It has been suggested that it's more difficult to get to the top than to stay there, something that applies to many a video game franchise. Indeed, some firm favourites of the past have fallen from grace in recent years, unable perhaps to make the leap to a new console generation, over-doing it on the sequels, or trying and failing to introduce radical new gameplay elements.
From sports games to rhythm action releases; iconic mascots to movie stars, we take a look at some of the video game franchises that have fallen on hard times, or simply failed to live up to the glory of their forebears.
At one point, Tony Hawk was one of the biggest names in gaming. Titles such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 were released to universal acclaim and earned publisher Activision wads of cash. With interest in the series waning, however, and EA's Skate franchise gaining momentum, Activision took a big gamble with the peripheral-based Tony Hawk: Ride, the game that would effectively sign the series' death warrant.
With the awful Ride finally out of our system, Activision has gone back to basics for downloadable release Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD, which launches on XBLA later this week.
> Ten must-play PS1 games
PES: Pro Evolution Soccer
Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer was the undisputed king of football games back in the PS2 era, routinely outclassing EA's FIFA releases on the pitch despite a lack of licensed content. Unfortunately for Konami, however, the launch of the PS3 and Xbox 360 saw FIFA raise its game, while PES was unable to make the transition to the next generation of consoles.
Like Arsenal's invincibles or the Spanish untouchables, FIFA is seemingly out of sight, but with a laundry list of new features, perhaps PES 2013 will be the game to restore Konami's ailing football franchise to its former glory.
> Digital Spy reviews PES 2012
Following one of the greatest and most beloved games of all times is no easy task. Just ask Square Enix. Final Fantasy VII is one of the finest console RPGs ever made, containing one of gaming's greatest villains and providing our medium's most tear-jerking moment. Today's Final Fantasy games are decent enough but simply don't have the sparkle of their forebears, something even Square Enix admits.
While we wait for the next great Final Fantasy - or better yet, a Final Fantasy VII remake - we'll just have to satisfy ourselves with VII's imminent PC re-release.
> Digital Spy reviews Final Fantasy XIII-2
What the N64 lacked in quantity, it certainly made up for in quality. Goldeneye 007 is as responsible for our love affair with the FPS genre as the likes of Doom and Quake, proving that you could make a successful single and multiplayer console shooter. It's puzzling, therefore, that despite single-handedly preventing the end of the world on more than one occasion, Bond's toughest mission has been matching the mass appeal of Goldeneye.
In fact, the closest we've come to recreating that N64 magic is with the recent Goldeneye 007 remakes on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. Having said that, we do hold out hope for upcoming movie medley 007 Legends.
> Digital Spy reviews Goldeneye 007
Rock Band/Guitar Hero
The guitar-based rhythm action boom of the early Noughties seems like a distant memory. The ability to unleash your inner-rock god resonated with many a gamer and helped propel Guitar Hero to the top of the charts. Never ones to adhere to the less is more philosophy, however, Activision began releasing sequels and spinoffs with alarming frequency, while Harmonix jumped ship, introducing an increasing number of peripherals with Rock Band.
Where are they now? The Guitar Hero franchise OD'd, while Rock Band will appear sans instruments on XBLA and PSN this summer.
> Digital Spy reviews Rock Band 3
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog has threatened to return to his former glory on more than one occasion, providing many a thrilling moment in last year's Sonic Generations and delivering a nice slice of retro action in recent release Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II. But as much as we love Sonic and have enjoyed recent instalments, there's still that sense that he's not the main event draw he used to be.
You can trace the root of the problem back to those initial attempts at 3D on the Dreamcast - or when he first opened his gob. While by no means a bad game, Sonic Adventure was ironically left in a trail of dust by the superior efforts of that portly plumber Mario.
> Digital Spy reviews Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
The release of the original Silent Hill came at a time when survival horror was enjoying a boom period. The original Silent Hill was a masterfully crafted slice of psychological horror, using the PSOne's limitations to its advantage, making excellent use of lighting and sound. Its sequel was even better, and remains the measuring stick by which all subsequent survival horror games are judged.
Silent Hill didn't move with the times, however, and the clumsy gameplay mechanics began to stifle the series. Contemporary releases, meanwhile, placed too much emphasis on action, losing a bit of the fear factor in the process.
> Digital Spy reviews Silent Hill: Downpour
The SOCOM franchise championed online gaming on a console at a time when it was a rarity, creating a dedicated and hardcore community of shooter fans during the PS3 era.
Today it's in a difficult position, having to either sacrifice its fanbase in order to win more fans or satisfy tactical shooter veterans at the expense of new followers. When the development team adopted a more over-the-top, arcade approach in SOCOM 4, the results weren't pretty. Its lack of success has left the series languishing behind the likes of Call of Duty and the far more adaptable Ghost Recon.
SOCOM's slower pace and sense of realism is seemingly at odds with the wants of the modern gamer. With founding studio Zipper Interactive now closed, it's difficult to see this series returning any time soon.
> Digital Spy reviews SOCOM: Special Forces
Which game franchises do you think have fallen on hard times? Add a comment to the space below!