Even the most successful gaming franchise has to end eventually. Every once in a while a developer will decide to try and resurrect an old classic. This doesn’t always work. There can be a number of reasons as to why video game reboots flop. Technical issues, difficulty transitioning from one generation to the next and painful reimagining’s can all contribute to a disastrous reboot. But the biggest challenge a developer faces when trying to revitalize an old franchise, is appealing to both fans of the original as well as the next generation of gamers.
Gamers are loyal to their favorite series’, changing too much of something doesn’t sit well with many fans, especially if the execution isn’t even done right. It’s a heavy burden placed upon the developer. Making a bad game in an original franchise is different from screwing up a bigger more well known series of games. Final products often don’t meet expectations, and often times aren’t nearly as successful as their predecessors.
These are the 15 worst video game reboots.
15. Flashback – 2013
The original Flashback came out in 1992 on the Amiga computer, and was then ported to a number of other PC’s and gaming consoles a year later. The cinematic platformer featured gameplay similar to the Prince of Persia series and equips players with a pistol and unlimited ammo as they navigate through levels. Twenty-one years later VectorCell decided to try and bring the game back – this time on PC, PlayStation and Xbox –, but failed to please both critics and gamers with their version. To their credit VectorCell didn’t make any drastic changes to Flashback, but they also didn’t manage to make it standout in anyway. The game was generic, easy and led to VectorCells bankruptcy later that year.
14. Conker: Live & Reloaded – 2005
Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the N64 was a unique game that seemed somewhat out of place when compared to other titles in the console’s library. It stared Conker the Squirrel, a foul-mouthed alcoholic who spends the entirety of the game trying to find his way home to his girlfriend after a night-long bender. While this plotline isn’t typical of the usual child friendly content found in most Nintendo games, it is extremely well written and earned praise from critics upon its release. Fast-forward four years later when Rare released a remake for the original Xbox console. Although the multiplayer was popular for a while after the game’s release, Conker: Live & Reloaded failed to meet the expectations of many fans of the original, mainly due to the heavy censors implemented on the final product that weren’t present in the N64 version. What’s more, the graphics on the Xbox were somehow weaker in certain areas when compared to the original.
13. SimCity – 2013
The disastrous launch of SimCity both baffled and angered fans of the popular sim franchise. The original SimCity focused on city building as players took it upon themselves to build a fully functioning metropolis in which they were tasked with maintaining and expanding it. The success of the 1989 original led to the creation of the huge “Sim” franchise as well as the popularization of open-ended games with no real plot or objective. The 2013 remake had one of the worst launches in gaming history. A mandatory network connection was required to both play and save the game, which lead to multiple network outages and problems connecting and saving the game. This resulted in many reviewers being unable to review the game. They instead advised players to hold off buying the game until it was actually fixed. Despite this, SimCity sold over two million copies, but gamers will always remember how EA tried to pull a fast one on them by releasing an unfinished product.
12. Turok – 2008
The original Turok on the N64 was based off the comic book series of the same name and spawned six sequels. The Propaganda Games remake released years later failed to replicate the success of earlier titles in the franchise. While the original Turok had a number of fun, interesting and creative weapons, the remake instead used more conventional weapons typically found in a first-person shooter. This was disappointing considering combat is such a big part of both games. The stealth mechanics implemented in the game were unnecessary and level design was boring and uninspired leaving no question as to which was the better game.
11. NFL Blitz – 2012
Compared to other Football games like Madden and NFL 2K, NFL Blitz was a light hearted arcade-style sports sim that didn’t have to take itself seriously to be fun. The original used seven players per side on the field as opposed to the normal eleven. Positions were also more open, leading to interesting combinations such as receivers passing the football. The 2012 remake turned the series into a more generic Madden wannabe with clumsier graphics and almost none of the charm or fun that made the original installment so fun to play.
10. Medal of Honor – 2010
Long before Call of Duty there was Medal of Honor. The game came out for the original PlayStation in 1999 and was set during the Second World War. This was before Call of Duty and Battlefield put out their own “World War” installments, and way before everyone got real tired of them. The Medal of Honor franchise spawned a number of sequels and in 2010 changed things up with a reboot, this time focusing on the modern day war in the Middle East. While it had a well written plot, Medal of Honor (2010) had incredibly bland and boring level design coupled with annoying albeit minor glitches. It also borrowed a little too much from the Battlefield and Call of Duty multiplayers, making it seem like a generic clone more than anything else.
9. Final Fight: Streetwise
Originally a 2D beat ‘em up, Final Fight made a weird and painful transition to 3D platforms in 2006 as Final Fight: Streetwise. The original played as a typical arcade fighting game, with each player having their own unique fighting style and attributes. The transition to 3D wasn’t the only thing different about the reboot, it was almost a completely different game from the original. Dumb A.I., terrible camera angles and annoying little mini-games took players out of the flow of the game. That along with bad graphics and boring cut-scenes that dragged on not only made Streetwise a terrible entry in the Final Fight franchise, but a terrible game overall.
8. Golden Axe: Beast Rider – 2008
The original Golden Axe came out in the late ’80s and was a very popular hack and slash/beat ‘em up that spawned two sequels. After many years of being dormant, the presumably dead series was suddenly brought back by Sega. The result was not favorable. The game evolved from a side scroller to a 3D hack and slash. With over ten years in between Beast Rider and the last installment in the Golden Axe franchise there were bound to be changes made. And while the graphics were more or less praised, the combat system was boring and repetitive, coupled with annoying A.I. and poor controls.
7. Frogger: He’s Back – 1997
Frogger was a ridiculously addictive and simple game. You’re a frog crossing a road, and you have to carefully navigate and time your way through oncoming traffic while making sure you don’t run out of lives. Almost twenty years after the original arcade version came out, developers SCE Studio Cambridge took it upon themselves to re-visualise the iconic game. They failed miserably. Rather than re-imagine the game they put out a Frogger 2.0 with better graphics, frustrating controls and impossibly difficult levels. Despite its shortcomings the game sold over three million copies in North America and was followed by a sequel.
6. Shadowrun – 2007
Based off the long-running tabletop role-playing game, Shadowrun for the SNES was ahead of its time. The game was a commercial failure but was one of the first big RPGs on consoles and paved the way for the genre on home entertainment systems. So when FASA decided to reboot the game as a first-person shooter, things didn’t go too well. The new Shadowrun trashed the old RPG style and turned the cyberpunk adventure into an online-heavy, cross-platform shooter. The game didn’t sell too well as fans of the original didn’t appreciate the sudden change in genres. Less than six months after Shadowrun’s release FASA Studio was shut down and shortly after that all servers were gone as well.
5. Alone in the Dark – 2008
Before Resident Evil and before Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark was at the forefront of the survival horror genre. The first ever 3D survival horror experience, players found themselves trapped in an old mansion and were tasked with finding a way out while battling off supernatural enemies with both weapons and puzzle solving. The game’s 2008 reboot was presented in an episodic format and focused heavily on combat. The game was glitchy to the point of frustration and had flawed controls along with repetitive gameplay. What’s more, players left the iconic Derceto mansion and took to the city where they were met with frustrating driving mechanics that made the already un-playable game even more difficult to finish.
4. Bomberman: Act Zero – 2006
Bomberman was always a pretty lighthearted franchise. You play as a small robot who navigates through a maze of enemies using bombs to clear a path towards the exit. Act Zero took the cute character and stuffed him inside a dystopian future, complete with a generic and gritty tough new look that looked absolutely nothing like previous iterations of the character. The game is played from an overhead perspective and players find themselves going through what seems to be the same map over and over, constantly repeating the same action with almost no variety, save for some customization options. Act Zero was the first and only Bomberman game that reached for the brooding and more realistic setting that fans of the series just hated.
3. Bionic Commando – 2009
Bionic Commando started off as a simple platformer that had players navigating through semi-linear stages as a human cyborg with the ability to use a bionic arm to navigate through the game. Its 2009 reboot came out over twenty years later so Capcom had to tailor it for the modern gamer. The end result was an action-packed adventure game that still managed to use the grappling hook to navigate through areas in the game but met with mixed reviews nonetheless. That along with a completely ridiculous plot twist and sporadic storyline contributed to a decent amount of backlash from fans and relatively poor sales for Capcom.
2. Space Raiders – 2002
Why try to reboot Space Invaders? The game is iconic, and there’s really not much that can be added to improve the game. Apparently Taito Corporation thought there was, and decided to revive the highly regarded arcade classic back in 2002 for the PS2 and GameCube consoles. It switched from surface-to-air shooting found in the original to a third-person shooter, but was criticized for poor graphics and dull, repetitive gameplay. The player can choose one of three characters, each with their own unique backstory to play through the terrible plot that drew a good deal of anguish from critics and fans for having almost nothing to do with the original game.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog – 2006
When you have a series of games as large as the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, there are bound to be a few products that aren’t exactly quality games. But Sega’s unofficial reboot of the popular 1991 platformer turned out to be one of the worst games ever made. There are undoubtedly more cons in this game than there are pros. The camera was a mess, loading screens took forever, the controls didn’t make sense and the worst part of it all was the game-breaking glitches that forced players to restart levels over. The plot wasn’t well received either with most critics calling it ridiculous and pointing out the bland-melodramatic story progression. Perhaps the most controversial and condemned aspect of the game was Sonic’s kiss with the newly introduced human character, Princess Elise, which had some accusing Sega of supporting bestiality. Yikes.