Numbers 8, 9, and 10
8. Make My Video (Digital Pictures, 1992)
Platform: Sega CD
If you were an aspiring music video director, you could play one of these games, featuring early-1990s acts Marky Mark (better known today as Mark Wahlberg) and the Funky Bunch, Kriss Kross, and C+C Music Factory, as well as Australian rockers INXS, and create videos using built-in clips and video effects. But forget about unbridled creativity: Your artistic vision was limited by the built-in clips and some hokey video effects, as well as the specific content requirements dictated at the start of each round.
Of course, one could say that the experience was a lot like being a real music video director, minus the pay and the glitzy parties. The trouble was that if you actually did make anything worth watching, there was no way to preserve it for posterity, unless you connected your Sega CD console to your VCR.
In a certain sense, Make My Video anticipated such later Internet-based creations as anime music videos. It just left out the two key components: (a) showing off your work and (b) actually having fun.
9. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Ubisoft, 2004)
Ever since the first Prince of Persia in 1989, players had been won over by the various games' charm, story, and design (not to mention the Prince's personal charm). However, by 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, sales of the venerable series were starting to slip.
In an effort to increase the next game's appeal, Ubisoft opted for a tried-and-true formula and ramped up the violence, sex, and noise. The newer, edgier Prince was aggressive and obnoxious; the level of gore was increased; female characters were eroticized and wore less; and the soundtrack, originally based on Persian music, was largely replaced with hard rock. In short, Prince of Persia went "extreme." As one friend put it, "Warrior Within took everything that Sands of Time did right and threw it out the window."
Warrior Within did sell well, though the revamped combat system may have had something to do with it. However, that success came at a cost: Ubisoft alienated many of the people who had made Prince of Persia so popular in the first place.
10. Elf Bowling (NStorm, 2005)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Remember when, during the waning months of 1999, a company named NStorm released a free Windows game called Elf Bowling? Sure, you do. Productivity ground to a halt all across the continent as people played "just one more game" in which Santa Claus dealt with a labor dispute by using his minions as bowling pins. Remember passing it along to your friends, contributing to the e-mail slowdown at your workplace? Sure, you do. (You can admit it now; the statute of limitations for server blockage is up.)
Now tell the truth: Do you remember ever bothering to play the game after the first week you tried it, or even the first day? You probably don't, because Elf Bowling gets old pretty darned fast. (Don't believe me? try it yourself for a quick reminder.) Most games fade after a while, but 24 hours has to be some kind of record. So why, exactly, would anyone expect people to pay for a DS version of the game, six years after the elf-athletics craze had come and gone?