With roughly 9 billion games in existence, and all of them needing names, it's understandable that certain titling conventions will be repeated from time to time. But it seems to go much further than that these days. Rather than simply suffering the odd coincidental naming mishap, as films and TV often do, games now seem to have developed a vast bank of woefully over-used words, phrases and cliches to stick on the front of their boxes. It sometimes feels like new games are named using a mix-and-match, title-generating algorithm.
Worse, gaming's staunch reliance on these stock titling elements often throws up some nonsensically named products. How bad has it got? Click through the following pages, and I'll identify and analyse the worst current culprits.
As seen in: Sonic Unleashed, The Force Unleashed, Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed, Godzilla Unleashed.
Is it nonsense? Frequently. You see the thing about the word unleashed is that it promises the full potential of something, working in a greater, more powerful permutation than seen before. The Force Unleashed kind of gets away with it, even though the game is largely unspectacular outside of its showboating depiction of Force powers. Sonic Unleashed though? No. Sonic is about ripping through environments at barely-controllable high speeds while looking cool. An extra-unleashed version would put the player into a coma. Sonic Unleashed, however, actually slows him down with multiple crap werehog sections representing the antithesis of Sonics MO. It is an anti-unleashing. A leashing, if you will. And Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed? Unless the cars are flying, it's just Need for Speed Shift 2: More Car Driving. And no, now that I check, the cars never fly.
As seen in: Checkers Ultimate, Survivor Ultimate, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Ultimate Ride, Ultimate Quake, Ultimate Yahtzee, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Soccer, Ultimate Fighter, Ultimate Pinball, Ultimate Doom
Is it nonsense? Yes. Because ultimate means the final, crowning iteration of something. Conversely, Activision released Ultimate Quake immediately before Quake 4. And Doom 3 exists.
As seen in: Rayman Origins, Batman: Arkham Origins, Dragon Age: Origins, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.
Is it nonsense? Not yet, as Origins has only relatively recently become the hot new way to say Prequel, because were rebooting or have run out of storyline. F.E.A.R. 2 gets away with it by referencing an ongoing, pre-established plot-point, but Arkham Origins forgets to even mention Arkham, let alone justify the title, until five minutes before the game's end. As for Dragon Age? Origins was the first game in the series. The first game. You cannot introduce a story and world with a prequel. All youre doing there is making part one.
As seen in: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Valkyria Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles, Sonic Chronicles; The Dark Brotherhood, Tomb Raider Chronicles, Castlevania Chronicles, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, Darkstalkers Chronicle, Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles.
Is it nonsense? Often, yes. While most games use chronicle to mean spin-off, or the title was too short without adding an extra word, it actually refers not just to a story, but to a longer-form, historical account. Although rampantly over-used in games, it is sometimes used correctly. Umbrella Chronicles fills in the gaps in different chunks of known Resi back-story, for instance. Tomb Raider Chronicles is a potted history of Laras life during various different time periods. Sonic Chronicles, however? Would have made retrospective sense if the series had continued, but being only one game it barely represents even a single chronicle, let alone several.
As seen in: Nigh-on every SNES game ever.
Is it nonsense? Yes. When used--as it usually was--to arbitrarily differentiate the SNES version of a game from those on other formats, Super achieved two things. Firstly, it emphasised how un-super the SNES port was, by nature of being exactly the same game as the Mega Drive/Genesis version, albeit usually with slightly better graphics and sound. Secondly, the unnecessary, console-specific branding on a raft of third-party games made everyone think Nintendo had gone mad with power. Imagine if that still went on. Imagine if games were called things like Street Fighter IV360 or Ninja GaidenStation. Or New Super Mario Bros U. Oh hang on
As seen in: Imagine: Babyz, Imagine: Detective, Imagine: Teacher, Imagine: Gymnast, Imagine: Animal Doctor, Imagine: Master Chef, Imagine: Figure Skater, Imagine: Champion Rider, Imagine: Cheerleader, Imagine: Fashion Designer, Imagine: Wedding Designer
Is it nonsense? Yes. And quite vile. It's the umbrella brand for Ubisofts string of much-maligned DS games aimed at the girl market. While it might, on the surface, seem like just another generic word pulled out of a marketing execs arse five minutes before lunch time, just how patronising is the implication here? Wow, imagine having a baby. Thats something to aspire to, girls. Imagine being a cheerleader. Wildly unrealistic dream, but at least you can simulate it on your DS. Imagine being a wedding planner. Far too advanced a goal for the likes of you, but imagine it!. Then consider the list of careers chosen by the series. Where the fuck is Imagine: Geneticist? Or Imagine: Writer? Or Imagine: Polititian? Nah, keep em in the frills and flowers, and imply theyre lucky to even be there. Oh, and Ubisoft, the word is veterinarian, not animal doctor
As seen in: X-Kaliber 2097, WipEout 2097, One Must Fall 2097
Is it nonsense? Not really, but it is odd. There arent too many games using 2097, admittedly, but the sheer obscurity of the naming convention makes them notably curious. Whats so special about 2097? If games are to be believed its the year when all the seriously cool shit is going on. Anti-gravity combat racing is in full flow, mech fighting tournaments are all the rage, and somewhere in New York, a sword-wielding hero leaps through the streets hacking up criminal and alien wrong-doers alike. Is some cosmic alignment of awesomeness scheduled for the end of this century? Are WipEout, X-Kaliber and One Must Fall part of a secret, unofficial trilogy? Or does 2097 just sound cool, and look a bit futuristic and spiky because of the seven on the end?
As seen in: Resident Evil Zero, EVE Zero, Quake Zero, Mega Man Zero, World War Zero, Dark Void Zero, Cho Aniki Zero, Perfect Dark Zero, Bomberman Act Zero, Metroid: Zero Mission, Street Fighter Zero, Record of Agarest War Zero, Zork Zero
Is it nonsense? Yes. Another video game synonym for prequel, Zero is far lazier than Origins and makes far less sense. Springing from nothing more than a dogmatic adherence to the numbered naming convention for sequels, zero-syndrome effectively just uses basic maths in an attempt to find a number that takes the series backwards chronologically. The thing is though, zero implies not an earlier instance of an event, but a total lack of said event. If they were doing this right, developers would be pumping out minus-one games in their droves.
As seen in: Age of Sail, Age of Fable, Age of Japan, Age of Booty, Age of Wulin, Age of Zombies, Age of Empires, Age of Industry, Age of Adventure, Age of Mythology, Ages of Myst
Is it nonsense? Not strictly nonsense, but it is rather a non-statement. In most cases, Age of just means This game is about.... It's really dull to be honest. Much better to take the musical theatre approach and just stick an exclamation mark on the end of the important word in the title. Which would you rather play, Age of Booty, or Booty!? Yeah, thought so.
As seen in: PetVille, VampireVille, FishVille, FarmVille, CityVille, Thrillville, ZombieVille, Smileyville, Pirateville, Mysteryville
Is it nonsense? Initially, the Ville convention was just a quirky way to evoke a games permeating theme. That was fine. But, as is often the case, once it becomes a go-to naming convention, things get silly. Look at the above examples. Imagine an actual town based on any of those themes. Youd never move to VampireVille or ZombieVille, even though the house prices couldn't fail to be rock bottom. And Pirateville would simply fail to function as a society. A town populated entirely by pirates? Who would they rob? Other pirates? They'd just have a very limited supply of booty being circulated ad infinitum by way of endless, mutually-assured plundering. That'd be miserable.
As seen in: Maze Mania, E.R. Mania, Match Mania, Bug Mania, ATV Mania, Pac-Mania, IQ Mania, Egg Mania, Mole Mania, Cake Mania, Aqua Mania, Race Mania, Loco Mania, Bomb Mania, Drop Mania, Pipe Mania, Video Mania, Total Mania, Ghost Mania, Nanny Mania, Sheep Mania, Mickey Mania, Track Mania, Arcade Mania, Flight Mania, Repton Mania, Soccer Mania, Mushroom Mania, Clown-O-Mania, Parking Mania
Is it nonsense? Oh good Lord, yes. The most egregious example of Heres what the game is about and we couldnt be bothered to think of anything for the title past that. And again, much like Ville, it makes for some utterly ludicrous and frankly disturbing game titles when looked at objectively. Who has a crazed enthusiasm for eggs? Or sheep? Or parking? And Clown-O-Mania just sounds flat-out terrifying, especially if you take the clinical psychology interpretation of the word into account. Or the fact that Mania is also the ancient Roman goddess of death. Yeah, Clown of Mania. The clown footsoldier of Death Herself. Sleep easy, guys.
As seen in: God of War, Gears of War, Men of War, Man of War, Dogs of War, Hogs of War, Prisoners of War, Contra: Legacy of War, Darksiders: Wrath of War, Quest for Glory III: Wages of War, Warhammer 40K: Rites of War, Command & Conquer: Theatre of War, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War
Is it nonsense? Not particularly, but it is a rather depressing insight into how war has become synonymous with exciting and dramatic rather than nightmarish and tragic. Want to make your character/situation/vaguely-sketched scenario immediately more badass? Make it OF WAR. A game that lets you play as a god? Not cool enough. Make him a god OF WAR. Game actually set in World War II? Not of war enough. Add a subtitle to make it World War II OF WAR. Hell, even if your game already flaunts the excessively badass title of Warhammer, stick an extra OF WAR on the end just to be sure. No-onell know otherwise.
As seen in: Final Fight: Revenge, Snakes Revenge, Bonks Revenge, WCW/NWO Revenge, Burnout Revenge, Doomdarks Revenge, Shantae: Riskys Revenge, X2: Wolverines Revenge, Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Cybernoid II: The Revenge, Mega Man: Dr. Wileys Revenge, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Banjo-Kazooie: Gruntys Revenge, Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcades Revenge, Castlevania II: Belmonts Revenge, Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge, Boulder Dash II: Rockfords Revenge, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge, Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusas Revenge, Terminator Revenge, Amadeus Revenge
Is it nonsense? Not as a concept, but its been used so many times to have long-since become a tired old stock joke when discussing sequels in any medium. Effectively its a neat hand-wave to say Yeah, weve made a sequel, and yeah, weve kept the same villain and general set-up, but its okay, because narrative justification! Though in the case of Burnout, what the hell? Whats even revenging? Cars? Burnout itself? Was it affronted by the way you played it the first time around, and now wants to come back to kick your arse by making you play it again? Sense. It makes none of it.
As seen in: Every other game released during the last 20 years.
Is it nonsense? Almost always. Ive covered this one before, at length. Check it out..
So that's my rundown of the game titles I'm sick of seeing, but how about you? Any other collection of words that's likely to see you throwing a box across the shop, before being swiftly escorted out? Stick it in the comments.
If you're still not convinced the problem is extreme, do definitely make sure to check out the feature I did on gaming's flagrant over-use of just that one word. And then check out our parody of overly-literal video game subtitles, a la Medal of Honor: Warfighter.