7 Video Game Reboots That Never Should Have Been Made

Video game makers are companies, and all companies are in the business of making money. So it makes sense why publishers want to hold onto their lucrative franchises. As time marches on and a video game series begins to lose its way, sometimes a reboot makes sense to steer a game series in an exciting new direction. The problem is that it doesn’t always work out so well. Here’s a look at some of the games whose makers surely had the best intentions but couldn’t quite pull it off.

1. Sonic the Hedgehog

The original Sonic games were fantastic, fast-moving platformers. They were simple games of running, jumping, and exploring colorful worlds as you freed defenseless animals from the clutches of a cartoonish villain.

Enumerating the problems with this 2006 reboot would take longer than a Harry Potter movie marathon, but we can touch on the major issues. The camera gets in the way more than it helps, and the unresponsive controls guarantee many accidental deaths as you speed through the game. Worst of all is that Sonic has a human love interest, which makes for some of the most uncomfortable images ever put onscreen (spoilers: there’s a kiss).

2. Dungeon Keeper

The original Dungeon Keeper, designed by Peter Molyneux, puts you in the clawed feet of monstrous villain whose job it is to design a dungeon full of traps and enemies to stop invading heroes. It was a brilliant reversal of dungeon crawling tropes, and fans loved it.

When Electronic Arts decided to reboot the franchise on mobile devices as a free-to-play game, the result was a complete disaster. There might be a good game in there somewhere, but it’s locked behind one of the most egregious paywalls ever put in a game. To build any kind of dungeon, you either have to suffer through punishingly long wait times or open your wallet to speed things up. Fans of the original were vocal about their disappointment.

3. Final Fight: Streetwise

In its heyday, the Final Fight games were respectable brawlers that featured heroic muscular dudes bringing beatdowns to throngs of thugs. Basically, they provided dumb fun without letting too much story get in the way of the action.

Then along came Final Fight: Streetwise in 2006, well after the genre’s popularity had waned. This game devoted a lot of screen time to its story, which is unfortunate, considering the acting and writing are painfully bad (and full of unnecessary swearing). The missions are ill conceived — one has you stomping on cockroaches in time to music — and the fighting mechanics don’t really go beyond button mashing.

How bad does it get? Check out the gameplay video above.

4. Bionic Commando

This reboot has all the hallmarks of a fine video game: sharp graphics, excellent source material, and a go-go-gadget arm that makes swinging through the environment easy and fun. Still, Capcom managed to drop the ball.

The problem is, aside from flinging yourself around, there’s just not that much worth doing in the game. The flinging mechanic should feel as freeing as an open-world Spider-Man game, but the world is full of toxic fog that keeps you trapped in smaller restricted areas. Throw in some bland combat, iffy controls, and a dull story, and you’ve got a disappointing game. Oh, and it turns out that the hero’s bionic arm is actually his missing wife. How and why? Who cares.

5. Duke Nukem Forever

If you weren’t playing video games in the ‘90s, you’re not likely to find much appeal in Duke Nukem, a Schwarzenegger-style hero straight out of an ’80s action movie. Duke loves loaded guns, cheesy one-liners, and seedy strip clubs. In short, Duke Nukem 3D was made to appeal to teenage boys.

Developer 3D Realms set out to make a follow-up soon after that game’s 1996 release. It took an unprecedented 15 years before Duke Nukem Forever actually came out, and by that time, Duke felt like a relic from another time.

It didn’t help that the game was a sprawling mess, developed by too many people over too many years for too many platforms. Turns out some games just don’t need to be rebooted.

6. Alone in the Dark: Illumination

The latest, worst, and likely last installment in a video game series that dates all the way back to 1992, Alone in the Dark: Illumination tried breathing life into the 7-year-dormant franchise and successfully let down almost any remaining fans the series might have had. Most games in the Alone in the Dark series have had negative reviews, with only the original trilogy and the Dreamcast and PlayStation versions of Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare scoring above a 70 on Metacritic.

Alone in the Dark: Illumination earned some credit from reviews for having interesting ideas, but that didn’t help much, as it was slammed for failure to deliver on those idea, and then further slammed for the highly unpolished state it was released in. The result: it takes the cake for worst shooter of all time, and even worst survival horror game while its at it. The one title it doesn’t get is worst part of the Alone in the Dark franchise. That dishonor goes to Uwe Boll’s 2005 film adaptation of the game.

7. Conker: Live & Reloaded

There’s nothing wrong with Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a Nintendo 64 game that looked like a standard mascot platformer, but starred a foul-mouthed squirrel with a penchant for booze. It’s a fondly remembered game that had plenty to recommend it. But four years later, after Microsoft acquired the developer, it had them remake the game for the original Xbox. The only problem was that the Xbox version of the game was censored, making it less adult-oriented and removing some of the best comedic bits in the game.

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