Nintendo has developed some of the greatest video games ever made. The history of the medium is lined with their achievements… and their failures. While they are known for making some incredible games and industry-changing pieces of hardware, they also tend to be distant and not tuned into the needs of their fanbase.
This is an area where Sony and especially the PC gaming marketplace has found their niche, as they know what the fans want and are willing to provide it. Nintendo’s high position in the pantheon of gaming means that they aren’t always looking at what their competitors are doing, which causes them to make mistakes.
It seems that every Nintendo Direct and E3 event gives us brand new reasons to get excited. The product doesn’t always reflect the promise, however, and Nintendo has inadvertently crushed the hopes and dreams of fans on many occasions.
We are here today to look at the Nintendo games that built us up, only to let us down. From the Pokémon games that failed to deliver on their promises, to the worst Zelda game, here are the 15 Nintendo Games That Didn’t Live Up To The Hype.
15. Pokémon Sun & Moon
Pokémon Sun & Moon had a lot of pressure put on them to succeed. This is due to the fact that Pokémon Go had helped bring the franchise back to mainstream popularity.
It is sad to say, but the Alola region failed to live up to the hype. The brand new Pokémon journey through the region turned out to be the most disappointing in series history. The reason for this is due to the linearity of the plot. Every island has a path that runs on a straight line, which is only broken up by cutscenes.
The “Island Trials” were also a huge disappointment, as they barely qualified as minigames. Hau might be the most boring rival in the entire series and should have been scrapped from the story. The Lovecraftian tale of the Ultra Beasts is offset by the fact that the game is set in a region based on Hawaii. How are you supposed to take these monstrous creatures seriously in a world full of bikinis and hula dancing?
14. Star Fox Zero
Nintendo is the most experimental of the big three console manufacturers. This can lead to good things (the Nintendo Wii) and junk (the Virtual Boy). Shigeru Miyamoto has often said that he wouldn’t develop games for a series unless he could come up with something new to do with it, which is the stated reason for why we haven’t had a new F-Zero game.
Innovation purely for its own sake can be a bad thing. This was certainly the case with Star Fox Zero, which forced you to switch between the Wii U’s gamepad and the television screen at a moment’s notice. It kills the momentum of the game and utterly screws up the gameplay. This was the first new Star Fox game in over a decade and it was ruined by an enforced hardware gimmick.
Fans will have to sate themselves with the previously unreleased Star Fox 2 that is coming to the SNES Classic Mini. There is also the possibility that Nintendo will release a version of Star Fox Zero on the Nintendo Switch, with the awful gamepad functionality removed.
13. Wii Music
They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Whoever said that clearly never sat through several minutes of the big wigs at Nintendo pretending to play instruments on Wiimotes.
The runaway success of the Wii allowed Nintendo the opportunity to become more experimental than they ever had been before. Wii Music was one such failed experiment. Nintendo pushed this game hard, which involved a huge showcase at E3 2008. The reviewers were not kind to this game, however, and we have yet to see any sort of sequel.
One of the biggest problems with Wii Music was that there was no competitive element (like in Guitar Hero). The player was just encouraged to mess around with the available tracks. This might be interesting to some people, but the vast majority of gamers were turned off by the game’s lack of focus, and it never found an audience.
12. The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The Legend of Zelda series introduced the idea of mounts in Ocarina of Time. Epona the horse was the first and most beloved of Link’s new mounts. However, Link has since ridden in boats and on the backs of giant birds, kangaroos, dodongos, and even bears.
Spirit Tracks was the second Zelda game on the Nintendo DS. The whole game was based on Link’s latest vehicle, which was an old steam powered train. This focus on the train was the game’s biggest issue, as you now had to spend long periods of time watching a train as it moved on tracks.
While a similar complaint can be made of the boat in The Wind Waker, you could at least move in different directions in this game. The train segments forced you to sit there and watch the Nintendo DS’ ugly 3D version of Hyrule go past you.
The one way in which Spirit Tracks exceeded its predecessor was that you no longer had to go through the Temple of the Ocean King on multiple occasions. This game still managed to screw things up, though, by having lots of boring generic dungeons of its own that you had to go through.
11. Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Game Freak have steadily been releasing remakes of the older Pokémon games alongside their new titles. The most recent of these was Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS, which were remakes of the first Pokémon games on the Game Boy Advance.
The main issues with these games concerns the main storyline. This might be the easiest Pokémon adventure ever, as the vast majority of enemy trainers are weak. What makes this even more frustrating is that they only ever use Pokémon from a small pool that was added in Ruby & Sapphire (like Numel and Zigzagzoon). You will likely steamroll through the entire game without facing a single challenge.
Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire also have the most boring post game of the entire series. Once you complete the brief Delta Episode, you have almost nothing left to do in the game world. This was also true of Pokémon X & Y, but players were willing to overlook it due to the excellent single player journey in the games and the fact that they were games on a brand new generation of hardware.
10. Pilotwings Resort
Nintendo is the undisputed king of the launch title and the pack-in game. This roster includes the like of Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, Tetris, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Wii Sports, and most recently The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
There is one game that won’t be added to Nintendo’s sacred line-up of incredible launch titles. The Nintendo 3DS was first released in 2011 and one of the launch titles was Pilotwings Resort. This was a full price game that costed around $50 for the first year of its release. It quickly became apparent that this price was highway robbery, as the game could be completed in under seven hours.
Pilotwings Resort was actually a fun game, but it was bereft of content. It should have been a free pack-in game rather than a full price release. Anyone who bought a 3DS at launch was far better off buying Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition or Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars instead.
9. Tomodachi Life
Tomodachi Life was a game that many assumed would never leave Japan. It appeared to be a bizarre combination of The Sims and the Miis from the Nintendo Wii/3DS home software. You could create cartoon facsimiles of celebrities or your real life friends, and make them engage in uncomfortable social situations.
Nintendo announced an English localization of Tomodachi Life and promoted it during several of their Directs. When the game was finally released, it received poor reviews due to its lack of content and repetitive nature. Tomodachi Life had a fun gimmick, but it got old fast. It probably would have sold better if it were a $10 eShop title, rather than a full price release.
Tomodachi Life is best known for a controversy surrounding the Western release of the game. The characters in Tomodachi Life were only able to pursue heterosexual relationships. Nintendo of America stated that this was because they had wanted to keep the game as close to the original Japanese version as possible. Sadly for Tomodachi Life, the game was so uninteresting that people only remember the controversy when its name is brought up.
8. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
Animal Crossing may have been Nintendo’s most critically acclaimed series of all time at one point. This all ended in 2015, however, when Nintendo got greedy and released the awful Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival for the Wii U.
It is no secret that amiibos have made a lot of money for Nintendo and may have single-handedly made up for the lackluster reception to the Wii U. Most fans assumed that Pokémon would receive figures for all of its characters and that some game would be made to accommodate them. It was actually Animal Crossing that received this honor, and it is a game that can charitably be called a watered-down version of Mario Party.
Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival is about as bare bones an experience as you can get. Nintendo literally slapped this game together in order to sell amiibo figures/cards, and it shows. Nintendo’s greed finally led to a poorly reviewed Animal Crossing game.
7. Pokémon Diamond & Pearl
The online functionality of the Nintendo DS was exciting to Pokémon fans, as they knew that the latest generation of games would finally be using the power of the Internet. Pokémon Diamond & Pearl were hotly anticipated, as fans couldn’t wait to battle other trainers from across the globe.
However, Pokémon Diamond & Pearl might be the worst mainline games in the series. This is mainly due to the technical issues and balance problems. The games are unbearably slow, even with battle animations turned off, as even the shortest Pokémon battle takes an eternity in these games.
The second major problem with Diamond & Pearl is the difficulty jump. Sinnoh’s Elite Four might be the strongest in the series due to the high levels of their Pokémon. You will need to level grind in the painfully slow battles before you can face them.
6. The Mobile Games (Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes)
Nintendo never wanted to enter the mobile phone game market. Why would they? Nintendo makes their own handheld consoles which are in competition with cell phone games. It seems that their hands were forced, however, when pressure from shareholders asked them to dip their toe into the world of phone games. Four games were promised, and three of them have been released so far, with an Animal Crossing game due to be released later this year.
Miitomo was the first Nintendo cell phone app, but it is little more like a throwaway program that you will forget about after a week. You can ask questions to the people in your friend list… and that’s it.
Super Mario Run was an attempt to create a Mario game on the phone, which quickly ran into the problems. This game just requires you to tap in rhyme in what might be the most basic and uninteresting Mario title ever created.
Fire Emblem Heroes is a watered down version of an actual Fire Emblem game, that exists for the sole purpose of testing the player’s patience and trying to buy loyalty with fan service (of both the nostalgic and fetishistic kind).
5. Metroid Prime: Federation Force
The negative reaction to Metroid: Other M put the series into hibernation for six years. Nintendo finally released a new game in the Metroid Prime series in 2016. They had decided that the fans wanted Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which was a multiplayer action game that didn’t star Samus Aran, which caused an immediate vocal backlash online.
It may have been this outcry that finally convinced Nintendo to revive the Metroid Prime series on the Nintendo Switch.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force isn’t the worst game ever made, and is just an average shooter at best. The main reason it is so hated is that it encapsulates Nintendo’s enforced ignorance of the Metroid franchise. Metroid‘s anniversaries were always ignored in favor of The Legend of Zelda’s. The Metroid Prime series contains some of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time, yet Nintendo pretty much ignored the franchise for almost a decade.
4. Super Mario Sunshine
The Nintendo GameCube didn’t launch with a Super Mario title. Instead, we got Luigi’s Mansion. This raised the anticipation for the upcoming GameCube Mario game to new heights, as fans wondered what incredible new title was taking Nintendo so long to make.
Super Mario Sunshine has been pretty much forgotten about by Nintendo. This includes the developers of Splatoon, who created a game that used a similar weapon to Mario’s FLUDD device. The main problem with Super Mario Sunshine is that it got the basics wrong.
The game has abysmal camera controls and the worst character controls in any 3D Mario game. If Nintendo were to remake the game in HD and wanted it to be up to their current high standards, then they would essentially need to totally rework the control system. This might be why we have yet to see an HD remake of the game.
3. Hey You, Pikachu!
Hey You, Pikachu! was a Nintendo 64 game that came bundled with a Voice Recognition Unit (or VRU), which was a microphone that could be used with the console. This was meant to be used with a range of games that could be controlled by your voice alone. Sadly, this never came to pass, as only two games were released that used the VRU, and only Hey You, Pikachu! was released outside of Japan.
The main problem with Hey You, Pikachu! is that the VRU barely worked. It is calibrated to recognize high pitched voices, which means that it won’t work properly for most people. This is a pretty problematic factor on its own, as it means that some people can’t even use the game.
Luckily, they weren’t missing much, as Hey You, Pikachu! lacked content and became repetitive fast. Hey You, Pikachu! also ends with you having to release the Pikachu into the wild, which is a pretty upsetting way to end a game meant for kids.
2. Metroid: Other M
Metroid: Other M was not a terrible game by any means. It offered a different take on the action seen in the previous Metroid games and actually received some positive reviews upon release. The reason people despise this game is due to the character assassination of Samus Aran.
The other games in the Metroid series never bogged you down with the story, as you were usually just given an outline of your mission and dropped on the surface of an alien world. Metroid: Other M felt the need to fill the game with lengthy and verbose cutscenes, which were filled with horrible dialogue.
The game felt the need to establish a subservient relationship between Samus Aran and her commanding officer, which boiled down the previous Metroidvania elements of finding new items in order to progress into someone telling her when she could use better equipment.
Metroid: Other M’s biggest sin was making Samus freak out when she encountered Ridley. The previously awesome space bounty hunter turned into a shrieking schoolgirl at the sight of her mortal enemy. This goes against Samus Aran’s character to almost offensive levels, and it is for these reasons that Metroid: Other M killed the franchise for so long.
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo often boasted about the Wii’s motion controls… which weren’t really motion controls. A basic Wiimote is more like a mouse than anything else, as it cannot detect twisting motions. Nintendo promised to rectify this with the Wii MotionPlus, which offered true motion controls. You would need one of these if you were going to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was the latest game in the series.
The Wii MotionPlus did indeed provide true motion controls, but they constantly needed calibrating. You often had to pause the game and place the Wiimote on a flat surface, which killed the flow of gameplay.
Another issue of the game was Fii, who might be the most annoying character in video game history, as she constantly interrupted gameplay in order to explain incredibly obvious things to you.
Nintendo also introduced the stamina meter into the game, which exists for no other reason than to make the game slower. The game was full of backtracking and made you fight the Imprisoned three times for no real reason. Skyward Sword was full of filler and unintuitive gameplay designs which made it a chore to play.
The Wii is one of the best-selling systems of all time. There is no doubt, however, that it received the worst Nintendo developed Zelda title of all time.
Can you think of any other Nintendo games that let you down? Let us know in the comment section!
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