The Vent: Fall From Grace

on November 3, 2009 1:43 PM

The beauty of a great game series is the ability to withstand time. It is the ability to renew itself in the next generation, and to continue being leaders of the industry. This week I want to talk about the game series that were once amazing, but who have fallen to the bottom of the food chain. Games that are simply living off the past. Their sales are solely dependent on its name alone. The companies that make these games don’t really try anymore, they just try to get games out every month to make quick money, and could care less about the long and loyal fan base. I want to talk about 3 game series who have fallen from grace. And I want to talk about the problems, and possible solutions for each.

Sonic the Hedgehog Series

What a difference from when Sonic the Hedgehog first came out, and up until now. From one of the industry’s biggest icons, to a series who’s on life support, barely surviving by leeching off the success of Mario. I loved Sonic, I truly did, and I try to continue to love him, but it has become really hard. I can’t pretend anymore, Sonic games suck now. I try to justify my latest Sonic purchases, but I just can’t. The series is a shell of itself and I desperately hope it can turn things around.

Problems:

  • Sonic games have been trying way too hard to tie a serious story in.
  • Sega/Sonic Team has sold Sonic’s soul to every system out there. How many systems is the original Sonic the Hedgehog really on, excluding cell phones? They have milked him for every penny he’s got. He has lost all his luster and charm this way.
  • Lately, the gimmicks have overtaken simple speed and action. The last few console Sonic games speak for themselves.
  • What’s the lineage now? The main series started with Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast (maybe), Sonic CD (maybe), Sonic Adventure 1, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes… and then where does it go? I assume not to add the Advance and Rush titles, because they are portables. But I would take those titles any day over Sonic Unleashed and Sonic the Black Knight. If these games are part of the Sonic series canon, then the series has become a gimmicky joke.

Possible Solutions:

  • Focus on what made the series a success in the first place. Speeding, jumping, and loop-dee-looping. Sonic Unleashed got it half right with its daytime stages, but my gosh… what a missed opportunity.
  • Take time to make a game. Every year there is a new Sonic game for a console. What was the gap between Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy? 5 years? Take notes Sega/Sonic Team.

Mortal Kombat Series

Mortal Kombat was one of the top fighting games throughout the 90’s. So what happened!? I know I may be stepping on the toes of some Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe fans, but the series has become very stale compared to games such as Soul Calibur IV, and Tekken 6. The game’s glitchy-ness, broken-ness, boring-ness, and many other factors, has lead it to become just another mediocre fighter. Remember Mortal Kombat Armageddon? Yeah me neither, but that game should have been so epic. Every single character from every single Mortal Kombat playable? Sounds great, but it was a disaster! Remember how amazing Mortal Kombat Trilogy was? What’s the difference between now and then? Well…

Problems:

  • The game has taken itself way too seriously. The original Mortal Kombat games were all about fun, over-the-top moves, and combos. Yes, now there are still some over-the-top stuff, but since Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance it has been toned down significantly. With Deadly Alliance and onward, I felt like I was playing a super watered down 3D fighter.
  • The leaving of John Tobias. Ed Boon and John Tobias pretty much started the whole Mortal Kombat franchise, and ever since his absence from the series (yes you guessed it right, he left when Deadly Alliance was being developed) something has been missing. I think it’s the fun half that’s missing.

Possible Solutions:

  • Go back to 2D, simple enough.
  • Go back to being Rated M for Mature. You need something to stand you apart from all the other fighters out there. Mortal Kombat was once the leader in violent video games. Take back your throne and do it in full 1080p.
  • Creativity with new characters. My gosh when was the last time we saw a new Mortal Kombat character that you actually cared for?
  • If you can’t go back to 2D, throw out the current engine. It sucks. Just start from scratch, these Mortal Kombat games have been stiff and slow beyond belief.

Mario Kart Series

Whoa?!?! What? Mario Kart? Oh man… what? Are you serious? I’m deadly serious. Just 3 simple words. Mario Kart Wii. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good game, but it clearly meets all my requirements for falling from grace. Read what I said up on top again, “they just try to get games out every month to make quick money, and could care less about the long and loyal fan base.” I was exaggerating with the every month thing, but there’s no denying it. Mario Kart Wii was a quick way to make a LOAD of money. I’m simply trying to save the series before this becomes a trend for the Mario Kart series. So what did Mario Kart Wii do wrong?

Problems:

  • Downgrading everything.
  • Inventiveness of race tracks was lacking.
  • The music was borderline annoying.
  • Balloon Battle has become just a mess of up to 12 players driving around losing balloons with no consequences.
  • Wi-Fi battles are a great addition and are pretty fun I give it that. But the races are so frustrating at times. You have up to 12 human players racing. You can be the best racer in the world and anything can happen! Races have become even more heavily based on luck. Skilled players should feel abandoned.
  • Some great gameplay mechanics from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! were removed.
  • Graphics are worse than Double Dash!!
  • Feels significantly slower than the other Mario Karts.
  • Only 1-Player Grand Prix? What the…? 2-Players have been around since Super Mario Kart for SNES

Possible Solutions:

  • Add more, and take away less.
  • I felt as though Nintendo rushed this title in every way. On paper there are so many characters and so many tracks, but in the end it just felt slapped together. They should take more time on Mario Kart titles.
  • Removing good and solid features from the Mario Kart titles for Mario Kart Wii was an awful idea. If this continues, who knows how simple Mario Kart will be in the future. Let Nintendo know there are still the hardcore that want a good solid and balanced racer.

Hope these beloved games can one day make it back to the great gaming experiences they once were for me. But unfortunately I don’t see it happening anytime soon. =( If anyone has any questions on anything posted, please feel free to comment!

 /  Community Manager & Editor
Working on the DualShockers staff as both an editor and community manager since late 2009, François is absolutely no stranger to the videogame industry. He is a graduate from the City College of New York, and has his Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. His next step is to obtain his Master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Before starting his career, François has been gaming since the age of 2 with Super Mario World, and he has never looked back since. Gaming may be his profession, but it has always been his passion.
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