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Some games can never catch a break. With the games industry being generally vocal about upcoming releases, the hype that usually surrounds big games can often backfire and create a negative response that plagues games even before their release. Whether it’s poor marketing, a miss-guided release time or any other problem, some games seem doomed for the start. Here’s a top ten of the games that were able to overcome such adversities. The little trains that could, if you will.
10. Beyond Good and Evil
A slightly off-kilter premise, a very poor attempt at marketing on Ubisoft’s part and a poorly timed release amongst a plethora of big name titles during the holiday season of 2003, Beyond Good and Evil serves as an example of how not to market a game. An initially poor reception at E3 2002 also forced the developers to redesign a vast portion of the game. Despite these setbacks and issues, Beyond Good and Evil went on to receive inspired critical success, even if its sales were underwhelming. The recent release of an HD remake and the ever present, if elusive, news on a sequel shows the impact that good reviews and cult status can have on a series’ marketability.
9. Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2 stands as one of the few times Valve were seen as making a mistake with their design direction. Having only been on shelves for a year, the PC giant intended to top their zombie slaying co-op shooter with a new sequel. The fear of a split in online communities between the two titles in the vein of Counter-Strike 1.5 and Counter-Strike Source, coupled with a concern that the title would not improve enough over the original lead to large groups of fans staging a boycott of the game. Coverage of the boycotts kept growing prior to the game’s release, culminating in tens of thousands of member joining the Steam group. Then it all just started losing Steam (if you’ll forgive the pun.) Valve flew two of the boycott leaders over to play L4D2, by which they were “impressed.” Valve’s claims that they would continue to support the original game with new content also pacified the resistance somewhat, until the boycott dissipated entirely. It all ended happily with L4D2 gaining a positive reception, though I’m personally still of the inclination that the first one is superior. Different strokes I suppose.
It was around 1999 that I started to notice something. The now undeniable fact that licensed games blow really hard. When one of my favourite comic book heroes, the amazing Spiderman, was then slated for an upcoming PS1 game, I just new I was going to be disappointed. Though it has aged badly, I was pleasantly surprised by the game Neversoft came out with in 2000. It managed to do one of the many things that most comic book games utterly fail to do by being entertaining, deep and giving players access to Spidey’s classic powers. It went on to spawn a direct sequel which, though all too similar, was still pretty enjoyable. It soon also paved the way for heightened interest in the games that tied in with the recent movie trilogy that, aside from the absolutely appalling Spiderman 3, were all fairly well received. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover.