5 Franchises Where You Wonder 'What Happened'?

By Nelson on April 5, 2010, 7:25PM EDT

Gaming has become an increasingly important section of entertainment over the last few decades and as such there have been a vast amount of franchises that have flourished over time. Many of these have retained the elements that made them special to gamers while continuing to push forward and it's for this reason that they've stayed at the top of gamer wish lists. This isn't the case for all franchises though.

No, while some franchises have continued their legacy, others have seen their legacy disappear into thin air and some have even suffered desperate attempts to rekindle a once vividly burning flame. Below are five franchises which have suffered such a fate - going from hero to zero for some reason and causing gamers to wonder "What Happened?"

Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer has amassed a huge following throughout the years and it's been one of the main drivers behind making the real time strategy genre what it is today. Since the original was released back in 1995 there have been countless releases and expansions. However, the latest release, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, has really left a lot of players disillusioned. Many agree that it's not one of the worst games of all time, but the developers changed things very drastically and changed a lot of what made Command & Conquer live up to its namesake. Considering the game was such an important addition, with it being the end of Kane's story, many gamers were just left asking the question - why?

Innovation is key in this industry and not releasing identical content over and over isn't by any means a bad strategy. However, when a series develops connections that players come to expect every time and the formula is turned upside down, the game just simply loses its roots. The only thing that really connected it to anything from the past was the name, and the obligatory references. This is why Command & Conquer 4 made it onto this list, because it's impossible to not think "What Happened?" Gamers are also probably wondering what's going to happen with the next installment in the series; is it going to be similar or has the series been irreparably harmed by this? Probably not, but who knows.

Spyro The Dragon

Spyro essentially paved the way for the development of one of the most well known platformers to date - Ratchet & Clank. Insomniac Games were originally responsible for the creation of Spyro on the PlayStation and it has to be said that the first three games released were rather outstanding. However, shortly after Insomniac stop producing the games and the licence was sold off, the games became very stale and the quality dramatically declined.

With every new generation, the games have seemingly got worse and now the only thing that really remains good about the games is that Elijah Wood is still voicing Spyro. The direction of the newest Spyro games, starting from The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning, have really been trying to rekindle Spyro and take him back to his former glory. However, the latest title, Dawn of the Dragon, has not managed to dispel the stigma that Spyro has slipped into mediocrity. It's a shame and here's hoping that they'll manage to make a game in the future that's actually good.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Once upon a time, Sonic was a video game character that could do no wrong. After countless adventures on Sega's platforms, the only way was up"¦ until Sonic 3D happened. It really killed the energy of the game, as instead of traversing through colourful and lively levels, Sonic now went through levels that had more in common with Marble Madness. Things have gone from bad to worse since then, as Sega were not simply content with updating the gameplay. Instead they further went in the direction of 3D, and while Sonic Adventure wasn't half bad, everything since has been extremely disappointing and bewildering. Treasure hunting, guns, romantic ties with humans, turning into a werewolf "“ all just weird gimmicks coupled with gameplay that had Sonic seemingly locked on a rail system where his movement was frustrating and the camera annoyed in almost every conceivable way.

Branching out into several other genres too it's apparent Sega are trying to make the move Mario did. The only difference between the two is Nintendo nailed Mario games on the head right away. Sure Mario 64 was anything but fluid with its camera control, but since then every release has been modified, adapted and somewhat perfected, with Galaxy simply being astounding. Why hasn't Sonic had this same level of improvement? Only Sonic Team can answer that, but their constant inability to listen to their fanbase really hasn't helped - something which they are at least trying to finally rectify. Instead of flogging a dead horse and trying again to make Sonic work in 3D, they're returning to their roots with Sonic 4 "“ a 2D Sonic game. It should be appeasing to the fans, but it could make or break Sonic as a series "“ one that many wish had already seen the light of day.

Silent Hill

Silent Hill first debuted way back on the PlayStation One and it was without a doubt one of the scariest games to date. Silent Hill 2 came and did the exact same thing by producing even more tormented and twisted imagery to feast on players' minds. However, since then the developers have struggled to recapture what made the initial games so great and the latest releases have not had anywhere near as much impact.

Silent Hill: Homecoming has been met with very mixed reviews, while Shattered Memories at least showed some kind of resurgence. However, with a changed combat system following what Resident Evil 4 introduced to the mix it's clear that Konami were simply planning on upgrading their gameplay in much the same way. However, like Resident Evil 4 this simply removes a lot of the unknown and makes the game a lot less scary. Even Silent Hill 4: The Room, which tried to return more to survival horror just felt lackluster and this is one franchise that's really in need of a significant reboot.

Turok

When it first game out on the N64, Turok was awesome. It involved a muscle bound guy hunting down dinosaurs and to top it off, with the expansion pack the graphics looked fantastic for the time. Turok 2 was even better, and everyone was hoping that the next one would surpass all expectations. Unfortunately they were wrong, and with the subsequent releases of Turok 3 and Turok Evolution, many were left scratching their heads. Not only did the games arguably look inferior, which is quite a feat for Evolution especially, but they had also lost every shred of life.

The latest release, simply named Turok, was released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The developers promised that the series would return to its roots and everyone would be suitably impressed. Unfortunately the game reviewed appalling, and it's unknown whether we'll ever see another game in the Turok franchise again. What was once a very gore driven game about killing dinosaurs, has sadly been lost into a depth of mediocrity.

These are just five though, and some franchises can give them a glimmer of hope. Both Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter had seem very significant lulls, but managed to revive themselves with Mortal Kombat vs DC and Street Fighter IV respectively. Other franchise, like Tomb Raider, are really trying to be revitalized, while franchises like Onimusha will probably never see the light of day again despite initially receiving much acclaim.

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