Q&AmeCola: Games That Exceeded/Fell Short Of Your Expectations

GameCola's staff reveal what games exceeded or fell short of their expectations.

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With all the quality reviews, delightful columns, and hard-hitting game journalism you can find here at GameCola, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the site’s written by regular people like you and me, and not a race of evolutionarily advanced superhumans. To help bridge this divide between staff and reader, we’ve set up this column so you can get a look at our staff’s personal opinions on serious issues. Serious issues like the following:

This month’s question was submitted by GameCola reader extraordinaire Joe Reviewer and it is:

What game most exceeded or failed to live up to your expectations of it?


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Daniel Castro
Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is one of those games that managed to fly under my radar without being detected back in 2010. But all of a sudden, everyone seemed to be talking about this game like it was one of the most anticipated games of said year… In fact, it was! It just didn’t notice it because it was being developed by Rockstar, and it was going to use the same engine from Grand Theft Auto, that controversial sandbox game that has never caught my attention.

But still, I kept hearing a lot of great things about it, so it was just a matter of time before I finally gave it a good try. So, I finally rented the game, got into my best cowboy mood and spent a whole Saturday evening to give it my best shot. In the end, I hated the thing completely; I despised it from the bottom of my soul. I just expected way too much from a game that provided me with so little.

Its shooting mechanics and cover system feel utterly obsolete compared to any game of this generation; I found its world way too pale and depressing; and it has way too many menial tasks I don’t want to waste my time with. I keep reading that Pale Brown Deception has a great story, but I got none of that from the only six hours straight I dug into this thing—how much more do I need to drive myself into it before I can find anything worthy of my efforts?

It’s not a bad game; I can clearly see why people have found it so endearing. I’m just not the audience this game is meant for.

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(Daniel is the author of “Don’t Be That Guy.”)


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Nathaniel Hoover
Mega Man 10

If you’ve avoided my outrageously long review of Mega Man 10 and its downloadable content, here’s the condensed version. Should only take two pages, tops.

To me, Mega Man 9 was a triumphant return for the Blue Bomber. While not entirely without flaws, creative and solidly difficult challenges combined with a killer soundtrack to set my expectations high for the inevitable sequel. Mega Man 9 played it safe by putting more modern ideas such as Achievements and an item shop into a retro context, pacifying both the fans who’ve generally enjoyed Mega Man’s evolution over the years and the “fans” who’ve seen 100+ Mega Man games released and still claim that Mega Man 2 is the only one that’s any good. With a little more polish, a little more plot, and a little more willingness to acknowledge the possibility that Mega Man 2 was not the pinnacle of the series that all games should try to emulate, a sequel following in the footsteps of Mega Man 9 could have easily been the game that completely revitalized the series, uniting fans of all dispositions in a new common favorite.

Instead, we got Mega Man 10.

There’s more polish. There’s more plot. There’s acknowledgment of several other Mega Man games, including the oft-overlooked Game Boy series. More weapons, more game modes, and musical contributions from droves of former Mega Man composers…from a distance, Mega Man 10 looks like it should be The Ultimate Mega Man Game. As a standalone game, it’s quite good. As the successor to Mega Man 9, and as the apparent culmination of nearly 25 years of Mega Man history, it’s The Ultimate Letdown. Mega Man 10 offers a soundtrack largely devoid of the energy and complexity the series is renowned for, slaps together a plot that’s shaky and ridiculous even by Mega Man standards, and learns all the wrong gameplay lessons from its predecessors–deriving challenge from being excessively patient with the enemies, and once again omitting even the option of the slide and charge shot that defined the past 20 years of Mega Man. It’s by no means the worst in the series–not by a long shot–but the difference between what it is and what it could have been has profoundly affected both my enjoyment of the game and my optimism about the direction of the franchise.

And, apparently, my ability to be funny when writing these blurbs.

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(Nathaniel is a reviewer; author of “Flash Flood,” “The Archive Dive,” and the “Sprite Flicker“ webcomic; and creator of fine videos.)


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Matt Jonas
Silent Hill: Downpour

I’d like to consider myself a Silent Hill fan. I’ve been with the series since the first game and have really come to enjoy the first four games as the “pinnacle” of the series. Everything developed by U.S. developers hasn’t been the same, and I really didn’t expect Silent Hill Downpour to be any good.

Imagine my shock when Silent Hill Downpour turned out amazing. It still has its problems (many of which wouldn’t have existed if Team Silent were still at the helm), but this game really does match up to some of the earlier Silent Hill games’ atmosphere and tension. When you’re traipsing through those apartments in Downpour, just try to lie through your teeth and tell me you’re not scared. Tell a little fib and say that it doesn’t feel like a real Silent Hill game.

You can’t, can you?

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(Matt is a staff reviewer and news blogger.)


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Mark Freedman
Black and White

I was so pumped for this game. I played a lot of Populous in my day, and really enjoyed the whole God-sim thing. Unfortunately, my dad’s computer wasn’t up to snuff to play this game, so I had to check it out on my friend’s machines, and eventually on an upgraded computer.

What a disappointment! The game was supposed to check the Internet and the game’s environment would reflect the real world weather, but I couldn’t get it to work. There was supposed to be this animal-training component to it, where you could train your animal avatar to do your bidding. Like a small child, you, the parent, try to carve him in your own image, whether you’re benevolent or malevolent. Unfortunately, the thing was so bugged that he usually just did whatever the hell he wanted to. Plus, you’re stuck in these scenario levels, not an open sandbox. There are levels where your animal is chained up, or when you as God don’t have any powers. There’s hardly any “normal play state” to go with, and the whole game is just a dissapointment.

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(Mark is a reviewer and the author of “What the Crap?”)


Kate Jay
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Since I’ve ranted about how much I hate FFXIII before, I’ve got to go with Skyrim not living up to many of my expectations.Before I get stoned as a social pariah, I’d like to say that I absolutely love playing the game, and it’s on my list of top ten favorite games, but really, the quests are pretty much rubbish. I usually buy games for their storylines and forgive crappy gameplay in lieu of a strong quest/interesting characters. However, Skyrim‘s main quests are bland, uninspiring ventures that don’t really affect gameplay, and honestly do not add anything to the game experience itself. The fact that there are so many other things to do is what saves this game. I don’t know if I’ll ever bother playing through all of the storylines, but I do know I will not rest until I’ve leveled up all of my skills. I don’t care if the empire or the rebels win, I’m much more interested in hunting down dragons and messing with giants. So, Skyrim is awesome, but I make my own story, and don’t bother with the ones I’ve been given.

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(Kate is the author and illustrator of “The Gates of Life.”)


Christian Porter
Pokémon Snap

Pokémon Snap fell severely short of my expectations. It was the first Pokémon game for a console, and I imagined Pokémon Snap would be a sprawling open-world adventure where you could stroll through Viridian Forest or the Safari Zone, seeing and photoraphing Pokémon in their natural habitat, possibly also catching them and using them to coax out more Pokémon for more pictures. I pictured RPG elements, strategy, etc., etc. Unfortunately, Nintendo had a different plan for this, and all future console-based Pokémon games: “Make them all suck miserably compared to the handhelds.”

Admittedly, Pokémon Snap is a reasonably fun game when I revisit it, but that crushing defeat you feel when you realize the open-world RPG you thought you were getting actually just simulates sitting on a vintage 80s EPCOT ride with a Kodak Fun Saver is hard to let go of. To further illustrate how much I was looking forward to this game, I bought a Nintendo 64 for two games—Pokémon Snap and Earthbound 64. You can, perhaps, see why I’m still a bit bitter toward the N64.

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(Christian is the creator of “Top of the Heap,” “Power Gloves & Tinfoil Hats,” the video series “Speak American,” and also some other stuff.)


Jeff Day
Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns

OK, this is quite the difficult question. So I’m just going to pull a game out of the blue and use that.

Well, because Margaret Cho Quest isn’t a real game, I have to go with…

Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns

OK, I know Atlus puts out some great stuff. They have about two thousand Megami Tensei games, the Etrian Odyssey series, Odin Sphere, and especially Wacky Races for the NES. They have a pretty good track record, but…yeah, Izuna 2 is something else. It probably would have benefitted me greatly if I had played the first Izuna game first. Then I would’ve known the kind of tedium festival I would be attending. It’s a dungeon crawler, but a really dry one with first-gen Game Boy Advance graphics and stale gameplay, not to mention a strange obsession with the characters’ relative breast sizes. Those who love roguelike games may indeed be enamored by Izuna 2, but I sure wasn’t among those. It’s by no means the worst game I’ve ever encountered, though—there are far worse indeed, as you can probably tell from this article—but I had hoped for much better with Izuna 2.

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(Jeff is the author of “Gamera Obscura.”)


Paul Franzen
Kinect Disneyland Adventures

I already wrote about this for Christian Porter’s “Top of the Heap,” so to keep it brief: Kinect Disneyland Adventures takes all the magic of visiting a real-life Disney park—the childlike glee you experience no matter how old you really are, the self-satisfaction of finding your very first Hidden Mickey, the excitement of riding the teacups and not throwing up all over the place—and flushes it all down the ol’ Frontier Developments in favor of Wii Sports minigames and flailing Kinect controls. It is, essentially, Disneyland, through the eyes of an outer-space alien who is only textbook-familiar with human joy. It disappointed me more than the time I learned what a waifu is.

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(Paul is GameCola’s Editor-in-Chief, the co-host of “Digital Championship Wrestling,” a video talkthrough-er, and an occasional news blogger and reviewer.)


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About the Contributor

11 Comments

  1. “GameCola Reader Extraordinaire” It’s got a nice ring to it.

    Thanks to all of you I really appreciated this opportunity and enjoyed reading all of the responses! 🙂

  2. I want to answer the question…
    Okami greatly exceeded my expectations. I’d heard that it was great, but when I actually started playing, I was blown away. The art direction is so beautiful, and the game is surprisingly playable for me, which is nice, because I’m not the best at videogames in general… I highly recommend it.

  3. I’d like to raise a question in spite of the standing one:
    @Nathaniel – what *do* you consider the worst Mega Man title to be and why?

    As for exceeding / falling short of my expectations: I’m gonna throw the Gamecube title Wario World into the mix as one that exceeded my expectations. No, not a full blown success by any means but a profoundly enjoyable little title that enabled me to piledrive animals whenever I felt like it and, really, can you ask for much more?

    Don’t answer that….

    1. k0n4: That’s always a difficult one, but I think Mega Man Xtreme 2 is at the absolute bottom of the list, with Mega Man: Powered Up not far behind. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve played it, but Mega Man Xtreme 2 is a sloppy mashup of previous games that I recall being difficult to control, excessively unforgiving, and completely devoid of any compelling reason to play it over ANY other Mega Man game except possibly the vaguely interesting plot.

  4. Never played the Xtreme series – wanted to on general principle but never had the opportunity to. I mean, they seemed like a logical extension of the GB MM titles – let’s mix ‘n match Mavericks from two different MMX titles and add Zero as a playable character ’cause, consarn it, the kids love them long-ponytailed lightsaber-wielding guys. Though, I hear that he wasn’t completely playable in the original Xtreme – just like a quick Summon for a quick attack or something? Anyways…

    Powered Up…. I give MMPU some benefit of the doubt and I *really* wanted to love it for letting me romp through the game as the Robot Masters but the end result kinda leaves me cold. I don’t hate it, just kinda…. yeah.

    And in the interest of fairness, I think I’d cast my vote for either A) the Game Gear Mega Man, for taking the infinitely playable NES MM titles and turning them into infuriating leap of faith affairs, or B) the MM Zero series, for taking the games that up until that point had been about exploration and taking things at your own pace and offering up an experience that evaluated and, until you accrued skill by bashing your head against it repeatedly, demeaned you at every turn. Oh, you used a Cyber Elf? Gonna have to dock you. What’s that – you didn’t blindly run through the level on your first try while swinging wildly, praying you killed enough to get an S-Rank?

    Well then – a hojillion points from Gryffindor.

    I mean, if they had made the evaluation system either optional or more lenient, I’d probably love MMZ for its dystopian view and whatnot (if I wasn’t still trying to figure out why someone would remove Zero’s soul from his body, but keep his body, so that Omega could take his body but somehow change it so that it didn’t look a thing like it did in MMX, so that OH MY GOD IM GOING CROSSEYED MAKE THE HURTING STOP.

  5. I can’t say I was entirely surprised either by Hoover-san’s answer of MM 10 and, yeah, I agree with him – while MM10 is certainly a very playable game and enjoyable (So long as the previous twenty two years (MM2 came out in ’88) worth of evolution / progress / trial and error from other MM titles are almost entirely ignored), it’s still frustrating that the best idea Inti Creates had was to make another Mega Man 2. With all of the stuff introduced from MM3 through MM and Bass, MMX, MMZero, MMZX, they honestly couldn’t think up ways to work some of that content and those ideas into a new legacy MM title? I mean, I didn’t mind them playing it safe with MM9 – kind of a “Let’s test the waters and keep it simple” approach. Worked fine. I can assume that they were running with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Not a crime but still frustrating.

    Digressing: I completely agree about Pokémon Snap. Such a great idea, the whole running around in the world of Pokémon, seeing them in their native habitats, only to restrict it to a rail-guided Doombuggy.

    Consolation prizes:
    1) For whatever the reason, the way Professor Oak says, “Welcome back!” and the Yoda-esque grumbles he mutters as he looks at your handiwork cracks me up.

    2) You get your picture of Mew by repeatedly smacking it in the head with apples. That’s right up there with being able to piledriver animals as Wario.

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