Top 10 Failed Video Game Comebacks



Top 10 Failed Video Game Comebacks

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Sometimes when games get revived, even nostalgia can't save them from being bad. Today we're counting down the Top 10 failed video game comebacks ever. From Contra to Shenmue, these are the games that almost ruined their respective franchises. What is your least favorite video game revival? Let us know in the comments!
Top 10 Failed Video Game Revivals

It isn’t easy to make a comeback, and these titles fell hard on their face. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Failed Video Game Revivals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at video game reboots, remakes, and remasters that failed to get their respective franchises back on the map.

#10: “Golden Axe: Beast Rider” (2008)

The “Golden Axe” franchise may not have had as many sequels as other popular beat ‘em up titles, but the simplistic combat and fantasy setting kept players coming back. However, the poor quality in “Golden Axe III” caused the franchise to go dark for a decade and a half, and it wouldn’t return until 2008. Unfortunately, “Beast Rider” just made things worse. The game tried turning the franchise into a gritty hack-&-slasher, but also made the combat mind-numbing while suffering from a myriad of technical issues. In an issue of Game Developer Magazine, project producer Michael Boccieri explained “Beast Rider’s” troubled development, citing instances of poor management, lack of resources, and loss of vision as the reasons behind the game’s negative reception.

#9: “Thief” (2014)

With “Thief: Deadly Shadows” receiving solid praise when it launched in 2004, one would think we would have seen another game quickly. Alas, the game’s poor sales possibly caused a sequel to get cancelled, thus putting the IP on ice. Fans wouldn’t get a new “Thief” game until 2014, an entire decade after “Deadly Shadows” was released, and the wait was not worth it. This reboot failed to show off what made previous games fun, and instead gave us shoddy lip syncing, idiotic AI, and an utterly boring version of Garrett. After this, it might end up being even more than ten years before we see another “Thief” again.

#8: “Contra: Rogue Corps” (2019)

For a time, the “Contra” franchise was doing very well, rarely ever getting below mixed reviews. Even “Hard Corps: Uprising”, which featured a vastly different artstyle than previous titles, received good scores. Sadly, this would all come crashing down when Konami shelled out “Contra: Rogue Corps” in 2019. The gameplay barely resembled the bullet hell nature of the franchise (with its cooldowns and slow movement), and the annoying characters showed that Konami was trying way too hard to make memes. After experiencing this mess, it feels like every Konami property is required to have its own “Bomberman: Act Zero”.

#7: “Dungeon Keeper” (2014)

While the “Dungeon Keeper” series wasn’t as big as other franchises that came out in the late 90’s, it still managed to build up a cult following. There weren’t too many games back then that focused on playing the villain and killing heroes. Of course, all good things come to an end, and EA did so in the worst way possible by turning “Dungeon Keeper” into a mobile game. With an aggressive monetization scheme, the notorious 2014 app practically demanded players to fork over money by placing lengthy cooldown timers. Want to extend your wall by one square? Wait a day or pay up! That was the “Dungeon Keeper” way, and now, it has tarnished whatever new fans it could have potentially scooped up.

#6: “Star Fox Zero” (2016)

For the past couple of generations, Nintendo seems to have left the “Star Fox” IP back in the 90’s. While the 3DS remake of “Star Fox 64” was a pleasant blast from the past, “Command” on the DS left much to be desired. We wouldn’t get a new installment until 2016, but it wasn’t the experience fans were looking for. “Star Fox Zero” focused on implementing “cinematic controls” which only made the game difficult to play, and the overall experience felt too close to “64”. While its tower defense game, “Guard”, was enjoyable enough, “Zero” just didn’t bring the energy we felt during the franchise’s youth.

#5: “Warcraft III: Reforged” (2020)

What a mess this turned out to be… “Reforged” was to be a marvelous visit back to an RTS classic, but quickly ended up being one of the worst games of 2020. Prior to launch, Blizzard had hyped up the game by promising new cutscenes, upgraded visuals, and remodeled character designs. What fans actually got was an overpriced texture upgrade and a sleazy policy forced onto the modding community. The backlash was so relentlessly fierce that “Reforged” has become the lowest user-rated game on Metacritic, and Blizzard began offering refunds.

#4: “Alone in the Dark: Illumination” (2015)

Ever since the disastrous 2008 reboot, it feels like “Alone in the Dark” has been on a never-ending ride through Hell, and it’s only gotten worse. If you thought the reboot was bad, you must not be aware of Atari’s second attempt to revitalize the franchise. “Illumination” failed in spectacular fashion when it came to executing its interesting concepts, and critics were not shy of expressing how much disgrace it brought to the IP. With THQ Nordic now owning the IP, maybe there’s hope for “Alone in the Dark” to come back and become more frightening than ever.

#3: “Shenmue III” (2019)

Despite the first two games being commercial flops, “Shenmue” fans had spent twenty years begging for a new game to close Ryo’s story. Plus, thanks to franchises like “Yakuza” evolving the open-world formula, “Shenmue” could be bigger and better than before, right? Well the fans got their wish in 2019, and it was quickly resented. “Shenmue III” featured the same out of date gameplay from the previous games, did nothing interesting to make itself stand out, and had the nerve to end its story with another cliffhanger. Series creator Yu Suzuki has said he’d love to finish the supposed eleven-chapter story, but after this, we’d like to find some sailors so we can sail away from this disappointment.

#2: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5” (2015)

Ever since Activision introduced the skateboard peripheral with “Tony Hawk: Ride”, the “Pro Skater” series has never been the same. The HD remaster was lackluster, and “Shred” was a bigger flop than “Ride”, but the whole skate park would be demolished after the cataclysmic “Pro Skater 5”. In an attempt to milk the IP before their license expired, Activision had Robomodo rush through a whole year of development, resulting in a game riddled with bugs and void of any personality. What’s worse is that the game’s failure forced Robomodo to shut its doors, and servers shut down in 2017, making the always-online game unplayable.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable (or in this case, dishonorable) mentions...

“Twisted Metal” (2012)

“RollerCoaster Tycoon World” (2016)

“Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst” (2016)

#1: “Duke Nukem Forever” (2011)

After taking the FPS scene by storm in the 90’s, it seemed as though Duke was on top of the gaming world. While we would get a handful of spin-offs, Duke wouldn't get a new full game until 2011. "Duke Nukem Forever" spent a long fifteen years in development and became known as one of the worst games ever made. One word that was frequently used between critics and fans was "outdated", and it certainly shows in the shoddy controls, level design, and immature humor. Duke may want to kick ass and chew gum, but after this, how can he when the world is laughing at him?