When a game app isn’t bad because it’s unplayable or impossibly broken but because you can see its potential squandered right in front of your eyes, it can be hard to take. A game that’s broken is easily discarded, but a game that’s disappointingly incomplete keeps calling you back only to disappoint you repeatedly until you’ve finally had enough. Here are five games that did that to me in 2011.
I don’t even dislike DoubleDragon, really. It’s about as close as you can get to playing the original DoubleDragon on your iPhone, which I guess is cool if you’re not looking for even the slightest hint of a worthwhile gameplay addition. Sure, the environments got a little visual makeover, but so what?
DoubleDragon isn’t short enough to beat in a single sitting but isn’t long enough to last more than a couple of hours, which puts it in a strange position considering you can’t save your progress in the middle of the game. DoubleDragon is a retro app that doesn’t feel nostalgic, it just feels dated.
Playing Mazeus is like playing through a tech demo for a small part of a much larger, more interesting experience. Except the larger experience never comes and you’re left running a ball through a maze over a black background.
There are plenty of interesting Labyrinth style games on the iPhone, so it’s not exactly the lack of a story that feels like wasted potential, but rather it feels like there wasn’t even a hint of thought put into the game that wasn’t maze related. Even offering up a few varied backgrounds would make Mazeus feel more like a complete experience.
Time Crisis 2nd Strike ($1.99)
Let’s make a pact right now to not create any more games on the iPhone where a major gameplay element will involve your entire finger obstructing the screen. Unlike a Fruit Ninja style app where you’re constantly sliding your finger across the screen and therefore not limiting your view, Time Crisis 2nd Strike has you tapping over enemies in over to shoot them.
Great in theory, but tapping an enemy only to inadvertently touch another enemy who suddenly is firing away at you is beyond irritating. There’s simply no great way to recreate the sights in a light gun-oriented game on the iPhone. Plenty of people have criticized SEGA for not putting out a House of the Dead app but I think a quick look at Time Crisis 2nd Strike shows why it’s probably wise to stay away.
Virtua Fighter 2 ($0.99)
Remember when I just praised SEGA for staying away from a genre when they knew better? Well, in Virtua Fighter 2, they took a concept, iPhone fighting games, that could’ve (and has been) executed fairly well before, and essentially messed it up right out of the gate. It’s not a surprise they’d want to bring their storied fighting franchise to the mobile arena, but why Virtua Fighter 2? Why a 2-D SEGA Genesis version in 2011?
The iPhone can handle some pretty tricky visuals these days, and even if Sega would have had to dumb-down a SEGA Saturn version of Virtua Fighter slightly to work on the mobile platform, that would seem preferable to the ugly mess that is Virtua Fighter 2.
Galaga 30th Collection (Free)
The Galaga 30th Collection commemorates an historic achievement in time for one of the most storied games in history not by offering up some cool literature on the making of the game, or some videos with the game’s original developers, or any other information at all. Instead, players get to play the original version of Galaxian, the true, original iteration of Galaga, for free. They can then purchase Galaga or its two subsequent sequels for nominal fees.
Setting aside the amazing bait-and-switch of calling your app Galaga but not actually offering up Galaga to play for free, Galaga 30th Collection doesn’t have the feel of a tribute or celebration at all. If someone in real life celebrated a 30th anniversary of anything else so carelessly, they’d never get to see a 31st anniversary.