Duke Nukem Forever
We waited for 13 years for a proper follow-up to the stellar Duke Nukem 3D, and all we got was the garbage fire that is Duke Nukem Forever. The original was simply a solid shooter with a quirky main character and plenty of ‘tude to spare. Duke Nukem Forever tried to take the charm of the original and update it for the modern gamer. The problem was that the industry had left that kind of shooter behind. The strafe-based shooter, like Quake or Doom, was incredibly popular in the 90s, but as we moved into the 2000s, games like CoD and Halo moved the industry in a different direction.
Not only did Gearbox not manage to capture the spirit of Duke, they crafted an incredibly poor shooter around his new title. Poorly implemented platforming and subpar shooting controls made the whole experience feel unwieldy and underwhelming.
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil had been moving closer towards the action genre for years and then, all of a sudden, Resident Evil 5 hit shelves and the series went from survival horror to action in the blink of an eye. Resident Evil 4 had changed the visual perspective of the series but it was still very grounded in its horror roots. Resident Evil 5, on the other hand, took this over the shoulder view, added co-op, and made the game more about eviscerating hordes of enemies with piles of ammo.
The series’ trademark tension and suspense is lost and replaced with explosions and even more nonsensical storytelling. The co-operative campaign also takes away some of the scares, making it feel much more like an action title than previous entries. Being Resident Evil’s first real foray into action, the series stumbles quite a bit, dropping in dozens of beefy enemies that aren’t even fun to take down, they just absorb damage and slowly stumble towards you.
Steel Battalion Heavy Armor
You would think a game about piloting hulking suits of armor along war-torn beaches would always be fun on some level. The original Steel Battalion partly succeeded due to its massive, unwieldy controller which made the player feel like they really were piloting a lumbering machine.
The most recent entry in the franchise traded thumb sticks and levers for motion controls. The addition of Kinect was a poor one, making every part of gameplay difficult to interface with and much less enjoyable. Everything felt like a gimmick. It only adds insult to injury when you consider how enjoyable the first game was.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
The original Force Unleashed gave us an action game set in the Star Wars universe that had plenty of decapitation, force powers, and an intriguing narrative that left room for player choice. It was an incredibly solid game. The follow-up took that solid foundation and squandered it.
It tried to make everything bigger and grander, but it was just completely unfocused. By trying to better every element of the game, no one element actually benefited. The game didn’t know how to move the series forward and instead fell into a rut. It quickly became repetitive and even the beauty of Star Wars wasn’t enough to save it.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2006
Sonic’s move into the third dimension wasn’t the smoothest but it did bring a lot of high speed action with it. After the slightly disappointing Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, the 2006 reboot promised gorgeous graphics, plenty of action, and stylish new characters. What we got was a game so bad and glitch ridden that it is borderline unplayable at times.
The game’s hub world makes it difficult to find missions and the levels themselves are difficult to traverse and filled with elements that make progressing a matter luck far too often. It didn’t return Sonic to form, it put him at an all time low.
The original Crackdown is a fantastic action game. Taking down various gang leaders and collecting ability augmenting orbs makes for a good gameplay loop that is constantly engaging. Its sequel didn’t manage to move the series forward, though. Instead of adding cool new features and characters, Crackdown 2 just adds zombies.
The undead swarm through the city in hordes, making it difficult to traverse buildings, fight enemies, or drive vehicles. All of the magic of the first game is hidden behind a wall of decaying flesh. The over-reliance on zombies brings down every other aspect of the game as well, ruining what could have been a great sequel.
Devil May Cry 2
What was originally positioned as a new Resident Evil game eventually took the form of Devil May Cry, an incredibly fun action game with exploration puzzles and incredibly difficult combat. When a sequel was announced, hopes were high.
Of the four games in the original DMC saga, Devil May Cry 2 is by far the worst. The game ratcheted up the difficult so much that entire segments of the game went from fun to frustrating. Continuing the story of the first game, it tends to retread the same beats, trying to recreate the magic of the original with flashy new moves and terrifying new enemies that just cant match those of the first game.
Metroid: Other M
For its first foray into the third-person action genre, the Metroid series fumbled more than it flew. The Metroid Prime games proved that the series didn’t have to remain in the realm of 2D platformers, but Team Ninja wasn’t able to craft an experience that adequately captured the spirit of the series.
Exploration and combat were both implemented in rather obtuse ways. The autolock built into combat takes away a lot of the difficulty in combat and the game struggles with telling you exactly where you need to go and what you need to do. It wasn’t the Metroid game many were clamoring for and has led to the series being placed on ice for the last several years. Hopefully, we can get another fully fledged Metroid game soon.
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel were two of the best 3D platformers released on the N64. After Microsoft purchased Rare and announced a new entry in the series, many were curious. The resulting release was not a platformer at all, though. Instead, what we got was a car building game featuring everyone’s favorite bear and bird duo.
It was a disappointing return for the pair. The game starts by poorly mimicking their platforming roots before asking them to pair axels and wheels and race makeshift buggies through whimsical tracks. It may not be the worst game ever, but it isn’t a Banjo and Kazooie game.
Bomberman: Act Zero
What was the one thing that Bomberman never needed? If your answer was a gritty reboot, then you are correct. Bandai Namco took a cartoonish, adorable character and turned him into the terminator – and not in a good way. The game didn’t even do the Bomberman gameplay justice.
It was ugly to look at, not fun to play, and a mess of a game from top to bottom. It proved that rebooting a character is not always a good move and thankfully the character has now returned to his roots, with a bomb for a head and a wick sprouting from his temple.