Six Games That Don’t Belong In Their Franchise

Six Games That Don’t Belong In Their Franchise

Franchises come with expectations. When you purchase a game in any series, you’re right to assumed it’ll be a sequel, either continuing the story or carrying a similar style of gameplay with just the right amount of innovation. These are games that, for better or worse, didn’t meet those expectations.

In some instances, this was kind of a good thing. But even if it was a good game, games in a series have to engage in expectation management. Probably the biggest tragedy is when a good game just occupied the wrong space. Perhaps a new lead designer used the brand to make that game he always wanted to, but it was just too different to its predecessors.

This is a list dedicated to those games. Can you think of any more? Drop them in the comments below!

Command & Conquer 4

I actually didn’t mind this as a game. If you separated it from the C&C franchise, I would have played and enjoyed it. But one thing is for sure: It wasn’t a Command & Conquer game. This was back in the early days of games borrowing from the MOBA genre, and C&C4 decided to base its multiplayer around 5v5 combat with commanders levelling up throughout the match. The mobile bases and infinite unit queues made people rage against the final game in the series. It was just too different.

Doom 3

Some in the office have disagreed, but I think it’s reasonable to expect a good multiplayer engine when you buy a Doom game. Sure, that statement moreso applies to Quake, but there should at least be some cool deathmatch action in Doom — a lesson it seems they seem to have learned with their upcoming game, as a lot of the marketing is showing that as a priority. Aside from the multiplayer, Doom 3 was more horror-focused than previous games, and the inability to shine a flashlight while shooting seemed silly.

Supreme Commander 2

Screw this game. This was Supreme Commander while under the stewardship of Square Enix, which promptly dumbed down the franchise to its most basic unit hierarchies. The game functioned, and you could make more units than you normally could in an RTS, but the spirit of the game was gone. There was no reason for any TA or SupCom fan to play this game over SupCom: Forged Alliance.

Metroid: Other M

I’ve ranted at length on Kotaku about this game before, so I won’t spend too much time on it. Aside from the gameplay differences, Other M took one of gaming’s strongest heroines and turned her into a submissive weakling who freezes in combat and takes orders from someone who isn’t her superior.


The latest SimCity will be known for its terrible launch and a design that serviced EA over gamers. By design, the game wasn’t in its full form unless you were playing multiplayer with mayors of other cities surrounding you, enabling traffic and trade. Whether this is actually an attempt at innovative design or simply an anti-pirate strategy, we may never know, but put me in the cynical camp. Thankfully, Cities: Skylines picked up the slack on this one.

Age of Empires Online

Get the hell out of my house with this game. Get right out. How dare you taint this once-great franchise with your crappy gamification and microtransactions. How dare you then go on to make Age of Empires: Castle Siege, which is basically a Clash of Clans clone with a thin coat of paint in the form of my childhood memories. Get in the damn bin.

Can you think of any more? I’ve thought for a while on whether or not to include games which have a slightly different title. Take Battlefield Hardline, for example. One could gauge from the title that it’s slightly different to a normal Battlefield. If one did include those games, the floodgates open for others like Age of Mythology, Descent: FreeSpace, Starfox Adventures, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, FIFA Street, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, and many, many more.

It’s hard to sort them, though. There’s a strong argument for Age of Mythology being on the list because of Ensemble’s (at the time) trademark historical accuracy. But then again, someone else could make the argument that Age of Empires 3 belongs on the list more than AoM, because gunpowder fundamentally changes the rock/paper/scissors combat the franchise has always used. In the end, I settled on Age of Empires Online, because seriously, get the hell out of my house with that game.

Have you ever bought a franchise game that just didn’t belong?


  • Actually gameplay-wise I think Other M fits in with the series possibly even greater than the Prime games. Would love to see them make another Metroid with that engine, just so long as the story isn’t shit (Metroid II remake?). Also, no sideways Wii remotes.

    Surely Metroid Prime Pinball would be the oddball of the series 😛 Another one of those would be great too though. Except 3DS doesn’t have a spot for a rumble pak 🙁

    • The problem with Metroid II is it’s so damn linear. It needs significant additions to the map to make is palatable by today’s standards, but yes, this would be one I would love to see remade.

      • After the amazing job they did to the first game with Zero Mission, I’ve been hanging out for them to give II the same treatment. It was awesome to see the Queen Metroid in 3D though, wouldn’t mind getting to see some of the other older creatures in greater detail too.

    • Other M makes me so sad because the gameplay is so much fun in the way that Super Metroid and Fusion were, but the cutscenes are literally unwatchable. Sadly I deleted my data so if I want to play it again I won’t even be allowed to skip them.

      • I can’t force myself to go back and replay the good bits either. It’s such a shame, as the gameplay itself isn’t that bad. 🙁

      • That’s exactly it! Plays just like 2D Metroid, but in 3D. It was so cool to see them pull that off.

        The scene where they killed off Adam would have to be my most unfavourite thing in videogame history. That was just dumb.

        A friend made a comment that the game kind of ended up like a Metroid movie. Not in reference to the “movie mode” that strung all the cutscenes together, but the way it rehashed the whole series and combined a lot of its elements together, the same way they tend to do with videogame movies. It’s almost like the game of a movie that never existed. I like that as a kind of head-canon to justify how the game can exist without interfering with the rest of the series, and goes without undermining the events of Fusion 😛

        • That game is definitely not canon. Also the fact that they brought Adam back at all is awful and the fact that they made him such a totally unlikeable character just undermines the entire impact of his appearance in Fusion.

    • Other M is awesome. Just as good as the Prime series. I’ll never understand why people seem to actively despise it.

      • Because it contradicts so much in the context of the series as a whole. It’s ok as a standalone though.

  • Other M played really well, but story was WTF, it’s like if you made a Mario game and the objective was to kill Princess Peach, the real one not a Bowser doppelganger.

  • Starfox Advetnures. Super Mario Bros 2 for the drastic change to gameplay compared to 1 or 3. MGS5 is VERY different to other MGS games.

    • Starfox Adventures single handedly destroyed my interest in starfox, I’m not excited about the new one coming out, and too this day I rate is as one of the greatest disappointments in gaming history.

    • It is but with a different story. You still get powers through a mysterious substance that’s hinted at as being adam. They link together through the DLC as well.

      • I loved the first two but I just couldn’t play Infinite. It didn’t feel like a Bioshock game. Games can be different and still feel like they belong in the same franchise (like Metroid Prime and Super Metroid) but Infinite just didn’t capture the Bioshock spirit for me.

        • Great game but Yeh they dumbed things down even more than Bioshock did from system shock. No map? Gtfo!

        • I felt that by the end it tied into the first Bioshock really well and explained how both games can be in the same series, despite being completely different stories, settings, characters, and stories. The themes intersected well toward the end and gave a fantastic feeling of being part of something much more massive than we could ever hope to see. It basically opened the series up to be anything the developers want it to be, provided those thematic elements stay.

          Though I’ll admit the combat was weird, the bosses were a chore, and the lack of an inventory system still feels annoying.

    • They should have named it as a new Something Shock. So we could have had System Shock, Bio Shock, then… Reality Shock? Dimension Shock?

      • That would’ve been a great idea! Nonetheless I really like Infinite one of the few games I played from start to finish without other games in my rotation

    • no its very much a bio-shoick game in that it was over hyped and pretty damn lackluster and full of padding with terrible twists that you could see a mile comming just like the first one. If any thing Bio-Shock 2 is the one thats out of place

    • I came here to say that. How can you discuss the most out-of-character addition to a series without talking about the C&C FPS.

      I’d actually argue that C&C: Sole Survivor was more out-of-character for the series. No base, no storyline, no single-player, no collecting resources – just a multiplayer free-for-all with a single unit each.

    • I don’t know about it being that different – it had the same feel to the original C&C for me. A lot of the base buildings were exactly how I imagined them to be in the conversion from isometric RTS to FPS.

    • As long as the AI continued to be rendered utterly helpless by a few sandbag, I’d be happy.

    • C&C3 felt very much like this. New game feel, old game formula. Then… aliens. But it still felt like the spiritual successor to Dawn for me.

      • C&C 3 was a piss obvious attempt of EA to cash in on the success of Starcraft. It was a fairly decent game though. I did prefer RA3’s time travelling 3 faction shennanigans though and felt it was a much more entertaining (if imbalanced =P) game.

        C&C4 however is a travesty to the series and humanity in general…

        • Its possible, what I did love about C&C 3 (aside from nostalgia feels with harvesters and mammoth tanks) was how well they made the control system work for Xbox. I was able to finish it on Hard without ever feeling like it would have been easier with a mouse. Same control system worked on RA3 on Xbox too (which Tim Curry made awesome).

    • I would love HD remakes of the C&C series, Red Alert 1 and 2 as well. The early games were so amazing.

  • I think 3 is the best Doom game. Multiplayer is no concern for me, but I can understand why those who are into it would be disappointed. Not being able to use the flashlight was awesome. It takes two hands to hold and shoot a weapon (well), and the marine presumably didn’t have the time or option or rig his weapons to hold a flashlight

    • Quite right. Given the flashlight was just a standard run of the mill variety, it would likely shatter the first time the gun was fired.

    • Doom 3 is great, just different to the first ones, but they are separated by a gulf in time and technology. I love Doom, hell I even read the Doom books (still have them on my bookshelf), and I am really looking forward to the new Doom.

    • The level design was a step backwards though. The original games had multi-layered levels that required puzzle solving to get through, and Doom 3 was basically just a corridor shooter.

  • I disagree with you on Doom 3. You’re too focused on multiplayer. While Doom was my first (and many others too I’m sure) experience with multiplayer it was never the main reason I played. I don’t know about it being more horror based, the originals had mutilated bodies up on the walls after all. I think it’s just a different approach to horror made possible by new technology.

    • I liked the atmosphere they were going for.
      The originals were about waves of bad guys, but the Hell Knights in 3 were more dramatic since you weren’t seeing half a dozen around every other corner.

      • Actually the disconnect in the number of monsters is more a misremembering of the original Doom games. Doom 1 also didn’t have hordes of monsters, that was something that came more in Doom 2. Since Doom 3 is basically a retelling of Doom 1 I think they have honoured the original by not putting too many monsters in. Although I agree to an extent, they could have had a few more monsters perhaps.

    • Agree on the multiplayer thing. Doom was never a multiplayer experience for me either, it was primarily a single-player game. Quake was id’s big multiplayer thing.

  • I didnt mind SimCity myself. I didnt have any problems at the start, and enjoyed it for what it was. Which wasnt a SimCity game, or if it was, it was SimCity Lite. Give the game a different name, the hate wouldnt anywhere near as much, and teething issues aside (which were many and major for enough), it wasnt the worst city management game out there..

  • You could probably say Kid Icarus: Uprising doesn’t belong in its franchise, with how far a turn it takes from the previous two games.

    However it is totally most excellent, and I guess no different to Metroid Prime vs Metroid really.

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, such an excellent Pirate game that was attempted to be fitted into assassin’s creed.

  • Oh hey how about that Soul Calibur “Judgment” game on Wii? I forget what the deal with that was exactly but it looked pretty bad.

    Then there’s all those “totally not actually Castlevania” games too 😛

  • X-COM could go on the list but I couldn’t help but feel it was X-COM: interceptor that was the then nail in the coffin for the series at the time and what sullied the X-COM name.
    UFO:Enemy unknown and X-COM:terror from the deep were essentially the same games, X-COM:Apocalypse tried new things within the genre (real time movement for instance)…..and then they went and released a flight sim style management game. It felt like such a large departure from the formula of the first 3 games that it was the beginning of the end for the iconic name.
    After that, the X-COM name was abused and just had a long list of games with the label slapped on it in the hopes that it would sell a game based on the name alone. So The bureau could simply be seen as consequence to the name that had already been dragged through the mud by that stage anyway.
    it wasn’t until XCOM: enemy unknown (confusingly a mix of the two alternate names of the first game in the franchise) harked back to the original formula that the name found its feet again.

    • I actually quite enjoyed XCOM: Interceptor, although the limit on the number of bases (never mentioned until you ran into it) was a pain. I agree it didn’t really belong in the franchise, however.

      I’ve heard that the mobile Dungeon Keeper games were pretty bad, crippled by microtransactions.

      There have also been a bunch of Final Fantasy games that had almost nothing to do with the core franchise except for some shared characters and item names.

      However, the non-RPG FF games and XCom Interceptor – and CC: Renegade and a few of the other games in this thread – don’t really count. The distributors made no pretense of these games being part of the “core” franchise and that’s usually made pretty clear. The issue is when a game is represented as belonging to one genre when it actually belongs in another.

  • While it wasn’t exactly a big hit, I’m going to bring up the Call of Juarez franchise. First two were decent cowboy games. Not a Red Dead standard, but better than that old “Gun” game.

    Then came Cartel, what a piece of shit that was. Gunslinger brought it back a little but still very different. That Cartel game though, what the hell.

    Runner up: Syndicate. I really enjoyed the new FPS game (and was a BIG fan of the original and Wars), multiplayer was fantastic if you played with friends and not randoms, but “Syndicate” it was not. Would buy the digital version of Syndicate on 360 right now (80% off this week) if it wasn’t for Australia.

  • The Fallout series is full of this. 3 & 4 are very much their own thing. Even before that, though, we had “Tactics” and “Brotherhood of Steel”.

    I’m not against developers exploring their worlds from different points of view. I just wish they wouldn’t position totally different games as being sequels. Just start with a new subtitle and numbering sequence.

  • just too different to its predecessors

    There was Silent Hill: Book Of Memories, then came Silent Hill: Pachinko

    There was Dragon Age: Origins, then came Dragon Age: That Crap One Nobody Liked

    There was Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then came Deus Ex: Why Would You Make A Sequel On A Phone

    There was Half Life: Episode 2, then came Hello Darkness My Old Friend

    There was Lost Planet 2: Yay Co-op, then came Lost Planet 3: Aww, No More Co-op

    There was Spore, then came Why Isn’t There Another Spore?

  • Supreme Commander 2 was a travesty. It was so small, taking Supreme Commander from the massive maps which take units 10 minutes to cross down to StarCraft sized maps. I did hope that the team would redeem themselves with Planetary Annihilation, but that just felt wrong and not polished in the gameplay department.
    If anyone still wants to play Supreme Commander, get Supreme Command and Supreme Commander Forged alliance on Steam, and then get the “ForgedAllianceForever” client (just google it). There are still multiplayer games going on all the time. The only real problem is that, because of the way it’s multithreading was implemented (it was one of the first games to use more than one core), it actually doesn’t scale very well. You are best off using the newest fastest clock speed you can get rather than one with as many cores as you can find.

    • I didn’t mind Armageddon, was a lot more like the linear first-person shooters of Red Faction 1 and 2 with their fancy destruction. I would like another Guerrilla though, I just went into Armageddon without the open world expectation and it wasn’t bad.

  • Dungeon Keeper Mobile was an atrocity.

    in Dungeon Keeper 2, you could spawn a ton of imps, force them to knock out dozens of rooms while finding you precious metals and gems, all while you summoned memorable monsters, provided them amenities, wrecked heroes via minion possession… and it took about half an hour to an hour to beat most levels. the game was frantic.

    in Dungeon Keeper mobile, you are going to be waiting for about a week before you get your first proper room built – the game doesn’t even give you the usual bliss period you’d usually get in any free to play games, you have about 10-15 minutes of gameplay before you get your first “construction time”, which is four hours.

    any decent Free to Play game at least gives you that trial period, say, like in Clash of Clans, where you’re given just enough resources and levels to keep your energy and currency high enough to actually see most of how the game works before you have ridiculous wait times or have to pay up cash. the times were even low enough with Clash that I played the game free for a few days before the timesinks started to bore me – there was enough to keep ya busy, yanno? playing and replaying the attacks was kind of fun.

    Dungeon Keeper Mobile won’t be interesting for even an hour. you’re not going to build any real rooms, you aren’t going to get any cool monsters, you’re high if you think you’re slaying any heroes, and you CAN’T build a dungeon in any reasonable amount of time. I uninstalled the game from my phone after realizing that digging a tile was honestly going to take four hours, and I could only have two tiles being dug at once – unless, of course, you’re trying to build a straight hallway, in which case only one worker imp can dig at it at a time.

    mind you, this is in a game where every single room needs to be 3×3 tiles in size to even function as a room. your first room will take you roughly 36 hours of wait time at minimum strictly assuming that you are on your phone every four hours to restart the build order. note that this process leaves you with a 3×3 space you can have converted into a room, which, obviously, costs more time and resources.

    long story short, you could likely physically build a dungeon faster than you could in this game…or, you can spend roughly a few hundred USD worth of in-game currency to get enough in-game premium currency to buy your way through maybe four or five complete rooms, which, by the way, is not nearly enough to attract the cool monsters you’ll need to deal with the heroes -and, lucky you, when you get to that point, everything costs WAY more resources and takes WAY more time to get done.

    truly a shame, DK was one of my favorite games as a kid.

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