There’s nothing worse than waiting for the next installment in your favorite game series only to be disappointed by a subpar entry. Yet, there were some truly terrible PS1 games in otherwise great series.
Whether it was a lack of innovation or failing to capitalize on the best aspects of their previous games, some series dropped the ball. So, we’re going to poke fun at these games while still recognizing that the series they come from are still pretty damn good.
Twisted Metal III
The Twisted Metal series made a huge splash in the world of vehicle combat games on PS1, and the second entry into the series is widely regarded as the best. Yet, Twisted Metal III came out and I was more than a little disappointed.
The polished steering we got in Twisted Metal II was gone, and suddenly it felt like I was driving on worn tires on an icy lake with no brakes. Okay, not that bad, but definitely worse than before.
The physics were supposed to be a high point of the game, but it felt like I always got stuck on small corners instead of driving over or bouncing off of them. The levels were definitely not as good as the previous entry, either, and that helped to sink the playability.
Even though the game had some awesome new playable characters and a decent multiplayer system, the game felt stale and never really lived up to the hype after Twisted Metal II.
Fortunately, the series has since released some good entries since, and I do wonder whether this was actually a really bad game or just a game that seems worse when measured against the others.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
I wish I could have been in the pitch meeting for Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero.
They took a cool character from a fantastic game series and screwed it up in ways that could only be matched if they decided to make a pinball game instead.
After playing MK games in arcades and on the Sega Genesis, I was ready to see some awesome graphics, cool fatalities, and new gameplay. And then I put the disc in my PlayStation.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero is a hybrid platformer/fighting game. While that made me hesitate before picking up the game, it definitely wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Simply put, the controls were a mess that made the fighting bad and the platforming worse.
In combat, you have a few moves and specials to kill your enemies, but if you have to suddenly change direction, you have to hit an extra button instead of using your analog stick. It made the otherwise sleek PS1 controller a pain to use. That was also a problem when traversing the levels. It felt like a chore every time you had to backtrack.
The level design in this game was awful. It felt like the developers mostly focused on hitting you out of left field with instant-kill traps rather than making the levels fun or difficult. Combine that with abysmal controls and the constant tip-of-the-finger platform misses, and it’s completely understandable if you wanted someone to perform a fatality on you rather than finish this game.
Spec Ops: Ranger Elite
Maybe, just maybe I am reaching when I call the Spec Ops series great. But I grew up with the first two games on PS1 and I recently played Spec Ops: The Line, so it’s good enough for me to love and gripe about.
Spec Ops: Ranger Elite was churned out in 2001, and it managed to do a lot wrong. Mostly, it didn’t learn from the past. When the first game in the series came out in 1998, you could forgive the blocky graphics and crappy music. However, this game series continued chugging along with the same graphics in this entry.
While the game tried to take you all over the world to throw down as a bonafide red, white, and blue badass, it made a mess of the camouflage and level design. The inability to see your character or enemies would have been cool if it was on purpose, but it was a mix of bad player models and colors instead.
Another major problem with the game was the inconsistent weapons’ accuracy. You could put the reticle over your enemy and fire with the most accurate gun and it was a total crapshoot as to whether the bullets hit the target or not.
Again, it would have been cool if it was on purpose. Instead, it just amounted to a lot of frustration and inconsistency in the game. After all, if you shot and missed someone and all their buddies came running, you were going to get ripped apart.
I played and beat this game with the multiplayer mode, which was probably the most redeemable quality about Spec Ops: Ranger Elite. Still, it’s clearly the weakest entry in the series.
Monster Rancher Battle Card Episode II
The Monster Rancher series was never going to be as popular as Pokemon, but damn did they try. They both had an anime, monster-raising games, and even a card game. On one hand, Pokemon was able to adapt to the card game pretty well, with a pretty simple and elegant game design. On the other hand, Monster Rancher Battle Card Episode II was pretty much an abomination.
I played the Monster Rancher games on PS1, raising and battling monsters. In some ways, it was better than its competitors because the graphics were good, the battle system was fun, and the whole premise of using your PS1 discs to get new monsters was simply awesome.
So, when the card game appeared on PS1, you bet I was excited to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, the game didn’t use enough of these cool features to make a cohesive game.
Without going over all the rules of the card game, you get three monsters to fight with and then you get a lot of support cards. You battle to knock out the enemy while listening to the most repetitive soundtrack and card shuffling noises possible.
You could make new cards by sampling CDs, much like the original games. However, relatively few CDs could be used to generate cards, and the selection of monsters wasn’t anything to write home about.
The card battles were pretty boring compared to the glut of card games that were emerging at the time this game was released. Your offensive and defensive skills are linked to the support cards rather than the monsters you’re fighting with, so it’s not like a Pikachu hitting you with its trademark Thunder move; it’s whatever moves you draw related to the monster.
While I realize it’s dumb to say that you might as well play the actual Monster Rancher games where you raise and fight your beasts instead of cards, you really are better off playing those games.
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22
I’m stretching the rules, I know. Do you consider the Dragon Ball games a series? Anyway, I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.
Before I lay into this mess, can I point out that out of a cast of 22 characters Yamcha wasn’t considered? Hah!
So, the idea for this game was to allow you to pit fighters against one another that would never meet on the battlefield. You could set up father-son deathmatches, have Mr. Satan beat on Majin Buu, and more. It sounds like a good idea on paper. So, where did the game go wrong?
Well, as you can see, the graphics were not a strong point. Neither was the combat, voice acting, skillsets, or much else for that matter.
One particularly bad part of the game was the speed of combat. You’re used to seeing these characters zoom across the screen in other games and on television; in UB22, it looks like slow-motion.
The awesome ki attacks that you’re familiar with from the show are nothing like you would imagine, and each character’s special strikes are going to look pretty unfamiliar. Sure, it was fun to unlock the hidden characters and play around, but the game was just so, so, so, disappointing.
The PlayStation had a lot of great series, but some of the entries were just bad.
All of these game series were able to develop better games after these clunkers, which shows that they were able to learn from their mistakes and is also the reason that I don’t feel bad teasing these games a bit. At the very least, you’ll know which PS1 games to avoid!