Top 22 Disappointing Video Games of Each Year (2000 - 2021)

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Top 22 Disappointing Video Games of Each Year (2000 - 2021)

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio
Every year is packed with incredible video games, but these only brought disappointment. For this list, we're looking at games that while they weren't terrible – mostly – they definitely didn't deliver on what the fans wanted. Our countdown includes "Sonic the Hedgehog" (2006), "Mighty No. 9" (2016), "Duke Nukem Forever" (2011), "Spore" (2008), and more!
Transcript
Every year is packed with incredible video games, but these only brought disappointment. For this list, we’re looking at games that while they weren’t terrible – mostly – they definitely didn’t deliver on what the fans wanted. Our countdown includes "Sonic the Hedgehog" (2006), "Mighty No. 9" (2016), "Duke Nukem Forever" (2011), "Spore" (2008), and more! Let us know in the comments which you think was the biggest let-down.

2000: “Daikatana”


In the 1990s, John Romero could do no wrong. One of the earliest celebrity game developers, he was synonymous with the outstanding FPS titles id Software released throughout the decade. But eventually, he founded Ion Storm and was ready to work on his magnum opus, “Daikatana”, a first-person sword-fighting game set across both feudal Japan and the distant future. But players soon found that “Daikatana’s” time in development hell hadn’t done it any favors; it was outdated already and poorly made, shattering Romero’s golden reputation at the time. It was one of the first examples of a game getting killed by its own hype, and lessons haven’t been learned.

2001: “The Simpsons Wrestling”


There have been a lot of licensed “Simpsons” games over the years, ranging from genuinely great releases like “Hit & Run” and 2007’s “The Simpsons Game”, to soulless cash-grabs like “The Simpsons Wrestling”. In it, you’ll have a wide roster of Springfield’s many residents to choose from, and they were actually voiced by the show’s main cast. But the gameplay is terrible. Many of the characters are extremely overpowered, most notably Ned Flanders who has the power of God on his side, and it was riddled with bugs. It’s also just a little weird to have Bart and Lisa getting beaten up by grown adults – including their own parents.

2002: “BMX XXX”


What a weird time 2002 was, where the mere presence of digital boobs was enough to get a game banned and heavily censored around the world. But it was because of that digital nudity that the expectations around “BMX XXX” were so high – people were desperate to see all the filth it had in store, still years away from the “Hot Coffee” mod. But when you fight your way through all the controversy and actually play the game, it’s clear that the nudity was only there to hide one of the most average sports games ever made. It was also a big disappointment for Acclaim, which went bankrupt in 2004 with hundreds of thousands of copies still unsold.

2003: “Enter the Matrix”


It’s easy to look at “The Matrix” and think that this is a movie designed to be adapted into a video game. Except, none of the attempts to do that have been particularly successful. 2003’s “Enter the Matrix” is the most disappointing. It featured all-new characters, definitely a bold decision, and really wanted players to feel like they were re-enacting those insane, high-octane fight sequences the movies are known for. They even got the Wachowskis involved to create an additional hour of live-action footage with the original cast. But far from being astonishingly bad, “Enter the Matrix” was just average and forgettable – which is the worst thing you want from this franchise.

2004: “Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel”


Before “Fallout 3”, there was another, far less successful attempt to bring “Fallout” into the 3D era. It was a linear action game that greatly stripped back the role-playing elements, with players unable to modify their SPECIAL stats later on, for instance. “Brotherhood of Steel’s” greatest crime is simply that it’s bland, totally losing the spirit of the original games. The only good thing about it is that at the time, the “Fallout” IP wasn’t popular enough for too many people to play it – but that didn’t stop it from being a resounding disappointment for fans of the PC games, which remain some of the best RPGs ever made.

2005: “Geist”


Some games are just too ambitious for their own good and are held back by the technology of the time. “Geist” is one such release. While it’s generally regarded as a solid title, especially its story where you play as a ghost, it ran extremely poorly and was badly optimized, coming right at the close of the GameCube’s lifecycle. Its tumultuous development led to its eventual failure, as the game the developers wanted and the one Nintendo wanted were at odds with one another. This left “Geist” feeling muddled and unfinished, and it was never even released in Japan.

2006: “Sonic the Hedgehog”


He’s another character who’s got just as many terrible games as iconic ones, and “Sonic ’06” manages to be both of those things at once. It’s remembered today simply because of how atrocious it was. The biggest offender was the controls, which were so unresponsive you’d frequently die due to dropped inputs that you can’t do anything to prevent – but it’s worth remembering that it had a baffling story as well. We were very disappointed that anybody thought having a human princess fall in love with a blue hedgehog was a good idea. Expectations were so high because this was a reboot celebrating Sonic’s 15th anniversary – and it was an absolute disaster.

2007: “Lair”


On the surface, a game where you get to ride around on your very own dragon and engage in mid-air dragon battles sounds amazing. And a lot of it definitely is; graphically, it’s outstanding for 2007 and gave people a reason to run out and buy a PS3 early on. But there was something else Sony wanted to push for the PS3: Sixaxis. Yes, you were required to use the DualShock 3’s Sixaxis to fly around, which made playing absolutely unbearable. The situation was so dire Sony was forced to release a supplementary guide explaining how you’re supposed to play the game. It was so close to being a system-seller but was ruined by proprietary motion controls.

2008: “Spore”


It’s definitely a neat idea. Coming from Maxis, the brains behind “The Sims”, “Spore” had a tremendous amount of ambition. You’d get to literally play god and develop an entire species, nurturing it from a tiny amoeba into a space-faring civilization. Only, “Spore” couldn’t live up to those expectations when it released. It was fun for a while, but the gameplay was extremely repetitive all the way through and even when you blasted off into outer space, it didn’t really feel like you’d accomplished all that much. Staying in the customization menu to tweak your alien creatures was fun, but it’s not worth getting the entire game just for a character creator.

2009: “Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust”


This series’ dirty jokes might not be for everybody, but stripping those away is a recipe for disaster where the loyal fans were concerned. That’s exactly what Team17 did when it took over development for the 2009 entry, deciding that nudity was tasteless and that the game’s story should stand on its own without relying on naked women. But, of course, the story was bland and the gameplay even worse. You spend most of the game going through a series of levels that rip-off other genres, including stealth and melee combat, only none of it is polished or remotely fun to play. It also lacks that strange charm that made the originals, while controversial, popular with many.

2010: “Final Fantasy XIV”


Square Enix had a lot of work to do to follow up on “Final Fantasy XI”, an MMO that even in 2021 is still resoundingly popular. But the company’s first attempt at “Final Fantasy XIV” didn’t go to plan at all – in fact, it was a disaster. It had awful, uninspired gameplay and a UI that would leave you banging your head against the wall, and barely lasted two years until its servers were shamefully taken offline. Thankfully, though, Square Enix listened to fans and eventually released “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn”, spearheaded by Naoki Yoshida of “Dragon Quest” fame. This move was a tremendous success for the franchise, and it remains an incredible MMO.

2011: “Duke Nukem Forever”


One of the most notorious games ever released, “Duke Nukem Forever” remains a prime example of a game stuck in development hell. It languished for over a decade, getting passed between companies who didn’t know what to make of it. Finally, in 2011, the game came out, and we found out that the franchise hadn’t evolved at all since the 1990s. For some people, this was exactly what they wanted from “Duke Nukem”, but it was a terrible swansong for the series. It could have introduced a new generation to an iconic franchise, but in the end, the world has moved on from “Duke Nukem” and “Forever” was a resounding flop.

2012: “Resident Evil 6”


As an action game, “Resident Evil 6” is pretty good. It’s got three bombastic campaigns and plenty of returning characters like Leon, Chris, and Ada Wong. But it was a larger departure from the series’ roots than even “Resident Evil 5”, which left many fans longing for the days when the franchise was pure horror, plain and simple. In the end, it was a middling entry for “Resident Evil”, and it didn’t do quite as well financially as Capcom wanted. The verdict was unanimous: gamers didn’t want more action-oriented “Resident Evil”, they wanted survival horror that wasn’t watering down its scares for mass appeal. Luckily, Capcom learned its lesson and went on to make “Resident Evil 7”.

2013: “Aliens: Colonial Marines”


During development, “Aliens: Colonial Marines” was passed around various studios, eventually ending up with Gearbox who almost entirely outsourced development to smaller studio TimeGate. Gearbox and Sega wanted the game to meet strict deadlines, but it was ultimately a total mess. And it was TimeGate that suffered the most, despite the failure largely being Gearbox’s fault; the studio filed for bankruptcy the very same year and closed down. However, it’s not all bad; if you play the game today on PC, you can install a mod that actually fixes the enemy AI, since the reason it was so broken was, incredibly, because of a typo.

2014: “Watch Dogs”


If you go back and play “Watch Dogs” now with mitigated expectations, you’ll probably have a great time. It’s a solid open-world title that, despite the self-seriousness of its protagonist, still manages to pack in plenty of fun and zany side missions. However, many of the people who played it at launch weren’t happy with what they got. The biggest problem was the graphics. When it was shown off ahead of release, people were led to believe that it was running on a PS4, which would have made it one of the best-looking games yet released on that generation. But it was actually running on a top-of-the-line PC, so people felt like they’d been ripped off.

2015: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5”


The “Tony Hawk” franchise has turned itself around thanks to the releases of the “1 + 2” remakes, but there was a time when Tony Hawk’s name had been dragged through the mud by being attached to increasingly poor games. The worst offender was, by far, “Pro Skater 5”, which was seen by many as a way for Activision to cash in on the expiring “Tony Hawk” license. It was one of the worst games ever made, with unoriginal levels and minimal progression, removing all the fun, larger-than-life skating the series had been known for. You couldn’t even enjoy it for the nostalgia factor because it was such a terrible game – not worth the fifteen-year wait.

2016: “Mighty No. 9”


Intended to be a spiritual successor to “Mega Man”, expectations were high for “Mighty No. 9”. After all, “Mega Man” remains an iconic franchise and character, where even the more recent games still prove popular and fun. It was also being developed by Keiji Inafune, who had a major role in “Mega Man” itself. “Mighty No. 9” had everything going for it, raising a huge sum of money on Kickstarter. But it suffered delay after delay and when it came out, it was a shadow of what was promised. It was bland and buggy, boasting many performance issues – especially on the Wii U, where it suffered the most.

2017: “Star Wars Battlefront II”


People already hated EA by 2017, but “Battlefront II” took that disdain to a different level. Gameplay-wise it was solid, featuring more of the massive, exciting battles the series has always been known for – and it even had a campaign this time. Plus, it easily has some of the best graphics in the entire industry. But who could forget those infamous “surprise mechanics” EA pushed on us all? “Battlefront II’s” multiplayer featured egregious pay-to-win mechanics, where by buying up loot boxes you could guarantee getting superior characters to use. Eventually, EA backed down and removed pay-to-win elements, but they never should’ve been there in the first place.

2018: “Fallout 76”


External issues surrounding physical items aside, “Fallout 76” was a total mess at launch. It’s improved significantly since 2018, don’t get us wrong, and it has a healthy number of players still exploring Appalachia, but few people would have recommended it when it was new. It was riddled with glitches, first of all, which weren’t able to be fixed by modders because it was an online MMO. But problems with the servers were so bad that connections would constantly drop and just booting the game was a chore. It was also an empty, desolate wasteland thanks to its total lack of human NPCs – something else that has, thankfully, been fixed now. So much for “four times the size” and “sixteen times the detail”.

2019: “Anthem”


BioWare had already lost some public goodwill following 2017’s “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, but its fall from grace was truly cemented with “Anthem”. An MMO-lite EA clearly wanted to be able to compete with “Destiny”, “Anthem” was a mess from start to finish. The traversal was great and all, but it had plenty of issues from release, which ranged from an exploit that would give weapons infinite damage to a bug that would entirely brick some people’s PS4s. “Anthem’s” player numbers dropped off and by 2021, the recently announced “Anthem Next” update was canned by EA, and support for the game ended. But at least we have “Mass Effect: Legendary Edition” to play now instead.

2020: “Warcraft III: Reforged”


Everybody was excited to jump back into “Warcraft III” in the summer of 2020, only for the finished product to ruin the original. Blizzard didn’t deliver on any of its promises to fine-tune the game and make some important additions. In the end, the remaster did improve some things – namely, the revamped assets made it look nicer – but it also stripped out many vital features and added a hefty number of bugs. Plus, the UI seems to have been reworked to be significantly worse. Ultimately, the remaster was a flop, which was largely blamed on mismanagement from Activision, and stands as a prime example of what not to do when you’re remastering a beloved game.

2021: “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition”


Everybody was excited when Rockstar announced it was going to be remastering and rereleasing “GTA III”, “Vice City” and “San Andreas” – and all the pre-release footage made the games look pretty good. However, all three games were plagued with issues at launch, particularly on PC where the proprietary Rockstar launcher went down and prevented anybody from playing the games. Technical issues were rife and the character models for minor NPCs looked atrocious – not to mention the headache-inducing rain effects. But to make matters far worse, Rockstar removed the original games from sale, forcing people to buy these inferior remasters – and then promptly request a refund for them.
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