12 videogame stories that jumped the shark

Indigo Prophecy

The basic plot: Apparent murderer who’s either insane or mind-controlled tries to cover up his crime and stay one step ahead of the police. Killer and cops are both controlled by the player.

Jumps the shark when: Protagonist Lucas Kane tries to rescue his ex-girlfriend from the mysterious Oracle, only to watch her die when both of them plummet from the top of a roller coaster. From there, the plot rapidly devolves into bizarre supernatural nonsense about apocalyptic conspiracies, a looming Ice Age, diabolical artificial intelligences, Mayan priests and psychic powers. It also involves more than one Dragon Ball Z-style fight, in which skinny IT manager Lucas flies around New York City’s skyline trading blows with the Oracle.

Clearly, that’s much better than what had been, up until the roller coaster incident, just a taut murder mystery with well-realized characters and eerie supernatural undertones.

GTA: San Andreas

The basic plot: Former gang-banger gets sucked back into life of crime by corrupt cop and launches campaign to become a major player in the his home state’s criminal underworld.

Jumps the shark when: Ne’er-do-well government spook Mike Toreno starts doling out missions. While the first tasks he gives you – like making air drops with a crappy prop plane – are in keeping with the game’s gritty, gangster tone, things quickly devolve into weirdness when he asks you to sneak aboard a cargo plane crammed full of agents in black suits. Said agents may or may not be aliens, and after killing them all you’ll need to plant a bomb and skydive to safety.

Soon afterward, your hippie buddy The Truth calls you up and demands that you sneak into the secret military test facility Area 69 and steal a jetpack, and from that point on, the story becomes a deliberately unserious blend of secret-agent missions, heists and rap-mogul fantasy. That arguably improved it, but it was still a far cry from the humble street story San Andreas started as.

Beyond Good & Evil

The basic plot: Spunky photojournalist and her talking pig sidekick discover a corrupt government is allowing aliens to harvest its citizens for food.

Jumps the shark when: After you’ve pieced together the entire conspiracy with very little help and stormed the alien stronghold, you meet the alien boss: a vampiric space crab that lives in a giant moving statue. He reveals that you are, guess what? NOT actually human. Nope. Instead, you’re an artificially created person (named Shauni), a sort of battery or container. In fact, you are the source of his power, made human by the good guys in hopes of weakening him. Oh, and he wanted you to figure it all out all along so you arrived at this exact moment in time so he could make your eyes glow and create a force field that traps the good guys’ spaceships. Or something. It’s all really vague and needlessly complex.

Above: The moral is, all journalists are alien batteries

But it doesn’t really matter because your response is to hit him until he explodes. The somehow-still-moving statue lifts you into the air, where you levitate and phosphoresce until all the kidnapped people trapped in the walls float free and begin orbiting you and you smile. Then the credits roll, ending on a downer of a cliffhanger that makes clear your pig friend has contracted an alien techno-virus. Thus, a brilliant game is rendered ridiculous by not one, but two of the most needless ending plot twists in history.

Sonic the Hedgehog

The basic plot: Sonic runs around and fights things. Please don’t make us elaborate.

Jumps the shark when: After hours of beyond-ridiculous scenarios, including time travel, alternate dimensions, evil clones, ancient prophecies and every other cliché ever discovered, Sonic is killed by a villain that we refuse to explain. Obviously the main character can’t stay dead, so his menagerie of animal pals pool their powers to revive him as the angelic Super Sonic. But, they can’t get there without a little extra help… from a human kiss.

Above: Your favorite bestiality joke here 

We can accept the increasingly convoluted storyline that adds playable characters every time Sega’s rent checks are due, but what we will never, ever swallow is a real-world woman falling in love with what looks like a Disneyland mascot suit.

Above: These aren’t gloves, my hands just look like this 

The series had been treading strange ground for years, so the fact 2006’s game featured another out-there story didn’t surprise us one bit. But, once Sega introduced an attractive, reasonably proportioned human girl into the mix, the whole universe fell apart, causing an already shitty game to not just jump the shark, but launch into orbit, circle the entire solar system and come crashing back down on that poor fish like Sephiroth’s Super Nova summon.

After this and the similarly stupefying Sonic Unleashed, Sega says it’s aware Sonic is in the dumps, and plans to fix the franchise. Word is that XBLA or iPhone are now viable options for the company, so maybe we’ll finally get our goddamn Sonic the Hedgehog 4?


Aug 7, 2009

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When cursing and confusion are your only reward

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One of our very first Top 7s, calling out the franchises that fell the hardest


  • pikachu2000 - August 13, 2009 5:14 a.m.

    I own and played Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future on the Dreamcast (and still got it). Stopped playing back in mid 2001 and still got the save. The moment Ecco the Dolphin turns into a SPACESHIP to stop the FOE from screwing up the balence between dolphin and man is the moment the deep sea adventure turn into deep shit. Believe me, that adventure is an absolute bitch!!! After you undo both man's (A really screw up future) and dolphin's (a bright but still screwed up future) futures you will have to go to the FOE's hideout and face even MORE screwed up crap. And don't get me started on the lies that the crystal will give you.
  • ShadowMantis - August 12, 2009 3:02 p.m.

    WTF?! A talking plant.Fighting naked?Are they high when they are writting this?Just like the LOST writters.
  • gatornation1254 - August 10, 2009 9:15 p.m.

    Holy shit the end to Beyond Good and Evil was EPIC. LOL
  • Felixthecat - August 10, 2009 8:37 p.m.

    I agree with Sonic completely. I mean, why would some weird girl even TRUST a fully grown, male, blue Hedgehog?
  • dweller - August 10, 2009 7:36 p.m.

    I really wanted to like Indigo Prophecy. Cue apocalyptic snow storm and the rest was a chore to go through.
  • wkdtkd - August 10, 2009 4:22 p.m.

    I kinda liked THUG at the time...*blushes* Though I have to say...the thing that made me go WTF?!? must about Fahrenheit was when Lucas and Carla "did the business" even though they only knew each other 5 mins!! :O Where on earth did that come from!??!
  • Makk_Mizzy - August 9, 2009 8:54 a.m.

  • lovinmyps3 - August 8, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    I admit to being one of the people who brushed aside Beyond Good & Evil (despite owning it) due to its strange settings and characters. I wish I still had it because I've heard so many good things... other than the dumb ending.
  • crumbdunky - August 8, 2009 8:34 p.m.

    Anyone who's had the very dubious honour of actually finishing one of the Halo "novels" will understand me when I say that the plot of Halo2 is NOTHING to worry about. There's some complete nonsense dressed up as average Sci Fi literature right there! The only reason I finished one is because it was reccommended by a friend and I cannot start a book(or game) without finishing it before moving on to the next!
  • SuperBadnik - August 8, 2009 8:04 p.m.

    Um, the "Evil Lara" is fully explained in Tomb Raider: Underworld...
  • jar-head - August 8, 2009 2:43 p.m.

    wtf Gr? The Whole Franchise of Halo is that, history repeats, until the MC was like "Oh F*** That!" and Gears of war 2, Jumped the shark when the Imulsion, lava/energy/i0l stuff starts to Infect The Horde! How did you not choose moving liquid over a worm?
  • oldgrammastinkyfeet - August 8, 2009 2:57 a.m.

    Lol... Cavebam. Jack*ss is awesome.
  • phoenix_wings - August 8, 2009 2:27 a.m.

    I played San Andreas a little while ago. It finally got to a point in San Andreas where I wanted to say "You've got James Woods" whenever Toreno would show up.
  • Master_Leep - August 8, 2009 2:11 a.m.

    I never thought about CJ's humble origins whilst flying around in a jet pack, mowing down rival Ballas. He came along way, baby.
  • sgloomy - August 8, 2009 1:11 a.m.

    every time i read something about PoP: warrior Within, it makes me very happy that i didn't play it!
  • NanoElite666 - August 8, 2009 12:31 a.m.

    I nominate "Star Ocean: Till the End of Time" for this list as well. The big plot twist in the game certainly made me stop and go "Wait... what...?" when I played through it a while ago.
  • Red - August 8, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    I enjoyed reading this one.
  • Vagrant - August 8, 2009 12:12 a.m.

    That MGS2 bit was one of the best bits of the game! I'd say the shark jumped after the combat gauntlet with Snake. Wherein gameplay consisting entirely of two boss fights before the end of the game were surrounded by the craziest of cutscenes. Including not one, but THREE plot twists about what "S3" is. And the Gears of War worm thing was cool and wasn't that crazy, for my liking. I'm pretty sure the dodgy bullpoo cliffhanger ending at the start of the first game was where it jumped the shark. Aaaaand I think it's safe to say that Fahrenheit didn't completely go off the rails until crazy AI monster that was the internet or something appeared.
  • gmilf71 - August 7, 2009 11:49 p.m.

    I'm sorry. I just don't agree with any of these conclusions.
  • TURbo - August 7, 2009 11:41 p.m.

    Halo 2's talking plant was really stupid.

Showing 1-20 of 66 comments

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