While Gen III did introduce abilities, berry farming, running, Double Battles, and a great soundtrack, it was hit hard by removing more than half of the first two games' total Pokédex (with no means of ever obtaining them in game, a problem which Emerald fixed), retained a level curve that was nearly as bad as Gen II's, and a topography that while beautiful only served to be a pain in the ass to navigate. Not helping matters was that this was the point when players really needed to start buying all versions to get at least a half-way completed Pokédex (a bad habit continued in Gen IV). The final nail in Hoenn's grave was the series was finally reaching its limit with the current battling system before giving it a new overhaul (done in Gen IV).
Gen IV's first two games, Diamond and Pearl were a time of renovation, but it still wasn't up to snuff. It was also the first time Game Freak developed a game using the DS, and the results show. The first two were unnecessarily slow (although what they did was good sense in programming, it made for a sluggish game). However, the aesthetics and many new mechanics were well-received, and many of the odd design choices (such as the aforementioned sluggish gameplay, and exactly two Fire-type Pokémon available before beating the Elite 4) were fixed come time for Pokémon Platinum.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is widely believed to have gone through a dork age between 2007 and 2008. Once a Mecca for gamers the event was made invitation-only and attendance dropped from 60,000 down to a low of 5,000 (the event was also inexplicably renamed the "E3 Media & Business Summit" during that time with little justification other than "the video game industry is not about 'entertainment', it's about business"). As a result E3 went from being the ultimate expo in the video games to a low key event. It didn't help that the E for All trade show meant to replace it turned out to be a dud. Also to make things worse the announcements and game demos E3 is known for were rather lacking in comparison to previous years.
Silent Hill is notorious for its horribly Broken Base, but most fans will agree that the series peaked with Silent Hill 2, and the existence of a franchise Dork Age is nearly-unanimous. The general summation of this is a reverence for "Team Silent" and a mistrust of the games in which this development team was not involved. The general consensus is that Silent Hill 4: The Room is where the slide began, however, even though it was the last of the "Team Silent" entries. Silent Hill: Shattered Memoriesbroke the fanbase further, between those convinced that the series remained mired in suck, and those who believe this entry was fresh and compelling enough to possibly signal a revival of the franchise. Reception to Silent Hill: Downpour has been far more universally positive.
Twisted Metal 3 and 4 were developed by 989 Studios rather than series' original developers, Singletrac. When the former staff members of Singletrac formed Incognito to develop the newer games in the franchise, it elected to wipe the events of those two titles from continuity.
Warcraft: There's a lot of debate as to which expansion of World of Warcraft constitutes as this. The common arguments are as follows:
The Burning Crusade is generally considered to have great gameplay, but a terrible plot and setting that changed a lot of beloved Warcraft III characters, accidentally and shoddily retconned a major enemy race, and had too many elements verging on sci-fi for players to feel it belonged comfortably in Warcraft's fantasy setting. It also contained what is still considered to be the single hardest raid dungeon in the game's history, which influenced a lot of the development team's future philosophies with raid and class design.
Wrath of the Lich King is the inverse, with players praising its great narrative and characterization, but hating the gameplay changes, feeling as if both dungeon and raid content was dumbed down to appeal to a more casual playerbase, and homogenizing classes to the point where they lacked unique identity. It also added the game's first new class, the Death Knight, which saw a ridiculous amount of oversaturation during the expansion's life cycle.
Cataclysm has been met with cries of both story and gameplay rot, with the former two expansions and the vanilla game ironically being looked back upon as Golden Ages. Gameplay wise, it met a good mix of people feeling the new content was too hard, followed by nerfs that made it too easy. Story-wise the expansion had a largely ineffectual main antagonist following up the very well-loved Arthas, characters such as Thrall and Garrosh playing very important but unpopular roles, and it began the trend of Alliance players feeling as if the writers were biased against them, giving the Horde a lot of Kick the Dog moments and having their own quest lines never result in a fair comeuppance against the Horde.
Mists Of Pandaria has controversial, certain aspects of the gameplay (notably daily quests) have been heavily criticized, and prior to release many people felt the inclusion of the pandaren was a jump the shark moment for the series. The story, and the handling of the faction war are also objects of criticism. Debates also abound as to whether the game having its lowest subscription numbers in years is a result of poor development or simply people tiring of an almost decade-old game.
One that most will agree upon is the handling of the orcs storyline in Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria due to their seeming extreme demonization, Aesop Amnesia, and Flanderization. The positive representation of the orcs in Mists of Pandaria could even be counted on one hand!
Let's not forget the RTS crowd who've been waiting years since Warcraft III for a new RTS title. Some believe ever since WoW (and MMORPGs in general) proved to be a bigger money maker than RTS games, this change in genre for the franchise marked the end of future RTS titles. Since then, StarCraft II has been released to scratch the RTS itch, but the wait for a Warcraft IV continues.
A variant: Monkey Island 2 ended in such an impenetrably baffling fashion (The last part of the game takes place in the maintenance tunnels of an amusement park, and the undead antagonist turns out to be Guybrush's brother in a mask, and the whole escapade was All Just a Dream (or was it? actually, the stinger shows Love Interest Elaine lampshading "Where is Guybrush? I hope LeChuck didn't put some weird spell on him" so yes, it was all in Guybrush's head, which fits perfectly into the later retcon) that its sequel, The Curse of Monkey Island, retconned the previous game's final confrontation into something a bit easier to follow. However, status quo wasn't necessarily restored because Monkey Island 2's ending was bad - it's more that after Ron Gilbert left the series, no one knew where he was planning to go with this revelation, and he has no intention of telling anybody. However, it's far more likely that it was just the final absurd twist in a game full of them than any sort of deep statement about the characters.
The makers of the MMO Star Wars: Galaxies decided it wasn't successful enough, so they came up with the New Game Experience, which involved massive changes to the game mechanics, combat system, character classes, and pretty much everything else, in the hope of attracting a whole new demographic. The result was an existing player base that was thoroughly (and vocally) pissed off, a new player base that never materialised, and a huge drop in subscriptions (not officially admitted, but confirmed by user-written in-game surveying tools before the company caught on and disabled the tools). Other MMOs have dome similar things on a less spectacular scale, but SWG's NGE is the infamous example everyone points to. One of the major reasons for this is that the developers changed the way one becomes a Jedi. Originally, players had to find holocrons and master whatever class tree it said to master, then the player may luck out and become a Jedi, or would receive another holocron. This, naturally, would be a grind. The New Game Experience let players start as a Jedi. Not only did this mean that everyone picked to be a Jedi while avoiding every other class, and pissing off those people unlucky enough to have had to master every class to become a Jedi before then, but it also royally futzed with the franchise's canon. You had many thousands of Jedi when at that time in the official storyline, the only true, trained Jedi still living was Yoda. Just how bad is it? A new Star Wars MMO handled by Knights of the Old Republic developer BioWare and set in the KoToR timeline had since came along.
In Final Fantasy XI, the Chains of Promathia expansion is considered to be a Dork Age by many, many, many players. Reasons included; grueling boss fights that required very specific party combinations and a fair amount of luck to win, storylines that were left hanging between updates, Notorious Monsters that were amazingly gimmicky with incredibly low drop rates for gear AND pop items for further Notorious Monsters. The era was also known for the infamous "Ranger Nerf" that, while somewhat justified in the fact that the Ranger job was severely overpowered compared to other jobs, went way too far and made it into one of the weakest jobs in the game. (This nerf was partially countered years later after Samurai became the new overpowered pet-job of the dev team.) Combined with the first unbeatable boss of the game, the Jailer of Love which was then nerfed to make way for the new unbeatable boss Absolute Virtue, quite a lot of mid to end-game players left FFXI to play World of Warcraft. Not that Chains of Promethia was completely terrible; the mission storyline is among the longest and most interesting in the game (and better than some of the storylines of the main games), created systems and fights that are still popular years later like Limbus, ENMs, Bahamut, and Ouryu, and included many in-depth optional side quests such as Adventuring Fellows (your own personal NPC). Changes to the mission fights were made to help players, such as making the fights easier, removing the experience penalty if they fall during battles, rewarding players with experience if they help people with the battles, and easing the restrictions of special items that help to make the battles easier- but these were made after the next expansion, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, when most players will agree that the Dork Age ended with a vengeance with a completely new philosophy in game design. (That it shouldn't be terrible to do things in the game.) Many people look fondly at the Chains of Promethia expansion, mainly because time has passed and people don't quite remember the original controller-throwing difficulty of the unnerfed missions, or they had only played the missions after they had been nerfed. Also, not losing thousands upon thousands of XP to the then unnerfed Jailer of Love and the still-to-this-day unnerfed Absolute Virtue may well help to keep those glasses rose-colored.
Final Fantasy XIV managed to go through a dork age twice. When the game launched in 2010, there were lots of bugs, terrible optimization that made the game run sluggishly for most PC users, and many game mechanics that were not looked upon favorably, such as having experience points being reduced in gains if you try to level up too much. Once the development team got replaced with new faces, the game was reworked from the ground up and relaunched 3 years later with favorable results; players could complete quests at their own leisure, items were mostly easy to obtain, and the game was very stable and optimized. However, a second dork age came along shortly after the rerelease; certain materials were hard to find or buy due to people and bots alike farming the materials and then selling the materials back on the market for absurdly high prices. End game gear that wasn't part of a loot drop were regulated to many weeks (or even months) of grinding for special tomes that were needed to obtain said gear. A few patches did address the issues, but the next major patch introduced more problems with the Atma system where players had to get 12 specific items from 12 specific events that pop up at random times in order to power up their Infinity+1 Sword. The problem is that the events can take hours to appear and the items from the event have ridiculously low drop rates. The fan base had exploded in anger over the Atma system and some have compared it to the same systems that were used in Final Fantasy XI.
The Leisure Suit Larry series entered a Dork Age with the games starring Larry Lovage (Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust). It is worth noting that Al Lowe, the series' creator, isn't involved with either of them. Judging by his site, he'd be more than happy to give them advice, and is also more than happy he wasn't involved when the games bombed.
In the late 1990s, Konami farmed out the development of the Contra series to Hungarian developer Appaloosa, resulting in the creation of the series' two PlayStation installments Contra: Legacy of War (which also saw release on the Sega Saturn) in 1996, and C: The Contra Adventure in 1998. Both games were critically panned when they came out and Konami even canceled plans to localize the first of the two titles in Japan after the negative reception it received, which makes one wonder why they would give Appaloosa a second chance. It's made all the worse by the fact that Legacy of War was relying on a 3D glasses gimmick for sales. We're talking '50s B-Movie red/blue cardboard glasses here. Oh, and massively derailing existing characters and canon, considering these followed on from Contra: Hard Corps, one of the more story-heavy Contra games, it did not go well. It should be noted that both games are explicitly exiled from the Contra canon.
Fans of The King of Fighters generally look at the period of time Eolith was handling the games (KOF 2001 and 2002) as a Dork Age. The way 2001 plays is in general more glitchy and gimmicky (letting you choose how many teammates and strikers you want, for starters - meaning you can even fight 1-vs-4 battles, something that should only be reserved to bosses) than any other incarnation of the series, and is in general a mess. The music for these games has been compared to the sounds of robots farting among other things and Eolith introduced a few of their own character designs (although a scant few, like May Lee, were more favorably received). When SNKreclaimed the wheel as SNK Playmore, among the first things they did was to wipe several elements from2001right out of the canon, including the whole character of K9999 (also a blatant Captain Ersatz of Tetsuo) and Foxy's death. To give 2002 some credit, it's still one of the most played versions in the series competitively, and even after the release of 2002: Unlimited Match you'll still see some original '02 tournies being played. Now, 2001 on the other hand? Uh...
Mortal Kombat was another fighting series that went through this.
After Mortal Kombat 4 hit the Polygon Ceiling, the series seemed to have reached a stalemate with a largely undistinguishable (except for an expanded character roster) Updated Re-release for Dreamcast, Mortal Kombat Gold, and the PlayStation-exclusive Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, an utterly horrible action spin-off. In the wake of this, John Tobias jumped ship from the creative team, and the series laid low as the gaming industry entered its new generation - between Special Forces and the next entry in the series, there was a three-year gap.
And then there was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which can be seen as Midway trying to figure out what to do with the series. It's not necessarily a bad game, but it's a firm indicator of Mortal Kombat's Dork Age, because the simple fact of it being rated T by ESRB (due to the DC superheroes) made this game a standout, and not in a positive way: it meant a lot of what players knew of MK would be inevitably Bowdlerised (mainly the explicit Gorn, which was reduced to the odd blood spill here and there, and censored Fatalities - even more so than the home versions of the original game). On the other hand, this game served for Midway to sort out what worked and what didn't when they reinvented themselves as Netherrealm Studios and brought the series back on track with Mortal Kombat 9, as well as using their experience on the DC end of things to turn out Injustice: Gods Among Us, a cool all-DC fighting game.
Deus Ex: Invisible War was Warren Spector's entry into a Dork Age, and immediately lost his accumulated industry and fan respect. He's managed to bounce back some, which is better than other developer/producers have been able to do (anyone remember what John Romero is up to anymore?) but still hasn't regained his former stature. Because of lingering rancor, Thief: Deadly Shadows received less fair critical reviews than it deserved, and Spector hasn't been invited to return for a sequel. He may have found a rehabilitation of his image in the unlikely vessel of a Mickey Mouse game, though its mixed reception (and Spector's claims that negative reviewers "misunderstood" the game) didn't make for the reputation resurrection that was hoped for.
A non-canonical example is Snake's Revenge, an American follow-up to the NES version of the original Metal Gear. It not only completely changed Snake's character and his relationship to the franchise but also took the game that introduced the concept of stealth gameplay and turned it into a generic shoot-em-up. On the plus side, Hideo Kojima was inspired to make the actualMetal Gear 2 when he learned of this game.
From November 2005 to January 2007 with the releases of Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and the GBA port of the original Sonic game. Shadow's game was a spin-off meant to please Shadow's fans and conclude his amnesia arc but Sega didn't stop there, they also tried to aim for the Grand Theft Auto crowd using Shadow's Byronic Hero characterization to justify some pretty bizarre choices (namely guns and mild swearing) with So Bad, It's Good results. Sonic '06 was hyped to be the Blue Blur's big comeback instead it turned out to be a rushed mess with Sonic receiving a much-maligned romance subplot involving a human princess * Shadow and Silver's stories on the other hand, have their fans . Sonic Genesis, the so called GBA port of Sonic the Hedgehog, another rushed mess was just the salt in the wound after 06. Lastly Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic and the Secret Rings released around this time, though not as bad as 06, were widely criticized for their controls.
After this the fanbase shattered and different fans have different opinions on when (if at all) this Dork Age ended.
One possible ending is Sonic Unleashed which was hyped as "Sonic's Big Comeback" and praised for the daytime Sonic stages that mixed 3D and 2D segments together, but received mixed reviews regarding the Werehog stages.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I was hyped as the much-awaited sequel to the acclaimed Genesis games and "Sonic's Big Comeback" but criticized over its physics engine and length.
Another possible ending to Sonic's second dork age is Sonic Colors, which improved upon the Sonic stages of Sonic Unleashed and managed to get good reviews with many praising it as "Sonic's Big Comeback", and Sonic Generations, which served as a celebration of 20 years of Sonic with copious nods to previous games. While both of these games were almost universally praised for their gameplay they have attracted some bile over the increased silliness of the cutscenes and corny dialogue.
The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise fell into one hard with RIDE and SHRED, which attempted to revive the franchise by using a skateboard-shaped motion controller to simulate boarding movement. This failed to address any of the problems the series had been going through, and introduced several new ones. Both games failed as a result, and the Hawk franchise crashed and burned, forcing Activision to go "back to basics" with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD.
There are ten years between Black Isle's Fallout 2 and Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3. There are two Fallout games between them—Microforte's Fallout Tactics and Interplay's In Name OnlyFallout: Brotherhood of Steel. Tactics was a competent game that had severe issues with staying within the established continuity (in a world where World War III was brought on by a crippling energy crisis, many bases of have full drums of fuel just lying around more than a hundred years later, etc.); the same cannot be said of Brotherhood. Bethesda has proclaimed Tactics to Broad Strokes canon, while Brotherhood is full-on Canon Discontinuity.
The Need for Speed franchise had one. While some fans claim the entire Underground era to be Fanon Discontinuity, most generally point to Carbon in 2006 as the beginning of the series' downward slide (especially coming on the heels of Most Wanted, generally regarded as one of the series' high points), and ProStreet and Undercover in the ensuing years as the nadir of NFS' dork age. In any event, it ended with the release of the very well-received Shift in 2009 and Hot Pursuit in 2010, which brought the series back to its focus on exotic cars and away from the burned-out "tuner" culture.
There was a time where, to save on bandwidth costs, the site for hosting custom content for Garry's Mod forced its users to download addons via torrents rather than getting them directly off the site. It lasted for about two months.
The Valis series had lain dormant since the early 1990s, until its reputation was stained in 2006 by a series of H-Games titled Valis X, which Telenet Japan published in a desperate and failed attempt to avoid bankruptcy.
Rock Band's "hardcore" fan base often think 2012 is a dork age for their Downloadable Content. Most of the new releases now come in threes and with only one Pro Guitar/Bass upgrade, and a not insignificant amount of them are from the (often late) Turn of the Millennium and The New Tens which they stereotypically consider "crappy". (Nothing really exciting for them was released minus an Iron Maiden 6-pack and a Slayer pack.) Plus, they are often considered "too easy".
League of Legends had very tight and involved lore development for a MOBA, to the point where it even had its own subsection in the main client (the 'Journal of Justice'). However, around 2012, the lore team switched hands, and much of their narrative philosophy changed, causing them to throw out a lot of old lore and start again. Newer heroes were considered uninspiring and bland, with little to no motivation to join the League, while some old characters had their entire backstories changed to very mixed reception.
The Lunar series started to slide in early 2000s, with the installments developed for Nintendo portable systems. First Lunar: The Silver Star was remade for the Game Boy Advance as Lunar Legend, with shallower characterizations, a point-and-click map replacing the once large overworld, and different and simpler combat. Then came the prequel Lunar: Dragon Song, the first non-remake Lunar game in a decade, which in a bid to attract new players to the franchise dumbed down the gameplay and story even more, but also added annoying new mechanics like having to choose between fighting for experience and fighting for items (which in this game are mostly Vendor Trash), taking damage while running, and repetitive Fetch Quests. The localizations of these two games published by Ubisoft also compared poorly with the painstaking effort Working Designs put into localizing previous installments.
RuneScape is often considered to have gone through this after the game's creators, the Gower brothers, handed off its reigns to Mark Gerhard, one of the senior mods. This is mostly related to two controversial gameplay changes Gerhard introduced: first, the implementation of microtransactions, something the Gowers promised they would never do, and second, a complete overhaul of the combat system which was seen by numerous fans as a cynical attempt to apeWorld of Warcraft. Jagex heard the criticisms of the combat system and as a result introduced both "Old School" worlds that allow players to experience the game as it was in 2007, and a poll wherein players voted to introduce the option to toggle between the old and new combat systems on the main worlds, as well. On the plus side, Gerhard's tenure also coincided with some very well-received advances to the game's Myth Arc, including tying up plot points that had been dangling for nearly a decade.
The Tetris The Grand Master series got better with each new release for its first three installments. Then came the very un-TGM-like Xbox 360 title Tetris: The Grand Master ACE, the tragic byproduct of The Tetris Company's and Microsoft's Executive Meddling. Most of the trademark TGM gameplay mechanics have been stripped (including Master Mode, and by extension the unique TGM-style leveling up and grade system), you get a variation of infinite spin (limit of 128 rotations and 128 movements) as opposed to TGM's "step reset" lock delay, and you need an Xbox Live Gold membership to unlock proper TGM rotation. Good Tetris, but bad TGM.
The Harvest Moon fandom is torn on what time period their Dork Age spans but it's generally thought to have began around Magical Melody and DS. The characters are seen as shallower, several disliked mechanics have been tried out, and the series as a whole got Lighter and Softer. It got worse when Marvelous said they were focusing on handhelds instead of consoles; and it shows as they released six DS games but only two, near identical Wii games . Even Yasuhiro Wada has shown dislike to the way the games have gotten; he especially dislikes how much focus romance is given within the series. That said, the Wii games were acclaimed (though they still weren't perfect) and the 3DS game, A New Beginning, is seen as an improvement over the past handheld installments.
The Rayman series has the infamous Rabbid era from 2006 to 2008. The fourth game in the series introduced Rabbids, one-joke characters who don't do anything but scream "DAAAAAAAAAAAH" at the top of their lungs. Due to Executive Meddling, the game, originally planned as a platformer like its predecessors, shifted into a party game (though the Game Boy Advance version was still made a platformer). In the next two games, the Rabbids ended up stealing the entire show and the eponymous hero was demoted to Butt Monkey. Fortunately, Rabbids Go Home, the final game involving the Rabbids, removed Rayman entirely, while Rayman himself came back in force in his own adventure in Rayman Origins, though interestingly the Rabbids themselves now have an animated series onNickelodeon, though the entire show is pretty much the Minions from Despicable Me on crack.
Star Trek Online, if what has been said on the official forums is true, has been in this position since Season 8.5. 8.5 saw the removal of the Hourly Events in favor of weekend events, which cheesed off players due to the fact that players used the Bonus Marks 3-hour event to grind marks for their Fleets. The start of this season also gave out a special event ship for the 4th anniversary, only to have it put behind a time gate due to the extra bells and whistles that went with it, a major deviation from year 2 and 3's ships. It got worse come Season 9, when it was revealed that the Reputation Powers players could get no longer stacked and that they were limited to 8 passives - four space and four ground - in an attempt to curb Power Creep before it got way out of hand. It also infuriated certain players because of the usage of Undine ships for Lockbox prizes and Lobi offerings, as many players felt that doing so broke canon and that Cryptic had promised them that they would never use the Undine as Lockbox prizes.