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Friday, September 19, 2014

Gaming’s 10 Biggest Epic Fails

By on 4:10 PM

10. Tony Hawk Shred

(PS3, Xbox 360)
Developer Robomodo was really pissing into the wind when it developed colossal flops Tony Hawk: Ride and Shred. Thanks to Guitar Hero's incessant regular releases, households everywhere were being consumed by plastic peripherals like some kind of new-age plague.
The last thing people wanted was another plastic contraption taking up shelf space in their house, and the hulking Tony Hawk motion board was apparently the last straw.
In its first week of release, Shred sold a paltry 3,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Activision downsized developer Robomodo shortly after, and moved it off the franchise.
Bad times indeed. Still, as a lesson of how not to saturate a franchise, the story of the Tony Hawk series is a telling one, although a new game has been announced for 2012. Could it just be a matter of time before Call of Duty runs dry as well?

9. Phantom

Phantom Console
This is a controversial entry, as the Phantom console was never commercially released to flop in the first place. However, developer Infinium Labs did have noble intentions for it, namely the pioneering of digital download content streams via console. Had it actually launched, it would have predated XBLA, PSN, OnLive and more.
But the story of Phantom's demise is steeped in controversy and dubious information. First unveiled in 2002, Infinium started the hype train early, without anything to show for the console except a sketchy digital mock up of the hardware. Gaming sites panned the initial reveal as vapourware, and despite showing the console at E3 2004 as a working prototype, would be delayed ad nauseam until investor time and patience grew short. Allegedly the console lost a grand total of $62.7 million since 2002. Bloody hell!

8. Haze

Stop sniggering in the back. The unfortunate downfall of Free Radical Design at the hands of colossal flop Haze is no laughing matter. Once a darling of PlayStation development thanks to the stellar TimeSplitters series, the studio folded shortly after Haze's protracted development time came to a close and the game launched to some harsh critical reaction.
While not all reviews were terrible, the consumers were dissuaded enough to steer well clear of Haze, effectively putting a bullet in the studio's head. It was a sad day for fans of the studio's work, although solace can be found in that Free Radical now exists as Crytek UK, who did great work on the Crysis 2 multiplayer. There is hope after all people.

7. Rise of the Robots

(3DO, Mega Drive, SNES)
Rise of the Robots
Back in the days of Mega-CD and 3DO, game developers had a short-lived obsession with FMV. While it sort of looked like you were playing a movie, the format rarely transferred well in a gameplay sense.
Obscure also-rans like Night Trap, Sewer Shark and Time Gal came and went, and no one seemed to give a shit. Rise of the Robots is a prime example of how flashy visuals alone simply do not make for a good game. This 2D scrapper was clunky, ugly and irritating to say the least, thanks in large part to shonky controls and abysmal hit boxes.
The budget spent on doing those ropey FMV visuals must have been astronomical at the time, but it'd be interesting to see how much the devs paid to have Queen's Brian May write song for the game. Absolutely mental.

6. Link: The Faces of Evil / Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon

It's hard to image Nintendo ever handing one of its key franchises over to another studio. Can you imagine what would happen if the Mario IP changed hands and went to Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly? It would be the most mature, foul-mouthed, innuendo-addled kid's game ever. But Nintendo did relinquish the Zelda IP in 1993, letting Animation Magic create three horrible, disgusting games.
These turgid platformers were broken, ropey, poorly designed, infuriating and came complete with horrific, disturbing cartoon scenes. The CD-I was crap to begin with, but these shit-bombs served to further bury the console quickly. JUST LOOK AT THIS! Christ.

5. Nokia N-Gage

Gaming and phones will never catch on. Oh wait. Well, in an odd way, some people might try to justify the N-Gage's existence by claiming that it pioneered the notion of high-end games on phones, but the games weren't high end, and the hulking hardware itself pioneered nothing.
To be frank, N-Gage was a total waste of time and money. Most of the negative reaction towards N-Gage can be attributed to its shockingly high price tag, and how low spec the games appeared when stacked next to the Game Boy Advance roster.
Despite having games from the Call of Duty, Elder Scrolls and Ghost Recon series, the format died a quick, painful death, costing Nokia a lot of money in the processes. However, it still continues to be sold in China and India, which is a bit weird.

4. E.T.

(Atari 2600)
That bloody alien. While the on-screen version of E.T. may have delighted young and old alike with his inquisitive, mischievous ways, the video game adaptation was a car wreck of epic proportions. It pretty much gave birth to the notion of shit movie tie-ins and almost single-handedly caused the video game industry crash of 1983. Arsehole.
Due to the late signing of the E.T. license, the developer only had a paltry six weeks to code the game, meaning the end result was a basic, uninspiring mess. Not only is E.T. now considered to be one of the worst games ever made, it also caused Atari a significant financial loss, resulting in industry upheaval. The unsold cartridges were famously crushed and then buried under cement in a New Mexico landfill, which isn't harsh enough punishment to be honest.

3. Too Human

(PC, Xbox 360)
Too Human
Over-hype can mark the death of games long before they launch. Too Human from Silicon Knights was the victim of hype assassination due to insane claims about how forward thinking the game would be, with a full trilogy planned before the first instalment shipped. It was a bold project to say the least.
However, when Too Human launched, it was met with mediocre review scores. The key area of criticism was a teeth-gnashing death sequence, in which protagonist Baldur slumped to the ground and an angelic Valkyrie would descend from the heavens and resurrect him.
It took bloody ages and was unskippable. Now who, in their right mind, would ever green light such an irritating and loathsome sequence as this?

2. APB

Like Haze before it, this is another sore point in the UK games industry. APB had the potential to be a massive success, however it befell the same tragedy that hit Duke Nukem Forever when 3D Realms closed its doors. Realtime Worlds had a sound premise in crafting an MMO equivalent of Grand Theft Auto. After all, many members of Realtime Worlds used to work at DMA Design, developers of the first Grand Theft Auto game.
However, the ambition of the APB project outgrew its own budget and development cycle. So ambitious was APB's community structure and pricing models, that as little as days before the game shipped, people were still none the wiser about how the payment model worked, or how the finer points of gameplay functioned. After just 78 days, the company went bust and APB passed away overnight. APB Reloaded might just make amends when it launches, however.

1. Daikatana

As a sad lesson in difficult development cycles, John Romero's abysmal Daikatana serves to remind game developers that even the most promising of projects can fall foul to misfortune. This wasn't helped by an embarrassing Daikatana ad campaign that simply read, "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch." It was an unfortunate campaign, and Romero has subsequently apologised for the adverts profusely.
After a protracted development cycle, team disputes, several delays and wild promises, the time-hopping adventure finally shipped in April of 2000, selling a meagre 200,000 copies. Romero himself is guilty of massively hyping up the game, but then again, he was clearly excited by the project.
Eventually, the mire of bad press, vicious rumours surrounding development and the poor design of the final game caused it to die a harsh death. Developer Ion Storm would close further down the line, putting an end to one of the most bizarre and trouble-stricken development cycles the industry had ever seen.


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