The Ten Dumbest Ports In Gaming History
Just a few days ago, Sony announced that Epic Mickey 2 would be headed to the PSVita. Epic Mickey 2 struggled mightily at its launch. The mouse powered platformer achieved mediocre sales on the Wii, and dismal sales on the Wii U, X-Box 360, and PS3. Shortly after Epic Mickey 2’s release, its developer, Junction Point, was shut down. It’s unlikely that the Vita version of Epic Mickey 2 will perform well on a console with a small install base, and it’s unlikely that gamers on the fence about the Vita are going to be swayed by the game. In short, this project makes little sense.
In honor of Epic Mickey 2, I’ve decided to compile a list of the dumbest and most pointless ports in gaming history. This list isn’t based on quality of the port itself, some of these games are actually quite decent, but based on how much sense the games made from a business standpoint and how appealing the projects were to gamers. The projects in this list are not good ideas that tragically went wrong. This list is made up of ideas that were bad from the get go.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution on Wii U – Regardless of how good the port is, this is a two year old game that can be had for very little money on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat on Wi i- Made by the same team that would go on to make Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is an amazing and underrated game. The Wii version isn’t bad, but the game was built around Nintendo’s DK Bongos and the experience suffers greatly without them.
Marvel vs Capcom 2 – Why not take a game that demands very precise inputs and put it on a system with no buttons? Sounds like a good idea to me… The game briefly misses this list because its still fun for button mashers.
10. X-Men vs Street Fighter (PS1)
Being a Sega Saturn fan was a bit rough. Saturn had its gems, but those came few and far between. On the bright side though, Saturn owners got an arcade perfect port of X-Men vs Street Fighter (in Japan at least). Playstation gamers got a version of X-Men vs Street Fighter that was stripped of its main selling point.
The selling point of X-men vs Street Fighter was a tag team system that allowed you to pick a combination of mutants and street fighters and switch between them at will. This feature was so popular that it became a standard in many future fighting games and an optional feature in many others. In the Playstation version of the game, the defining feature of X-men vs Street Fighter was taken out. How is X-Men vs Street Fighter as a one on one fighter? Kind of boring.
9. Street Fighter 2 (lots of platforms)
Capcom certainly wasn’t shy about milking Street Fighter 2. We’re all aware of Street Fighter 2’s various arcade versions (Championship, Turbo, Super, Super Turbo), but many people aren’t aware of just how many ports of Street Fighter 2 were made. The game came to virtually every active system of the day regardless of whether or not the system could handle it. Some of these ports were good (like the SNES version), others were limited but surprisingly solid (Game Boy), and others were among the worst games in the history of gaming (ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Dos).
ZX Specturm probably featured the most shamefully bad port of the bunch, but there are so many awful versions of Street Fighter 2 that I couldn’t just pick one. They’ll all have to share in this honor.
8. Dragon’s Lair from Arcade to GBC
Dragon’s Lair was a laser disc game that took use of the technology to create an interactive movie. Players guided Dirk the Daring through a sequence of cliché traps by engaging in a series of quick time events. Dragon Lair’s gameplay was shallow, but the animation was incredible and the novelty of an interactive movie was a huge draw back in the day. Dragon’s Lair has seen a number of ports including one to the Game Boy Color.
The Game Boy Color port of Dragon’s Lair is actually shockingly good. The animated scenes were redone completely on the Game Boy Color. Obviously, the Game Boy Color couldn’t properly mimic the original game, but this was still one of the best looking efforts on the Gameboy color. Someone put a whole lot of time and love into the game, but no matter how much effort you put in you simply could never reproduce Dragon Lair properly on the Game Boy Color’s limited hardware. It’s not like Dragon’s Lair is a hugely profitable franchise, so why waste all that effort on this port? I’m about 90% sure that Dragon’s Lair for the GBC is simply a bar bet that went way too far. It’s hard to imagine that this idea actually came from an actual business proposal.
7. Mortal Kombat From Arcade to SNES
Lets be honest here. Back in the 90’s we played Mortal Kombat for one reason, and one reason only; to see blood squirt out of Kano’s face. The gore from Mortal Kombat is mild by today’s standards, but back then, it was an exciting visual treat. The game eventually made its way from arcades to the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo in two very different forms.
By default, neither the SNES nor the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat featured any blood. However, the Genesis version allowed you to input a code to add the blood back in. The SNES version on the other hand, at Nintendo’s insistence, was completely bloodless. Blood was Mortal Kombat’s main selling point, and without it, the SNES version of Mortal Kombat was nothing but proof that Genesis does what Nintendont.
6. Dead Rising ( Wii)
The Wii suffered from a self fulfilling prophecy when it came to third party support. Third parties would develop poor quality games or games that simply didn’t make sense for the console. When the games didn’t succeed, developers blamed it on the Wii. Such was the case with Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop on the Wii. Dead Rising was a successful game on the Xbox 360. Its selling points were the ability to utilize virtually anything in your surroundings to kill zombies and the sheer number of enemies that appeared on the screen. The Wii simply couldn’t produce as many zombies as the game required, and many items were removed from the game.
To the surprise of no one but Capcom, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop did not sell well. Later, Capcom would cite the game as one of the main reasons for the company cutting off Wii support.
5. Rayman Raving Rabbids ( Xbox 360)
Bad ports between Wii and 360 go both ways. At the Wii’s launch, Rayman Raving Rabbids was a surprise hit which went on to spawn a fairly successful franchise. To capitalize on their success, Ubisoft ported the game over to the Xbox 360. The only problem is that the Xbox 360 didn’t have a suitable substitute for the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. The game controlled well enough, but without the novelty of motion controls Raving Rabbids was a pointless game. Waving a Wii-mote in a circle above your head to throw a virtual cow= fun. Rotating a joystick in a circle =/= fun.
4. Xenosaga I/II (DS)
Xenosaga was a game that was notable for the incredible amount and length of its cutscenes, some of which featured save points in them! Xenosaga was an ambitious game where story and cinematics took precedence over gameplay. For some reason, someone over at Namco Bandai (Nintendo had yet to purchase Monolith) thought that the cinematic experience would translate well to an isometric DS game.
By all accounts, Xenosaga I and II was actually a solid remake, but it was so far from its source material that it was ridiculous. Taking such a cinematic game and cramming it onto a teeny little DS cartridge was just a silly idea. Xenosaga was meant to be seen, not read. Unsurprisingly, the game didn’t make it out of Japan. Namco was stupid enough to make the game in the first place, but not quite stupid enough to waste the effort of translating it into English.
3. Pac-man (Atari 2600)
Pac-man was one of the most successful arcade games in the 80’s and a port to the Atari 2600 was an eagerly anticipated project. Atari boldly anticipated that every Atari owner would purchase Pac Man and that the game would encourage more people to buy the Atari. Things didn’t quite work out the way that Atari intended.
Pac-man was hardly a visual stunner in arcades, but even its modest visuals were beyond what the Atari was capable of. In particular, the Atari couldn’t handle four on screen ghosts at the same time. Accordingly, the game displayed one ghost at a time and alternated between them. The result was an awful flickering effect that rendered the game virtually unplayable. Pacman goes beyond being a bad looking game to being a game that is literally painful to watch. Adding insult to injury, the Pac-man’s famous “wakka wakka wakka” was replaced with the sound of a goose being murdered. Pac-man was not so much a game as it was an assault on the eyes and ears.
Despite its flaws, Pac-man sold very well, but nowhere near as well as Atari anticipated. Atari produced 12 million copies of the game. One copy was made for each active Atari gamer with two million left for gamers who Atari thought would buy an Atari 2600 just to play Pac-Man. Atari was left with millions of unsold cartridges which were far more costly to produce than today’s DVDs and Blurays. Moreover, consumer confidence in Atari was badly damaged once people opened the game and realized how much it sucked. Atari’s relationship with retailers such as Sears was damaged as frustrated gamers returned their copies of Pac-man in droves. Many people assign a great deal of blame for the video game crash of 1983 directly to Pac-man.
2. Mass Effect 3 (Wii U)
While Pac-man was a horrible port on a system that couldn’t handle it, Mass Effect 3 was a very good port on a system that was more than capable of running the game. Mass Effect 3 was very close to its source material, and from my limited time with the game, I really enjoyed the touch pad controls and off screen play. Mass Effect 3 is currently the highest rated retail game on the Wii U. Despite this, it’s nearly impossible to recommend Mass Effect 3: Special Edition to anyone.
By the time Mass Effect 3 was released for the Wii U, the game had been available for about 8 months on rival consoles. Mass Effect 3 could easily be had for 20-30 dollars on the PS3 or Xbox 360. Worse yet, EA released a collection of all three games for the Xbox 360 just weeks before the launch of Mass Effect 3: Special Edition for the Wii U, and for the PS3 a few weeks after. The trilogy edition launched at $40. Hmmmmm… should I buy Mass Effect 3 for $60 or Mass Effect 1,2, and 3 for $40. Decisions, decisions…
So, who was Mass Effect 3 designed for? Uhhhhh, I guess it was for Wii U owners who don’t have an Xbox 360 or a PS3 or a gaming PC, want to play the third game in a trilogy without playing the first two, and don’t care much about missing DLC. Kind of a niche audience.
1. Shenmue II From Dreamcast to Xbox 360
Shenmue was a hugely ambitious project that was, in many ways, far ahead of its time. Shenmue’s large and interactive world is still one of gaming’s most fleshed out environments, and the game’s scope is still grand by today’s standards. The franchise was envisioned as a trilogy, but sadly, the Dreamcast didn’t last long enough for the trilogy to see to its completion. When Sega became a third party developer, they sought a new home to Shenmue. Gamers who supported the Dreamcast in the US sadly didn’t get to play Shenmue II. Instead, the middle part of Ryo’s journey became an Xbox exclusive in the states.
Looking beyond the gamers in the US who were screwed over, the decision to bring Shenmue II to the X-Box was a choice that killed the franchise. Shenmue II was a part of Microsoft’s long and unfruitful efforts to appeal to Eastern tastes. Microsoft had a small following in Japan, and Xbox gamers in the US were the kind who were more interested in shooting aliens in Halo than helping Ryo in his slow paced quest for revenge. Shenmue II didn’t sell on the Xbox and the franchise hasn’t been seen since.
At the time, Sega had a good relationship with Microsoft and bitter feelings towards Sony, who were a main factor in Sega’s downfall. What if Sony and Sega had been able to put their differences aside and Sega had brought Shenmue to the PS2? The PS2 had a huge Japanese audience and a bigger and more diverse following in the US. Considering that Shenmue did pretty well with the Dreamcast’s modest install base, the series could have been a huge success on the PS2. If Sega chose to go the PS2 route, maybe we’d be talking about how awesome the Shenmue trilogy was right now.
As hard as I tried, I’m sure that I missed tons of truly dumb ports that could have been added to this list. Feel free to let me know what you think the dumbest port in gaming history was.