Let's list off some games that could have, or should have been great but for one reason or another they fell short.
First up, Gears of War 2.
Speaking strictly on the multiplayer for this one. The mechanics were solid, the weapon balance was better than the first, they were on the right track. And then it was all for nothing as glitch after glitch plagued the multiplayer, matchmaking times were incredibly long and most of the time the game felt worse than the original Gear's terrible host advantage.
Such a disappointment.
Now that Gears 3 has (almost) been announced, will Epic finally capitalize on the potential this series offers on a MP level?
Game looks great and has some good gameplay mechanics. All they had to do was add some level progression instead of just arena-type areas, add some more variety, and fix the boss fights so that they weren't just "Dodge until a thing pops up telling you to shake your Remote then follow the on-screen prompts." And get rid of the "Earn X amount of points so that something else will happen" mechanic.
Game just ends up you killing people the same way over and over because it earns the most points and trying not to fall asleep.
Actually one level does feel like it has actual progression, which is the feudal Japanese building thing or whatever. But yeah, game fell well short of its potential.
This series has by far one of (if not the) best battle systems in an RPG-like game. It has a ton of chips to collect, and unlike a lot of games where you collect stuff, since you get to USE them in battle in fun ways you want to collect more and more new chips. It has a ton of customization of Mega Man as well. The boss fights are pretty much epic (and it is always fun to see how they take classic Mega Man boss robots and reinvent them for the battles). And it also has a fun cast of characters and some genuinely touching dialogue (usually between LAN and Mega Man).
However, like... pretty much everything in between the battles is sort of weak. Tons of fetch quests, tons of going back to the same areas you have been to over and over, this series is pretty much excellent, A-level battle system / customization thrown on top a generic, C-level RPG.
I think it could jump from "good" to "amazing" if they got a real RPG team behind it to spice everything around the battle system up more. Of course, it is Mega Man, so Capcom will just rehash the hell out of it instead, with diminishing returns each new game in the series.
I had big hopes for this game..maybe it's a fault of many - which is why it hasn't done so well according to some gamers/critics but I for one was dissapointed because of the gameplay. They (HVS) did a lot of things way better then other 3rd parties - namely controls and graphics but I just couldn't get into it. Annoying sound effects, long empty hallways, and online wasn't as fun as I thought it could have been. I wasn't expecting the best thing ever...but I was expecting something along the lines of Timesplitters 2/3 and or Perfect Dark/Goldeneye which I still enjoy today. I didn't get that.
I can't be the only one that thinks this...right? Game had some great ideas, but after awhile it was all just get-the-death-ball-over-here and use-your-gravity-momentum-to-jump-high puzzles. It could've done a LOT more with its concept. Although the story was neat.
I was pretty satisfied with Portal for what it is, but an interesting question is post-Portal why are FPS still so generic? Like no one has thought to try to incorporate Portal-style core mechanics directly into a straight FPS? There is a ton of untapped potential there.
First things first: *shakes fist @Smerd's general direction* There, now that that's out of the way:
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams
Overall, it's not a bad game, but man! This could have been so much more, if it were so much less. What I mean is, SEGA should have left out the story telling aspect of the game. The Saturn original was this like, surreal, otherworldly experience with the iconic purple jester, and it was up to the player's interpretation to determine the world, character and other aspects of the game. In the Wii sequel, it's all spelled out for you in terribly directed, poorly voiced-over in-game cinematics. And there are a LOT of them. Boring!
Also, while I do appreciate multiple challenges in games, the ones chosen for Journey of Dreams were just dumb. There are boring sections where you're forced to play as the kids. On foot. Not flying around at high speeds through dream-like environments. WHO THE HELL THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR A FREAKIN' NiGHTS GAME?!?
The controls seem more stiff than the original as well, which is so *facepalm*-worthy it actually makes me sad just to think about it. I want to think that the graphics could/should have been better, but... it's SEGA. On Wii. *sigh* Oh, and the online mode was a joke.
At least the music was good - that was really the ONE thing they got right. I still own this game and I do plan on picking it up from time to time, because I'm that big of a fan. But that initial play through was pretty much the most disappointing experience I've had this generation.
Loved Pikmin 2, too. Disagreeing with it and Portal so far itt.
But here's a good one:
RIGHT!? It's like, not only did they not add anything cool and new, but they made the whole process more tedious by separating the stores from the village. Blargh blargh blargh. Their big chance to revamp the series and instead they just gave us the same game a third time in a row (4th for Japanesees!).
@GameDadGrant I don't know if this is true, but I remember reading that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was originally intended for the 360, then Sega decided to make Sonic Team finish developing it for the Wii instead, which may explain some of its clunkiness, given the change of platform mid-development.
EDIT: Oh yeah, a game that fell short of its potential...
When Activision was hyping this up as an open-world skating game, I don't think many people were expecting the same basic game, with boring-ass tunnels connecting each level together, all as an excuse to have less interesting level themes/design. Also the game was buggy and glitchy as all hell. I've lost count of how many times the game froze on me.
Another vote here for Animal Crossing. I was willing to excuse the DS version being same-y, only cuz I was thinking Nintendo was saving all their real good ideas for the Wii version. Boy was I wrong. Thankfully, I didn't buy either version. I still have my GCN copy too just in case.