Top 5 Most Misdirected Franchises

Today I am going to look at five franchises that have made colossal mistakes in recent years and, unfortunately, have lost fans as a result. Most times developers are smart enough not to try to be too creative with their franchises, but the following five are no longer what they once were due to unusual decisions made by their developers.

Polyphony Digital is well known for making the Gran Turismo series, and the first game was a huge hit on the original Playstation. A sequel on the same console, followed by two more on the powerful Playstation 2 strengthened the reputations of both Gran Turismo and Polyphony. Why is it then that the team have decided to take so long with Gran Turismo 5? The original Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was released in 2007 which says quite a lot about the development time of this game. After Prologue was released, most thought that they would be able to play the full game in about one year’s time. Few would have thought that they would have to wait three more full years. There are still a few months to go, but Gran Turismo 5 is finally almost here. Unfortunately, a lot of fans online appear to have grown tired of waiting. Some have jumped ship to the 360 for Forza while others seem to look for greener pastures. Others just don’t seem to care at all anymore. It is one thing to delay your game for a while to perfect it, but Polyphony may have taken a little too long with GT5.

The SimCity series was always Maxis’ baby. Will Wright and his competent crew forged a masterpiece series that is beloved by many to this day. Unfortunately, after Electronic Arts bought Maxis, the quality of their games became questionable. Games such as Spore disappointed many and was not anything like what Maxis would typically put out. Fortunately for Spore, it isn’t a “true” franchise yet. SimCity is different, and after EA owned the rights to the series, they made a big mistake. Ripping the development rights away from Maxis, EA thought that it would be a good idea to let Tilted Mill develop the next game, which happened to be SimCity Societies. Upon release, Societies was ripped apart by critics and gamers alike. The demanding gameplay that had made SimCity was absent, replaced by a near sandbox experience that allowed even young children to create booming and successful cities. It was a huge blow to the SimCity series, and it has left a question mark hanging over the series. Will EA let Tilted Mill make another SimCity, or will they even go as far as to can the series?

Considering the fact that Resident Evil started in a mansion full of zombies that were literally undead, you have to wonder how and why Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy were forced to fight human villagers in European and African towns. Capcom can pull whatever they want out of the air to explain why they’ve altered their zombies so much, but the simple fact is that these are not zombies anymore. Zombies do not talk, walk normally, use weapons, or possess any kind of intelligence that indicates that they think. Zombies are corpses that shuffle around looking for some warm food to savagely tear apart. Capcom has done away with what zombies should be in favour of what they think are cool new zombies. Here’s something you should know Capcom, they’re not cool. You took the best survival horror series ever and turned it into a series of somewhat decent action games. Fighting zombies shouldn’t be classified as “action” but it now is. Congratulations on destroying the best zombie video game series ever!

Sega has made a lot of odd decisions with Sonic ever since he went 3D. There hasn’t been a Sonic game in the main series since Sonic & Knuckles that has received universal praise. The only game featuring Sonic lately that has done so happens to be a kart racer, and this may not be what Sega is trying to accomplish. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 looks to correct the errors made by Sega, but they have made so many mistakes that even this amazing looking platformer is being met with lots of criticism from the fans. I suppose it doesn’t help when you let Sonic pretend to be a knight, get it on with a human girl (this is just horribly wrong) and, worst of all in my opinion, letting him become a were-creature. Sega, are you that dumb now? Not even Nintendo is stupid enough to pull things like this with Mario. It is no wonder that few people respect new Sonic games anymore. Just look at what Sega is doing to the poor guy!

Undoubtedly the most successful RPG series of all time. Final Fantasy games have won over the hearts of many people all over the world, and we all love to think back to our fondest memories with Final Fantasy. Unfortunately, the Final Fantasy of today does not resemble the Final Fantasy of yesterday in any way, shape, or form except in name alone. The latest game, Final Fantasy XIII, has the player living on a floating metropolis-planetoid in the sky, summoning mechanical monsters that also turn into vehicles. Great, so Final Fantasy is just a Transformers spin-off now. It is completely baffling how Final Fantasy changes so much with each game now, alienating the people who enjoyed the previous games. It is hardly surprising though, considering how many of the key people who helped make Final Fantasy the unstoppable force it is today have left the Square-Enix company. Not even the founders of Final Fantasy are with the company anymore, so it makes sense that the games seem to follow a different vision now. For better or for worse, Final Fantasy is not what it used to be. Square-Enix will continue to pump out game after game in this series, but they will continue to lose their long-time fans if they continue this strange trend of making each game completely different from everything before it.

Return to June 2010 Articles


Gran Turismo 5 Fact Sheet

Who would have expected more info so soon post-E3? Well, some more tidbits have been spoken by Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios. His comments, along with everything else that’s known, has been compiled here. Read on and salivate, because GT5 is sounding pretty immense.

  • Release date is November 2, 2010 and will have an approximate price tag of $60 dollars.
  • Four players will be able to play locally. Up to sixteen can play together online.
  • 3D Compatability: GT5 will take advantage of 3D television technology.
  • Over 1000 cars will be in the game.
  • Car damage is in for all vehicles. A few hundred “premium” cars will also have damageable interiors.
  • Car data and your garage can be imported or synchronized with Gran Turismo on the PSP.
  • Improved physics allows cars to roll realistically.
  • Formula One: Several teams will feature their cars in the game.
  • Kart Racing: How it will function is unknown, only mentioned by Shuhei Yoshida in passing. And no, not kart racing like Mario Kart. Think real life kart racing. Basically go-karts, only better.
  • IRL: Indy Racing League will appear in the game in some form.
  • NASCAR: Cars from the American racing league will be present, as well as a few official NASCAR races.
  • Super GT: I am very unfamiliar with this racing series, but it is in. Sure to please the fans!
  • Stunt Racing: How it will function is unknown, only mentioned by Shuhei Yoshida in passing.
  • WRC: The World Rally Championship is fully licensed and should feature prominently in the rally portion of the game.
  • Race Photo Mode: Players will be able to take pictures of their cars while driving.
  • Photo Travel Mode: Players will have the ability to exit their cars and walk around the race track to snap pictures.
  • YouTube Compatability: Ingame uploading to YouTube is supposedly a possibility.
  • Track Editor: How it will function is unknown, only mentioned by Shuhei Yoshida in passing.
  • Weather Effects: How they will function is unknown, only mentioned by Shuhei Yoshida in passing.
  • GT Lounge Mode: Players can “rent” a race track, which lets them drive around and race whenever they want, or just hang out in the paddock and chat. Players can also drift freely or use this mode as a driving school.
  • Playstation Eye: Will be able to track your head movements. As you move your head, so will the ingame representation of yourself. Looking outside of the car will be possible by looking left or right.
  • Day/Night: Not only has night racing returned, players will also witness actual day to night transitions while playing. High and low beams will be used during night racing.
  • Tracks: There will be approximately 20 tracks in the game. The number of track variations (ie. Reverse High Speed Ring) should bring the number close to 70.
  • Major manufacturers Bugatti, Lambourghini, and Mercedes-Benz are present in the series for the first time with GT5.
  • Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s technical director Adrian Newey will be doing voice work for the game.
  • Dynamic Crowds: The longer the races, the greater the crowd diversity and size will be.
  • AI: The opponent AI has been revamped and can react to the player better, also allowing them to make better maneuvers.

No doubt there’s a lot more information, but this is what I’m aware of myself. There’s no doubt that this could very well be the ultimate king of racing games. The features that Polyphony has promised is now looking to be absolutely surreal. If these features are all indeed true, then this game will be so spectacular that a Gran Turismo 6 will not be necessary for several years.

Return to June 2010 Articles

Hamsterball (Review)

“A game that has perfected the art of making gamers lose their cool.”

I’ve been putting off reviewing this for quite some time, and I’m not exactly sure why. It may be because I know that a review for this game would inevitably be short since this is a fairly basic game. I’m going to give it a shot though, so here we go. Hamsterball for the Playstation 3.

Released earlier this year in March on the Playstation Store, Hamsterball is game that will try your patience and is also a good indication as to whether or not you need anger management.

In Hamsterball, you simply guide ball-bound hamsters throughout the most frighteningly complicated obstacle courses ever designed. I can only conclude that a mind such as Tim Burton’s could have come up with the maddening levels in this game, as they border on being completely bizarre and difficult to understand.

There are two game modes that you’ll spend a lot of time in, Hustle and Stunt. In Hustle, the camera is behind the hamster (like a racing game) and you have to navigate your little furry friend through obstacle courses that become frustratingly difficult after about the first dozen stages. The problem with this game mode is that you usually can’t even see where you are going, because the course that you follow dips, flips, bends, and turns in every direction you can imagine, and sometimes all you can do is hold the analog stick forward and hope that your hamster will make it through okay.

There are some terrible annoying obstacles in the Hustle stages. Giant spiked claws rain down on the you in several courses, and although they are mechanized and do have a pattern, you’re usually going to fast to even “try” to avoid them.

Hustle mode is where I spent most of my time because there are LOTS of stages and they each only take a minute or two to complete unless you fail to reach the goal before the time runs out. Thankfully there are power-ups littered throughout the stages that extend your time, and in some instances you will find yourself going out of your way to pick these up.

Stunt mode chooses to bring the camera up above the hamster, looking down from an isometric perspective. Stunt levels are generally slower paced and are much more difficult as you have to roll your hamster over twisty platforms that have no barriers along their edges. Sometimes these platforms even disappear and reappear. This is not a glitch and is just something the game will do to frustrate you and rush you through the stages. I know that I’ve used the word many times over in this review, but these platforms are just nothing but frustrating, and they serve little purpose other than to bother you.

Multiplayer mode isn’t terribly exciting. Several players (and/or AI bots) are plunked down onto a small circular playing field and must simply bounce each other off. It’s a lot less fun than it sounds and won’t keep you entertained for too long.

Regarding Hamsterball’s graphics, they are extremely dated and dont have a terrible amount of detail, but they do their job. The hamsters are sort of cute though, and you may find it hard not to chuckle when they do their little dances after you complete stages. If you do not like bright colours, then I suggest you change the colour and contrast settings on your television, because this is perhaps the brightest video game I have ever played. The game is so bright that many off-course objects stand out too much and distract you.

The sound isn’t terribly exciting, either. Hamsterball’s soundtrack and sound effects won’t win any awards, but they do their job well enough and I really don’t have any complaints about them. The tunes are a little catchy and memorable, but in a Saturday morning cartoon theme song sort of way.

Overall, Hamsterball isn’t a bad game by any stretch. Overall, it’s fairly average and you probably won’t spend too much time playing it. The levels are extremely repetitive, and the same graphics and sound repeat often. Unless you’re a huge fan of cute critters or puzzle games, you may want to think twice about laying down the money for this game, as I doubt that this game will be played for much longer than two or three hours in total. On the plus side, this game would be a great party diversion.

Final Score