The Top 7... worst release dates EVER

Videogames, like movies and music, live and die by their release dates. A smartly planned launch can make a niche product soar to unpredicted heights or cause a long-respected franchise to slip beneath consumers’ radar. You’d think after decades of retail experience we’d stop seeing games like Blacksite: Area 51 pitted against Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4, but every year there’s a perfectly playable game thrown to the wolves.

These are the worst offenders – respectable games released against impossibly popular rivals or, in one case, the one week of the year it shouldn’t have come out.

After PlayStation and Nintendo 64 took hold in the mid-‘90s, all the franchise greats, from Mario to Final Fantasy to Metal Gear, ditched 2D side-scrolling and embraced the third dimension, insuring their continued positions as top dogs of the industry. Castlevania, on the other hand, stumbled through two ho-hum N64 attempts, then kinda got it right with 2003’s Lament of Innocence. With this sort-of-okay game on the table, 2005’s Curse of Darkness was poised to finally deliver the 3D experience the series desperately needed.

But for some reason Konami released it a matter of weeks after the vastly superior (and 2D) Dawn of Sorrow, which turned out to be one of the highest rated games in the Castlevania series. Curse, on the other hand, was a middle of the road title that didn’t approach the magnificence of the technologically inferior 2D games on GBA and DS.

Above: While Dawn stood tall on DS, Curse blended in with every other console hack-and-slasher

With the Castlevania thirst already quenched, and the 2D games consistently receiving amazing scores, Curse of Darkness fell by the wayside and to this day remains the last 3D Castlevania adventure. It also had to fend off better titles that appealed to roughly the same audience, like Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon Quest VIII and the entire Xbox 360 launch blitz.

If they’d waited a few months, maybe put it out in Feb or March ’06 to further distance itself from Dawn of Sorrow, Curse might have stood out. Instead it completely disappeared in a sea of more interesting options.

Hey, Resistance 2 is a fine game. If you’re a PS3-only gamer, you’re probably already plowing through it, collecting all 20 hidden briefcases and hopping online for some 60-player alien bashing. But, in the immortal words of Danny Devito’s Penguin... “You don’t really think you’ll win, do you?”

Above: Resistance performed well, but the Penguin don’t lie

The first Resistance was no slouch, but look at those numbers – Gears became Microsoft’s No-Halo backup plan, assuring financial success with the supercharged Gears 2, which was launched just three days after the less attention-seeking Resistance 2. Which do you think will get more ads in magazines and TV, more face time with internet outlets, more overall hype and word of mouth? Gears 2, of course.

More importantly, which is going to sell systems right now? If you own neither, what’re the odds you’re leaning towards Resistance over Gears? Maybe it’s 50/50, you learned gamers you, but consider Average Gamer, who sees two options: Resistance 2 or GEARS2OMFGCHAINSAAAAAAWS! It’s got nothing to do with quality; it’s all about presence, and Gears has got Resistance beat.

Imagine launching Far Cry 2 against Call of Duty: World at War – both are excellent games and will sell fine, but gamers who can only buy one are almost guaranteed to go with the moneymaker. As with Curse of Darkness, saving this for a less confrontational match might have raised Resistance’s profile beyond what the unopposed first game carved out against the then-new Gears of War. Launching when it did, it also has to fight off BioShock and CoD:WAW, two FPSes that are already belting their siren song to PS3 owners.


Top 7


  • Scaves - December 14, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    Anyone here had Threads of Fate?
  • QuickDEMOL1SHER - October 14, 2009 1:53 a.m.

    Halo 3 vs Blacksite: Area 51 should have been on here. I don't know a single person who even noticed Area 51 before 2008.
  • abzu - November 15, 2008 4:30 a.m.

    I just caught this at 666 diggs! (Incidentally, I was digg #667.) Talk about Digging up the beast... screenshot here:
  • pot - November 15, 2008 12:36 a.m.

    Valkryia Chronicles is a great game, I hope it doesn't get lost in the shuffle too much!
  • mrmugen53 - November 13, 2008 7:26 p.m.

    How about adding Geometry Wars: Galaxies to the list? It was the first time Geometry Wars was available outside of the 360, it was at a cheap price point, had multiplayer for the first time, multiple levels with an upgradable drone ship, and has a respectable gamerankings score of 81%. Then it launched one week after Super Mario Galaxy and no one ever knew it existed. The Wii had been starved for games and Sierra shipped it on the coattails of arguably the biggest Wii release up to that point. Ugh.
  • StupidFaceXD - November 12, 2008 10:35 p.m.

    Eh... Not my favorite Top 7, but it's ok.
  • CAPST3R - November 12, 2008 5:56 p.m.

    resistance 2 kicks gears 2's ass. it's been rated higher. and i never liked the first gears. but i loved resistance
  • pdiddy0819 - November 12, 2008 1:30 p.m.

    these games looks awesome...and i will be able to get if for free just for filling out surveys at-
  • MobstahLobstah - November 11, 2008 11:28 p.m.

    Those Air Traffic CHAOS guys MUST have planned that. No one can be that ignorant.
  • jimsondanet - November 11, 2008 10:30 a.m.

    poor okami i think the word is spreading tho ...slowly and hey, look at all the flops that got a sequal 10 years later amaterasu will live again!
  • TrIp13G - November 11, 2008 2:57 a.m.

    Poor Curse of Darkness. I never played it much, but the people in my CV union at GS opine over it every chance they get.
  • AMayer - November 10, 2008 11:59 p.m.

    Well, "purpleshirt", There is a chance that all of those games are going to do well and you can't predict the future. Good article.
  • garnsr - November 10, 2008 8:26 p.m.

    I've actually played quite a few of these games. The big releases aren't always the most fun, and you can get lots of these cheap after a few months, while the big games still cost full price.
  • CoD_22 - December 3, 2008 6:53 p.m.

    theyve missed the worst possible one! nintendo released the gameboy micro AFTER the ds! idiots! did they really think they could sell a gba in miniture rather than a dual screen touch screen thing?
  • jackf-11 - November 13, 2008 11:04 p.m.

    Sad PS3 fanboys, you only didn't enjoy Gears because you didn't want to. But I figured it out, the Japanese were behind 9/11, even though they have no army other than ours.
  • Smiffy99 - November 13, 2008 12:42 a.m.

    Man, for me, the worst release date was Halo 3...right on the day an aqquaintance had a volleyball game. UNTIL FIVE O' FREAKIN' CLOCK!
  • J1mMy94 - November 12, 2008 5:52 p.m.

    i agree with Eo1 spy. ive been waiting for resistance 2 for ages and they release it about a month ahead in the US hardly fair:(
  • solidsnake_5552000 - November 12, 2008 2:32 a.m.

    Oh my poor dreamcast!! This great console didn't deserve that fate.
  • Spike_the_Dogg - November 12, 2008 12:47 a.m.

    Agreed, Okami is the best game in a looong time. Me. Want. Sequel. NOW!!
  • Corsair89 - November 11, 2008 11:55 p.m.

    Okami is one of the greatest games I've ever played. I want a freaking sequel. I've been talking about how great it is when ever I get the chance.

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