Great concepts, bad games

It's a sad truth indeed that some terrible games in the past have actually had seriously solid ideas. A good idea does not automatically mean a good game, as demonstrated countless times by an industry that, more often than not, produces the very best products when creativity is all but bankrupt. A real shame, but that's the truth of the matter.

Budget constraints, technological problems, or a simple case of being too ambitious for one's own good can all have an effect on a title, meaning that no matter how deep your narrative, unique your gimmicks, or breathtaking your vision, concept alone cannot save a game. With that wretched fact in mind, let's take a look at some examples of absolutely killer concepts that went wrong somewhere along the line and ended up as bad videogames.

Fragile Dreams

Fragile Dreams is an amazing experience. Engaging, isolating and even tear jerking, Fragile Dream's post-apocalyptic world and perpetually depressing story make for a hauntingly beautiful videogame. Unfortunately, its insistent backtracking, inconvenient menu system, and mediocre combat mean that Fragile Dream frustrates and exhausts more than it evokes and engrosses.

It's a real tragedy, because Fragile Dreams has one of the saddest, most charming narratives you could hope to get from the medium. It also stands out as one of the more original titles on the Wii. Sadly, Fragile Dreams' gameplay treads on all the amazing accomplishments of the story, meaning that very few will consider wasting their precious time on it. The worst part is, anybody who skips this game is justified, even if they are missing out on a game that, at times, manages to be an introspective stroke of inspiration.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Call of Cthulhu is a shame. So much promise, so much amazing atmosphere, yet such an awful, dreadful excuse for a game. There's no denying that this dark and grisly first-person horror tale has heart and a strong sense of character, but it's a frustrating mess of bugs and glitches, not to mention that it throws all the horror out of the window once it puts a gun in your hand and becomes a shooter.

This game has been installed, deleted, and re-installed on my computer at least half a dozen times, because its oppressive mood and Lovecraft-flavored story demands forgiveness. Then there is, of course, the famous "chase" sequence in which the player escapes a murderous mob of demented villagers in what could be the most thrilling, intense, terrifying event a videogame has ever thrown at somebody. Still, the bugs, rubbish stealth sections, and overall garbage gameplay manages to wear out Call of Cthulhu's welcome in the end. It could have been fantastic, but it was not.

Rise of the Robots

Wait, what? Yes, it sounds mad, but go with it for a second. Despite how atrocious we all know Rise of the Robots to be, it was still a pretty badass idea. A fighting game featuring giant (and very cool looking) robots that smash the shit out of each other! That's surely a fantastic concept by anybody's standards.

Unfortunately, the game itself was total drek. Despite trying to cash in on the fighting game craze of the mid ‘90s, Rise of the Robots' frustrating controls and bizarre playable character options (one player always had to be ECO35-2 while the other controlled a completely imbalanced enemy droid) led to it being torn apart by critics. The ludicrous controls and dull movesets did little to help its cause.


  • listerinemarine - September 10, 2010 10:43 p.m.

    It never even got NIER to achieving it's potential.
  • Redeater - September 10, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    I'm so sad about Scribblenauts and Cthulu......such promise
  • iLuminate - September 10, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    Where is APB on this list?
  • FauxFurry - September 10, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    You could add Kung-Fu Riders to the list now. Anyone who could both a wonderfully daft concept such as that deserves to be kicked square in the head after they've downhill slalomed on an office chair in rush hour traffic,a feat made easier but aiming one's boot at their rear-end where their head is kept when not in use,which is to say round the clock. reCAPT:schente Citizen Is Schente located somewhere between the states of Disappointment and Shock? If so,I very well may be a citizen of that region without knowing it.
  • ElderGamer - September 10, 2010 11:17 p.m.

    Turning Point: Fall of Liberty had a great concept of a storyline. The Germans invading America and you play as a construction worker caught up in the action. Too bad the level design, repetitive enemies, badly written dialog and story (still a good concept), meh graphics...I could go on.
  • FauxFurry - September 10, 2010 11:18 p.m.

    ^Blast it,I meant 'botch'! How about a list of Great Games,Idiotic Concepts?
  • mattrickhoffman - September 10, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    Stretch Panic. That's all I have to say.
  • TDUBBS - September 10, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    Fracture would fit well on this list. All the surface-morphing business was cool, but it played like ass. I'll forget choosing it over Gears 2.
  • TDUBBS - September 10, 2010 11:33 p.m.

    *I'll NEVER forget choosing it over Gears 2.
  • gamingfreak - September 10, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    I think I'm the only person who likes Nier.
  • Tenfey - September 10, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    Why must games be so disappointing?
  • Cyberninja - September 10, 2010 11:44 p.m.

    metroid other m
  • Stabby_Joe - September 11, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    Now now, I actually got a lot of enjoyment out of Call of Cthulhu. Poor graphics and somewhat clunky gameplay, sure but the story and atmosphere was (unlike some games) enough to get over the technical short comings.
  • Metroidhunter32 - September 11, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    I still intend to get Fragile Dreams, it's just fallen low on my list.
  • shadowreaper72 - September 11, 2010 12:24 a.m.

    You guys forgot about Darkest of Days time traveling back to past conflicts with futureistic weaonry was an awesome idea. Too bad the developer 8 Monkey Labs sucks balls
  • nemesisuprising - September 11, 2010 12:39 a.m.

    I really like nier :(
  • ProfessorBonk - September 11, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    Sorry Jim, I have to strongly disagree about CoC: DCotE as well as Fragile Dreams and Nier. I had a great time playing them. Sure, they would have been better being released a generation earlier, but that's part of what makes them so charming and fun to play. I adored the atmosphere and slow pace of Fragile Dreams. I loved the clunky point-and-click-meets-fps feel of CoC. And I enjoyed to badly-made, senseless, over-the-top aspects of Nier. In terms of professionalism, they're bad games. But in the eyes of a gamer who wants to be immersed in an experience, they're all perfect. Could have been better, true, but didn't really have to be.
  • Onepersonwithnoopinion - September 11, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    My opinion, not yours: I thought The Conduit was fairly disappointing, but I blame the hype for that. The idea was nice(a well executed FPS on the Wii that pushes the power of the machine to its limits), but the execution was meh.
  • triplesalmon - September 11, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    You know, me and my friend spent ungodly amount of hours on Area 51. During our 5th and 6th grade years, we played it to the end some four times, collecting every little file and video and scannable item and relishing in every detail of the games little lore. Despite the poor critical reception, the game is still special to me, and the cliffhanger ending still annoys me on occasion to this day.
  • theodyssey547 - September 11, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    You forgot Aion.

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