Biggest Gaming Disappointments of 2010

2010 was a good year.  We saw tons of innovative games, some solid entries in existing franchises, and (as usual) the slow, plodding approximation of “progress” that Koei and Natsume put into their Warriors and Harvest Moon / Rune Factory franchises.  It may not have been a great year, but then I’m not much interested in the mainstream games so much – if I’m disappointed, it’s just that the obscure games I found  (or the few mainstream ones I played) weren’t quite as good as I’d hoped, not that the gaming industry has suffered some setback it will never recover from.  Here are a few highlights.

  • Final Fantasy XIII

I’m sure lots of people will disagree with this based on the battle system being innovative.  It is.  Too bad you have to get through 40 hours of Press X ELSE Press Forward, Lightning’s “I’m too cool to have my backstory explained”, Hope’s “I’m too pathetic to stab the most deserving character in the game”, Snowe’s “I’m too thick to realize that everything I try has the opposite effect”… all of the stories are explicitly written to be as heart-wrenching, obvious, (and interconnected, where feasible in the slightest) as possible – this isn’t “Hey, I came up with a good story, let’s share”, it’s “You know, this would be more sad if X died”.  It’s a set of coincidences that makes Tintin’s continued survival look ordinary.  It’s not a good story, it’s just plain manipulative – it’s a soap opera.  Paradigm Shifting is sort of fun, but it wasn’t enough to make me continue playing the game.

Seriously.  I rag on FFXII because of Vaan alone.  Every single character in FFXIII except Sazh is worse than Vaan.

  • Nintendo of America being Nintendo of America

Xenoblade, Mother games, Last Window, Another Code R, taking forever with DQ9… The DS and Wii have a lot of hits, but Nintendo of America refuses to bring some of the more interesting ones over.  Granted – they’re not solely responsible for the lack of Xenoblade in our American diets, but they’re acting an awful lot like Sony of America did when Working Designs was on its last legs.  Reggie has supposedly admitted to being a Dragon Quest IX nut; I don’t pretend to believe he’s solely responsible for these games not making it over, but surely he could push for interesting games a little more?

  • Dead Franchises, especially JRPGs

Suikoden has been in hibernation since the slow-starting Tierkreis and the producer of the Wild ARMs games quit Media.Vision (relegating its releases to the likes of the ho-hum Wizard of Oz RPG).  That leaves two of the longest, most consistently good RPG franchises more or less dead in the water.  Cing is apparently on the edge of bankruptcy, making continued Another Code / Hotel Dusk games unlikely at best.  Final Fantasy, of course, hasn’t been good since {n <= X here}.


  1. Klonoa Said,

    March 23, 2011 @ 4:24 am

    I find your opinion fascinating and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I agree with this entire post, specifically the mention of Suikoden, which struck a nerve. The DS (or PSP) seems like the platform where aging franchises go to die. JRPGs are really becoming a dying breed, especially in the US, with these open-world exploration, create-a-character, “multiple” “branching” path RPGs like Fallout being all the rage now. Hopefully FFXIII wasn’t the genre’s death rattle.

  2. niahak Said,

    March 28, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    Recently, I’ve come to realize that Opoona is the best* non-portable JRPG of this generation.

    I’d be cool with that if there were more than a half-dozen games in the running.

    *Disclaimer: I don’t have a 360 and Valkyria Chronicles is not a JRPG.

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