I admit, I’m a complete fangirl when it comes to a lot of video games. While I am slowly learning my lesson when it comes to spending my money on a video game based solely on the title, I’m still very guilty of doing so. Thus leading to imminent disappointment when the game I’ve purchased and played did not live up to my expectations. The following list of games are titles that are almost all entries in series I’d already grown to love; a couple of them are games that I never clicked with, or were, in my opinion, over-hyped. I was tempted to title this entry “Ten Worst Video Games” but, while a few of these games are bad, I think in most cases they are just lackluster or totally miss the mark in association with the title attached to them. You be the judge!
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
I purchased this title when I still had a backwards compatible DS. And before it became an insurmountable task to collect and play every Kingdom Hearts title out there. This is when the plot started to get convoluted and weird. Something I’ve come to expect from Square RPGs nowadays. It is something I can excuse when the battle system is engaging and fun, but they managed to completely screw it up in this game. Instead of utilizing the fast-paced and rewarding battle system already established in Kingdom Hearts, the developers had to try and fix something that wasn’t broken. Battles are carried out through a stupid card deck system. No, I did not purchase a Kingdom Hearts game to play Magic: The Gathering, thanks. I wanted to kill things with my Keyblade. Not make card decks and combos and count numbers other than HP and MP. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I lost interest pretty quickly. I think I made it to Agrabah and quit for good. Evidently, this game was met with commercial and critical success. They even made a remake for it on the PS2. I don’t believe I even know any Kingdom Hearts fans who really enjoyed this game, and I don’t feel like there’s a big hole in my life for not completing it.
The Third Birthday (Parasite Eve III)
Parasite Eve is another series that Squaresoft hooked me on with the first entry, only to laugh in my face as I gave them more of my money for the second and third releases. Having Parasite Eve as one of my favorite games of all time doesn’t make a good case for any of its predecessors. But at least with Parasite Eve II I understood the direction they were going with it. Sort of. Parasite Eve was, at the time of its release, Squaresoft’s red-headed stepchild. It broke away from their RPG mold, adapting a sort of turn-based, sort of real-time, and sort of sci-fi/horror potluck with a female main character (!!) that ended up being an awesome and unique experience. For Parasite Eve II, they went the more survival horror game route, shamelessly copying Resident Evil’s outdated mechanics.
For The Third Birthday, they went off the deep end. Seems to me video game companies are trying to turn EVERY franchise into an action-shooter nowadays. Squaresoft/Square Enix suck at these, as per another one of their bastard child games further down this list. I honestly don’t know what they were thinking with Third Birthday. I’m pretty sure the only thing I liked about this game was the music: the remixed tunes from Parasite Eve are pretty sweet. Everything else is frustrating and asinine. Maeda was modeled after a serial pedophile. There is next to no story exposition: every chapter the player is expected to read through data files to figure out what the hell is happening because the writers at Square Enix keep insisting that time travel is a viable storytelling mechanic. It’s not. Especially the way you guys keep doing it. So stop already!
The battle system devolved from an action-RPG game, to a survival horror wannabe, and finally to a poorly executed over the shoulder shooter/action game.
I had to play through this piece of crap twice to get the good ending, which was their way of wussing out on a different plot mechanic and opening the doors for yet another game. I’m hoping this title didn’t sell enough copies for them to bother with more entries. Honestly, I don’t think I can take the disappointment anymore. I wish this game had remained a Japanese portable exclusive as originally planned so I wouldn’t have exposed myself to this crap and added it to my Parasite Eve library.
I’ve tried playing through this game at least three times by now. Everyone hyped about how awesome it was online, and due to its super rarity, it cost me more than I should’ve ever paid for a Playstation game. This is an example of a game that didn’t “click” with me for some reason. I couldn’t get attached to any of the characters or the story. My impressions of the battle system were mixed; I don’t think I found it particularly bad, but it was weird and I wasn’t crazy about it. And every time I restarted it I found out after the fact that I did something wrong and couldn’t get the good ending, killing my drive to finish my current play through. Then I would put the game down in favor of playing something else, and not find the time to go back to it.
As it has been years since my last stab at completing this game, I don’t have much else to say about it. At some point in my life I do plan on brushing the dust off yet again and sticking through until the end. For the amount of money this game was going for on EBay at the time, and the collective reviews from companies and gamers on this title, I was expecting a more absorbing RPG experience. Not something that loses my interest 10 gameplay hours in every single time.
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
I’m sure you were expecting this game to pop up on my list after my Third Birthday hint. This is Square Enix”s first botched attempt at turning one of their RPG series into an action-shooter. Due to the mixed critical reactions from this game, you would’ve thought they’d leave it at this and not put us through the same painful experience (obviously they didn’t learn from previous mistakes). But anyway, this game is part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Meaning: we needed a new cash cow and the suggestive finale of Final Fantasy VII wasn’t good enough so we’re gonna come up with a bunch of stupid spin-offs and sequels to spoon feed our audience with even though their fanfictions have better material than this crap!
I liked Vincent. I thought playing a game as him and exploring his rich background in the Turks with Professor Hojo and Lucrecia wouldn’t be a bad experience. Instead of being smart and making a prequel, flashbacks were incorporated and Dirge of Cerberus was really about fighting some new stupid group of antagonists who want to destroy the planet. Throw in your anticipated Final Fantasy VII cameo appearances, and that’s all there is to it. A very disappointing game that hardly deserves to have the words Final Fantasy VII in its title.
Breath of Fire II
I already raged about how this is the worst J-RPG ever in a previous blog post. Rather than reliving that traumatizing experience, I will say it was not only disappointing (I played it after Breath of Fire III, which was a great game), it was downright terrible. I’m pretty open-minded about a lot of things, but I can’t rationalize how anyone can enjoy playing this game. I read comments from other gamers about how much they love this game. When I think about the great RPGs on the SNES, again, I can’t comprehend how anyone could sit down to play this game because they want to. It’s a culmination of everything to NOT do when creating a video game. Play Breath of Fire III and be happy with that.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
I’ll admit, I really should have seen this one coming. In my defense, I needed something to play on my Vita, and I figured a Silent Hill themed dungeon crawler/hack-n-slash had the potential for passive portable entertainment. You know, a RNG hack-n-slash with Silent Hill monsters, music, and weapons? Can’t be all bad, right?
For starters, they didn’t just throw in some SH skins and music and called it a day. The creators threw in all sorts of other survival horror elements which just don’t work. Like item durability, as seen in SH:Downpour. I strongly dislike item durability in most games. In Silent Hill’s case, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that a plank of wood supposedly has about the same durability as a freakin’ fire axe or katana! To make matters worse, someone figured it’d be a great idea to make monsters have specific weapon weaknesses on top of weapon durability, limited inventory, and random drops. One particular enemy that made my life difficult was the Needler. The Needlers even blocked my GUN bullets! Upon further investigation, I found out it was apparently weak to the katana, a weapon I didn’t even know existed in the game at that point of time even though I’d fought over 2 dozen of the stupid things. And, unlike every other RNG dungeon crawler game I’ve played, there’s no hub or stash to safely tuck away a good weapon you might want to save for later. Tell me how that makes any sense in a game where monsters will only take a decent amount of damage from one particular weapon?
Oh, the frustration. It became apparent to me that if I didn’t want to find anyone else dumb enough to pay money for this game and play multiplayer, I had no business turning the game on. Pile that on top of no checkpoints, one save point per level, and repetitive puzzles, and you have a game that could’ve been a creepy-cool hack-n-slash if they’d followed a formula I feel has become lost in gaming: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).
You can laugh at me all you want, but the truth of the matter is teenage me absolutely loved the biggest musical act to come out of England since the Beatles. Imagine my excitement when two of my favorite things were combined into one experience! In fact, I remember my mother blatantly telling me they decided to go with a Playstation for my Christmas present so I could get this game and the Xena: Warrior Princess game (Xena was, and is still, my favorite television show EVER).
Anyway, I eagerly popped the game in my Playstation and got going. I don’t remember exactly what I was expecting, but I know I wasn’t expecting to have already experienced everything the game had to offer in less than two hours. All you do is pick which Spice Girl you want to be, pick which song you want to mix, and do stupid dance moves. Instead of including almost their entire library of songs, there were only FIVE songs to mix, and only 9 selections from each song to use, if my memory serves me correctly. Then you go through the same dance move rotation with a 1970’s disco king every time, and assign moves to each girl for the performance. The grand finale is watching your “show” and pressing buttons to select the camera view.
Whoop-dee-freakin’-doo! There’s some footage from some boring “exclusive” interview along with other video footage that was overplayed on every news network at the time (like Geri Halliwell pinching Prince Charles’ bum) but that’s it. There was no game. There was almost nothing to do. I’m going to go ahead and say this is the most shallow video game I’ve ever played.
The Last Remnant
The Last Remnant is a prime example of Square Enix releasing fugly game content wrapped in a pretty package. I purchased this game for my 360. In hindsight, I should’ve stuck with Lost Odyssey and been satisfied with having one awesome turn-based RPG for that console. Aside from the music, promising storyline (from what I saw, anyway, and I’m bummed because I did actually want to know what happened), and flashy graphics, this game was a mess.
Too much of the battle system was random. Instead of controlling each individual party member, you divide your party into “unions” and give them general commands and the AI takes it from there. Bad idea. The computer gets to decide what your units do. Thereby deciding what abilities they learn, because the abilities characters learn is decided by what actions they perform. Which means I didn’t have the healing abilities I needed when the time came because my characters hadn’t used them enough because they never seemed to be available in the totally randomized action command list!
Add this to sitting through terrible loading screens during battles just to see a message that a unit is “botched.” Another extremely frustrating aspect of this game. When the leader of a union is down or KO’ed or whatever, the rest of the union can’t act. They stand there and pick their noses instead of swinging their weapons at something. Then they force ME to sit there and pick my nose because the game insists on reminding me the units refuse to act every time it’s their turn with 2 minute loading screens. Nope, not my idea of a good time.
I’ve heard they since released a PC version of this game and fixed a lot of this game’s issues, but I’m certainly not giving them any more of my money to find out what happened, even if they sold it for only $1 on Steam.
Soul Calibur V
I’ve been a fan of Soul Calibur since I stumbled upon one of the games in my local arcade years ago. I purchased Soul Calibur II-IV, and somehow was smart enough to save my money when it came to Soul Calibur V. The fact that I bought all the other games is significant, I feel, because SC is the only arcade-style fighting series I’ve ever followed. The only other fighting game I actually owned was Killer Instinct and that’s because it was packaged with the SNES my parents bought me when I was young.
My gaming partner brought over SCV and we played it for a night. That’s all it took to play through the Story mode due to laziness and/or budget cuts. Instead of each character getting their own story mode to play, you only get to experience Patroklos’ journey. He is one of Sophitia’s two children in this game, both of which are new characters with the same fighting style. He is whiny and boring. I really can’t believe the developers couldn’t be bothered to create 2-3 hour story modes for each character. I always found it the most enjoyable way to get accustomed to the different fighting styles.
Also, Talim and Seong Mi-na are my favorite characters to play as. Now do you understand the depth of my disappointment? Namco Bandai Games didn’t even do me the courtesy of giving any new characters their fighting style (sorry, Kilik’s replacement doesn’t count!). When you go and remove my staple characters from a fighting game, I’m given little reason to want to play it. And there is NO reason Talim, the youngest character of them all, can’t be in a game that takes place 15 years later. Did they kill her off when I wasn’t paying attention or something? I was actually looking forward to playing as a more grown up version of her until I realized she was cut from the roster. WTF?
Throwing in Ezio Auditore as a guest character wasn’t even enough to get me to buy this game. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll pick up a used copy down the road.
Final Fantasy X-2
This is it. This is the game that signaled the decline of the Final Fantasy series for me. This is the mother of all terrible sequels. This is the game I was quite satisfied carrying on with the rest of my life pretending I hadn’t spent over 100 hours trying to get a 100% score just to be screwed out of it by .2%. And now, as if to further rub my face in a pile of chocobo feces, they’re bundling this abomination with the FFX HD remake… basically forcing me to purchase this game again! It’s a recurring nightmare, I tell you!
If you read my Top Ten Favorite Video Games list, you know I hold Final Fantasy X in pretty high esteem. It very well may be my favorite video game of all time. I know this sets the stage for a whole lot of disappointment on my end, but I don’t think I could have ever conceived such a disastrous way to pick up where FFX left off. The conclusion was perfect: a satisfying, well-written solution with all around tear-jerking and a suggestive bit at the end to allow gamers to draw their own conclusions about what may have happened.
Then they had to take a big dump on it with FFX-2. Yuna’s character has completely changed for the worse, Rikku somehow has even less clothing on, and the new character Paine (the only saving grace) gets swept into their teeheeing-obnoxious-girl power maelstrom by the end of the game. To top off the Japanese school girl stupidity, they added Sailor Moon-esque ‘dressphere’ changing sequences during battle. From the opening cutscene of the game featuring “Yuna” doing a cheesy dance to a J-Pop song, I could tell this game was varying from ALL of my expectations. Not to say I don’t like Sailor Moon or J-pop (I listen to Koda Kumi’s music a lot, ironically enough) they don’t belong in my Final Fantasy X. Instead of following a rational, “Let’s give Final Fantasy X fans something they’ll like,” train of thought, the developers seemed to go with more of a “Let’s combine a ton of pop culture crap and boobs and hope more people will buy it!”
And this game was met with critical and commercial success as well. I just don’t get it.
I guess the overall lesson here is not to judge a book (video game) by its cover. Or its title. Or its developers. Or what the critics say. Or what fellow gamers say. Instead, I really need to spend more time researching games and checking out Youtube videos to get a better idea of whether a game is worth my time and money or not. And even then, sometimes it is a shot in the dark. So what do you guys think? Did these titles disappoint you as much as they did me?