop’ era: Forever was a disaster. On every possible level. Thankfully it seems to have killed any future attempts at resurrecting this “classic” franchise (hopefully, he was in the Bulletstorm remaster).
Duke was never good and every game after 3D was a chance that he didn’t deserve. He is crass, old fashioned and just plain shit! Him and his games!
Alone In The Dark
I recently wrote about how I would have probably loved this series if I hadn’t played Resident Evil first – but let’s be honest here; did anyone play this series? And did it really deserve to be rebooted twice in an attempt to capture some relevance in a genre that better and more deserving games made popular?
After having some initial success with the first game it quickly spawned two sequels that changed up the formula slightly (2 was much more action focused and 3 regressed back to the original formula) but each of those sold worse than the preceding entry and so the franchise was killed off…
…until the first reboot in 2001; which was quite well received by critics, hailed for its “inspiration” taken from the Resident Evil series. However it released 6 months (on every platform available including handhelds) after RE:Code Veronica and as a result it sold poorly (shifting an approximate 1.5million) meaning that this reboot was deemed a failure and the franchise was abandoned.
Atari rebooted the franchise again in 2008 and it was an absolute disaster! It got destroyed in most reviews because of its plot and the plethora of bugs the game had throughout its code. Some were so hard on the title that Atari threatened to sue several publications claiming that they had pirated the game – it was balls and no reviews were removed and Atari did nothing. It was an unmitigated failure on every level…
…and yet, in 2015 they’d try again with Alone in the Dark: Illumination a four-player co-op title with heavy emphasis on random generation. It was a bloody disaster and (hopefully) it killed the franchise.
Alone in the Dark was a franchise that never had traction, a fan base or a truly great game to call its own – yet it somehow lasted over 25 years and had 6 games! How it got past two, I’ll never know!
What games would you say got more chances than they deserved?
Tell me in the comments!