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Once popular games which no one seems to give a shit about


JamesC
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Burnout. This was pretty big at the time, wasn't it? Paradise City was that last one, iirc. Was that PS2 or PS360 generation? Then it got remastered and that was it, as far as I can tell.

 

Knockout Kings / Fight Night seems to have vanished as well. Again, I think ps360 was the last iteration.

 

I would say Tony Hawk's, if it wasn't for the frankly amazing recent remaster.

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51 minutes ago, ScouserInExile said:

Burnout. This was pretty big at the time, wasn't it? Paradise City was that last one, iirc. Was that PS2 or PS360 generation? Then it got remastered and that was it, as far as I can tell.

 

Knockout Kings / Fight Night seems to have vanished as well. Again, I think ps360 was the last iteration.

 

I would say Tony Hawk's, if it wasn't for the frankly amazing recent remaster.

 

Three Fields (set up by former Criterion people) did the Dangerous Driving games, and their awesome spin-off Dangerous Golf (imagine the Crash Junctions, but you hit a golf ball around locations full of destructible objects). Three Fields is about to reveal Wreckreation at Gamescom, so we could be getting a new Burnout...

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4 hours ago, Oh Danny Boy said:


Nintendo should be banned from using anything F-Zero in Smash/Mario Kart until they commit to a new game. It’s been 20yrs! I think Nintendo can scrub it from being part of their stable of franchises now.

Speaking more generally, I’m wondering if the “future sports” racing games have disappeared from modern gaming because, well, they were designed with abstract visuals around technical limitations that no longer exist as such. So they gradually fell out of fashion.

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5 hours ago, Oh Danny Boy said:


Nintendo should be banned from using anything F-Zero in Smash/Mario Kart until they commit to a new game. It’s been 20yrs! I think Nintendo can scrub it from being part of their stable of franchises now.


lol, it can seem like a big tease every time they reference it. I suppose these days games like Fast RMX on Switch fill that void.

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2D and 3D fighters. Fighters in general. We’re once a big thing and a good fighter was a system seller up to about the 360/PS3 era where they fall out of relevance and most fighting franchises disappeared. They’ve had a mini renaissance due to being popular with a certain type of gamer but they are pretty much niche and will never be mainstream again. 

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2 hours ago, Oh Danny Boy said:

2D and 3D fighters. Fighters in general. We’re once a big thing and a good fighter was a system seller up to about the 360/PS3 era where they fall out of relevance and most fighting franchises disappeared. They’ve had a mini renaissance due to being popular with a certain type of gamer but they are pretty much niche and will never be mainstream again. 

 

A few reasons for this:

 

In the early '90s, Street Fighter 2 (and to a lesser extent Mortal Kombat) gave the genre several years at an abnormally high level of popularity/prominence (as a proportion of the games industry as a whole) which it was never likely to reach again.

 

Then with the move to 3D, I don't know the extent to which early 3D fighting games really were system sellers, but for enthusiasts following news about next gen consoles' graphical power, they were certainly prominent in the pre-release hype for the PS, Saturn, and Dreamcast. (The DC's early codename - Dural - was even named after a VF character!) VF/Tekken showcased how close we were to "arcade perfect", and VF3/Soul Calibur showed off the generational graphical leap.

 

(Also, anecdotally, everyone I knew with a GameCube had a copy of Smash Bros Melee.)

 

But after that, fighting games stopped being the genre of choice for showing off the latest graphics. Fighting games primarily showed off characters (eye movements! Individual fingers! Mo-capped martial arts!), but FPSs showed off environments. The focus of format comparisons stopped being between console and arcade, and switched to the gap between console and PC.

 

 

 

I don't think it's true that "most fighting franchises disappeared" around the 360/PS3 era. That was the generation when both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat made their big comebacks. Since then, admittedly Dead or Alive and Killer Instinct have pretty much gone, and VF hasn't had any new numbered entries in about 15 years. But there are more series that are still going strong with regular new titles: Street Fighter, KOF, Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, Smash Bros, Tekken. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Soul Calibur 7 and Injustice 3 within the next few years.

 

As for new fighting series: judging by what the YouTube algorithm has been feeding me, MultiVersus seems to have had a lot of promotion recently!

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They kinda died off between CvS2 (2001) and SF4 (2008).

 

During that period all Capcom had for us was Capcom Fighting Jam (remember that utter shite!? lol) and Tatsunoku vs. Capcom (both surprisingly excellent and accessible).

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I could name loads but this reminds me of Chris Crawford (he who used to be famous for games like Balance of Power) and his early essay A Grain of Sand, A Gust of Wind.

 

http://www.erasmatazz.com/library/the-journal-of-computer/jcgd-volume-5/volume-5-number-3-february.html

 

Quote

A Grain of Sand, A Gust of Wind
Chris Crawford

Leo Christopherson was one of the earliest computer game designers. He published Android Nim. in late 1978. In terms of depth and substance, Leo’s game was nothing to write home about: just plain old nim. But its graphics were sensational. Leo turned the stacks sideways and replaced the static pieces with animated robots. Their little heads constantly moved back and forth, the eyes wandered, and they shifted stance. This was genuine animation on a TRS-80!

The reviewers went wild. This game was fabulous, it was magnificent, it was glorious. Leo basked in the approbation of the world. He was honored and admired.

And then, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and Leo Christopherson was gone. He designed one or two more games, but they were straightforward repeats of Android Nim.. People lost interest in his cute little animations. I never heard anything more of Leo Christopherson.

Bob Bishop was one of the first Apple II programmers. He worked at Apple from the beginning, and he became one of the pioneers of graphics techniques on that machine. Bob used games to show off his graphics techniques. They weren’t very impressive in terms of gameplay, but boy were they snazzy in the graphics department. Bob’s games did things that nobody had ever seen before.

Apple II owners loved his stuff. They bought everything he produced. They loved him. The magazines and reviewers gushed with praise. Awards showered down upon him. Bob Bishop was the darling of the Apple II community. And he was rich, too.

And then, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and Bob Bishop was gone. His games were never much fun, and there were other games that offered more substance. Other people were learning some of Bob’s tricks. His work no longer had the same sizzle. Bob drifted away. I’ve heard tell that Bob is somewhere near Santa Cruz these days; I don’t know what he’s doing.

Nasir Gebelli picked up where Bob Bishop left off. Nasir developed advanced graphics techniques for the Apple II. He was fast and prolific, grinding out game after game on a time scale of months. An entire publisher, Sirius Software, was founded on Nasir’s output. And what output it was! Nasir had developed dozens of tricks for squeezing the fastest animations out of the Apple. His games boasted fast, full-screen animations that nobody else could match. He raked in the royalties; wealth was his in a matter of months. His games were on every store shelf; they were reviewed in glowing terms in every magazine. Nasir Gebelli was a one-man gold mine. A game need merely have the simple tag line “By Nasir” to be assured of massive sales figures.

And then, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and Nasir Gebelli was gone. Sometime around 1983 or 1984, in the general collapse of the games industry and the specific collapse of Sirius software, Nasir Gebelli disappeared from the scene. I don’t know where he is now.

Greg Christenson was a high school student when he burst upon the scene. Bright, shy, and quiet, Greg put together just one game: Caverns of Mars for the Atari. It was a simple vertical scrolling game, not too different from Defender.  After all, Greg was only a high school student, new to programming, and using the Atari Assembler/Editor cartridge as his development tool. He really didn’t know much about game design per se. He simply started with Defender, made it vertical, and then added interesting bits and pieces until he had a game.

But the graphics were fantastic. It used many of the graphics capabilities of the Atari, and the result was impressive. Caverns of Mars  sold a zillion copies. Greg earned a ton of money. The press loved him. Here was a high school kid programming a hit game in just 8 weeks. Talk about a Cinderella story! Atari gave him a $25,000 award for the best game published by the Atari Program Exchange. Everybody wondered excitedly what this wunderkind would accomplish in coming years.

But then, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and Greg Christenson was gone. I don’t know what ever became of Greg. He just disappeared.

Jon Harris was another wunderkind. I remember he came to one of my training seminars for the Atari computers in 1981; he didn’t make much of an impression on me. But a year later, Jon unloaded Jawbreakers  on the world. It was a Pac-Man  clone, pure and simple. Jawbreakers was a beautiful game, better than the Pac-Man that Atari itself produced. It had lovely music, beautiful animations, great sound effects — everything about this game was excellent. Of course, the design itself was a complete nothingburger — it was just plain old Pac-Man with a few minor embellishments. But who cared when the graphics were so great?

Jawbreakers  generated quite a legal row between Atari and Sierra. The legal battle dragged on for some months, ending in a pyrrhic victory for Sierra. Jon wrote another game for Sierra, I believe. He was celebrated in Steven Levy’s book Hackers, and there were of course the adulation and favorable reviews that go with creating a hit game. 

But then, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and Jon Harris was gone. I’ve been told that he went to work for an advertising company, but that was years ago.

Jonathan Gay and Mark Stephen Pierce were a hot pair. Together, they created Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle, two of the hottest Macintosh games ever created. The games could not boast much in the way of creativity: they were, after all, straightforward running, jumping, climbing games. But they bristled with animations and digitized sounds at a time when such things were considered sinfully luxurious. And Macintosh players loved these two games. They bought a huge number of copies, dumping bushels of money all over Silicon Beach Software.  The games collected every award around. 

But now, a grain of sand, a gust of wind, and nothing is to be heard from Jonathan Gay and Mark Stephen Pierce.  I don’t know where they are now or what they’re doing.

There are an uncountable number of grains of sand. The wind will never stop blowing. There are still those in our industry who follow the paths taken by these earlier stars. Some of them even now bask in acclaim and wealth. Their time will come.   

[My thanks go to the unknown orator from whom I stole the lovely phrase used in the title. Indeed the structure of this essay is modelled upon his speech.]

 

Of course we now know what happened to some of these early pioneers. Nasir Gebelli for instance disappeared from the Apple 2 scene because he'd moved over to the Japanese scene to help fledgling company Squaresoft with games like 3-D WorldRunner, Rad Racer and a little game known as Final Fantasy.

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With fighters, I feel like games such as Tekken 3 and Street Fighter IV blew up with the "masses" but the genre kind of lost momentum afterwards. Obviously if you follow the genre you know that there's a lot to get excited about every month, and as @Nick R mentioned a lot of franchises are seeing continuous support... but there was a time when it was one of the most popular forms of competitive play on consoles in households (as opposed to today's FPS culture.)

 

Also, there's the whole netcode side of things. Anyone watching Evo knows that the increasing support for rollback was one of the best parts of the event, but go back and imagine you're someone who doesn't know about fighting game netcode and you pick up one of the games in its pre-rollback form, find that it plays like shit online and trade it in after getting bored of arcade mode. (I have hopes for Project L, but it probably needs a larger audience.)

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These aren't in any way retro, but here are two games that came to prominence in the last decade, but which I almost never hear talked about online because they've been overtaken by even more popular ones.

 

The first one is Dota 2. It's far from dead - it still has a healthy player count - but personally, I never see it mentioned. In contrast, I know that League of Legends got the lavishly animated character shorts and spin-off TV series (Arcane), and it prompts strong internet opinions about character design and changes to the Lore.

 

(Rllmuk is the odd one out here: our Dota 2 thread dropped off after about 2015, but we barely even have a League of Legends thread at all! Unless we used to have a more active one but it was started by someone who deleted everything and left?)

 

 

 

The other one is PUBG. A few years ago, it seemed like it was the biggest thing around - then attention switched to Fortnite extremely quickly. Again, PUBG is still popular (though the Steam version has dropped a lot since its 2018 peak), but I can only assume it's quietly popular; its rare that news about it makes it outside its fanbase and info wider gaming news. In contrast, Fortnite has had a few events that crossed over into more general pop culture that I couldn't avoid hearing about, like the Rise of Skywalker broadcast, other movie tie-ins, and the Carlton Dance thing.

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14 hours ago, Nick R said:

 

A few reasons for this:

 

In the early '90s, Street Fighter 2 (and to a lesser extent Mortal Kombat) gave the genre several years at an abnormally high level of popularity/prominence (as a proportion of the games industry as a whole) which it was never likely to reach again.

 

Then with the move to 3D, I don't know the extent to which early 3D fighting games really were system sellers, but for enthusiasts following news about next gen consoles' graphical power, they were certainly prominent in the pre-release hype for the PS, Saturn, and Dreamcast. (The DC's early codename - Dural - was even named after a VF character!) VF/Tekken showcased how close we were to "arcade perfect", and VF3/Soul Calibur showed off the generational graphical leap.

 

(Also, anecdotally, everyone I knew with a GameCube had a copy of Smash Bros Melee.)

 

But after that, fighting games stopped being the genre of choice for showing off the latest graphics. Fighting games primarily showed off characters (eye movements! Individual fingers! Mo-capped martial arts!), but FPSs showed off environments. The focus of format comparisons stopped being between console and arcade, and switched to the gap between console and PC.

 

 

 

I don't think it's true that "most fighting franchises disappeared" around the 360/PS3 era. That was the generation when both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat made their big comebacks. Since then, admittedly Dead or Alive and Killer Instinct have pretty much gone, and VF hasn't had any new numbered entries in about 15 years. But there are more series that are still going strong with regular new titles: Street Fighter, KOF, Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, Smash Bros, Tekken. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Soul Calibur 7 and Injustice 3 within the next few years.

 

As for new fighting series: judging by what the YouTube algorithm has been feeding me, MultiVersus seems to have had a lot of promotion recently!


Definitely agree about fighting games no longer being used as graphical showcases for new systems being partly responsible for their loss of relevance, that certainly been the case since DOA 4 on the 360. 
 

Most fighting games these days tend to be aimed at this competitive gaming bandwagon which to achieve they become quite po-faced and less accessible to those wanting to casually dip in. And is still a niche market. Long gone are the days of SNK,  Capcom, Namco, Sega etc being home to multiple fighting franchises. 
 

Since Mortal Kombat rediscovered its mojo I’d say that it’s been the most fun, accessible and closest to a big casual fighting franchise there currently is. 

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On 12/08/2022 at 01:28, pastry said:

I guess Desert Strike and its sequels – though they never held great appeal to me, they were massive but I think died off in the late 90s with gen 5. what was the last one, Nuclear Strike?

 

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Bransfield has just done a video on the rise and fall of the Strike series.

 

Does Mirror's Edge count? I recall some friends going crazy about the first one, only to complain that the second game had ruined the entire experience for them (not sure why). It seems perfect for a VR release. 

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On 13/08/2022 at 13:27, ScouserInExile said:

Burnout. This was pretty big at the time, wasn't it? Paradise City was that last one, iirc. Was that PS2 or PS360 generation? Then it got remastered and that was it, as far as I can tell.

 

Knockout Kings / Fight Night seems to have vanished as well. Again, I think ps360 was the last iteration.

 

I would say Tony Hawk's, if it wasn't for the frankly amazing recent remaster.

They remastered the wrong one!

Paradise was too open world to the point the races were lonely and boring. 

Give me Takedown or Revenge any day of the week. 

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I will check on the Ultima games. I  bought 6 naively thinking it was a point and click tumble affair then skipped 7 and bought 8. Both parts of 7 were so highly praised and the underworld spin-offs seemed so far ahead of their time but these days hardly a mention anywhere. 

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47 minutes ago, bignige said:

They remastered the wrong one!

Paradise was too open world to the point the races were lonely and boring. 

Give me Takedown or Revenge any day of the week. 

 

Not a remaster, but Revenge is compatible with the Xbone and Series, and still plays really well.

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4 hours ago, electricmastro said:

Do people still care about Theme Park? I imagine it could draw some interest because of RollerCoaster Tycoon, though Theme Park is probably more business-oriented.

 

O8lUeRI.jpg

It's maybe more niche now but games like Parkitect and Planet Coaster, whilst based on Rollercoaster Tycoon, still keep the theme park management genre alive.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Very minor example, and possibly outside the scope of the thread, but… Remember Mega-lo-Mania on the Amiga? Got glowing reviews in all the Amiga publications, and it provided a more accessible post-Populous form of that genre, with early glimpses of what we’d now call an RTS game. But barely a year later, it was almost completely forgotten about. Did it sell badly? Did games journalists later reflect on its shallow gameplay? It’s barely spoken of as a footnote now, even as the game where Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder got their graphical style from.

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I'm not really up on the Amiga scene but the Megadrive port got similarly glowing reviews and, judging by the number of copies knocking about, I'm sure it sold pretty well.

It's not a title I own, as it's not a genre I'm really into, but I wouldn't mind picking it up. Especially as it's known as being pretty accessible.

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58 minutes ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Very minor example, and possibly outside the scope of the thread, but… Remember Mega-lo-Mania on the Amiga?

 

I can't believe you missed a chance to post this. From the promotional album release ffs :lol: Someone believed in this product anyway. 

 

 

I'm not convinced that's the single version I remember being released but I keep getting Muse in my results and fuck sifting through that.

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I love Mega-lo-Mania. I was still playing games on my Amiga in to the late 90s (even after getting a decent PC) and it was one of my favourite games. I still periodically dust off my Megadrive cartridge of it and have a bash. I think it was just eclipsed by a deluge of very user friendly strategy games a couple of years after its release. Settlers, Cannon Fodder, Syndicate, Dune 2... (all released in 1993...!) And then of course Dune 2 becomes the blueprint for Command & Conquer ushering in the dual golden / dark age of countless high budget, high quality real time strategy games but anything that wasn't built to the C&C / Warcraft 2 trad RTS template was instantly dismissed as not worth bothering with (RIP Z). Something which I think only started to change in the late 00s with Company of Heroes and that other stripped back modern warfare RTS that I can never remember the name of.

 

The core concept of Mega-lo-Mania is something that I think is worth dusting off and revisiting. With the current indie scene I think the right developer and the right vision of what to do with it could produce something really special.

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3 hours ago, Yasawas said:

 

I can't believe you missed a chance to post this. From the promotional album release ffs :lol: Someone believed in this product anyway. 

 

 

I'm not convinced that's the single version I remember being released but I keep getting Muse in my results and fuck sifting through that.

Blimey! Had no idea that even existed.

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5 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Very minor example, and possibly outside the scope of the thread, but… Remember Mega-lo-Mania on the Amiga? Got glowing reviews in all the Amiga publications, and it provided a more accessible post-Populous form of that genre, with early glimpses of what we’d now call an RTS game. But barely a year later, it was almost completely forgotten about. Did it sell badly? Did games journalists later reflect on its shallow gameplay? It’s barely spoken of as a footnote now, even as the game where Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder got their graphical style from.

 

You did see @strider's topic for the latest Retro Gamer, did't you?

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