Kane Newell – Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII was the first game to break my heart. In my anticipation for the game I played my three favourite Final Fantasy games to relive the good memories I had of the games, the games being FFVIII, FFX and FFXII. Final Fantasy XIII was supposed to be the second coming of games and its announcement along with FF Versus being exclusive at the time is the sole reason I bought a PS3. It was the first FF on new gen consoles at the time, and the first FF game I would get on release day, as I played the other games quite late. I hyped the game up and thought about playing it on my new PS3 everyday. I watched every video released, watched every interview and read all the info on the game.
The main character Lightning made me fall in love with what I had seen of the game even more, she was a mix of Squall and Cloud, she looked great in her uniform and I knew she could kick ass with her Gunblade, let’s say I started to have a crush on Lightning.
Fast forward to the games release, I took the day off, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I popped the disc in and played for hours, then I remember waking up as I feel asleep with the game still on. I blamed it on fatigue and continued played only to start dozing off in and out of sleep. The game was boring me to sleep, running in a straight line, the game holding my hand and just spamming the X button action combat was fun for the first few hours, let alone the next 20 hours that it takes until the game opens up. At that point I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted it over with and it became a chore to play, I finished the game, took the disc out and sold my collections edition. I vowed to never get hyped for a game again.
I killed the game for myself and all that hype spoilt the game for me and it didn’t live up to my high expectations.
While I never owned a Gamecube, Wii, or Wii-U, I always enjoyed playing the Super Smash Bros. games whenever I had the chance to with friends and co-workers. In fact, I almost got myself a Wii just so I could play Super Smash Bros. Brawl whenever I wanted, but I barely stopped myself (I don’t require or want to spend money on multiple systems). So when PlayStation All–Stars Battle Royale was revealed for PS3, I was pretty damn excited. It was basically a Super Smash Bros. game starring popular characters from PlayStation titles like Cole MacGrath (good and evil versions) from Infamous 2, Kratos from God of War III, Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as well as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank from their respective series. The lack of other highly popular characters like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and Solid Snake was disappointing though (copyright issues, I believe).
Simply put, the game is fun. Combat is very much like it is in the Smash Bros. games with each character having the same basic control scheme but very different abilities and fighting styles. The fact you can only defeat opponents by hitting them with Final Smash-esque Super Attacks, which in turn can only be activated by beating up on opponents to build up the super meter, makes this game somewhat unique from Smash Bros. What made the game rather disappointing for me in the long run was, quite frankly, partly my fault. I was hoping to have some legendary multiplayer battles with friends, but it turns out I don’t have many friends to begin with, and only one of the few friends I do have actually owns PlayStation All–Stars Battle Royale. We had some fun times, but it didn’t last.
However, the fact this game also had rather limited content didn’t help either. The standard adventure mode, similar to the arcade/ladder mode in the Mortal Kombat and Super Smash Bros. games, lets you choose a character to play as and fight against other characters until you reach the end with the rather unimaginative and lackluster final boss. Each character has their own intro and ending cut scene, but other than that, it’s all the same no matter who you play as. There’s a challenge mode which is more irritating than fun, and of course the multiplayer, but overall there’s not much variety to the game. Had the game come with a true story/adventure mode similar to the Subspace Emissary from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then that would have made all the difference for me. Unfortunately, no such mode exists. Again, it’s largely my own fault for having rather high expectations for PlayStation All–Stars Battle Royale that the game simply could not meet, but this issue combined with the game’s own lack of content makes it my most disappointing game in recent memory. It’s certainly not the worst game I’ve ever played, which might be a topic for another day, but it definitely was my biggest letdown. Evolve comes dangerously close, but not quite.
Ian Cooper – The Elder Scrolls Online
James Haxell – Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is unfortunately a game I often try to repress from my memory. It holds the merit of being the first game I ever pre-ordered, though times I wished I hadn’t. This game wasn’t the worst I’ve suffered through, it was just far from what I imagined it would be. The bird and bear duo were a big part of my childhood and I couldn’t wait for their first outing in a long time. It has been quite a while since Rare did a game I fully enjoyed with the last being Viva Pinata, which is immensely fun. That game brings the scariness of outside to the safety of indoors, though destroying pinatas gets a bit rough and I often closed my eyes while doing it whispering, “it’s okay it’ll be all over soon.”
The warning signs of how disappointing Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts would be were there. Perfect Dark Zero case and point. How could a second Perfect Dark game ever go wrong? Well speak to Rare as they sure knew just how to do it. The final endeavour of Banjo and Kazooie was similar to Joanna Dark’s, dull and forgettable.
To be fair the gamble they took with this style of game was just let down by the final product. Had the game mixed the vehicles and platforming together better, we would be praising it as a fresh take on the genre. It’s just we’re not. The worlds were empty, which makes sense for safe driving, but safety isn’t a normal consideration of video game characters. The world had nothing to do in and boring scenery meant there were no sightseeing trips, nor the desire to go for a Sunday drive. The quests lost all quirkiness and became the most mundane tasks ever, with only the odd one or two being remotely enjoyable.
The concept of building cars appealed to me, and it still does. You were able to make any kind of car you could imagine – only problem is I had no creativity. Most of my creations failed, and the majority I made ended up being too impractical. A box with wheels would have probably been better than some of my designs. I’ve actually put Nuts & Bolts back on my list of games I need to go back to, hoping that being older would have made me a little more imaginative.
The game still echoed some of the comedy that made the series so great and many of the old cast made their way back for the game. Maybe had I not built it up too much for myself I would have loved it. It’s not the game I wanted to play, but out of dedication to them I continued, but when I got to the Banjo Land the memories of their golden days flooded back and I never made it too far past there.
Michael Fitzgerald – Mario Is Missing
For me, this is an easy call. The most disappointing game I ever played was Mario Is Missing for the Super Nintendo.
I loved the Mario games as a youngster and by far my favourite character in those games was Luigi. I’m not sure why this was the case. Maybe it was because I preferred the colour green to the colour red? Maybe it was because Luigi was always positioned as being secondary to his brother and my inbuilt reflex to root for the underdog was triggered? Or maybe it was because I was contrarian little toe-rag who wanted to be different?
Either way I was a self-confessed Luigi mark, so when I heard that Nintendo were releasing a game where Luigi was going to be the main hero tasked with rescuing his portly brethren, I instantly wanted it. I remember seeing the cover for the game in my local Video Game Store and getting immediately excited. It shows a picture of Mario getting dragged through a door by Bowser while Luigi explores a dungeon by candle light. It’s probably one of the best covers Nintendo did during this period, and made me picture Luigi scrapping with amassed Goomba’s and Koopa Trooper’s before facing a climactic battle with Bowser for Mario’s freedom. The back of the box even shows Luigi on the back of Yoshi charging at Koopa’s on a street.
“Wow” I thought “Not only is Yoshi also in this, but you can fight Koopa’s in the real world as well? This game is going to be awesome! Take my (parents) money!”
Alas though, the amazing game I imagined was not to be, for you see, Mario Is Missing is one of those dreaded “educational” games. Yes, rather than being a pulsating platforming experience such as Super Mario World was, Mario is Missing was instead a dreary and stagnant fetch and find game, where you found famous artefacts in cities across the world and handed them in. Koopa’s are in the game, but they can’t kill you and go up in a cartoonish poof of smoke if you jump on them. This is not only thoroughly unsatisfying but also incredibly frustrating, as it teases you with things that are actually in good Mario games but never delivers.
For example, the devious Koopalings make an appearance and you can do battle with them once you have completed enough levels. Ludwig Koopa, will be taunting you behind a dungeon gate while you complete level after tedious level. Eventually, the gate will open and he’ll run in to do battle with you. Again, he can’t actually kill you, so the battle is a frivolous exercise in catching him, as opposed to a satisfying boss fight to pay off all the penance you’ve been doing in the “educational” levels. Even the final battle with Bowser comes down to nothing more than a poorly animated cut-scene. Yes, you don’t even get to fight Bowser! You see Luigi walk into a room, flick a switch and Bowser gets fired out of a cannon. It’s the most apt ending to a thoroughly depressing experience.
Mario Is Missing is a game that could have been excellent if they’d just allowed it to be an actual Mario game with Luigi as the lead. Instead we get a churlish attempt to educate, which the game doesn’t even do a good job at either. When you find an artefact, you have to take it to a tourist information centre to return it. However, rather than gratefully accept your act of charity, the lady behind the desk instead quizzes you to make sure the artefact is legit. This is where you’re supposed to find information within the game to answer the trivia questions, and thus “educate” yourself I assume, but all I did as a nipper was just keep randomly choosing answers until the game let me move onto the next section.
The idea that this game exists to “educate” is fatuous at best. It’s a cynical cash-in on the Mario license, which I fell for hook, line and sinker. I can’t explain to you how excited I was about playing this, especially when the guy at the Store said it was essentially your standard Mario game but with Luigi as the main character. I built this up in my mind so much that, when I eventually played it, my hopes for it were crushed within an instant.
These days, with YouTube and the internet, I would have been able to see a Let’s Play before buying it and realised it was tosh, but back when this game came out there weren’t such things to aid consumers. Back then, you took a punt and hoped for the best. Sometimes you’d come up trumps. This wasn’t one of those times.