Gaming's would-be innovators

Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003)

What it Tried to Do: Herald a new beginning for the Microsoft-era Rare.

What It Did: Inspire many copies of Goldeneye 007 to be dug out of their closets.

What Went Wrong: Besides Nintendo’s own content, there were few better indicators of quality in the N64 era than a Rare title. So when Microsoft announced its acquisition of the Stamper Brothers’ company, Xbox fanboys rejoiced. The partnership eventually bore fruit in the form of Grabbed by the Ghoulies, a Halloween-themed beat-‘em-up that left plenty of fans scratching their heads: Where was the inventiveness of Blast Corps, the snark of Conker’s Bad Fur Day? Was Ghoulies a devilishly tough kids’ game, or a saccharine-sweet survival horror? Who were the losers here: Microsoft, the once-great Rare, or the gaming public? Ghoulies endowed the new Rare with a stench of mediocrity the company never recovered from: when the Stampers finally left the company, which they had started in the ‘80s, nobody minded much.

Star Wars Galaxies (2003)

What it Tried to Do: Star Wars! Online! What more could you want?

What It Did: Discovered the answer to the above question (turns out it’s “fun”).

What Went Wrong: You can’t just set any old thing in the Star Wars universe and expect it to kick ass. This was the lesson of everything from Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure to The Phantom Menace. But did Sony Online Entertainment, developers of Star Wars Galaxies, pay heed? Not so much. When the game finally brought Star Wars to the MMO community, gamers were put off by the unclear, monotonous grinding involved in becoming a Jedi (a feat no player would achieve for four months). SOE tried patching the game to overhaul combat and make the Jedi class selectable from the start; you can imagine how well that went over. Years’ worth of upgrades and patches later, the game remains an underpopulated lesson in how not to manage an MMO.

Fable (2004)

What it Tried to Do: Provide limitless adventure and intricate consequence in a detailed, evolving world.

What it Did: Remind people that Peter Molyneux sure does got a mouth on him.

What Went Wrong: Not only did Fable promise GTA-style sandbox-gaming in an RPG realm, but every choice the player made was to have huge consequences on the game’s world and story. The game’s developer, motormouthed genius-savant Peter Molyneux, swaggered about the scene making outrageous promises: plant a tree and watch it grow fifteen years later! See the world around you react to your moral choices! Compete with NPC heroes, who’ll beat you to the prize if you’ve let your character get shabby! When the game emerged it was a fun, Elder Scrolls-lite romp, but gamers wondered what had happened to the depth they’d been promised. The suddenly untrustworthy Molyneux went so far as to issue a public apology and promised to be more grounded when promoting future games.

Advent Rising (2005)

What it Tried to Do: Show that sci-fi legends can write for games too.

What It Did: Showed that games can arse up even the work of sci-fi legends.

What Went Wrong: While most games blow the budget on fancy effects and production doodads, leaving no room for an exciting story or memorable characters, Majesco’s Advent Rising was a depressing inversion of the norm. Based on an original script by Orson Scott Card, Advent Rising was to be the first in a trilogy, taking place alongside planned PSP game Advent Shadow. However, the game’s control system and lengthy list of bugs caused retail performance to fall far short of projections. The PSP game was nixed, the series put on indefinite hold, and Majesco announced that they were moving exclusively into casual content. Card, for his part, never ended up writing the tie-in novels Majesco had planned; chalk one up for fellow sci-fi author Harlan Ellison, whose work got turned into a game back in 1995.

Spore (2008)

What it Tried to Do: Be the best God Game ever. Hell, just the best game ever.

What it Did: Prompted a lot of people to pirate the toddlers’ version of Civilization.

What Went Wrong: Time Magazine called Spore “the most ambitious game ever.” Will Wright, father of everything with “Sim” in the title, promised an experience where players would guide their life-form from single-celled organism to intergalactic superpower, seamlessly growing in scope from microcosmic amoeba-manipulation to traversing the infinity of space. It was a tough task - but if anyone could do it, Wright could. Apparently, nobody could do it. On release, reviewers couldn’t get past the way the game’s rigidly divided levels all offered training-wheels versions of other games. Even shorter shrift was given to the game’s copy-protection: EA’s SecuROM technology crippled players’ ownership of the software, leading anti-DRM advocates to lead a “Pirate Spore” campaign that saw it become 2008’s most-copied game.

Sep 16, 2009

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Let the critics pine for a medium-changing masterpiece – we've got 25 games that already qualify

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Each and every one will (not) change the way we play games


  • CH3BURASHKA - September 21, 2009 6:25 a.m.

    I bought Advent Rising off Steam after hearing the main theme off of the VGL album, and was really disappointed. The only problem is that the ending is incredibly awesome and sparks so many questions that I'm aching for a sequel because I know AR2 will be so much better, but since it won't be made, I guess it can't be better.
  • super0sonic - September 20, 2009 6:37 a.m.

    Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a great movie and i am glad i own it on DVD along with the great live action mario movie. And no i am not jokeing.
  • FETALJUICE - September 20, 2009 1:47 a.m.

    I hate to admit this but I ACTUALLY enjoyed Enter the Matrix despite its buggy gameplay. I even finished it. lol
  • oryandymackie - September 19, 2009 9:18 a.m.

    Oh, and I agree with Tomsta666.
  • Tomsta666 - September 19, 2009 1:09 a.m.

    I dont care what you say Internet, Enter the Matrix was a damn fun game.
  • Embolado - September 18, 2009 8:32 p.m.

    Is Ramero holding an Ngage? If so best pic of the article.
  • Spybreak8 - September 18, 2009 3:27 a.m.

    Oh yea almost forgot, I actually got Blinx free with the original Xbox, wow what a deal! > <
  • DrDack - September 17, 2009 9:47 p.m.

    I friggin' loved The Great Giana Sisters! For me, the fact that it was such a blatant ripoff gave it an air of really wanting to be popular that I somehow found adorable. ...maybe I'm over thinking things...
  • GamerTagsSuck - September 17, 2009 8:09 p.m.

    Enter the Matrix really wasn't a hprrible game. 6/10. No worse.
  • 435 - September 17, 2009 5:48 p.m.

    I still do like State of Emergency, despite all it's flaws. There was something very cathartic about kicking the ever loving holy hell out people in a mall after working 10 hours in holiday retail.
  • bamb0o-stick - September 17, 2009 2:11 a.m.

    Wow, this is such a great article. Its so nostalgic to think back on games like Red Faction, Daikatana, and Enter the Matrix. The stink of some of these turds may never go away. I actually went to go see Final Fantasy in theaters, I actually didn't think it was terrible. I loved cinematics in games, so this was just like candy for me.
  • dweller - September 17, 2009 1:56 a.m.

    Hey I now know who Blinx the Cat is. Thanks Gamesradar! I did rent Enter the Matrix on PS2 and played it twice. Each playthrough as a different character and hated it. The trailer at the end of the game, for the third movie, definitely was not worth the effort.
  • sniper430 - September 17, 2009 12:38 a.m.

    state of emergency was a decent game, but as Samael said, we were young...
  • gutlessVADER - September 16, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    lol failure
  • gatorfan122394 - September 16, 2009 10:17 p.m.

    when i was younger my favorite game for the xbox was blinx the time sweeper lol
  • helix92 - September 16, 2009 9:53 p.m.

    the goonies is the best movie ever...
  • FartsOnMilk - September 16, 2009 9:24 p.m.

    Tom Goulter made this article his bitch!
  • BigTuna - September 16, 2009 7:40 p.m.

    I haven't heard of most of these... Though The Great Giana Sisters did give me a laugh, how did they expect to get away with that?
  • MacGyver1138 - September 21, 2009 2:35 p.m.

    I really like Fable. That may partially be because I hadn't really heard much of Molyneux's hype about it, and just liked it for what it was, rather than what it was supposed to be.
  • oryandymackie - September 19, 2009 9:17 a.m.

    Am I the only one who actually LIKES QTEs? Yes, they're a cliche, but due to the amount of boring cutscenes it makes a change and a challenge, doesn't it?

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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