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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  • KillDrone - August 7, 2009 8:35 p.m.

    Wow, making fun of Beyond Good and Evil? Hasn't that game suffered enough after such a dismal market?
  • skyguy343 - August 7, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    i didnt find halo very confusing
  • mastersword369 - August 7, 2009 8:42 p.m.

  • GoldenMe - August 7, 2009 9:16 p.m.

    I hate Sega and Sonic Team for ruining my favorite franchise. The only way they can bring them back is Sonic 4. Anything else is unacceptable.
  • iKOemos - August 7, 2009 9:45 p.m.

    Hey I finally get the wife arm joke! Yer I never finished Bionic Commando. I thought you meant he beat his wife with that arm.... but never mind she's dead... And please God let there be a Sonic 4, and let it be awesome!
  • Jacob816 - August 7, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    FYI, the chick with Bionic legs had to sacrifice her sister, or mother or other female relative. It was a female first name (I don't remember the actual name), and the same last name as the Bionic chick.
  • Pr0fesserCha0s - August 7, 2009 10:05 p.m.

    WHAT \'0'/ the arm is his wife?!?!?!?!?
  • CARLINNIT - August 7, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    haha, i knew Fahrenheit would feature. Still one of my favourite games ever though
  • farsided - August 7, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    absolutely terrific final 'shark' article! hopefully shark week becomes an annual deal because this was great!
  • dante1924 - August 7, 2009 10:36 p.m.

    It's like konami and sega were on drugs while making those games! I can never wash off the stains of a naked Raiden or a person kissing sonic. ReCaptcha: Nixon's misdeeds (these were misdeeds alright! They just weren't Nixon's!
  • PinkLenny - August 7, 2009 10:54 p.m.

  • Johnny6Gun - August 7, 2009 11:01 p.m.

    Thank the god that Indigo Prophecy is on the list. That plot fell apart like a K-Mart Huffy.
  • tito22 - August 7, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    who would play Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future... its dumb and mgs 2was a little weird
  • tito22 - August 7, 2009 11:38 p.m.

    i rather have mario over sonic anyday
  • GamerTagsSuck - August 8, 2009 12:21 a.m.

    Isn't beyond good and evil getting a sequil? I'll have to get the first one.
  • Cyberninja - August 8, 2009 2:12 a.m.

    wow this games did jump the shark and the shark ate them all up and if i dont sonic 4 i want to see sa3 cuz the first two were ok or a sonic rush 3 minus the boat but all 3 would be nice
  • Yeager1122 - August 8, 2009 4:01 a.m.

    Ha sonic what a fail he kissed a human girl i mean who thought that was a good idea??!?!?
  • Defguru7777 - August 8, 2009 5:27 a.m.

    Eh, Gravemind is kind of hit and miss with me. I see why he's important to the plot, but the story could have progressed without him. But I thought the "poetry" he said was kind of cool. I kind of agree with Gears of War 2, but I absolutely love the Riftworm. Going through his whole body and getting covered head-to-toe with blood? Awesome in my book!
  • silvereye - August 8, 2009 2:11 p.m.

    I think sonic team has secret meetings to discuss how to lower the next games metacritic score lower than the last and pretend it was a one off
  • RCTrucker7 - August 8, 2009 4:55 p.m.

    I was just curious how both Good and Evil and GTA: San Andreas are listed here and on the list of the 15 games with the best all time stories ( both lists citing several of the same factors for being listed?

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