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Most Video Games improve with each installment, but even those ones tend to leave themselves vulnerable to one crucial weakness.

Please place all new entries in alphabetical order.

Games with their own pages:

Other games:

  • Animal Crossing:
    • Animal Crossing: New Leaf, like some other 3DS games, incorporates the system's Play Coins as currency for certain features. Among these is for the fortune cookies, which contain unique furniture if the player gets the corresponding fortune. As tedious as the process of grinding the Play Coins is (100 steps on the system's built-in pedometer gives one Play Coin, with a limit of 10 per day) and the fact that the items obtained are random (possibly duplicates), this is still considered fine for the fanbase, as there is nothing else that keeps the player from trying to get them all. And then comes Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and its own take on fortune cookies. To match its elusiveness with the New Leaf ones, only two that can be bought with Bells appear on the shop per day, but the option of using premium currency is also available. This proceeds to annoy a lot of fans, as the fortune cookie mechanics (Randomly Drops, Rare Random Drop, possible duplicates) become more detrimental for players who want to complete the Catalog and unlock Memories. Why? The event fortune cookies appear only temporarily and show up very rarely at the shop, leaving only the premium currency as a way to purchase, which is considered by fans to be way too expensive (a dollar equals 20 Leaf Tickets) thanks to how stingy the game is when it comes to free Leaf Tickets.
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    • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a fair amount of controversial developments that originated from earlier titles:
      • Save-Game Limits have always been a staple in the series, and at times seen as a Scrappy Mechanic even in earlier games as save files had to share one town. The first Animal Crossing only allowed one town per Memory Card — but Memory Cards are relatively cheap, and GameCube enthusiasts would likely have several anyway (even if they didn't, copies of Population Rising came bundled with a free memory card, so the only reasons one couldn't have two towns is because their main memory card didn't have enough space or they bought a used copy of the game). Wild World and New Leaf save their towns directly to the game card, requiring you to purchase the game again if you want multiple towns — but they're portable games, and portable consoles already don't lend themselves to sharing. New Horizons, however, received major flak for the Island being saved on the console itself, shared between every Nintendo Account assigned to the console, with the lack of Cloud saves making the situation even worse. So the only way to get to different islands without using the online is shelling out around another $300 for another Nintendo Switch. City Folk had the exact same system, and while fans weren't happy about it, it didn't reach the same level of vitriol aimed at New Horizons.
      • After the Save-Game Limits, the most controversial thing about New Horizons is the concept of the Resident Representative, which grants the very first player special privileges, including pretty much all main forms of progression. This started in New Leaf, where the first player would be elected mayor and be responsible for building up the town. Once again, New Leaf being on a handheld meant that players were much more open to owning multiple systems and game copies per household.
      • Another common criticism of New Horizons, even among those who consider the game a step up from New Leaf, is that villager dialogue is noticeably limited and one-note, with characters feeling static and saccharine as a result of their small interaction pools. The limited amount of possible interactions is actually a trend that stretches all the way back to the first game; however, in that case it was excusable due to the technical limitations of the Nintendo 64. While Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf could also potentially excuse themselves on this basis (as the DS, Wii, and 3DS all fell considerably short of technical expectations compared to competing systems in their respective generations), the Switch is a far more powerful piece of hardware than previous systems that the series represented, with much greater room for potential villager interactions. Wild World also started the trend of villager personalities being more consistently upbeat, reportedly the result of the series's target demographic of children finding the first game's World of Jerkass characterization emotionally distressing (to the point where some kids allegedly cried). While this generally didn't see significant backlash from the fanbase there or in City Folk, in part due to the wider amount of quality-of-life improvements outside of character interactions and the fact that dialogue still had a fair amount of bite to it when it was appropriate, later games would only make villager dialogue flatter and flatter instead of going further in-depth with this more overtly positive direction, with New Horizons being something of a tipping point. The end result was older fans clamoring for meaner and/or deeper villager interactions to make a comeback upon realizing how shallow and in some cases flanderized villager dialogue in New Horizons actually was.
  • Before Origins heavily shook up the formula, the Assassin's Creed series received a lot of complaints about the fact that the core gameplay of social stealth and combat had barely changed since the first game, with later games merely adding a bunch of features to pass things off as new.
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    • Assassin's Creed III is cited as the point where this became a problem, as many felt that the game's main missions were basically scripted events, even the Assassination missions, which should be stealthy and open-ended. It was also seen as being overstuffed with side activities and additional features. However, this was an ongoing trend since the well-liked Assassin's Creed II, and its follow-ups Brotherhood and Revelations, which had moved away from the stealthy original and were filled with additional features and content. What made them acceptable was that Brotherhood and Revelations were Mission Pack Sequels, and as such, the additional features were condoned and seen as part of the appeal of the touristy cities with exotic architecture. The fact that the New World setting of ACIII lacked the tall buildings, fancy architecture, and recognizable landmarks in favor of forests and colonial outposts only brought these problems to the forefront.
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    • III was also criticized for its Been There, Shaped History tendencies, with the hero interacting on a first-name basis with many of America's Founding Fathers and participating in several key events of The American Revolution, which to many beggared disbelief. Yet this was always part of the franchise's appeal. Altair in Assassin's Creed I conversed on even terms with the very Christian King Richard the Lionheart and later fought Genghis Khan, Ezio counted Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli among his best friends and interacted with a "who's who" of the Renaissance, and the later Black Flag had the hero interact with every famous English pirate of that time. In the case of III, the American Founding Fathers and the events of the Revolution were perhaps too prominent, known to every schoolboy, with the setting seen by foreign gamers as Eagleland. The other historical figures and settings, while somewhat well-known, aren't held in nearly the same reverence, nor are their memories part of current political discourse.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity is an inversion, an example of the franchise returning to its roots as a result of the divisive reaction to III — greater focus on stealth, less focus on side activities, more assassination missions, toning down the Been There, Shaped History aspect — and getting thoroughly trashed for essentially repeating its original sins. Assassin's Creed I was criticized in its time for repetitive side activities, lack of additional interaction with the open world, and endless collectibles. Unity returned with repetitive Side Story quests and endless collectibles that dotted out the map, to the extent that people became nostalgic for the much-reviled flags of I. Where III was criticized for Connor being too central to the Revolution, Unity was criticized for the hero being too marginal to the events, with the game being highly criticized for its shallow representation of history. The game which followed, Syndicate, received praise for making more diverse side missions, a fairer look at the historical events, and having additional features missing in Unity.
    • Many of the recurring elements that have been critiqued for being out of place, such as a modern day framing story, the silhouette of the Assassin outfit, and the overt nature of the Assassin vs. Templar conflict, have been there from the beginning. The difference was, the framing story started out as a major reveal (and could not be said to have overstayed its welcome yet), the outfit was chosen for a reason (it highly resembled the monks of the region, allowing for social stealth), and the Assassin vs. Templar conflict was rooted in the actual history of those organizations. At some point, the developers began to treat these as too iconic of the franchise and kept them around even as they became divorced from their original contexts. The modern day framing story remains even after its original plot has long since been resolved, the Assassins continue to wear similar outfits despite how incredibly conspicuous a hooded outfit is in most contexts (plus the increasingly prominent logos), and the central conflict is increasingly overt and now predates the historical organizations (the fact that the Assassins and Templars secretly existed outside of the Crusades at all, let alone into the modern day, was the other big twist, and was part of the concept that this was the truth of our own history being revealed through Genetic Memory 20 Minutes into the Future).
    • Map synchronization is one that became a problem with Ubisoft's Wide Open Sandbox games in general, to the point where even series creator Patrice Désilets apologized for popularizing the much-maligned "radio tower" gameplay structure. In the first Assassin's Creed game, synchronization serves an in-story purpose of allowing the protagonist to get the lay of the land from a high vantage point, and was necessary to figure out where your targets were and how to reach them. It also wasn't used to find collectibles (which only came in with the sequels); those remained genuinely hidden. In later games, however, mechanics like synchronization, radio towers (in the Far Cry sequels), ctOS towers (in Watch_Dogs), and the like were used to uncover hidden items, side missions, and other collectibles. Fans of open-world games often blame the "Ubisoft formula" for detracting from the exploration aspect of open worlds, making them feel less like places filled with secrets to discover and more like maps with a checklist of things to do.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • One of the biggest criticisms aimed toward Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Knight was present in Batman: Arkham City, where, despite Hugo Strange being marketed and presented as the main villain in the beginning of the game, you'll spent so much of it curing The Joker from his disease (all but one or two hours in the entire game) that the game needs to remind you that Strange exists from time to time. Making him the Big Bad of the first game was quite sensible because, well, who else would you pick? The second game was intended to be Mark Hamill's swansong for the character, which nobody would have wanted pushed to a side mission. But the third game had Black Mask (a relatively unknown villain) presented as the Big Bad, only to get upstaged by Joker. By the fourth game, the promoted main villain Scarecrow (considered one of the most memorable villains in the original game, and who had only made a full appearance there) is overshadowed by the Joker hallucination, who ends up being the final encounter while Scarecrow is defeated in a cutscene, and certain other villains who hadn't been utilized very much (such as Two-Face) are either not present or encountered only in side missions.
    • The City PC port was decent but sub-optimized and came a month after the console versions, Origins' was filled with bugs and then the Knight port happened. It was forgiven for City because the port was still good enough to be played on, and Origins was tolerated because the game was seen as a quick cash-in rush job by WB and was still pretty terrible on consoles anyway.
    • It should also be noted that, while it become completely obvious in Batman: Arkham Knight (where there isn't a single Boss Battle outside of driving sections and Quick Time Events), the series always had a problem with Boss fights. For example, in Asylum, the Final Boss (a Titan-ized Joker) isn't fought directly and instead you have to fight waves of Mooks between Quick Time Events to damage the boss. It was forgiven in Asylum because it was the first game of the series by then-relatively unknown Rocksteady, and City had the amazing Ra's al Ghul and Mr. Freeze boss battles to make up for it.
    • Riddler Trophies. Arkham Knight had people complaining that some of them were out in the open without needing to do anything special to get them. In truth, this was the case all the way back in Asylum. The difference is that Asylum was on a much smaller scale and the Riddler trophy collecting was new.
  • The divisive Politically Correct History approach in Battlefield V could be traced to the previous game, Battlefield 1. In that game, non-white soldiers are dramatically overrepresented in multiplayer among the American, British, French and German armies; the In the Name of the Tsar DLC depicts the Russian Women's Battalion of Death as an active combat unit instead of a ceremonial one; and Zara Ghufran, the protagonist of the War Story "Nothing is Written", is a female Bedouin warrior who plays a larger and more direct part in the Arab Revolt than any real Arab women are known to have done. While these decisions caused some controversy, they weren't nearly as widely or deeply hated as the liberties taken in V. The difference is that in 1, there was generally a greater historical basis for creative choices of this naturenote , which, when combined with the stronger emphasis on authenticity and verisimilitude, meant these minority characters felt significantly less out of place compared to V. Moreover, unlike in V, the real actions of historical figures weren't falsely attributed to minorities. In contrast, V had Mildly Military uniforms and playable women in historically male-only factions, meaning that there isn't the historical immersion that would prevent minorities from sticking out like a sore thumb. This wasn't helped how V decided to falsely attributed the actions of historical figures to completely fictional minorities; the most notable example being the crediting of a real-life heavy water plant sabotage in occupied Norway (which was historically carried out by an all-male team of SOE commandos) to a mother-daughter duo, which even many feminists thought was a bridge too far.
  • BioShock was the game that birthed the term "ludonarrative dissonance" due to the contradictions between the narrative told through its story and the one told through its gameplay, especially after The Reveal. In a game ostensibly built around player freedom and choice, the big twist concerns the fact that you actually have none, since you had been brainwashed by Frank Fontaine the whole time. The problem really comes in when you're freed from Fontaine's brainwashing, yet you're still railroaded through the game, this time taking orders from Tenenbaum ostensibly under your own free will. However, the twist, when taken on its own, was a stunning deconstruction of tropes that were taken for granted in video games up to that point. Furthermore, not only did the game still have Multiple Endings that depended on decisions that players made throughout the game and (in the fashion of the immersive sims it was modeled after) afforded them multiple ways to approach every problem put in front of them, but the fact that it was in fact far more linear than it initially presented itself as was the entire point of the twist, such that even a Disappointing Last Level couldn't stop it from being acclaimed as one of the greatest video game stories of all time. BioShock Infinite was not only far more linear but had no such metanarrative justification, and as such it was often criticized for leading players through its story and world rather than letting them interact with such.
  • Borderlands
    • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has been criticized by some reviews and fans of having tedious backtracking and tiresome quest design. While some of these problems have existed since the first entry in the franchise, Borderlands 2 did mitigate some of the excessive backtracking and offered vastly improved gameplay and writing that helped distract from some of the sluggish pacing problems. However, as noted in this IGN review, The Pre-Sequel did not correct the pacing problems despite being the 3rd main installment in the series, thus making it more difficult to ignore these issues.
    • Many complaints about Borderlands 3 and its humor and writing were actually with the franchise at the beginning. Ever since Borderlands 1, the games have been criticized for relying too much on shocking Black Comedy and pop-culture references for humor, which some saw as shallow and juvenile. However, the writing wasn't too much of an issue since it stood out against other more serious shooters and was complemented by interesting characters. Most notably, Borderlands 2's Handsome Jack, Mr. Torgue, and Tiny Tina were well-praised for having depth, charisma, and sheer awesomeness. Telltale Games' spin-off Adventure Game, Tales from the Borderlands, was also praised for elevating the series by having tighter pacing and a grounded tone, while still keeping the signature humor and likable characters. However, the story of Borderlands 3 received a more mixed reception from fans because of how it recycled the writing style of the previous games without elevating it or offering interesting characters. Not only was the humor the same, but its new characters lacked the awesomeness, depth, or other traits that got players invested, with the Calypso siblings being singled out as obnoxious shallow parodies of YouTubers whose For the Evulz moments come off as weak attempts to recreate the success of Handsome Jack.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's Signature Scene was, by the opinions of just about every player and gaming outlet, the nuke from the level "Shock and Awe". It was about as big of a Downer Ending as could possibly happen for the American side of the campaign: shocking, visceral, and utterly tragic. It's very likely responsible for lifting the series from merely a well-rated set of games to a Cash Cow Franchise. Later games, however, would try to top the nuke scene over and over, with Shocking Swerve after Shocking Swerve, moments that existed seemingly solely for shock value ("No Russian" in Modern Warfare 2, which at least had a story link to the rest of the game, and "Davis Family Vacation" in Modern Warfare 3, which... really did not), and a few sequences that just plain repeated the nuke sequence verbatim (respectively the EMP over Washington, D.C. in 2 and the gas attacks across Europe in 3). By Modern Warfare 3, the audience had come to expect these events, and they'd stopped being shocking and started feeling manufactured and trite.

      Furthermore, the nuke scene also foreshadowed the series' reliance on linear set-pieces that restricted the player's agency. This video pegs Modern Warfare 2 as the point where this problem got out of hand, arguing that it tried to create something like the nuke scene every forty-five minutes. It worked in the first Modern Warfare because it was an ending to that side of the campaign, and one explicitly designed to make the player feel powerless at that, but later games used similar highly-scripted moments as power fantasies instead, which went against legacy game mechanics that were designed to disempower the player back when the series was still focused on storming the beaches of Normandy as part of a team.
    • Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer started the trend of nerfing kill/score/pointstreaks for future games. While the developers' intent was so that there would be less offensive streak-spamming and spawn-killing by offensive streaks, this had the unfortunate side-effect of making high offensive-streaks almost useless to go after. In Ghosts' case, most players just ran either the Support or Specialist Strike Packages instead of the Assault Strike Package due to many items in the Assault Package being too weak to run with (this also contributed to Ghosts' criticism for encouraging camping-style play in multiplayer).
    • One of the biggest complaints you will see about the series' multiplayer is that the time it takes to kill seems to get quicker with each installment, resulting in a devolution into a simple 'whoever shoots first' style of gameplay. This can be traced back to Modern Warfare, which had a few annoying One-Hit Kill weapons (primarily one sniper rifle that was bugged to deal slightly better damage with a specific sight attached), but were few in number and most players stuck with more Boring, but Practical weapons. The game also included the Stopping Power perk that gives a 40% damage boost to all ballistic weapons. When Black Ops came out, it removed Stopping Power but didn't adjust damage values to compensate. A common criticism of that game's multiplayer was that it now took too long to kill. From this point onwards, the damage of weapons were increasingly ramped up (by Black Ops II, even the pistols, at close range, rival the strongest of the assault rifles in damage) and many one-shot kill weapons became more prominent, leading to the oft-dreaded gameplay style used today.
    • One of the most derided parts of the series among critics and fans alike was the increasing shift to a futuristic sci-fi setting, beginning with Black Ops II and reaching a nadir with Infinite Warfare; the backlash from the latter leading to the series Revisiting the Roots with WWII. However, this trend can be found as far back as the first Modern Warfare, which took place Next Sunday A.D. and had multiple segments seemingly designed to show off cutting edge technology. This can be forgiven however as said technology was genuinely novel at the time (not many games let you fire the guns of an AC-130 gunship before CoD4 featured it). The aforementioned Black Ops II was the first to shift into 20 Minutes into the Future territory, but balanced things out with levels taking place in the 1980s, and having many of the futuristic elements be based on current emerging technologies to keep things plausible. But by the time Advanced Warfare gave us a Cyber Punk setting and Infinite Warfare sent the series into outer space, it was agreed that the series had completely lost its grip on the realism that it was originally renowned for.
    • Call of Duty games are often derided by gamers and the press as xenophobic and jingoistic. Many of these criticisms started with the Modern Warfare sub-series, yet many forget that the first two Modern Warfare games, which kickstarted the modern military shooter genre, are actually deconstructions of that kind of propaganda. In both entries, America doesn't save the day and its actions end in failure, whether it's a nuclear bomb that kills thousands of American soldiers looking for a warlord who turns out to not even be in the same continent, or a CIA agent participating in a civilian massacre that leads to World War III. However, the breakout success of Call of Duty with those titles led the franchise to embrace the militaristic Patriotic Fervor in hopes of escalating the series and capitalizing on its fame. Modern Warfare 3 deliberately indulged its blockbuster power fantasy with an America Saves the Day ending, and Call of Duty: Ghosts was criticized for showing its American heroes as righteous figures and the Latin American-based Federation as an Always Chaotic Evil horde in a plot that had discomforting parallels to real-world debates over immigration to the US. Not helping matters was that publisher Activision deliberately marketed the games as power fantasies and brought on US military advisers to endorse the series. Subsequently, Call of Duty fell victim to its own success as it became the military propaganda that it once sought to condemn.
  • Chris Avellone is well-known for consistently deconstructing whatever genre, medium, or world he's working with, often through the use of mouthpiece characters. In the case of Planescape: Torment, this led to a massively-acclaimed examination of Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, Order Versus Chaos, and other core tropes of Dungeons & Dragons. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was also well-liked, but his mouthpiece for that game, Kreia, is a major Base-Breaking Character because she provides him an opportunity to rant on everything he hates about Star Wars, and a lot of players considered Kreia to be almost as annoying as the buggy and unfinished state of the game. However, things finally collapsed in the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, when his author avatar, Ulysses, became a Creator's Pet of unimaginable proportions; not only is he a mouthpiece for Avellone, everyone else who talks about him is constantly shilling him as an epic badass, the DLC about him is portrayed as a fated confrontation, and it's spent fighting through an army of tough monsters while listening to him rant about how he hates the setting and wants to nuke everything again (because Avellone dislikes how Fallout has rebuilt itself from the post-apocalyptic setting of the first game).
  • Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex was roundly criticised on release for an over-saturation of vehicle-based levels; of thirty levels, only six are the classic on-foot Crash platforming levels that made the game popular to begin with, and the rest are either played with pre-Rescued from the Scrappy Heap Coco, or in a vehicle of some kind. Of course, vehicles aren't anything new to Crash; the very first game had the two hog levels, while Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back replaced the hog with Polar, and added in the jetboard and jetpack. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was where this started to shine through a lot more, with a Polar replacement in Pura, a jet ski, an airplane, scuba diving, a baby T. rex and a motorcycle (which had four levels dedicated to it), but even in that game, roughly half of the levels were still classic Crash platforming, while TWoC's platforming levels are only a fifth of the game.
  • David Cage has always had great moments in his games, but even back in Fahrenheit, it was noted that the overriding plotline was just weird, and didn't fit with the previous scenes. At the time, this could be forgiven due to Executive Meddling forcing the developers to rush the game out the door before they came up with a proper ending, leading to the Gainax Ending that it ultimately had. However, Heavy Rain had all manner of strange foreshadowing with no payoff, the plot of Beyond: Two Souls is in a chopped-up order and doesn't fit together at all, and Detroit: Become Human, an attempt at a sci-fi parable for American race relations, despite being widely considered better as a whole, was widely criticized as tone-deaf despite its good intentions. Cage plots by imagining cool, individual scenes, but doesn't seem to know how to put them together in a sensible fashion.
  • Many Dead Rising fans disliked how the fourth game felt "dumbed down" compared to past entries, scrubbing away many of the series' more unique touches in an effort to reach a wider audience, to the point where Capcom released a free patch to go with the Game of the Year Edition that made several changes in order to Win Back the Crowd. In truth, many of the most criticized elements of that game could be found in the second and third games.
    • The strict time limit placed on the player was always one of the most controversial gameplay mechanics in the series, with about half the fans calling it a Scrappy Mechanic that gravely restricted the player's freedom and the other half arguing that it was one of the best things about the series, as it forced players to memorize the map and think about their next move. As such, when the third game made the timer far more lenient, extending it to six days instead of three, the reaction was decidedly mixed, though even those who didn't like the change didn't mind too much. Plus, there was an optional difficulty to make it more like the previous games. Then the fourth game dropped the timer completely, and one of the most common complaints about the resulting game was that, without the timer, it had lost a key part of what made the series unique, turning into a cookie-cutter Wide Open Sandbox game.
    • The second game, meanwhile, introduced combo weapons, letting the player MacGyver dozens of unique, powerful zombie-slaying tools out of the various other items around them. While the resulting game heavily emphasized the use of these combo weapons, they were treated very much as special items. The player had to visit workbenches in order to build them, meaning that the standard arsenal of "whatever isn't nailed down" was still very useful. The third game got rid of the workbenches and allowed players to build combo weapons anywhere provided that they had the two items required for it, which made them far easier to acquire — and the regular weapons far less useful as a result. The fourth game streamlined things even further, to the point where the only use for most of the various items lying around was to build special weapons. As such, one of the main concepts of the first two games, the creativity of being able to use anything you can get your hands on as a weapon, fell by the wayside. The reasoning behind doing so got weaker as well. While both Chuck Greene from the second game and Nick Ramos from the third had backstories as, respectively, motorcycle and auto mechanics to justify their creation abilities, Frank West could pull off all the same skills in the fourth game with nothing but a Hand Wave on how he took a shop class to meet girls. And on that note...
    • A major point of contention in the fourth game is its heavy emphasis on humor, which fans not only felt was a jarring departure from previous entries, but also didn't fit the mood the game itself was going for. Humor had its place in the series from the start: the first game let you go wild with joke weapons and wear silly costumes that would carry over into cutscenes, and you could meet multiple survivors and psychopaths that were at least partially played for laughs. The key difference was that it knew the difference between pure comedy and levity: the game's main story is still a stone-faced drama that every character takes seriously, most of its item-based physical comedy remained either out-of-the-way or optional, and even the sillier characters often had a tragic side that justified their behaviour. After the third game was criticised for being too dark, Dead Rising 4 course-corrected to an extreme. Frank has endless quips for everything, which bleeds into serious story moments and undermines some of its darker elements. Neither survivors nor maniacs are given enough development to balance out their quirks. Weapons that are joke-y or even just blatantly impossible are also given even greater prominence than before: the Laser Blade went from being an Infinity +1 Sword in the first game, to an oddball combo weapon in the second, to feeling downright tame in the fourth game when just about every combo weapon has some kind of elemental power. All these elements combine to make the fourth game feel like it cannot decide if it wants to fully commit to being a comedy or not, and the game's atmosphere suffers for it.
    • Finally, the fourth game's removal of the Psychopaths, people who had snapped and gone postal due to the stress of the zombie outbreak and served as boss battles, was widely criticized, with their replacement, the Maniacs, being broadly unpopular for lacking the distinctive personalities and introductory cutscenes that the Psychopaths had. (One of the big changes made in the aforementioned patch was to beef up the Maniacs, giving them more health, new attacks, and unique boss themes.) The third game had already begun toning down the Psychopaths, with most of the fights required to progress through the story being with conventionally evil military figures or gang leaders, and only six optional Psychopaths along the side. While the concept of having seven different Psychopaths based on the Seven Deadly Sins (the six optional Psychos, plus the story-critical Albert the sleazy surgeon, who represented Greed) was applauded by some fans for providing a theme to the boss fights, others found themselves wishing that there were more of them scattered throughout the game, especially in a setting that served as a pastiche of the ripe-for-satire Los Angeles. Dropping and replacing them altogether in the fourth game wasn't a big leap.
  • Dead Space 2 was an Actionized Sequel that set the Dead Space series on the road to abandoning the Survival Horror gameplay of the first game in favor of becoming a Third-Person Shooter. Dead Space 2's Sequel Escalation, however, saw it ramp up the horror set pieces in tandem with making the gameplay smoother and adding multiplayer, such that some fans hailed it as an Even Better Sequel. Then Dead Space 3, in response to the disappointing sales of the last game (four million units, a lot but not enough to cover its enormous budget), scrubbed away the horror almost entirely in order to play Follow the Leader with the shooter trends of the time (Co-Op Multiplayer, cover-based shooter gameplay, a weapon customization system that gave players overpowered weaponry very early on), a move that met with disastrous results.
  • The later DonPachi games are a bit controversial due to the introduction of protagonist characters who aren't just Featureless Protagonists (the Element Dolls in particular), and shmup fans often approach games with a Play the Game, Skip the Story mindset and as such don't care for the increased focus on cute character designs. However, DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm toyed with the concept of actual protagonist characters about a year before DoDonPachi dai ou jou introduced the Element Dolls. While it does have characters with Fanservice designs, fans tend not to complain due to the game not being as in-your-face about them as later games (although another part of it is that most series fans don't even acknowledge Bee Storm anyway, as it was outsourced to IGS for the purpose of testing out new arcade hardware).
  • Donkey Kong 64 is considered a decent, but still disappointing game that has many, many problems. Most of the issues are similar to problems from Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel that came one year after, but was being developed at the time. The most frequent complaint is that DK64 has too many items to collect; Banjo had a high number of items, but DK64 cranked them up to eleven. Worse, DK64 is too segmented; the game offers you five characters but almost everything has to be done with a specific one, even collecting the items which are color coded by character, and you can only switch them at specific spots. Banjo had Mumbo Jumbo's transformations which often felt like a chore switching between, but DK64 makes it even worse, feeling like you're playing the same game five different times instead of once (at least the transformations in B-K were contained within the level and its surrounding Hub World area, and there were no separate sets of items required to obtain with them). The level design of DK64 is also criticized for being similar to Banjo, but with less inspiration. The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy for SNES also had a fair share of collectibles, but you didn't need to pick every single one to get full completion, and didn't even need to pick that many to beat the final boss.
  • Duke Nukem Forever:
    • One of the biggest criticisms of the game was the character of Duke himself, who many reviewers described as a repulsively unlikable person. Back in the days of Duke Nukem 3D, though, Duke had still been a pretty unlikeable person, but he was lauded for the fact that he had a personality at all, compared to non-characters like the Doomguy or BJ Blazkowicz. Furthermore, Duke was intended as a parody of the Hollywood Action Hero archetype; his one-liners were taken from popular action films of The '80s, and his character flaws were blown up to comical proportions. In the following fifteen years, however, many shooter games had been released featuring extremely fleshed-out and likable protagonists, and Duke hadn't evolved at all. If anything, he'd become more unlikable, with the elements that had been played for parody in Duke Nukem 3D played straight in Forever.
    • Other criticized elements of DNF's humor, the Take Thats to other franchises and the pop culture references, also hail from 3D. The Take Thats worked back then because 3D was a genuinely innovative game that improved on Doom's formula (and would go on to inspire several more games in the same way Doom did), so a bit of gloating didn't feel undeserved. DNF, however, tried to deliver Take Thats to games that it was outright copying, while bringing very little new to the table gameplay-wise. For example, there is a gag involving Duke insulting the Master Chief, proudly proclaiming that "power armor is for pussies". This joke probably would have been a lot funnier if Forever didn't also use the Regenerating Health and Limited Loadout systems that Halo popularised. In terms of pop culture, 3D's jokes were either very topical or referencing sources obscure enough that people thought they were original jokes. On the other hand, DNF's infamously long development cycle meant that many of its jokes or references had already become Discredited Memes (most infamously a lengthy Leeroy Jenkins joke, in 2011).
    • The hive level, where Duke ventures around an alien hive filled with traumatized women that have been raped and impregnated with alien larvae and beg for death, has been widely criticized for being utterly tasteless, not to mention tonally out of place with the rest of the game, which is mostly a goofy action romp. But there was a very similar hive level in 3D, sobbing violated women and all. The difference came down to a few factors. The much greater tech and graphics Forever was working with showed that this was clearly a horrifying and screwed-up situation, made even more evident by the color palette being incredibly dark and grimy for the whole sequence. More than that, though, Forever made the very unwise decision to try and keep going with the raunchy sex jokes and pop-culture references even in an environment that did not call for them: when you can open a door by fingering it, slap some disembodied boobs on a wall for an ego boost, and proceed past the corpse of Isaac Clarke to find a rape victim sobbing as the aliens chew through her stomach, the game probably isn't treating the whole thing with the weight it warrants. And most importantly, 3D didn't have a scene where Duke tells two women whom he knew personally and who are about to die after being forcibly impregnated by aliens "Guess you're... fucked."
  • Far Cry:
    • Far Cry 3 started the process of streamlining many of the more unique gameplay mechanics of the first two games, downplaying the survival aspects in favor of emphasizing the Wide Open Sandbox. The thing was, some of the gameplay mechanics from Far Cry 2 that its successor abandoned, such as malaria and weapon degradation, were seen by many players as Scrappy Mechanics, and so their departure was welcomed by a significant cohort of the fanbase. It's not for nothing that Far Cry 3 is sometimes held up as the series' creative high point. When this trend continued with the fourth and fifth games, however, fans started to bemoan the continuing simplification of the gameplay, especially as elements of its formula started to creep into other Ubisoft titles like Assassin's Creed and Watch_Dogs.
    • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was a Mission-Pack Sequel built around recycled content from the third game, foreshadowing how Far Cry Primal and Far Cry: New Dawn did the same with the fourth and fifth games, respectively. The difference was, it only cost $15, it was marketed as a standalone Expansion Pack rather than a full game, and moreover, it converted the game into an '80s sci-fi action Genre Throwback that felt radically different from the base game, with an entirely new map and almost entirely new weapons. Primal and New Dawn, on the other hand, were the usual Far Cry formula, just set in prehistoric times and the post-apocalypse, respectively, utilizing many recycled weapons where appropriate and the exact same map layouts, and treated as full games with price points to match.
  • As acclaimed as GoldenEye (1997) is, it is responsible for codifying James Bond video games as action-packed romps lacking the kind of social espionage that the character is perhaps more famous for. With GoldenEye, it was accepted for a variety of reasons. For one, its source material had multiple memorable action scenes that easily translated into fun gameplay. In addition, that gameplay was incredibly novel for the time, in particular its emphasis on completing a variety of objectives instead of simply finding keycards to open the exit as was the hallmark of early- to mid-'90s FPS games. It also helped that the game let the player use an array of gadgets to give it that Bond flavor. Future games based on the franchise, however, would continue to indulge deeper into the action side of the formula, and felt significantly less innovative, as these games were often indebted to whatever style of shooter was popular when they were made with only a token Bond flavor, typically stuffing a few rarely-used gadgets into Bond's watch (EA's Bond games) or a smartphone that can do everything not solved by just shooting people in the head with your silenced P99 (Activision's Bond games). The final straw was 007 Legends, which suffered from trying to fit less action-packed films like On Her Majesty's Secret Service or Moonraker into the Call of Duty mold, and then had the typical licensed-game problem of needing to be rushed to meet the release date of an upcoming film on top of it.
  • Gradius IV was extensively criticized for recycling level archetypes from previous games, with particular derision being directed at the first level simply being a rehash of Gradius IIs opening stage with the flames being replaced with a liquid metal effect. To some extent, Gradius, like many of Konami's action game franchises, has always been a heavily self-referential series: the previous numbered Gradius games shared many of the same biomes and one of the big setpiece in Gradius II was a Boss Rush mostly made up of recycled bosses from the original game and its spin-off Salamander. The difference was that the previous Gradius games made sure to mix up the familiar sights with new level themes, while IV was the first major release in the series to feature no new stage themes (the closest being the magma flow section in the Volcano stage, which perhaps not coincidentally, is usually cited as the level design highlight of the game). Not helping IV's case was that the previous major Gradius game, Gradius Gaiden had some very bold takes on familiar Gradius levels, or that the game's conservative nature extended to its base mechanics, with IV not adding any major gameplay feature and actively axing features added in the previous games like Edit Mode: the lack of new mechanics made the "safe" stage selection stand out all that much more.
  • The Guitar Hero series, along with its successor/rival Rock Band, both found themselves plagued with Mission Pack Sequels, a problem that only became acute late in both series' lifespans but was noticeable much earlier on.
    The Original Sin was Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, a poorly-received sequel to the excellent Guitar Hero II, made by Harmonix under contract after Activision bought the series. Neversoft (under Activision) made Guitar Hero III and onward, with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero: On Tour — Decades, Guitar Hero: On Tour — Modern Hits, and two different versions of Band Hero (one for DS and one for consoles).
    Harmonix themselves would continue this trend on their own with Rock Band Track Packs (bare-bones game discs with songs taken from the game's vast DLC library, for players stuck on consoles with no DLC or who want to get the songs for slightly cheaper), a LEGO Adaptation Game, and band-specific sequels. The Track Packs were tolerated due to being explicitly marketed as handy DLC bundles rather than full games, and their game based on The Beatles was critically acclaimed thanks to The Beatles' legendary status (it helps that the game's tracklist could not be exported to the main games, helping it stand as its own game rather than a Mission-Pack Sequel), but their next game, focused on Green Day, was seen as So Okay, It's Average at best.
    Other (poorly-received) imitators such as Rock Revolution and Power Gig: Rise of the SixString only worsened the situation. Eventually, both series, and the entire genre of peripheral-based Rhythm Games, drowned in a flood of Mission Pack Sequels.
  • The Halo series has been criticized for its games being too dependent on backstory from the Expanded Universe, when really, some elements were there from the beginning;
    • For example, Halo 5: Guardians would not make much sense without having seen Halo: Escalation, Spartan Ops, Halo: Nightfall, Halo: New Blood, etc. This reliance on the expanded universe for backstory goes back to the franchise's first two entries: Halo: Combat Evolved and its tie-in novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. Without The Fall of Reach, the player had no clue about where Master Chief came from, why the Covenant were attacking, where Cortana came from, what the Pillar of Autumn ship was evacuating from, and so on. But the difference was that the plot of Combat Evolved was self-contained to the events on the titular Halo ring, so all the missing backstory didn't matter to the events in-game. This pattern of keeping the games' and books' plots separate was largely the same until 343 Industries took over the series, making the EU more prominent but with mixed results on its games.
    • Additionally, the complaints about Halo devolving into a Call of Duty ripoff after 343i took over. Many complained about the focus on gimmicks such as Armor/Spartan Abilities, the addition of sprinting, the removal of Elites as a playable model, increasing the pace of the game, blatantly mimicking Call of Duty's class system, and finally, the addition of ADS (Aiming Down Sights) which sparked the most controversy. Many of these things, beside the ADS, were present in Halo: Reach, the last Halo game Bungie created. Reach added Armor Abilities, included the ability to sprint, reduced playing as Elites to exclusive modes, and added loadouts for each match for differentiation. Sprint was even considered for Halo 2 at one point. The difference is that Bungie knew when to draw the line, making sure that it was its own original game. Specifically, the loadouts were pre-determined and could not be customized in matchmaking, the gameplay still felt like Halo despite the Armor Abilities as opposed to being blatantly influenced by Call of Duty, and the emphasis on balanced, map-oriented gameplay was still there (just not as much as before). 343, on the other hand, took it to another level and turned Halo into something that's barely recognizable from the older games, all by doing what Bungie did, but going even further with it than they dared to go. That said, 343i did completely remove the loadout system in Halo 5: Guardians's classic-style multiplayer mode, and the ADS system turned out to be mechanically identical to the scopes of previous games (with the only non-cosmetic difference being that every weapon could be zoomed).
  • The Last of Us was incredibly dark, but had enough of a sense of hope that players could care about the world without burning out on the dark tone, with a major part of it being Joel and Ellie's growing bond. The Last of Us Part II, however, carries the same bleak tone, but lacking the same hopeful elements of the first game - Joel is killed fairly early on, Ellie kills countless people during her Roaring Rampage of Revenge for Joel's death, Abby is playable for large portions of the game after the story has already given players a reason to dislike her by having her kill Joel, and both Abby and Ellie receive Downer Endings, leading to Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy in many players. Not helping matters was the terrible timing - Part II dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many players would not be interested in such an unrelentingly bleak game.
  • As a remake, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is highly contested for most of its changes feeling like downgrades to what was in the original game. Many of these complaints existed in Ocarina of Time 3D in a more understandable form: it had some small edits to gameplay and its control scheme, while the changes to the lighting engine significantly changed the visual composition of a few scenes, most notably during the final boss fight with Ganon. The difference is that Ocarina of Time 3D was still a very faithful remake where most of the edits were small quality-of-life deals. Majora's Mask 3D on the other hand was far more liberal with its edits to mechanics that felt fine in the original game, such as the Zora swimming controls and remaking most of its boss fights, while at the same time not doing much to implement more subtle quality-of-life changes that the game would have legitimately benefited from. Majora's Mask's darker tone also made the new lighting engine feel out of place, especially when implemented alongside a new, brighter colour palette and contrasted with the more faithful texture work in Ocarina of Time 3D.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite:
    • The Marvel side of the roster was heavily criticized for almost exclusively focusing on characters featured in Marvel's live-action films, with Nova, Ghost Rider and Venom being the sole exceptions. What people tend to forget is that mainstream popularity and adaptations have always influenced which Marvel characters were included in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, with the huge number of mutant characters in the earlier games largely owing to the massive popularity of the X-Men cartoon that was airing at the time the series began. While there were more adventurous and obscure choices like Shuma-Gorath and M.O.D.O.K., those were always a relatively small portion of the overall cast. It's just that in the case of Infinite, the favoritism shown to the MCU characters came across as far more blatant since characters whose film rights are not held by Marvel, such as the X-Men and Doctor Doom, were mysteriously left out of the game and given, at best, confusing and nonsensical reasons for why. In fact, the MCU influence was there earlier but much, much more controlled and less prominent. 3 added Thor, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Rocket Raccoon and Novanote  specifically because they all had planned projects in the works for the MCU. It also downplayed the presence of X-Men, with 2 having a whopping 18 out of 28 X-Men reps but 3 only having 7 out of 25. Only four returning X-Men characters from that game appeared (Wolverine, Magneto, Storm, Sentinel) while the rest got cut in favor of three newcomers (Phoenix, X-23, Deadpool). However, given that it gave more exposure to the general Marvel roster, still maintained the presence of non-MCU and Unexpected Characters, and the three newcomers being fan-favorites, this was something people liked. Unfortunately, this got turned Up to Eleven when Infinite rolled out, removing almost all non-MCU characters just as a spite towards Fox and a blatant promotion of the movies, combined with massive Executive Meddling and a lack of polish that made it feel like the cheap MCU plug that fans widely condemn it for.
    • One of the biggest complaints about the game was the sheer amount of returning characters from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and other previous games, with the only new characters in the launch roster being Captain Marvel, Mega Man X, Ultron, Gamora, and Jedah. While many fans and critics have accused Capcom of being lazy, the entire Marvel vs. Capcom series was practically built on reusing character models from older games like Marvel Super Heroes and the Street Fighter Alpha series (Darkstalkers' Morrigan was infamous back around the MvC2 days for reusing the exact same sprite set for several games across seven years, long after her sprites had started to clash with the style and even quality of those for the other characters). The amount of brand new characters has always been quite small when compared to the sheer amount of recycled fighters. The main reason this proved so problematic for Infinite was that its immediate predecessor had far more newcomers, as well as the fact that there were fan-favorite Marvel and Capcom characters fans were hoping for such as Ms. Marvel and Nero who got left out in favor of less-popular returning characters who seemed like they were only included due to laziness (such as Spencer, whose inclusion was met with widespread derision and bafflement). Not helping matters was the announcement that new characters like Sigma, Black Panther and Monster Hunter would be available as DLC, which created the perception that Capcom had purposefully avoided including too many newcomers so that they could charge extra for them down the line.
    • Additionally, the practice of recycling sprites, though still lazy, was understandable as quality sprite artwork, especially from the fifth generation as in early MvC's heyday, takes a long time to age. Infinite, in an attempt to cut costs, had to recycle a lot of models from 3, but didn't accommodate for the fact that 3 had a different lighting engine and textures. You could instantly tell which characters were returning veterans because their models just looked so much worse than the newcomers—and as established, there were a lot of veterans.
    • Also, while Infinite's "laziness" was one of the most criticized aspects, this is yet another aspect that can be traced back to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, the franchise's most popular entry. Rather than using individual themes for each character, which is what the prior games in the series did, MVC2 used a handful of jazz tracks that usually sounded like something you'd hear in an elevator or at a lounge, most of which clashed badly with their respective stages. Meanwhile, the stages themselves broke from the series tradition of representing specific Marvel and Capcom locations (such as the Blackbird, Avengers HQ, Dr. Wily's lab and Morrigan's demonic realm) in favor of weird 3D backgrounds that had nothing to do with the history of either company, such as a cave, an amusement park and a clocktower. This also meant that these stages lacked any of the cameos or easter eggs that could also be found in older installments. Additionally, MVC2 did away with the individual Arcade Mode endings for each character, much like Infinite would be heavily criticized for doing years later. However, thanks to the large roster, fun gameplay and a pretty large dose of Nostalgia Goggles, many fans tend to overlook this, with some even liking the bizarre soundtrack.
  • Max Payne 3 was torn into by fans of the older games over the darker tone, abandoning the Heroic Bloodshed elements, and the treatment of Max's character as a Failure Hero who drunkenly charges into situations and ends up making things even worse through Cutscene Incompetence. However in many ways, the seeds for these complaints were already laid in the second game. The lowered difficulty of 2 compared to the first game presents Max as an nigh-unstoppable force who can kill rooms full of gunmen with ease, but in cutscenes he loses these abilities and is treated much more vulnerably, such as nearly being killed by injuries he would have been able to shrug off with a painkiller or two in gameplay. The tone is also significantly darker and more dramatic than the first game, with the story playing out as a Tragedy with Max often rejecting the help of allies and repeatedly failing to stop the plans of the Big Bad. However, fans didn't see any of these as problems thanks to Sam Lake draping the story in metaphor and the many small bits of meta-humor peppered through the game. The writing of Dan Houser in 3 ditched the metaphor and subtext of Lake's writing, and combined with the caustic edge to Max's character and excessive Cutscene Incompetence caused fans to come down hard upon it.
  • MechWarrior's signature MechLab, a form of Design-It-Yourself Equipment for your Humongous Mecha, was never very well balanced to begin with, but as the series went on and more mechanics were added and the games were tweaked, it became more and more broken resulting in massive Gameplay Derailment. Its first incarnation in MechWarrior 2 was bare-bones, and the game's many coding oddities resulted in it being balanced if only because of the byzantine design. Mech 3 is where it started to go crazy, with heavy Complacent Gaming Syndrome of identical loadouts on identical mechs. Mech 4 attempted to fix it, but introduced a slew of unforeseen gameplay consequences. In Online, the game has multiple painfully Obvious Rule Patch mechanics to limit the MechLab's silliness and still fails spectacularly, resulting in players with One-Hit Kill-capable or infinite screen shake autocannon spam mechs. Living Legends avoided implementing the MechLab until the game was feature complete and balanced ("version 1.0"), specifically because the lab fundamentally broke the competitive multiplayer of every previous game, though it was never implemented due to the game being Screwed by the Lawyers in version 0.7.
  • Medal of Honor, as discussed in this article, contained early versions of many of the things that later military shooters would be criticized for — most notably, its desaturated color palette and how that style became associated with "realism" even in settings where it didn't make sense.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 5 was the first game in the Classic series to not make any substantial change to the series formula (Mega Man 2 had items and eight bosses, Mega Man 3 had Rush and sliding, and Mega Man 4 had the charged buster shot and the Disc-One Final Dungeon). The series became notorious for repetition not long after. It was also the first game to repeat the 'twist reveal' that the Big Bad was Dr. Wily all along and make it completely unsurprising; 4 had the element of Wily supposedly dying in the previous game while introducing a completely new antagonist in Dr. Cossack, making the twist somewhat surprising. For 5 to suggest that Proto Man had suddenly undergone a complete Face–Heel Turn for no real reason, most gamers could easily guess how it was going to turn out.

    • Wily always being the bad guy was a prominent joke about the original series, but it generally wasn't seen as a major problem — partly because the designers eventually just started treating it as a Running Gag, and partly because the plots in the Classic games are generally pretty shallow to begin with. People tend to be much less forgiving of his Spiritual Successor Sigma always being the bad guy in Mega Man X, because the X series actually did try to have a story with lots of Grey-and-Gray Morality, and an Obviously Evil villain who constantly hijacks potentially interesting plots as a Conflict Killer doesn't play ball with that. It's meant to be a joke when "Mr. X" shows up; not so much when the Disc-One Final Boss is reporting back to a perpetually-shadowed figure who clearly has Sigma's silhouette. This might be why X8 changes up the formula, by having Sigma be the Disc-One Final Boss and new face Lumine be the true Big Bad and True Final Boss.
    • One of the most common gripes about later games, especially 5, 8, and nearly every Mega Man X game after the first, is their lackluster boss weapons. Dud weapons are a thing that goes back to the very first game, with the Super Arm and Hyper Bomb being extremely situational and slow to the point of uselessness, respectively. The difference was that the earlier games had enough standout options to ignore the bad stuff; even 2, generally seen as having some of the worst weapons otherwise, had the Metal Blade and Quick Boomerangs to make up for it. The later games tended to either lack standout options (the closest thing in 5, for instance, is probably the Gyro Attack), or repeat archetypes from the older games (how many times do you need to see a shield, a screen-nuke, and something that crawls on the ground?). On top of that, the increasing buffs to the Mega Buster made the other weapons a lot less viable in comparison, to the point of outdamaging boss weaknesses in some games (likely a factor in Mega Man 9 just removing the charged buster, which led to many boss weapons being significantly better). As a result, boss weapons became an increasingly less relevant feature, only being used to resolve Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.
    • One of the bigger complaints about Mega Man X7 was that X, the protagonist of the series, was downgraded to an unlockable character who has little relevance to the story and Can't Catch Up when he does become available — indeed, by some accounts, he wasn't going to be in the game at all at one point in development. But when you look at the other games in the series, X had always been something of The Unfavorite compared to Zero, being usually depicted as weaker,note  given less interesting gameplay,note  and having less to do in the plot, especially as the games went on.note  X's protagonist status had increasingly become a formality, among both the fandom and the developers — but simply dropping him, and unceremoniously adding an unheard-of Replacement Scrappy, was going too far.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The series has always had problems with its female characters, like holding onto The Smurfette Principle with an iron grip, many of them being Ms. Fanservice, with Male Gaze out the wazoo and often killing them off to give a male character angst, but the earlier games always gave them interesting characterisation as well as at least some vital importance to the plot to make them decent characters in their own right, with a heaping helping of Mr. Fanservice and Female Gaze to go on top of that and act as something of a balance. However, in Guns of the Patriots, the female villains barely act as characters at all, having their backstories told to us by another character after their fight and barely even speaking, other than reminding us of their primary emotion every few seconds during their fights. In the next game released, Peace Walker, a boss battle starts with numerous lingering chest and butt shots of a woman in her underwear, and the same character is killed off in the most gratuitously sexual manner possible in Ground Zeroes to establish the villain as especially bad. This eventually leads to The Phantom Pain, where the only prominent female character almost never speaks, has minimal plot importance, spends her entire screen time in a bikini top and ripped tights, is given a ridiculous justification for that outfit, and has multiple scenes that come completely out of nowhere and serve as nothing but excuses for her to make sensual poses in front of the camera.
    • The series has always had issues with its Kudzu Plot, full of Shocking Swerve after Shocking Swerve, numerous Retcons, and Heel Face Revolving Doors. Creator Hideo Kojima, a massive fan of Hollywood films, loved to emulate the movies he loved as much as possible and add as many Shout Outs and nods as he could. Early on, this was considered intriguing—during the 8-bit era, players were lucky if games had any sort of plot whatsoever, and even in the PS1 era, it was considered a major innovation that games could emulate film at all, so these quirks merely added to the series' charm. However, fans became much, much less tolerant of these issues in later games as the series became bogged down by Continuity Creep. The lowest point is typically agreed to be Act 3 of Guns of the Patriots, where the true identities of the Patriots are revealed to be Naked Snake and his radio support from MGS3. This one revelation brought all of the series' worst excesses to light in the eyes of its fans; it had become so obsessed with its own continuity that every single minor detail had to be connected, and even minor (but likable) characters had to be thrown under the bus to provide lots of Call Backs to previous games. The Continuity Porn continued with things like Naomi Hunter making ridiculous decisions, being revealed to have cancer, and killing herself just so that Otacon could cry over another woman like in previous games. Rose and Colonel Campbell pretend to be a happy married couple so that Raiden can go through another emotional character arc similar to the one in 2, become yet another cyber ninja, and then wind up in the same Belated Happy Ending. The game even ends with Big Boss himself (a character dead since Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, 18 years earlier in reality and 15 in-universe) returning to explain the last few plot threads. In addition to introducing even more twists which may raise more questions than answers, these twists also have the effect of making the entire universe revolve around a small cast of characters that can perfectly manipulate worldwide events across entire decades. Many of these problems can be attributed to the fact that Kojima never really intended to continue the series beyond Metal Gear Solid 2 and, as one of the translators from that game stated, Kojima's writing style is too heavily influenced by wanting to create big set pieces and emulate cool things he likes from his favorite movies.
  • Metroid:
    • After eight years in rest since Super Metroid, the series was revived with two well-received games, one of them being Metroid Fusion. Despite the positive reception, a point of criticism from fans was its stronger focus on a story; it was even the first time Samus verbally interacted with another character. This was seen as a turning point for the entire series to shift towards more plot-driven games, like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Other M brought the debate on whether or not this is a good idea to a flame war-stricken head, particularly due to how it characterized Samus Aran.
    • Samus has also become more and more gratuitously sexualized as the series has gone on. The series has always rewarded good gameplay with an image of Samus out of her armor and in skimpy clothing, but in the earlier games it was much more about the Tomato Surprise than Fanservice (which was kind of hard to do with the pixelated graphics of the time), and most players wouldn't even see it because it required a very good performance. Metroid: Zero Mission introduced a skintight undersuit for her, which just barely skated by with the fanbase (while it was the first time players were guaranteed to see Samus out of armor, it still got a pass because the entire point was that her armor was destroyed, and she was more vulnerable as a result). Ever since then, suitless Samus has become just a thing that happens for fanservice, at times in contexts some fans consider inappropriate and/or degrading. The prominence of Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash Bros. starting from the third game did not help things either.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The series only completely entered its Dork Age when it smashed into the Polygon Ceiling, but the third game shows at least some of the weaknesses of later installments: over-reliance on dial-a-kombo,note  the complete shattering of the Eastern-ish theme (which resulted in people realizing how ridiculous some of the characters looked), and the bosses suddenly getting cheaper. Yet there's still a lot of fans and defenders of this one because it was the conclusion of the "Outworld Trilogy" and the stakes and tone of the original game were still there.
    • Mortal Kombat II introduced many fan-favorite characters, such as Kitana, Mileena, and Jax, but it also conspicuously took Sonya and Kano out for no real reason other than to have a Damsel in Distress and establish how badass Shao Khan is, respectively. However, as the developers admitted, Sonya and Kano were the least-popular characters, and the real fan favorites (Liu Kang, Sub Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, etc.) remained, so Kano and Sonya's losses were deemed acceptable. The third game, however, is when the absences started getting out of hand. After the departure of Dan Pesina and Katalin Zamiar, who portrayed all of the male and female ninja characters, Midway decided to drop almost all of the characters they portrayed from their lineup. Johnny Cage was killed off, Raiden said Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, and neither Kitana nor Mileena returned in the initial version of 3. Even worse, Scorpion, the most popular character in the series, was left out as well. The team quickly rectified most of these mistakes with the Updated Re-release, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, but within the casual market, the damage was done. This problem continued on throughout the rest of the series, as many fan-favorite characters were arbitrarily included or dropped from each installment. Sometimes they're killed off, sometimes they switch sides, sometimes they turn into completely new characters. This has become so ingrained within the fanbase that a common question when a new game is announced is "Is [insert favorite character here] in it?"
    • Related to absentee fan-favorites (and possibly the cause of it) is the bloated roster, which consists not just of Joke Characters and hidden bosses, but almost every single character that is vaguely referenced, even as a meme. Examples of this include Ermac, Scarlet, Blaze, and Tremor, just to name a few. There are also many bland and forgettable entries with tangential connections to more popular characters, like Mavado, Hsu Hao, Kobra, and so on. Traces of this started all the way from Mortal Kombat II, where the first game's hidden boss character (Reptile) made his playable debut, and characters with tangential connections to older ones like Kung Lao and Jax also made an appearance. The difference is that the series was small enough back then that new characters were a welcome sight, and felt like genuine expansions of the lore. By the time of Mortal Kombat 4, however, several new characters such as Fujin, Jarek and Kai felt like poor replacements for the ones missing (indeed, in some cases, the new faces were actually meant to be older characters who were then reskinned, such as swapping out Kano for his underling Jarek). This continued all the way up to Armageddon, where every single character — even the superfluous ones like Meat or ones they went on-record as hating like Hsu Hao — were part of the roster, in a deliberate attempt to Torch the Franchise and Run. The 2009 reboot dialed down on this, with just about every character included being a fan-favorite. X followed suit, but experimented with a few new faces, as well as a few of the old darkhorses like Tremor.
    • The MK series is known for retconning and revising characters and plot points, starting with the second game—which retconned Raiden into a wise Mentor Archetype instead of an arrogant god, and revised Shang Tsung into a servant of Shao Kahn (amongst many other changes). From that point on, almost every single game in the series has revealed, revised or rescinded some plot detail — especially after the feature film proved popular, and plot elements were folded into the games. This became rather confusing for fans of the lore, but it wasn't minded too much because there was genuine interest in seeing where things would go from there. The first decision that truly split the fanbase was the Cosmic Retcon that occurred in Mortal Kombat 9; here, not only are the retcons obvious note , but the fact that the game was a Soft Reboot meant that the story didn't really move forward in any meaningful way. This, again, was forgiven come Mortal Kombat X because that game introduced a Time Skip that took the story in new and fresh directions never seen before... but fans were not so forgiving when Mortal Kombat 11 pulled off another Cosmic Retcon that completely wiped out all timelines everywhere, meaning that not only were the events of the first seven games in the entire series completely wiped clean, but so was the new timeline, all the various comic books, cartoons, TV and film adaptations, and even offshoot games like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe — with no indication of how Fire God Liu Kang and Kitana would remake things. Fans, even those who liked 11, were NOT pleased with this direction.
  • Nintendo:
    • The company's censorship policies have existed since the beginning of their involvement in console gaming. It was justified during the 1980s as many infamous games that helped crash the industry (such as Custer's Revenge and Beat Em and Eat Em) were glorified porn. Nintendo's family-friendly approach (to the point of calling their first console a Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan) was viewed positively back then. However, their continued adherence to censorship guidelines during the releases of subsequent consoles has followed them in two ways. In the first case, it was what led to Nintendo having the negative reputation of being "kiddie games". The censorship of the original Mortal Kombat was especially infamous, since the Sega Genesis version was released with the gore intact (albeit hidden behind a cheat code), and was much better received by fans despite being technically inferior to the Super NES version. On the other end, Nintendo's censorship practices also showed the early signs of their strenuous relationship with third-party developers. By the time the fifth generation of gaming came, Nintendo's censorship combined with their refusal to adopt CD technology caused developers like Square to get fed up with their practices and jump ship to Sony. Nintendo's lack of strong third-party support has been a reoccurring flaw in all of their consoles since. Not helping is that censorship (especially when sexual objectification is involved) started becoming more politicized during the 2010s, meaning that reaction to any change that could be seen as censorship went from merely "Nintendo doesn't take its older fanbase seriously" to more intense backlash (leading to boycotts in some cases). With the release of the Switch, this might be changing, especially in regards to Sony's eventual censorship policies, which is by itself nothing short of ironic.
    • Nintendo's consoles past the SNES have often been criticised for being underpowered in comparison to the competition, with many accusing Nintendo of cutting corners on technology in order to save money. This flaw could be traced back to the original Game Boy. It was designed with Gunpei Yokoi's philosophy of "lateral thinking with withered technology", which refers to using technology that is older, cheaper, and well-understood while using it in a new and innovative way (in this case, a handheld gaming console based on an LCD calculator), instead of using the most advanced technology available at the time. This gave the Game Boy, despite its primitive hardware and black-and-white screen, a low price point and long battery life that gave it the edge over the Atari Lynx and the Sega Game Gear, both of which were full-color, backlit, and more powerful than the Game Boy but shared the Fatal Flaw of draining six batteries in a few hours. It was when that same philosophy was applied to their home consoles that people started to notice a problem. It first showed up on the Nintendo 64, where Nintendo was criticized for continuing to using cartridges in an era where CD-ROMs were taking over the market, as well as the GameCube, which used proprietary, lower-capacity optical discs instead of DVDs in order to save money (namely, to prevent piracy and so that Nintendo wouldn't have to pay licensing fees to the DVD Forum), and it continued on the Wii, which was initially seen as the big winner of the seventh generation but whose main innovation, motion controls, showed its limitations early in the console's life cycle. The problem culminated in the Wii U, which ended up a commercial failure and Nintendo's worst-selling home console. A number of people blamed the "lateral thinking" design philosophy for the Wii U's downfall, considering that it got trounced by two consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, that were both considerably more powerful yet barely more expensive on release. When Nintendo scrapped the Wii U and released the Switch (to considerably more acclaim), they made sure that it had enough power to be competitive with its rivals, if not as a home console then most certainly in comparison to handhelds and tablets.
    • Nintendo reworking initially different games to serve as part of one of its own properties goes back to Super Mario Bros. 2, and served them well enough in titles like Diddy Kong Racing or Super Smash Bros.. In those cases, the original game was either already very similar to the franchise it was trying to blend in with, or so radically different that it could be declared a spinoff. However, this completely backfired in the case of Star Fox Adventures, where they tried to rework the fantastical Zelda clone Dinosaur Planet into part of a space shooter series; not only was Adventures too significant and too far distant from the last game in the series to be dismissed as a spinoff, but it was incredibly apparent that it'd once been its own game and any attempts to the contrary (a handful of token Arwing sections, a nonsensical Hand Wave for why Fox can't use a gun) were hilariously obviously tacked-on.
  • Outlast did not include any means to defend yourself against enemies. This trend continues in Outlast II, but many fans think that the lack of a way for the player to defend themselves in the sequel game makes no sense, as there are plenty of weapons lying around: hammers, scythes, crowbars, etc. and the enemies aren't genetically altered super-strong patients like in the previous game, but disease-ridden and weakened rednecks. Similarly, there's the player character's refusal to use flashlights when there are many available. The defenselessness of the player character crosses into Idiot Plot considering how many times the main characters could have been saved by simply using one of the readily available weapons and flashlights.
  • Many of the problems that caused the PlayStation 3 to struggle in its first few years of its existence were actually also present on the PlayStation 2. Like the PS3, the PS2 had a complex and exotic Central Processing Unit that many developers struggled to understand and make the most out of, especially if they were used to developing on other platforms. Both consoles also had a Graphics Processing Unit that was relatively underpowered and required the use of the CPU's more exotic features to make up for it. Last but not least, both consoles served as a showpiece for the latest and greatest optical disc format at the time. In hindsight, it looks like Sony was merely trying to replicate the success of the PS2 with the PS3. So why didn't this work as planned? The first reason probably has to with game development during The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games becoming more complex and difficult in general, which gave developers all the more reason to balk at a complex non-standard system that added even more complexity on top. The second was that compared to the PS2, the PS3 took Sony's love of exotic and/or brand new tech Up to Eleven. DVD was already a few years old by the time the PS2 came out, which meant that the technology and manufacturing was much more mature, allowing Sony to include it in the console and still sell it at a reasonable price (the PS2 was infamously cheaper than most dedicated DVD players in some areas for a while). The PS3, however, came out mere months after the Blu-ray format itself, which meant sky-high prices for it since the economies of scale had yet to kick in, producing the console's infamous 599 US DOLLARS price point. All of this made the PS3 an expensive console with no games in its early years, and even though it would eventually Win Back the Crowd, it still would go on to be the lowest selling PlayStation console to date. Sony seems to have learned their lesson with the PlayStation 4, which features a highly industry standard x86 CPU with a powerful AMD Radeon GPU.
    • Its sister console, the PlayStation Portable, had problems in its own right—a high price, a focus on graphical power for a handheld, more features than needed, and a heavy focus on Eastern RPGs. But none of these things were truly dealbreakers, and though it was a distant second to the DS, it still carved out a niche. The PlayStation Vita, its successor, doubled down on basically all these problems, resulting in it being expensive to own, costly to develop for, burdened with unhelpful programs, and lacking much of anything outside of a handful of genres. On top of this, the Vita launched in a much less favorable market due to the encroachment of smartphones, and lacked the boost of pirates widening its install base, meaning its flaws shone far brighter. Despite the advantage of being the most powerful handheld on the market at the time, the Nintendo Switch would eventually steal its thunder, leading to its slow demise.
  • What initially helped Ratchet & Clank step out of the pack was the way it satirized the nature of consumerism — Mega Corps supplied most the series staples such as high-powered weapons and arena challenges, the Big Bads were often Corrupt Corporate Executives, people out to make a quick buck were a frequent obstacle, enemies were hired goons and mass-produced Mecha-Mooks — these elements made the series' famous use of destructive ordinance and snarky sense of humor fit well, and so it stands to reason why many fans attribute the franchise's faltering in later years to later installments dropping that angle in favor of a more cinematic, Family Friendly style. However, this refocus started as far back as Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, which had the duo joining the Galactic Rangers to thwart the machinations of a cartoonish super-villain, and even had Captain Quark, previously a cowardly fraud out to make a comeback through Engineered Heroics, pull a Heel–Face Turn at the end. Of course, the humor remained on-point, the characters were well-written, and the game-play was polished, allowing the game to be a classic despite focusing away from the satirical tone of its predecessors.
    Then came the Ratchet & Clank Future sub-series, which fully shifted the series in a more cinematic direction, revolving around the duo discovering their origins and coming into their role as heroes. While the Future series was well-received overall, it ultimately left the franchise without much of a direction to continue on from there, and it struggled to stay relevant even since. The cinematic re-imagining of the first game was where it became clear that the series was missing much of what gave it its charm in the first place — characters like Ratchet and Captain Qwark ironically ended up constrained by the more heroic characterizations they would grow into in the original continuity, the sense of humor was watered down, and series staples were a part of the game simply because they were staples, which ended up clashing with the more whimsical, light-hearted, and some would say generic tone the re-imagining had established. Because of this, many fans are accusing the series of trying to be the kind of Big Budget Cash Cow Franchise that earlier games would have mocked.
  • Resident Evil:
    • While the series had slowly been adding more action-packed elements ever since Resident Evil 2, it was Resident Evil 4 that set the series on a far more action-packed course as opposed to the Survival Horror genre that it had pioneered. It had downed enemies dropping ammo and other loot for the first time, allowed players to use that loot to upgrade and purchase weapons, downplayed the puzzles and exploration, replaced the zombies with the comparatively human-like Ganados, introduced quick-time events, and featured scenes of Leon suplexing and spin-kicking enemies and leaping through a laser grid in a manner that would make Keanu Reeves proud. Furthermore, as this retrospective by Foxcade points out, the final third of the game basically turns into an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride as Leon reaches the Big Bad's island fortress and starts fighting Ganado soldiers, with the Gothic Horror atmosphere of the village and castle segments mostly fading into the background in favor of modern laboratories and industrial facilities. While these changes were divisive even then, RE4 was still scary enough, and retained enough of past games' horror/exploration DNA, that longtime fans could ignore them and appreciate the much-needed improvements to gameplay that it made. It's not too controversial within the fandom to list RE4 as one's favorite RE game.

      However, the next "main" installment, Resident Evil 5, took these changes even further and started bringing the series into Third-Person Shooter territory. It featured nearly non-stop action at the expense of scares, abundant ammunition supplies that made ammo conservation a much more minor concern (and thus reducing tension by making enemy encounters far easier to plow through), a removal of the exploration of past games in favor of a more linear progression, and over-the-top Action Hero protagonists — a shift that was met with a mixed reception from fans and critics. The following game, Resident Evil 6, as well as the spin-off Operation Raccoon City, were full-blown action shooters and low points for the series, at least from the perspective of longtime fans and critics.note  Furthermore (as argued here), RE's transition from horror to action wound up impacting the entire survival-horror genre, especially at the big-budget levels, as games like Silent Hill: Homecoming and the Dead Space sequels imitated it. Some have even called RE4, in the long run, a Genre Original Sin for survival horror, if not an outright Genre-Killer. Fortunately, Capcom eventually realized that the series was going the wrong way, creating the Revelations spin-offs and later Resident Evil 7: Biohazard that brought gameplay back to a focus on exploration, ammo conservation, and scares (while still retaining the gameplay innovations and weapons upgrades of the main series games).
    • Another, and earlier, Original Sin is the film adaptation, which was, at the time, one of the most action-packed zombie movies ever made, and certainly more action-heavy than the games that preceded it. Its sequels only further amped up these elements, to the point where the RE movies came to be described strictly as action films with zombies in them. The success of the film series likely colored people's expectations of the games, leading to later installments of the latter, starting with RE4, incorporating more of the former's stylistic elements.
    • An example from early in the series was the Solve the Soup Cans puzzles where you have to get specific items to open doors. It made sense to have trick walls and doors that need special keys in the first game's mansion, which was deliberately designed by an eccentric to be a death trap. It makes less sense when such puzzles are occurring in the middle of a populated city, such as the infamous example in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis where you have to find a statue to place on a plinth in the middle of a park, which makes it turn to reveal... a car battery. In the middle of what should be a normal city once again. Even that was tame compared to Resident Evil – Code: Veronica in which there were tons of soup can puzzles left, right, and sideways almost at the very start of the game. Starting with 4, it became less gratuitous (to the point where some fans felt that there were too few puzzles), though you still might wonder why you need to collect a bunch of emblems to open specially locked doors in a Spanish village.
    • In addition to their focus on Action Horror over Survival Horror, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 were also slammed by many for having bizarre, unrealistic plots that were described as reminiscent of B-movies. This particular sin goes all the way back to the very first game, whose own plot was equally bizarre, unrealistic, and ripped straight from a B-movie. Such bizarre "a corrupt corporation is performing illegal bio-weapon experiments that have gone wrong and released zombies & monsters!" plots have literally been the Resident Evil series' staple since its inception. The difference was that, back then, the camp was intentional. The early games were meant as homages to Western zombie B-movies from The '70s and The '80s, as evidenced by the first game's (in)famous Full Motion Video intro. Even as late as Resident Evil 4, the series still tried to occasionally wink at players with its over-the-top villains and evil plans. Once later games started boosting the production values and going for a more serious tone, however, those campier elements stuck out like sore thumbs and started dragging on the genuine drama that the games were trying to go for.
    • Resident Evil 3 (Remake) took a lot of flak for feeling like a Mission-Pack Sequel, especially in comparison to Resident Evil 2 (Remake). The thing is, the exact same criticisms were leveled at the original RE3 itself when it first came out twenty years prior. At the time, fans held that it was too short, what with it only having a single campaign versus the two that RE2 offered, and didn't really offer much new for fans of the series. For a while, fan consensus actually held Resident Evil – Code: Veronica to be "the true RE3". The difference between the original RE3 and the remake is that the remake had two games — the original RE3, and the RE2 remake — to live up to instead of just one. While the original RE3 was similar to its predecessors on the surface, it also introduced a number of new gameplay features, such as Story Branching, ammo crafting, the quick turn, the emergency escape, and the Mercenaries bonus campaign, that added more strategy to the series' Survival Horror gameplay, while the RE2 remake added new areas, weapons, bonus campaigns, and other content that the original lacked in addition to thoroughly modernizing its gameplay. The RE3 remake, by contrast, actually removed some areas and features from the original game (the clock tower and park levels, the branching paths, Mercenaries mode, most of the bonus outfits) while having much the same gameplay as its immediate predecessor, leading to unwelcome comparisons.
  • This article by Grey Carter for The Escapist argues that RPG Elements are this for action games as a whole, having been the Trojan horse that allowed microtransactions to proliferate in games while also allowing developers to get away with sloppier balancing of enemies and combat. The thing was, in the RPGs that popularized leveling systems and loot, those mechanics were the combat gameplay. Many RPGs revolved around constantly pushing players to make their characters stronger by improving their stats and figuring out the best loadouts, the growing power being the goal in and of itself rather than the means to an end, with the actual task of fighting enemies often boiled down to simply clicking on them or going through a menu. When RPG mechanics were combined with other forms of combat gameplay, however, they threw even the most careful balancing out of whack by allowing players to grind their way to a point where they could just curb-stomp every enemy in their path without actually learning the gameplay mechanics and getting better at the game. Worse, the clear-cut stats provided with level and loot systems allowed developers to introduce microtransactions to full-price, single-player games by selling powerful weapons and stat boosters for real money.
  • Saints Row, as a series that underwent a major evolution in style through each installment, is bound to have a few examples of this:
    • The Saints Row games started out as The Rival to the Grand Theft Auto series, focusing on a more ridiculous and over-the-top experience that leaned into the Power Fantasy side of its Wide Open Sandbox setting, a design formula that many fans felt peaked with the second game. However (as noted by Tyler J. of Cleanprincegaming), given that the first two games had both been overshadowed by competing entries in the GTA series (San Andreas and GTA IV, respectively), Volition decided to go the Denser and Wackier route with the third game in order to more effectively distinguish it from the competition. This move was met with a mixed reception from fans and critics, who felt that the game world was less cohesive and more scattershot than before, though the resulting game still retained enough of the Saints Row series' DNA to meet a positive reception. This problem grew much harder to ignore when the fourth game added aliens and superpowers and turned into more of a clone of Crackdown or inFAMOUS than anything, such that many classic gameplay elements now felt entirely pointless. After all, when your character can run faster than a speeding bullet and leap tall buildings with a single bound, what's the point of saddling yourself with a car outside of missions where you have to? The game's Troubled Production didn't help matters at all.
    • Johnny Gat is a prime example of how a Breakout Character can become a Base-Breaking Character if not handled carefully. Traces of his status as The Ace go back to the very first game, where he was by far the most competent member of the Third Street Saints, but what is often forgotten is that he was very much a Deconstruction of stoic action heroes. When not in combat, he was a Hurting Hero due to his devotion to Aisha, and her death in the second game sends Johnny into emotional turmoil. Saints Row 2 was also the game where his reputation began to be played up - and even then, he wasn't a perfect, undefeatable badass as his reputation would have suggested, with a significant portion of his involvement in both games involving him being laid out by an injury and having to rely on the player character to help him. Johnny's death at the start of The Third solidified his popularity in the fanbase, but his return in IV would be controversial for a variety of reasons. The Heartbroken Badass traits from before would be played down, including having him move on from Aisha. The story and every character also treats Gat as a legendary figure second only to The Boss, including the villain who saw Gat as a special threat despite other gang members having similar levels of competence and screentime. After IV, Johnny Gat also became the go-to character to represent the franchise, being the main focus of Gat out of Hell and a Guest Fighter in both Divekick and Agents of Mayhem. Overall, by this point many fans who had liked him earlier had gotten sick of the disproportionate amount of focus he would receive, especially as his character became shallower with time.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
    • One complaint about the series from the Playstation 2 onward is its overuse of Prolonged Prologue, particularly with its fourth and fifth installments, where the first several hours of the game are made up almost entirely of cutscenes before one is given the full control of freetime that the series is known for. The roots of this problem can be found as early as Persona 2: Innocent Sin. The start of that game begins with the player forced to walk around their high school talking to NPCs looking for one specific NPC, watch a lengthy cutscene where the third party member is introduced and the gang has their first incident with the Joker, travel to the mall, learn how the rumor spreading mechanic works, return to the mall, and then finally get back to the high school where they started, which serves as the first dungeon. All told, it's about 30-45 minutes from starting the game to the first time the player is given actual control in combat encounters, and while that may not be as long as the prologues of later games in the franchise, it was still far from the norm for a roughly 40 hour Playstation 1 RPG. It seemed as though as the games got longer, so did their prologues.
    • One of the biggest complaints about Persona 5 is that Morgana stops you from going out and doing whatever you want at night, making you go to sleep. Except this is not new for the series, just the first time another character is preventing you from going out. Even in Persona 3 and Persona 4, you are told that you can't go out at night numerous times.
    • When the announcement came that the Updated Re-release Persona 5: Royal would be released as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, more than a handful of fans and critics decried what they saw as Atlus' attempt to get people to pay for the same game again on the same console three years after release. What these people tend to forget is that this is, in fact, the second time that Atlus has done something like this. Persona 3 FES, an updated rerelease of Persona 3, was released in Japan in 2007 and 2008 for the US for the PlayStation 2 only a little more than a year after its initial release (or the same year as release in other territories like the EU and Australia), and with less substantial changes than the ones announced for Royal. This is also to say nothing of the One Game for the Price of Two treatment of Persona 2 for both the PlayStation release and PlayStation Portable remakes. The rise of DLC/Expansion packs and the fact that its two predecessors had both gotten remade for a mobile device had changed what people had come to expect for an Updated Re-release for the series.
  • Silent Hill 2, while still remembered as quite possibly the best game in the Silent Hill series, held the origin of a number of trends that plagued the series in the long term.
    • The first was with its monsters. SH2 was acclaimed for its creative enemy design, the two monsters most heavily identified with the game being the chilling figure known as Pyramid Head, an Implacable Man wearing a pyramid-shaped helmet, and the sexy, faceless nurses in the hospital. They weren't the main villains, but they were both incredibly popular, and became unofficial mascots of the series. However, they served a very specific purpose in that game, acting as metaphorical representations of the protagonist James Sunderland's guilt and sexual anxiety. This didn't stop the nurses from reappearing in later games (and in the film adaptations), growing increasingly sexualized in the process, nor did it stop several attempts to try and copy Pyramid Head, be it with similar "icon" monsters (like the Butcher in Origins and the Bogeyman in Downpour) who felt shoehorned in more often than not, or by simply bringing him back straight-up (as in Homecoming, the films, and some of the comics). However, the symbolism of what they represented no longer applied in these new stories. While SH2 remembered to give its creepy, cool monsters a purpose beyond just the Rule of Scary, later games took only those monsters' most superficial elements in the name of fanservice.
    • Secondly, SH2 laid the groundwork for the series' Broken Base. Whereas the first game was about a battle with a cult known as the Order that's trying to bring about the birth of their god, the second game's story, about a man who had lost his wife only to receive a mysterious letter from her, was much smaller and more personal in scope. Outside the setting, the style, and a few Continuity Nods, it had little in common with the original game, and fans were divided between the original and the sequel almost from the get-go. The divide grew wider when the third game went back to having the Order as the villains and acted as a direct sequel to the first, with later games alternating between continuing the story of the Order and telling stories separate from it. Today, there are essentially two Silent Hill fandoms, one which prefers the Myth Arc about the Order and the other preferring the standalone stories.
    • Finally, the game introduced the concept of the protagonist having to own up to a tragic backstory upon entering the town, a plot point that would not only become increasingly controversial in later installments such as Homecoming and Downpour, but arguably became an Original Sin for the Survival Horror genre as a whole. It's common now for horror games to copy the idea of the horror coming from a dark secret in the protagonist's backstory that turns out to be the reason he or she is being tormented, such that it can be predictable and hard to relate, feeling less scary and more like the player is being Blamed for Being Railroaded — and that's if they even bothered to make the story make sense outside of trying to shock you. Even SH2 wasn't immune to being a bit cheap with that horror, if the wide variety of theories about the actual symbolism of the enemies and whether any two characters were experiencing the same thing in the town are any indication. SH2 managed to pull it off easier, however, partly because it was new and surprising at the time and partly because it focused less on James as a flawed man with a tragic backstory and more on him as an ordinary guy trying to survive against hordes of monsters, making his struggle feel suspenseful and the twist feel unique.
  • Expansion packs have always been a part of The Sims going back to the very first game, whose first expansion Livin' Large released just six months after the base game and mostly added new items as opposed to major gameplay features (today, it would be called a minor "stuff pack"); ultimately, the first game wound up getting seven expansions. At the time, however, they were building on a truly unique base game, and after Livin' Large each expansion added new features that genuinely changed the game, such as parties, shopping, dating, vacations, pets, celebrities, and magic. It was only with later games when it started to get out of control. Many of these packs often retreaded content from previous games' expansions, with each game since the second having its own separate packs dedicated to college, nightlife, owning a business, pets, seasons, and vacations. This was forgiven on the second and third games due to the genuinely new features added in the base games, but with the troubled launch of the fourth game, many fans grew to suspect that Electronic Arts and Maxis were withholding features from the base games in order to sell them back to the player at a later date. (To be fair, The Sims 4 did later receive a lot of free content updates in order to Win Back the Crowd, but the cycle of expansions continued at a higher pace than ever.)
  • Soul Series:
    • The use of Guest Fighters that can annoy fans nowadays began with Soulcalibur II, considered by many to be the best entry in the series. While back then it was considered a neat idea made into reality, the fact that, today, virtually every game has at least one has made it a little harder to see the inclusion of guests as an "innovative" concept. Meanwhile, Soulcalibur has been front and center as the game where the Guest Fighter is a staple of the series, much to the annoyance of some. Often, fans hold the sentiment that staple veterans, fan-favorites, and other highly requested characters get shafted in favor of a fighter that will only be there in one game, may not have universal appeal, or looks jarringly dissimilar to the rest of the game in either aesthetics and/or gameplay, something that came to a head when Soulcalibur IV included Star Wars characters. It's understandable why you see fans who are adamant about the idea that there should be no guest characters, which would defy expectations, but that often falls on deaf ears. Although Soulcalibur V and VI did alleviate things somewhat by having their respective guests (Ezio and Geralt) be more fitting with the series' aesthetic... the latter game then went back on it and threw in 2B, a Robot Girl from a distant future/post-apocalyptic sci-fi game, as part of its season pass. Then it would zig-zag it by introducing Haohmaru who, while admittedly from a later timeline, still manages to fit in with the aesthetic.
    • The series had been fairly consistent with the roster until Soulcalibur V, which was the first game directed by Daishi Odashima. Many complained about V jumping forward 17 years while removing fan-favorites such as Sophitia, Taki, and Xianghua, while replacing them with considerably less-liked successors. However, a smaller-scale variation of this happened in the earlier games. Specifically Hwang and Li Long, who appeared in the original Soul Edge (Soul Blade in America), were removed from subsequent games and replaced by Yun-seong and Maxi respectively. This caused considerable outcry back then, but had since subsided over time. Additionally, Cassandra was meant to replace Sophitia in II, as she was the only one in the original arcade release. However, due to popular fan demand, Sophitia was brought back. Odashima would later leave Project Soul, being replaced by Masaki Hoshino and later Motohiro Okubo, who appear to have different views over the series. Hoshino's contributions (Lost Swords and Unbreakable Soul), though non-canon and largely deemed to be of middling quality, began to bring back several of the missing veterans (such as Sophitia, Cassandra, Taki, Seong Mi-na, and Amy), while Okubo doubled down by taking things back to basics and rebooting the series with VI—which rewinds to the era of the original Soulcalibur and features a substantial portion of the first two games' rosters (though with a few faces from later installments also along for the ride). Only time will tell if these efforts can undo the damage caused by V's Soft Rebootnote .
    • Soulcalibur VI created one of its own. Namco had done Day 1 DLC as a means to unlock characters before, with Soulcalibur V having Dampierre and Tekken 7 having Eliza (who debuted in the F2P installment between Tag 2 and 7, Tekken Revolution). Those times, there was practically no backlash (or at least, it was very minimal), mainly because they were niche characters who had their own fans but not a super prominent fanbase, and were not highly popular, highly requested series staples. When VI did their go-around at this, they used Tira, considered the iconic Dark Action Girl of the Soul series and a Breakout Character from III who is likely the most recognizable character created post-II. For many, it felt like using a character as well-liked, requested and iconic to the series as Tira for an incentive to increase revenue was a low blow.
    • Also, as the series went on, it began attracting more and more criticism for its increasingly Stripperiffic female character designs and focus on Jiggle Physics (particularly for Ivy and Taki) reducing what had been a serious historical fantasy to borderline sleaze like Dead or Alive, without the benefit of that series' tongue-in-cheek self-acknowlegement. However even as far back as the original Soul Blade there was an Easter Egg you could employ to cause Sophitia's skirt to disappear, or even have her fight in an actual swimsuit.
  • Square Enix's updated re-releases and ports of some of their older games once got a great deal of excitement from many RPG fans, especially those in the US and Europe. It gave many people the chance to play some of Square's classic catalog but with far less of the No Export for You, "Blind Idiot" Translation, Bowdlerisation, and financial difficulties of hunting down certain SNES cartridges that RPG fans dealt with before the very end of The '90s. In some cases, Square even remade entire games for the purposes of re-releasing them. However, during the later half of the 2000s, many of these same consumers started complaining about this practice. It became viewed as oversaturation, partially due to the huge numbers of systems that these games were playable on. Between 2005 and 2011, Square Enix re-released Final Fantasy IV alone 4 times, for example. The Troubled Production of both Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII and the lack of a game to really fill that gap did not help either.
  • The Star Ocean franchise had long been considered to have fairly standard JRPG storytelling that was nothing to write home about, but was made up for by having good gameplay. When Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was criticized for its gameplay, it brought the fact of it having a fairly weak story as well to the forefront.
  • Street Fighter fans became rather burned out on the series after Ultra Street Fighter IV came out, adding yet more characters to an already-overcrowded roster and making the combo system even more complicated with Red Focus. Casual fans complained because now they were being asked to spend even more money on what is essentially a single game that cost roughly $100 in total (even more if you purchased all the DLC) and had now become so incredibly difficult to play that getting started now would take months of training just to learn the basics. Fans of Street Fighter since 1991 can tell you that this sounds very familiar. Street Fighter II went through the same problems — although the competitive scene reveres the Super Turbo edition as the series' best, by the time it came out, the casual fans were just about done. Further sub-series in the franchise (such as Alpha and III) increased the complexity of the fighting system, making it nigh-inaccessible for casual players, and by the time the console version of Alpha 3 hit shelves, the roster had expanded to thirty-six. These problems are why the series took such a long hiatus between EX3 and SFIV. Capcom decided to take a "back to basics" approach with Street Fighter V in terms of gameplay, focusing on fundamentals and accessibility, and starting off "small" much like many of the other sub-series' initial iterations (16 characters in the base roster + 6 DLC characters for Year 1) in response to these complaints. Unfortunately, this led to fandom infighting whenever "new" fighters, be they former NPCs Promoted to Playable or actual new faces, were unveiled beginning in Season 2 after the return of Akuma, as many complained about the "missing" characters who were mainstays in previous entries or wanted to see more characters who had been on a Long Bus Trip since their last sightings (in the vein of Karin, R. Mika, Alex, and Urien). Capcom was able to strike a finer, less "controversial" balance with Season 3; only two of the six characters were newcomers, and the first S3 fighter to be revealed was none other than perennial fan-favorite Sakura.
  • Tales Series:
    • The problem with the games relying on DLC over in game rewards all started with the Updated Re-release of Tales of Vesperia, which had costumes that could only be obtained by preorders, and then more that can only be obtained by paying with real money. While this upset some fans, the game overall was still very meaty and had easily the most in-game costumes in the series before or since. The very next game, Tales of Graces, had no more than two in-game costumes per character (to compare, everyone on the Updated Re-release of Vesperia had at least five, with Yuri and Karol having well over that), with the rest only available through DLC. The game after that, Tales of Xillia, had four, not even one for each character, and two of them were for the female lead. Games after Xillia have gotten worse with this, to the point where Tales of Zestiria only offered recolors of the characters main outfits, unless you bought the DLC for it.
    • Tales of Zestiria received criticism for its use of Guest-Star Party Member in the form of Alisha, who was an Advertised Extra and left the game after only a quarter of the game had been explored. The series always had characters like this, the most notable ones being Leon, Kratos, Asch, Flynn, and Richard, all of whom joined for either one fight/dungeon, or joined for a short period in the story before not becoming playable again. However, what made them fine in the eyes of fans was that they all were still important to the story; Leon, Kratos, and Richard all become antagonists not long after you get them, while characters like Asch and Flynn are important to the story as foils to the main characters. At the very least, they all had a good justification for being only around for a short time. Alisha, however, rather suddenly leaves the party after only a few hours in game, similar to Kratos, with a plot reason that comes across as an Ass Pull, and is quickly replaced by someone else for the rest of the game save for one small moment late into the game. Ignoring that, Alisha was very heavily advertised as the game's heroine, whereas the other guests were portrayed as important, but kept a bit vague, meaning them leaving wasn't very jarring, while Alisha's departure came across as very strange.
  • Telltale Games always had a problem with providing players merely the illusion of choice, as seemingly plot-critical decisions only left an impact for a few moments or affected how a subplot would be resolved before the main story simply progressed with little deviation. This problem goes all the way back to their Breakthrough Hit, The Walking Dead: Season One, where, no matter what you did over the course of the story, the Broad Strokes of the ending were basically the same. The difference was that not only was Telltale's style of games still very new and fresh, but your choices did affect the tone of the ending as it confronted you with all the decisions you made up to that point, judging whether or not the protagonist Lee was a good person. As Telltale recycled the formula with subsequent games, however, the seams in the storytelling and branching paths grew easier to spot as players caught on.
  • One of the biggest complaints about the Tekken roster is that the roster has become increasingly unbelievable as the years went on, focusing less on actual martial arts and artists and more on made-up styles that look cool with blatant anime influences. It reached a sort of critical mass in Tekken 7, when Lucky Chloe, an extremely kawaii pop-idol with Gratuitous English who fights by dancing, was made into an official character, leading to unbridled rage in the West. While Harada said that he would replace her with a muscular skinhead in the US, it was confirmed he was only trolling, and so Western gamers shared a Collective Groan over having to deal with her. That's not with mentioning other unrealistic characters, such as Kazumi, Claudio, Gigas, and Akuma. However, this type of unbelievability was there from the beginning. The original Tekken featured Yoshimitsu, a cyborg ninja that seemed completely out of place amongst a roster of mostly martial arts-based fighters. There was also Kuma, a bear as a playable character, which was also out of place. The sequel even added a Boxing Kangaroo and a freaking utahraptor. The primary difference here is the fact that these characters were few and far between, instead of being shoved in as the stars of the game and taking up a sizable portion of the roster.
  • Tomb Raider took a lot of beating from fandom for overemphasis on shooting with human combatans, with greatly simplified platforming bits and removal of puzzles by the time Square Enix took over. Lara almost literally ploughs through small army in the last three games. However, the much bigger scope on combat was present already back in the second game all the way back in 1997, with introduction of wide plethora of weapons and numerous humans enemies that were just Mooks instead of plot-sensitive characters. But back in times when Core Design was still making the games, it was still first and foremost a Dungeon Crawling series, putting puzzles and exploration first, second and third, throwing in more combat simply to make the difficulty spike even more steep. When Crystal Dynamics took over, they've expanded on combat, while simplified puzzles and automated a lot of platforming already, but they've still tried to strike at least a balance between those and keeping it "true" to the roots. It was only that another reboot reduced exploration and tomb-raiding to side activities (despite having much better engine and technical capabilities), instead putting full focus on cover-shooting, elaborate combat against seemingly endless army of Mooks and clumsily trying to put focus on characterisation, basically reinventing Laranote  as a character and turning the title into The Artifact.
  • American Wasteland may have marked the exact moment when the Tony Hawk series' franchise zombification became irreversible, but as this episode of {Errant Signal} makes clear, the things that sent it and later games off the rails can be seen as far back as the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, when the series was still on top of the world.
    • Even in the very first game, the way combos are scored (powerful multipliers awarded for each little trick, losing everything for bailing) helped elevate rail-slides, which created tons of opportunities to perform little stunts, above everything else. The addition of manuals in Pro Skater 2 only added to the combo focus by allowing players to string together different lines, though the game design didn't suffer for it. The kicker, though, was the introduction of reverts in Pro Skater 3. Now you can do air on a quarter-pipe and link it into a manual, making the expected combos longer (and riskier, since bailing cancels out the whole thing) even for relatively casual players who didn't make as much use of the long grind and manual chains in the earlier games.

      Increasingly, gameplay grew more dependent on over-the-top stunt chains than anything resembling real skateboarding, while the intricate level design of the first game, designed to get the player to hunt for the best line, was replaced with a greater focus on level exploration and creating monster combos anywhere. When Underground added the ability to walk around on foot and drive around in vehicles, it was acknowledging this growing shift in focus — and in doing so, it started the series' trend towards over-reliance on gimmicks like Project 8's "Nail the Trick" feature and Ride's use of an expensive skateboard peripheral. Every new feature made the games less focused on actual skateboarding — something that was made readily apparent when Skate came out without any of these gimmicks and proved that they were unnecessary.
    • Likewise, the juvenile humor and pop culture references that were criticized in later games have always been with the series. The games are rooted in skateboarding culture, which has always had a streak of countercultural irreverence, so it stood to reason that the series would reflect that. It was only around Pro Skater 4 and the Underground games that they really started to take over and, more importantly, degenerate into fratbro idiocy, with the final straw probably being the inclusion of the cast of Jackass in Underground 2.
  • The X-Universe series of games had fundamentally flawed gameplay design — in the developer's own opinion — due to the Singularity Engine Time Accelerator, a device which makes the game run faster to make the long travel times bearable. It wasn't too bad with the simplistic gameplay of X: Beyond the Frontier, but as the games went on, it became more and more obvious to Egosoft that they had built up the entire game around the abuse of SETA. If they were to speed up the slow item production rate at factoriesnote , the economy would implode when the player traveled across a sector with SETA. If they were to make ships faster to reduce travel time, the AI would break (well, break harder than normal), battles would turn into jousting matches, and the economy would implode from traders instantly grabbing every deal. They attempted to rectify the flaw in X Rebirth by introducing a completely different travel system and were somewhat successful, though the nigh-unplayable state of affairs at release brought up a whole slew of new issues.
    • Ironically, SETA was re-added to Rebirth in one of the many Win BACK The Crowd patches, albeit not as something necessary to play the game without losing one's mind like it was in the previous games. SETA returns out-of-the-box in X4: Foundations, but the rest of the game has been reworked so extensively that it is mostly a quality-of-life feature for fleet and production management; ships now have an innate fast-travel mode on their thrusters, and the player can unlock the ability to teleport between ships.
  • A major problem fans had with the second entry of the Zero Escape series, Virtue's Last Reward, was the inclusion of Alice and the lack of her role in the story. Major spoiler for the first game, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, follows: In that game, the characters discussed an urban legend about a mummy named All-Ice who was hinted at being the unaccounted person who may or may not be behind the murders. No mummy was discovered but in the epilogue, the cast is shocked when they see a woman wearing stereotypical Egyptian clothes in the middle of the desert. It should be noted that nobody actually knew what All-Ice was supposed to look like. The first game was originally intended to be a standalone but since it became a surprise hit with western fans, a sequel was greenlit which forced the main writer to figure out how to make sense of the Gainax Ending.

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