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Video Feature: 13 Great Series That Someone Else Screwed Up

When licensing and franchising go horribly wrong, previously brilliant games (and their fans!) are the ones who suffer.

Article by USgamer Team, .

By definition, a franchise is a property or concept that is licensed, sold, or distributed for exploration by someone besides its creator. At some point, nearly any successful video game series becomes a franchise as its publisher looks to maximize profits by handing a game's concept, world, or characters to an outside party.

Maybe the original creators have departed the company. Maybe the publisher simply wants more frequent output than the original studio can produce. Whatever the case, franchising is the point at which a successful game takes on a new life. A rite of passage.

Often, though, that new life isn't a happy one. While some game concepts pass happily into new hands, all too often franchising marks a shark-jumping point for a series. And even series that enjoy largely successful franchises often end up with one or two skeletons in their closets – examples of licensing that went horribly wrong. Such as these unlucky 13 franchises that we love very much... despite that one time some other studio totally dropped the ball.

Castlevania

Simon Belmont's inexplicable Scottish action was pretty much the least of this game's problems.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: The Mirror of Fate
Mercurysteam | 2013 | Nintendo 3DS

Mercurysteam tried to bring their Lords of Shadow feel into the 2D metroidvania style without ever stopping to ask, "Is this a good idea?" Incredibly boring, shallow, and slow-paced, with tedious combat and idiotic QTE-based boss battles, Mirror of Fate is truly the worst of both worlds.

Final Fantasy

"Kids love toothless strategy games, right? Great!"

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
Think & Feel | 2008 | DS

With its hands-off combat style, FFXII would have scaled down into a great touch-based portable game, but instead of going with something true to the source Think & Feel made a brain-dead strategy game of it. Simplistic and pointless, with a story that fails to capitalize on the original's strengths.

Halo

He may be boring to fight, but just dig that neon!

Halo 4
343 Industries | 2012 | Xbox 360

Halo 4 looks amazing, but it didn't play quite like Halo fans expected. Multiplayer tried too hard to be Call of Duty, and that ended up spilling over into the rest of the game. The new enemies types were boring bullet-sponges, weapons lacked kick, and the story (as usual) was a confusing mess designed to sell tie-in novels. Given the sheer technical accomplishment of 343's work on the game, its shortcomings reek of executive meddling.

The Legend of Zelda

The origin of the word "derp."

Link: Faces of Evil
Animation Magic | 1993 | CDi

Trashy gameplay, trashy graphics, trashy audio, trashy loading times, trashy cut scene animation. Remind us why Nintendo handed this series over to Philips to violate this way? Oh, right, to get one over on Sony. Yeah, that sure worked out.

Mario

Here's a fun idea: Let's carelessly give away a multi-billion dollar license!

Hotel Mario
Philips Fantasy Factory | 1994 | CDi

A poor attempt to tap into the old-school Mario arcade action vibe hindered by awful controls, poor game design, and general CD-related sluggishness. Third parties rarely did justice to Nintendo's games in the pre-NES days, but this was on a whole other level of disgracefulness.

Mega Man

Yes, sometimes you had to play it sideways. But no amount of spin could salvage this dud's reputation.

Rockman & Forte: Mirai Kara no Chousensha
Bandai | 1999 | WonderSwan

There was a pretty good Super NES/Game Boy Advance called Rockman & Forte/Mega Man & Bass. This has nothing to do with that; it was made by Bandai, who evidently had never created a video game before. Terrible level design, bosses, and powers make this the worst Mega Man game ever, even more wretched than those Hi-Tech Expressions PC games from the '80s. Plus, the game tried to take advantage of WonderSwan's ability to rotate 90º with terrible effect.

Metal Gear Solid

Even though Snake gained remarkable new combat skills and line-of-sight, his enemies still had the visual acuity of a 90-year-old cataract victim.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Silicon Knights | 2003 | GameCube

A remake that completely missed the point. The cut scenes were over-the-top and campy in a bad way, and the new mechanics (imported backward from Metal Gear Solid 2) trivialized the action because the game wasn't redesigned to allow for things like first-person aiming.

Pitfall!

Punch in the air like Mario all you want, Harry. You're not fooling anyone.

Super Pitfall
Pony Inc. | 1986 | NES

Ostensibly a remake of Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns, Super Pitfall played badly with clumsy controls, poor collision, arbitrary difficulty, and sloppy level design. Similar games have developed an affection reputation as lovably awful, such as Atlantis No Nazo (which was nearly published in the U.S. as Super Pitfall II). This game, however, is just a straight-up turd.

Prince of Persia

La cages aux follies.

Prince of Persia 3D
Red Orb Entertainment | 1999 | PC/Dreamcast

With this game, Prince of Persia attempted to steal back the "methodical exploration and climbing" style of game from Tomb Raider, but went about it all wrong. It was slow, clumsy, and not very Prince of Persia-like. Sands of Time of time would get it right a few years later, but until then fans had to suffer this indignity.

Resident Evil

"If this gets any worse, Milla Jovovich is gonna show up."

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Slant Six Games | 2012 | PC/PS3/Xbox 360

A well-intentioned attempt to make a pure, cooperative, multiplayer Resident Evil bogged down by poor controls, a lack of atmosphere, and derivative design that failed to improve in any way on its obvious inspiration, Valve's Left4Dead.

Spyro the Dragon

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly
Check Six | 2002 | PS2/GameCube

A competent but unremarkable extension of the series, Enter the Dragonfly offered none of the innovation, wit, or creativity of Insomniac's original Spyro trilogy. A weak imitation.

Street Fighter

Nothing says "Street Fighter" like a double-chinned Ken.

Street Fighter: The Movie
Incredible Technologies | 1995 | Arcade

It's not just the Mortal Kombat-style graphics that feel off in this film tie-in. The play control and mechanics don't quite work the way you'd expect from Street Fighter. It's more like a mash-up between Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct. This is especially obvious with the new characters, who don't feel like Street Fighters. Plus, it's a film tie-in with a terrible, terrible film.

Strider

Strider II: Journey Into Darkness
Tiertex/U.S. Gold | 1992 | Genesis

Tiertex put together a pretty middling rendition of the arcade masterpiece Strider for home computers, and for some reason that caused Capcom to say, "Yes! We would love for you to develop a sequel." Which brings us to this joyless, boring slog that lacks the spark and spectacle of the original. In fairness, this started off as a completely different game, only to have the Strider brand tacked on by management. Frickin' management, man.

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Comments 19

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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #1 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    The hate for The Twin Snakes' cutscenes is a little silly. The entire Metal Gear series is some mix of campy, silly, and insane. In a series where a man controls bees, another sends the spirits of dead soldiers you have killed after you, and a cybernetic ninja sprints through explosives and comes out without a scratch, are you really that upset about a backflip off a missile?
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #2 touchofkiel 4 years ago
    What, no Metroid Other M?

    Some of these games aren't bad (I liked Twin Snakes and Revenant Wings), but yeah, most of them do reek of "missing the point." Nothing says a "series being screwed up by another dev" like Other M, though.

    As for the FF series, even more than the maligned XIII trilogy, I'd say the biggest screw-up has been the Compilation of FFVII, even if Crisis Core was quite excellent. Square Enix likes to milk things, but that doesn't always mean they're bad. You might have zero interest in the MMOs, you might be wholly uninterested in the XIII trilogy, you might be disgusted by All the Bravest... but nothing compares to the moronic and pointless Advent Children, or the truly awful Dirge of Cerberus.
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  • Avatar for hester2 #3 hester2 4 years ago
    Halo 4 is an odd inclusion on this list. While definitely not as good as what came before, it didn't really screw the pooch as bad as the other games on here.
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  • Avatar for scottskocy03 #4 scottskocy03 4 years ago
    Some baffling inclusions on this list.
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  • Avatar for Banandango #5 Banandango 4 years ago
    As far as Twin Snakes, I can forgive the dumbing-down of the difficulty, the re-recorded voice work, the over-the-top cutscenes and the doofy looking characters... but having nearly all of the original's soundtrack replaced is too much of a tragedy. Those dramatic moments just aren't the same.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #6 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 years ago
    @touchofkiel I think the main focus of this article isn't "sequel screw ups" but "when IPs are handed off to different developers and said developer entirely misses the point"

    "A remake that completely missed the point. The cut scenes were over-the-top and campy in a bad way, and the new mechanics (imported backward from Metal Gear Solid 2) trivialized the action because the game wasn't redesigned to allow for things like first-person aiming."

    Thank You. Twin Snakes isn't a bad game, don't get me wrong. But the changes they made are so backwards it could almost be seen as art. That's why I think everyone should play it! I mean sure, a Metal Gear Solid remake sounded like a good idea on paper, but in execution? The entire entry is so "backwards" you have to wonder why it was made:

    Playstation:
    Otacon: "It's not a weak point--I like to think of it as more of a character flaw. People and weapons just aren't complete without a character flaw, don't you think?"

    The Twin Snakes:
    Otacon: "It's not a weak point--more like a weakness. People and weapons just aren't very appealing without a weakness of some kind, don't you think?"

    The game is filled with stuff like this! I love it!Edited 5 times. Last edited April 2014 by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for christopherhughes97 #7 christopherhughes97 4 years ago
    I have a sneaking suspicion that whoever wrote that entry for Revenant Wings did not actually complete the game, because it gets really damn hard in the last few chapters. That certainly doesn't invalidate their opinion, the game is a departure from the other Ivalice games after all, but since it's aimed at a much younger audience, I think it deserves to be approached for what it is rather than what an older fan of the franchise expected of it.

    You guys do get bonus points for not using this as an opportunity to beat the dead horses of Mass Effect 3 and Metroid Other M. It really shows that the article was written by people with actual opinions, instead of as a click-bait, fluff piece. (Also, those games' hate-doms are WRONG, but that's neither here nor there)

    Also, Twin Snakes FOREVER! Bad remake? More like AWESOME remake!
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #8 jeremy.parish 4 years ago
    @hester2 I like Halo 4 well enough, but there's a LOT of hatred for it among fans of the series, and it poisoned the well for a lot of folks.

    And yeah, this isn't specifically about bad sequels, it's about games that turned out not-quite-right after being franchised to other studios. Other M is a good suggestion!
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  • Avatar for artrexdenthur #9 artrexdenthur 4 years ago
    Not a terrible article, but dull and unfocused. It's always more interesting to read about either great things and great games, or bad things that are more important to gaming in general than a few games you didn't like.
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  • Avatar for Corran123 #10 Corran123 4 years ago
    Other M was the first game that came to my mind after reading that title. Halo 4 also deserves to be on that list for that terrible try-hard CoD multiplayer.

    What irks me most about Twin Snakes is the music and dialogue. Silicon Knights completely butchered Sniper Wolf's final scene.
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  • Avatar for docexe #11 docexe 4 years ago
    @christopherhughes97 Errr… Just to point out that Mass Effect 3 would not even apply for the list because it was still developed by Bioware.

    A better example would probably be DMC: Devil May Cry.
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  • Avatar for christopherhughes97 #12 christopherhughes97 4 years ago
    @docexe That's true, it wasn't handed off to another developer like the examples in this article, but if you wanted to stretch that "Someone Else Screwed Up" line, a common complaint was that it had a different head writer.

    I want to disagree with the DMC suggestion, because I did think the game worked fairly well on it's own, but if we judge it against the other games in the series, it had unfortunately lost a bit of the magic.Edited April 2014 by christopherhughes97
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  • Avatar for sam-stephens #13 sam-stephens 4 years ago
    I may be one of the few people who actually thinks Other M is solid, if slightly flawed, and ambitious. I understand why people dislike it, but that dislike usually stems from a preconception of what Metroid is "supposed" to be instead of judging the game on its own merrit.Edited April 2014 by sam-stephens
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  • Avatar for iamasickman #14 iamasickman 4 years ago
    The hate for Other M baffles me. I think it mostly comes from people who haven't played it. Most people seem to get hung up on Samus' voiceovers; she's too emo for them or something, but the actual game itself is a lot of fun. It plays exactly like you'd expect an 8 or 16 bit metroid to play in 3D.

    Also, I guess I'm one of the few people out there who likes Prince of Persia 3D. It has its problems, but overall, I prefer it to The Sands of Time and later games. The tank controls in PoP 3D are clunky, but they remind me of the way you had to play the original 2D PoP, very precisely, lining up jumps based on the spacing of the tiles. I also prefer the magical, abstract, floating world of PoP 3D to the more realistic SoT and later games. The game could have used more development time, but I don't see it as a failure.
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  • Avatar for iamasickman #15 iamasickman 4 years ago
    One game franchise I would fault for going in the wrong direction after being taken over by a new developer would be RARE's Donkey Kong Country. Even though I love DCK and all its sequels, I always hated the fact that every incarnation of Donkey Kong after that (in Mario Kart, Mario Golf, Super Smash Bros, etc.) was based on his look in DCK and not his original Miyamoto design (which you can see in the original Mario Kart for SNES). So I guess you could say that I don't like for purely aesthetic reasons, which is rather shallow of me.
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  • Avatar for Architecture #16 Architecture 4 years ago
    @jeremy.parish You brought up Slant Six but failed to mention their greatest offense--SOCOM: Confrontation. I vividly recall that game being a cover feature during the twilight years of EGM.

    Boy, what a stinker.
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #17 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    No way Bandai's Mega Man is worse than Hi-Tech Expressions PC DOS games! I DEMAND A RECOUNT! Or whatever it is you used for this system.

    Oh also, you guys at USGamer remember the awful AKI-developed "Ready 2 Rumble" for Wii, published by Atari? That should be here, as the original Midway games were really fun.
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  • Avatar for docexe #18 docexe 4 years ago
    @christopherhughes97 I’m suggesting it primarily because of the level of vitriol it tends to receive online. Honestly, while I think they do have some serious flaws, I don’t find DMC, Metroid Other M or (taking the actual list into account) MGS The Twin Snakes to be truly bad games. I do get where some of their detractors are coming from, but at the same time, I think these games receive a lot of unwarranted hate on the Internet.
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  • Avatar for williamas12 #19 williamas12 A year ago
    I think this is a really piece of content. You make these details exciting and exciting. You provide visitors a lot to think about and I appreciate that sort of composing Agnes Jones.
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