7 Video Game Franchises That Ended With a Whimper
It’s bad enough when a video game sucks hard, but it’s even more depressing when a game is part of a once proud and esteemed series and it sucks hard. No one wants to hang out at a party too long, burning through all of their social capital as people wonder when they’re going to leave. Well, these games did the video game equivalent of that (also, please, don’t think about my metaphor for too long). Here are the games that let formerly great franchises drift off into nothingness.
Breath of Fire
Back in the wretched glory days of renting video games from the neighborhood rental place, Breath of Fire and Breath of Fire II on the SNES were quite the hot tickets (probably because they took so long to finish, and also life is a miserable bastard). Not to be outdone, the Playstation sequels Breath of Fire III and Breath of Fire IV had the same problem. Why am I mentioning how hard it was to get my hands on rental copies of the Breaths of Fire games? Because these games were once treasured jewels of the JRPG fans who predated Final Fantasy VII breaking the genre into the American mainstream. But you can only make sprite and 3d block-based games for so long before current technology makes that look bad, so Capcom tried something a little different with Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Guess what? Fans don’t like change, and the sales were bad, even if the game was actually pretty fun, and the last anyone heard of the series it was a free-to-play mobile release in Japan only. Oh, and everyone hated that too.
Sure, the HD rerelease Crash Bandicoot compilation has him back on people’s radar, but don’t let those fool you; Crash did not have three very good games, then a racer, then a gentle riding off into the franchise mascot sunset. Once Naughty Dog stopped developing the games, the quality went downhill as we were treated to more racing games, Crash Twinsanity, and Crash Boom Bang. None of them resonated with consumers, which is how we ended up with a six year period with no new Crash games.
Mario Party remains a fairly popular series in terms of sales, but people don’t care remotely the same way that they did when the first few installments came out. And it’s easy to see why — it feels like the just keep making the same game, over and over again, without much in the way of innovations.
Spyro: The Dragon
Like Crash, Spyro the Dragon suffered as soon as it was being developed by anyone other than the developers of the original trilogy, Insomniac.A bunch of completely forgettable releases followed the first three Spyro games, until eventually Spyro became the face of the Skylanders toy/game series (which hasn’t had any new releases since 2016, so his star power was only good for so much).
Four classic role playing games (well, the third one not as much, but we’ll let it go) and one of the original online loot-based action RPGs seem like a long time ago when you’re the Phantasy Star series, which has been relegated to a smattering of action RPGs that nobody is particularly enthusiastic about.
The Shining Series
Will we ever get a proper rerelease of Shining Force III, the game that didn’t sell as well as it should’ve because it was relegated to the low-selling Sega Saturn? But the entire franchise, which includes two standard RPGs and a not-so-great action-RPG, hasn’t been treated well. It’s hard to tell exactly HOW not well it’s been treated, because pretty much all of the later Shining games have only been released in Japan. That said, it’s still easy to see that none of them capture the excitement of the original Genesis/Saturn games. Of course, I’d be more than happy to test this theory if they’d just release these damn games in the US.
After Star Fox 64, we all wanted more Star Fox. How could you blame us? That game is insanely good. The next game we got was some sort of 3D action adventure game starring Fox McCloud and his giant stick (and a dinosaur, if I recall correctly)? But then we got THREE new proper aerial combat star Fox games, and guess what? They weren’t good. And lo, you don’t hear the same cries from the internet for more Star Fox. Unlike Metroid, it just couldn’t adapt properly. Not unlike… mankind? (Mmm, love to be dramatic.)
Always sad when someone doesn’t know when to check out…