Top 20 Video Games That Ruined Their Franchise



Top 20 Video Games That Ruined Their Franchise

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
It only takes one bad game to completely ruin a video game franchise! For this list, we'll be looking at those games that derailed a series. Our countdown includes “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” (2011), “Contra: Rogue Corps” (2019), “Dino Crisis 3” (2003), “Dead Space 3” (2013), “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” (2014) and more!
Script written by Mark Sammut

Top 20 Games That Ruined Their Franchise

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Games That Ruined Their Franchise.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those games that derailed a series. Games with sequels will be considered as long as the subsequent titles are also underwhelming.

Which supposed franchise killer do you think gets too much hate? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor” (2012)

Although not the biggest name in Capcom's arsenal, "Steel Battalion" had endless potential when the series debuted in 2002. Following a somewhat disappointing sequel, the franchise went off the rails with "Heavy Armor", a game designed to showcase the Kinect. Bafflingly created by FromSoftware, "Heavy Armor" does feature some impressive visuals, but it falls apart in the gameplay department. "Heavy Armor's" difficulty is unfairly enhanced by the Kinect's inconsistent readings of the player's movement, creating an experience that's just frustrating rather than enjoyably challenging. As a result, "Steel Battalion" has been a non-entity ever since.

#19: “Alone in the Dark” (2008)

In the early '90s, "Alone in the Dark" helped pioneer the survival horror genre. By the mid-2000s, this classic franchise was playing catch up with the likes of "Resident Evil" and doing a bad job of it. 2008's "Alone in the Dark" was meant to put the license back on the horror map, but cumbersome gameplay, a terrible story, and uninspired level design just made this once great franchise feel cheap. Poorly optimized and barely holding any similarities to the original games, "Alone in the Dark" was a complete failure that ensured nobody cared when the abysmal "Illumination" was released in 2015

#18: “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” (2011)

The first three "SOCOM" games on the PlayStation 2 were and still are amazing, and they played a central role in shaping squad-based shooters. After the underwhelming "Confrontation", Zipper Interactive returned to "SOCOM" for the fourth numbered entry; unfortunately, most of the franchise's magic didn't make the jump to the PS3. While the squad AI was still fine, "SOCOM 4" dropped the ball in most other areas, particularly its soulless single-player campaign and a multiplayer that launched with too many issues. "SOCOM" had been on a decline for a while, but a lackluster main entry sealed the franchise's and Zipper's fates.

#17: “Golden Axe: Beast Rider” (2008)

After lying dormant for more than a decade, Sega revived "Golden Axe" before immediately burying it six feet under. Rather than a fun co-op beat 'em up, "Beast Rider" is a single-player action-adventure game that lacks multiplayer, perhaps the defining feature that put "Golden Axe" on the map. Nothing works as it should; the combat aspires for competence, the environments are forgettable, and the titular mechanic is a hindrance rather than a selling point. "Beast Rider's" development was very troubled, a fact that's hard to miss when playing the game.

#16: “Final Fight: Streetwise” (2006)

Out of all the genres, beat 'em ups struggled more than most to adapt to 3D. Released in the same year as Clover Studio's brilliant "God Hand", "Final Fight: Streetwise" shows exactly what can go wrong when a classic beat 'em up franchise adds an extra dimension without supplying any further depth. "Streetwise" is miserable on the eyes and a chore to play, utilizing combat that's clunky and simplistic. To its credit, "Streetwise" attempts to add some variety through minigames, even if they are not especially fun to play. "Final Fight" should just do a "Streets of Rage" and release a new side-scroller.

#15: “Contra: Rogue Corps” (2019)

Once upon a time, "Contra" served as a pillar of the run and gun genre; nowadays, the franchise has succumbed to dark times. After Konami forgot about the license for nearly a decade, "Rogue Corps" dropped and immediately garnered scorn from hardcore fans or even casual players. Konami's franchise doesn't have the worst track record when it comes to 3D, but "Rogue Corps" barely feels like a "Contra" game. Not only are the weapons on a ridiculously out-of-place cooldown, but "Rogue Corps" lacks the precise and responsive controls that make the best "Contra" games a joy to play.

#14: “Command and Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight” (2010)

Sometimes, it only takes one really underwhelming entry to derail a long-running franchise. "Tiberian Twilight" can't be charged with playing it safe, as the game does change quite a few things from its predecessors; unfortunately, very few alterations are for the better. While "Command & Conquer 4's" class system is a solid addition, stripping out the need to farm resources hurts the gameplay loop significantly. An annoying progression system makes the lackluster dual campaigns frustrating to get through, while the goal-oriented mission structure leads to a lot of repetition. Outside of a remaster of the first two games, "Command & Conquer" has yet to release a new mainline PC game since this debacle.

#13: “Postal III” (2011)

"Postal III" was so bad that the franchise's next release was a DLC for the second game. While the "Postal" games have never been considered high art, the first two entries provide flashes of enjoyment through their irreverent attitudes. "Postal" was a series known for its rough but still fun games, however, this reputation changed with the third game. Suddenly, "Postal" was simply bad, a horribly constructed game with the humor of a third-grader on an off day. "Postal 4" is in early access, but the final release will need to be genuinely good to make up for its third flop.

#12: “Dino Crisis 3” (2003)

As weird as the concept might sound, "Resident Evil" with dinosaurs worked amazingly well for the first two "Dino Crisis" games, then things went wrong. After the series made a brief and unwelcome departure into light gun territory, Capcom released "Dino Crisis 3", a game that took place in space but felt antiquated even in 2003. Although "Dino Crisis 3" doesn't deviate too much from Capcom's survival horror formula, the game is hampered by an awful dynamic camera and a setting that lacks much of an identity. After this game, "Dino Crisis" became that property Capcom pretends doesn’t exist.

#11: “Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash” (2015)

Outside of its biggest properties, Nintendo tends to play it fast and loose with its other licenses. "Chibi-Robo!" started as a charming 3D adventure game with a lot of heart. The franchise ended as a shockingly mediocre side-scroller that, outside of a mascot, shared very little in common with its predecessors. Taken on its own, "Zip Lash" amounts to little more than a run-of-the-mill 2D platformer with unimpressive levels, half-hearted mechanics, and intermittently cute visuals. This game could have starred a new mascot instead of Chibi-Robo and it wouldn't have made much of a difference.

#10: “Dead Rising 4” (2016)

While Capcom has turned the ship around in recent years, there was a time when the publisher struggled to hit a home run. The "Dead Rising" franchise was a breath of fresh air in the overstuffed zombie genre, but the series gradually lost what made it unique. The fourth main entry was the final nail in the coffin, as "Dead Rising 4" simplified the gameplay and mission structure so much that it rendered smashing hundreds of zombies with makeshift weapons dull. Even compared to the polarizing third entry, "Dead Rising 4" was a disappointment, especially since the game brought back fan-favorite Frank West and then changed almost everything about him.

#9: “Dead Space 3” (2013)

It seems like sooner or later most long-running horror franchises sprinkle in a touch of action. While "Dead Space" was always slightly action-oriented, the third entry went especially hard in that direction, severely hampering the horror elements in the process. "Dead Space 3" is honestly a fine enough game on a technical level, but the title's move away from the franchise's roots translated to underperforming sales figures. "Dead Space 3" is comfortably the worst entry in the main series, but EA's franchise is hardly beyond salvaging. Hopefully, a day will pass when "Dead Space 4" becomes a reality.

#8: “Medal of Honor: Warfighter” (2012)

Opting for a more realistic tone than most of its contemporaries, "Medal of Honor" was a trailblazer of a franchise that eventually lost ground to the "Call of Duties" and "Battlefields" of the world. By the time "Warfighter" launched, "Medal of Honor" had become a shadow of its former self, a series so devoid of new ideas that the 2012 game felt ancient right from the get-go. A disjointed and boring campaign only serves to highlight "Warfighter's" outdated core and weak Ai. The multiplayer also did not come close to matching the standards set by "Medal of Honor's" rivals.

#7: “Silent Hill: Downpour” (2012)

2012 was a rough year for "Silent Hill", as Konami released three very polarizing games. The "HD Collection" missed when it should have been a slam dunk, while "Book of Memories" turned the franchise into a bizarre dungeon crawler. While those were both not great, "Downpour" was "Silent Hill's" biggest disappointment of the year. Arguably the weakest main entry in the series, "Downpour" has flashes of good ideas and a half-decent storyline, but any positives are hampered by a joyless melee combat system and a myriad of technical issues. "Downpour" confirmed that "Silent Hill" had become just another barely-horror franchise.

#6: “Dungeon Keeper” (2014)

Oh, this one stings. The first two "Dungeon Keeper" titles were great early strategy games with a unique premise, but the franchise just kind of stopped after that point. After a canceled third entry and an unrealized MMO, EA revived "Dungeon Keeper" as a free-to-play mobile game, and the outcome was as predictably bad as you’d expect. Packed with all of the microtransactions, "Dungeon Keeper" was a sad and obvious attempt to ape the success of "Clash of Clans", and the game seems to care very little about preserving the strengths of the franchise's earliest entries. It would be better to have nothing than this.

#5: “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” (2014)

"Castlevania" needs no introduction, but the influential series has been mostly ignored by Konami since 2014's "Lords of Shadow 2". While the first "Lords of Shadow" was somewhat divisive among fans of the franchise, it did a decent job of transforming "Castlevania" into a modern action-adventure title akin to "God of War". The sequel is a considerable downgrade from its predecessor, with almost every new addition being for the worst. The game's modern-day setting leaves a lot to be desired, while "Lords of Shadow 2" throws in some amazingly terrible stealth sections. The game killed any interest in this sub-series and put "Castlevania" on the back-bench.

#4: “Duke Nukem Forever” (2011)

Certain games garner such ridicule that it becomes difficult to believe they were ever genuinely hyped. "Duke Nukem" is an icon of '90s gaming, but the insult-spewing protagonist's final alien-killing romp came out well after the character's heyday. After a long stint in development hell, "Duke Nukem Forever" crashed onto the scene with all the grace of a one-wheeled pick-up truck. Stuffed with lazy, gross humor that only manages to make Duke feel incredibly old, "Forever" can't even boast to have fun gunplay, as the shotgun is the only weapon that actually delivers. A post-"Doom" 2016 world should have room for Duke, but "Forever's" stench continues to linger.

#3: “Earthworm Jim 3D” (1999)

Although not on the level of a "Mario" or "Sonic", "Earthworm Jim" earned its place among the pantheon of great side-scrollers. Like many platforms during the late '90s, "Earthworm Jim" made the jump to 3D; unfortunately, the transition was anything but smooth. "Earthworm Jim 3D" is by no means an irredeemable mess, but it strips the license of most of its personality. Lacking the colorful and memorable backgrounds and inspired humor of the first two games, "Earthworm Jim 3D" plays very much like your bog-standard early-3D platformer, and the world simply didn't need another mediocre entry in that genre.

#2: “Crackdown 3” (2019)

The first "Crackdown" game offers a simple but consistently rewarding gameplay loop. Jump forward roughly 12 years to the third entry and very little has changed outside of an appearance by Terry Crews. Due to multiple delays and less-than-stellar pre-release reveals, "Crackdown 3" launched without much momentum, and, unfortunately, the game itself did nothing to change that. "Crackdown 3" feels like a mid-2000s game in practically every area, be it visuals, combat, or mission structure. While some fun can be had wreaking havoc across New Providence, "Crackdown 3" does a terrible job presenting a case for the franchise's continued existence.

#1: “Metal Gear Survive” (2018)

Through all of its weird experiments, convoluted plot threads, and endless cutscenes, "Metal Gear '' never stopped feeling special. Over three decades, Hideo Kojima and the many developers who worked on the franchise took players on unique rides defined by ambitious themes, unmatched lore, and creative interactive concepts. Released after Kojima and Konami's divorce, "Metal Gear Survive" earned the series the one label it had always avoided: bland. For the first time in the franchise's history, "Metal Gear's" latest entry became an ignorable mess that any schmuck could have made. Damn it Konami.