Top Ten Failed Video Game Reboots

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Sometimes a game character goes away. Every now and then they come back.

Sometimes a game character comes back. Every now and then it doesn’t go as planned.

While this list could almost entirely be populated by Sonic the Hedgehog reboots, I’ll limit it to just one reboot per franchise. Regardless, having to place a limit on how many times a franchise can be on a “Top Ten Failed Video Game Reboots” list should tell you something.

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10. Rocket Knight

I was very hesitant to put this one on the list, so I decided to put it at the very bottom (top?) to avoid a huge amount of backlash. Rocket Knight wasn’t a bad game by any means, but it wasn’t that great either. Sparkster was a radical rodent on the original Sega Genesis (and he wasn’t Sonic!), but this recent XBLA, PSN, and Steam release just wasn’t that memorable. Even if it were successful, I wouldn’t imagine it staying around for much longer. But as it is, the game came out well after any other release, and I feel it qualifies as a reboot. Sorry, Sparkster.

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9. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Nuts & Bolts apparently started off as Banjo-Kazooie 3 for the N64 before Rare was bought by Microsoft. Long story shot, some eight years after Banjo-Tooie was released, we were given this game. Nothing at all like previous games, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts would have likely been better if it was just a racer without the titular bear and bird combo. I remember being pretty excited that Banjo and Kazooie were finally making a comback, but like many gamers I was left with a lot of confusion and sadness when this came out.

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8. Altered Beast (PS2)

This reboot flew under my radar until a few years ago. Taking the beloved classic, and one of the only game I can recall my eldest brother actually talk about, and turning it into a present-day, gory, bland action game, this new “Beast” doesn’t look like the original. Perhaps fortunately this game was never even releases stateside. Something I recall from the original game was the omnipresent voice narrating everytime you “Power Up”. Maybe if this game had that cheesy line it’d be better. When it released in 2005 it would have went up against powerhouses like God of War and Devil May Cry.

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7. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Late in the legacy of Lara Croft came The Angel of Darkness. I am admittedly not a Tomb Raider fan, but when I think of the series I think of exploration, puzzles, and some intense action sequences. With Angel of Darkness they tried to take the heroine in a new direction and focused on that action bit, but forget to keep in the stuff that made Tomb Raider… Tomb Raider. The focused seemed to shift to more action-based or stealth gameplay, and lost that sort of exploration and puzzle aspect. Thankfully it has since come back, and is left as a mar on an otherwise decent report card.

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6. ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth

Having played all three of these games to some degree sadly, I can safely say only the first game is worth your time. A lot of people liked ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, but seeing as it was nothing like the original game which I loved, I was not one of those people. ToeJam & Earl III is kind of in that same boat, bringing the funkiest aliens into the new age with cliche “hip” personalities and clothing options. One look at the cover and you’ll see what I mean. Replacing what made the original game(s) unique and charming isn’t a good idea. Coincidentally, that theme will come up a lot on this list.

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5. Splatterhouse

If you recall my scariest games list, you’ll remember I have fond memories of the Splatterhouse series. The gore, the horrendous setting, the challenging but kind of rewarding gameplay, and hitting enemies with 2×4’s made the game a classic (albeit a controversial one). This reboot lays on the blood thick, but doesn’t have the personality of the older games. It’s the same storyline, but the super beefed up hero Rick isn’t as fun to play when he’s all powerful and can barely be stopped. The more bits a game has, the easier it becomes apparently. Another cool concept remade but missing its soul.

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4. Duke Nukem Forever

I’m pretty positive this game just came out as a joke. Gearbox knew it wasn’t going to be a great game, a commercial success, or anything other than a disjointed shooter with an aging icon. Despite all this, Duke Nukem Forever did finally see a release, and it was the most forgettable re-launch I can recall. Only a few weeks after this game’s release, I picked up a brand new copy for just $5. That should tell you something too. Sorry Duke.

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3. Bomberman: Act Zero

There is nothing, nothing redeeming about this game. Literally taking everything about Bomberman and throwing it away should be a crime. Bomberman isn’t a dark, lifeless robot. Nor is he in some sort of prison game fighting for his freedom. Hell, the Bomberman we all know and love has freaking adventures all Super Mario style! So why is his name even attached to this game? I’m absolutely positive no one buying this game knew who or what “Bomberman” was before picking it up. Because if they did they would have instantly know this wasn’t a Bomberman game and simply laughed and moved on.

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2. Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Ugh… Such a beloved series as Golden Axe deserved a hell of a lot better than this. Beast Rider took what was one cool concept from the original game (Note: just one “Cool Concept”, not even the whole gameplay idea or storyline. Just a concept) and somehow managed to make an entire game about that concept. Unfortunately the transition was awful, leaving Beast Rider as a terrible example of a game reboot. What’s worse to think though, is how simple it would have been to just make a halfway decent game with a few characters beating up bad guys in the middle ages kind of God of War style. That would have been without a doubt a mediocre and forgotten game, but it wouldn’t have gone down in infamy such as this.

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1. Sonic the Hedgehog

I mean honestly, who else could have been on top(bottom?) of this list? There have been a few attempts at rebooting the Sonic franchise and most of them were met with average reviews and/or sales. However, none was as bad or infamous as the bug-riddled, plainly named Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I remember talking to my younger cousin about the game shortly after it came out, and even he knew it was an awful game. Like other games in the list, but moreso with the Sonic franchise, the newer games simply stray to far from what makes Sonic fun. Maybe Sega needs to take the Capcom approach and make a Sonic 5 (Because Sonic 4 is already out and also kind of sucks) with retro style 16-bit graphics and go that route. Honestly that’s probably the only avenue that hasn’t been explored yet, and just like every other Sonic game that gets announced, I’ll be vaguely interested in that before I remember the Blue Blur’s track record and laugh it off.

Any games that I missed? While forming the list, it was kind of difficult to differentiate between strictly “Reboot” and “Sequel”. I figured more than 3 years between entries, or dramatic differences between games was enough to clarify the new title a reboot. Maybe a worst sequels list should follow. Hmmm…

Which games would be in your worst reboots list? I want to know so I can stay as far away from them as possible 😀


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I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

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  1. Max

    I’m really happy Tomb Raider was able to comeback from “Angel of Darkness” I very much enjoyed the reboot that was released 2013.

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